Another week has come and so has the time for the next part of our Best of 2013 series. This week we are recognizing individual fighters of this year. The category is open to all fighters regardless of gender.
However, because of the sheer number of mail athletes in MMA compared to women, there will be a separate women’s category next week so that more women may be showcased. As usual the writers of MMA Freak submitted their votes and while many fighters were nominated, not all received enough votes for the top 10. Here are the honorable mentions:
Eddie Alvarez- defeated Michael Chandler in a five round war to capture the Bellator Lightweight Championship for the second time.
Glover Teixeira- went undefeated at 3-0 defeating the likes of Quinton Jackson, James Te Huna, and Ryan Bader to earn a title shot.
Anthony Birchak- went undefeated for the year at 2-0, capturing the Maximum Fighting Championship Bantamweight Championship.
Jose Aldo- defended his UFC Featherweight Championship successfully twice this year, earning Fight of the Night honors in the first outing.
Matt Brown- went undefeated for the year at 2-0, earning Fight of the Night and Knockout of the Night for his respective fights.
Alexander Shlemenko- won the Bellator Middleweight Championship then defended it twice against Brett Cooper and Doug Marshall.
Ben Askren- defended his Bellator Welterweight Championship twice against the likes of Karl Amoussou and Andrey Koreshkov.
Georges St-Pierre- defended his UFC Welterweight Championship against Nick Diaz and Johny Hendricks before relinquishing his title.
Alexander Gustafsson- challenged Jon Jones for his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship in a Fight of the Night performance.
Chad Mendes- went undefeated for the year at 3-0, earning a Knockout of the Night performance against Clay Guida in the second outing.
Julianna Pena- after loosing to Sarah Moras at flyweight, was able to rebound and win the inaugural Women’s TUF Tournament.
Johny Hendricks- defeated Carlos Condit for a title shot then challenged Georges St-Pierre’s title, earning Fight of the Night both times.
Jon Jones- defended his UFC Lightheavyweight Championship against Chael Sonnen and Alexander Gustafsson, earning Fight of the Night.
Now for the top 10 fighters of 2013 as voted by the writers of MMA Freak:
~ 10 ~
2013 was a busy year for Ronda Rousey. It started when she made history at UFC 157. At the end of 2012 she was awarded the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship because of her Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship and defended her new championship successfully against Liz Carmouche.
She then coached on The Ultimate Fighter 18 opposite nemesis Meisha Tate before facing Tate at UFC 168, successfully defending her title again. In the process she earned Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night.
~ 9 ~
It was a new beginning for Nick Newell last year. Following his release from Xtreme Fighting Championships, Newell signed with the World Series of Fighting hoping to eventually earn the attention of the UFC.
His first outing with WSOF was a fight at WSOF 4 earning a submission win against Keon Caldwell. He then went onto win once again by submission against Sabah Fadai at WSOF 7, challenging the winner of the at the time upcoming WSOF Lightweight Championship match immediately after his win.
~ 8 ~
Going into 2013, many people (including myself) thought that Urijah Faber’s career was possibly coming to an end as he’d just gone 1-2 in his previous three fights. However, everyone got to see what a rededicated and driven Urijah Faber could really do.
In the first two years Faber picked up submission victories against the likes of Ivan Menjivar and Scott Jorgensen. Faber didn’t compete again until August when he fought Iuri Alcantara to a decision and then earned a Submission of the Night against Michael McDonald. He’s now set to fight for the title.
~ 7 ~
Travis Browne came into 2013 looking to rebound from his only career loss against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Immediately he defeated former heavyweight title contender Gabriel Gonzaga earning Knockout of the Night honors.
He was then matched against Alistair Overeem on the first UFC Fight Night on Fox Sports 1 where he pulled a comeback and once against Knockout of the Night performance. At the end of the year he was once again able to pull a Knockout of the Night against Josh Barnett. Those victories earned him a title shot match this year.
~ 6 ~
Being the spectacular fighter he is, it was not surprising that Anthony Pettis accomplished what he did this year. In the beginning of the year Pettis pulled a Knockout of the Night performance against Donald Cerrone, finishing him in the first round. While Pettis was initially in line for a lightweight title shot, he instead volunteered to fight Jose Aldo when Aldo’s initial opponent dropped out.
However, a training injury forced Pettis out of the fight with Aldo and he stepped up for the lightweight title shot when TJ Grant dropped out, pulling a Submission of the Night honors against Benson Henderson and becoming the UFC Lightweight Champion. Unfortunately a knee injury sidelined him the rest of 2013.
~ 5 ~
There’s no doubt that Demetrious Johnson had one of the most productive years of all the current UFC Champions. In his first outing of the year Johnson defended his title against John Dodson in a Fight of the Night performance. He then defended his title against John Moraga, earning a Submission of the Night award in the process.
In his final outing of the year, Johnson finished Joseph Benavidez with a Knockout of the Night victory. 2013 saw him earn the distinctions of three different bonus wins and three UFC on Fox appearances.
~ 4 ~
Renan Barao certainly had a good year as the Interim UFC Bantamweight Champion. In his first outing, Barao pulled a submission win against Michael McDonald, earning Submission of the Night honors in the process. He then fought Eddie Wineland, finishing him in a TKO victory that earned him a Knockout of the Night performance.
Barao was expected to fight Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz in a unification match at UFC 169. However, another injury resulted in Barao being promoted to undisputed champ and a match with Urijah Faber.
~ 3 ~
Another fighter who came into 2013 looking for a rebound, Vitor Belfort certainly found success. Belfort came into the year and immediately found success by defeating Michael Bisping then beating Luke Rockhold, earning Knockout of the Night in both cases.
He then ended his year with another Knockout of the Night against Dan Henderson, avenging a loss to Henderson from back in Pride. While these were all successful performances, they all came with the hiccup of TRT, though Belfort claims to be off it now. He’s now set for a title shot soon.
~ 2 ~
Cain Velasquez had a good year in that he not only won, but asserted his undisputed dominance in the division. Velasquez’s first match of 2013 was a rematch against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. The match went well in that not only did Velasquez dominate Silva, but he finished him quicker then their first outing.
His second match was a rubber match with Junior dos Santos in which Velasquez once again dominated his opponent and this time finished dos Santos, only reinforcing his status as the UFC Heavyweight Champion. A shoulder injury is currently keeping him on the sidelines. His next opponent will likely be the winner of the upcoming match between Fabricio Werdum and Travis Browne at UFC on Fox 11.
~ 1 ~
There’s a reason why Chris Weidman was voted Fighter of the Year by the members of this website and it has to do with two matches against the same man. On July 6th at UFC 162, Chris Weidman walked into the arena to “Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers, and pulled the biggest upset in probably the history of MMA by knocking out Anderson “the Spider” Silva, earning Knockout of the Night honors in the process.
Because of how big a figure Silva is, Weidman faced in an immediate rematch at UFC 168 on December 28th, where when checking a kick, Weidman unintentionally snapped Silva’s leg practically in half. Weidman’s now set to face Vitor Belfort soon.
So that’s it for this week’s part of the End of Year Awards. Stay tuned for next week as the women take center stage.