Picking The 2013 Fight Of The Year No Easy Feat
I'm having a difficult time deciding on what was the best fight of the year in mixed martial arts in 2013, and for good reason, as the past year has produced a number of entertaining scraps that I know I'll still be watching 10 years down the road.
The first fight that's in consideration won the "Fight of the Night" award back at UFC 157. Of course, I'm talking about the epic, back-and-forth featherweight brawl between Matt Grice and Dennis Bermudez. This was an excellent fight that had a number of significant changes of the tide, as each fighter was able to rock and knock each other down to the canvas on multiple occasions. Although I personally scored the fight a draw (10-9 Grice, 10-9 Grice, 10-8 Bermudez) -- the same score most media members gave it -- the judges ultimately sided with Bermudez via split decision. And while that fight dropped Grice to 2-4 in the Octagon, UFC president Dana White confirmed Grice wouldn't be cut, and that the fight with Bermudez was exactly the kind of showing he was looking for from the rest of the roster. Unfortunately for Grice, he may never be able to fight again after suffering numerous injuries due to a careless driver smashing into his car, but if that was the last time we saw Grice, he left the world of MMA with one hell of a fight that we'll all watch for years to come.
The next candidate took place at UFC on FUEL TV 8. I'm talking about the main event between Wanderlei Silva and Brian Stann, which proved to be one of the year's best slugfests for as long as it lasted. Although fans thought that Silva was washed up, he took care of business in his old stomping grounds of Japan with a brutal second-round KO on Stann that left the entire crowd at the Saitama Super Arena and everyone watching at home in utter disbelief as this was a fight tailor-made for the younger, faster Stann to win.
The next fight I want to point out was, in my opinion, the most underrated scrap of the year, a five-round war at Bellator 98 between Alexander Shlemenko and Brett Cooper. Although Cooper had been gifted a title shot, and although the odds were heavily stacked against him, he gave Shlemenko everything he could handle and after five rounds, no one knew who the judges would give the nod to. They ended up giving the edge to the champion Shlemenko, but not after 25 minutes of brutal violence from both men left everyone watching this fight on Spike TV at the edges of their seats. An amazing fight.
The most amazing thing about the Cooper/Shlemenko bout is that it might not even be the best fight of September, and might not be the best fight with someone named Alexander in it. That's because Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson, the main event of UFC 165, also took place this month and while most expected Jones would run through Gustafsson, the Swede threw everything including the kitchen sink at him, going the entire five rounds with the champ for a photo finish on the scorecards. The judges ultimately sided with Jones in this fight, but it was razor thin and way more competitive than anyone ever thought. Also, it's the only fight on this list that featured a title up for grabs, which has to count for something.
And the last major fight of the year contender that I want to mention was the five-round war at UFC Fight Night 33 between Mark Hunt and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. There is a very good argument that can be made that this was the best heavyweight fight of all time in MMA, and it's really hard to argue that, because I've really never seen anything like this fight before. I don't think anyone expected that this one would go the five full rounds, but it did, and the fact that the judges scored it a draw at the end makes the fight even more memorable to me. Unfortunately, Silva tested positive for elevated testosterone levels after the bout which takes some of the lustre off of it, but it was still an incredible fight, one of the best ever for sure.
There's a number of other superb bouts that took place this year -- Michelle Waterson vs. Jessica Penne in Invicta, Carlos Condit vs. Johny Hendricks at UFC 158, Hendricks vs. Georges St-Pierre at UFC 158, Diego Sanchez vs. Gilbert Melendez, and Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler II in Bellator, just to name a few -- and you really can't go wrong with picking any of them as the fight of the year. The fact there's so much choice shows how strong of a year it was for mixed martial arts action in 2013, and one can only hope that 2014 is going to be just as good, if not better.
So, what's your 2013 Fight Of The Year? Leave a comment below or Tweet me.
Tags: ufc odds, mma odds, ufc, mma, jon jones, alexander shlemenko, ufc 157, brian stann, alexander gustafsson, ufc on fuel tv 8, wanderlei silva', mark hunt, antonio "bigfoot" silva, brett cooper, dennis bermudez, ufc 165, matt grice, bellator 98, UFC Fight Night 33