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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
There were a ton of fights in 2013, which led to a very large amount of finishes to sift through for the annual year-end awards. The year was filled with fantastic knockouts and submissions, along with some excellent fights in general, some really fun fight cards, and some hugely successful fighters. We're breaking it all down over the next several days, and we continue tonight with the 2013 "Fight of the Year."
2013 Fight of the Year: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson - UFC 165 - 9/21/13
This fight featured just about everything you want to see from this sport. Gustafsson proved his status as an elite light heavyweight even in defeat, beat up the Champion early, and showcased how well rounded he truly was. Jones took the biggest test anyone had ever given him, and fought right through it for an extremely strong final seven minutes in the Championship rounds. The back and forth nature of the fight, Gustafsson's insane toughness in the final minutes round, and Jones' heart to rebound from a couple of tough rounds early in the fight added up to one of the most thrilling displays of high level MMA in a long time.
The Best of the Rest (In Chronological Order)
Dennis Bermudez vs. Matt Grice - UFC 157 - 2/23/13
For the first two rounds of this fight on the UFC 157 prelims there was a lot of fun back and forth exchanges between Bermudez and Grice. The latter seemed to have the edge into the third, meaning Bermudez had to leave everything in the cage to pick up a win, and boy did he. The uncanny chin of Grice allowed him to get hit with punch after punch and combination after combination in an absolutely wild five minutes. Bermudez his him with everything he could think of, but Grice wouldn't go down, and the fight went to the scorecards. Bermudez took a split in what could have been a draw, but it was thrilling to watch.
Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche - UFC 157 - 2/23/13
Ronda Rousey's outspokenness may have gotten her opportunities which hadn't presented themselves to other women fighters in the past, but her actual in cage performances cannot be argued. She kicked off the women's division in the UFC in the perfect manner, taking everything Carmouche could throw at her and scoring yet another armbar. It was a thrilling five minutes, and one of the best one-round fights in a while as well.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann - UFC on Fuel 8 - 3/3/13
Mayhem. That's the word to describe this two round Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots battle in Japan. Silva and Stann came out swinging, each knocking each other down a number of times. They didn't stop throwing wild strikes until Stann went down in the second and was hit with a devastating finishing blow on the ground. It was old school MMA violence with little care for technique, but it was exciting as hell to watch.
Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano - TUF 17 Finale - 4/13/13
The women continued to make an impression on the UFC's fanbase in April, with Tate and Zingano fighting for the right to face Rousey later in the year. It was all Tate for the first round and a half as well, taking Zingano down and beating her up on the ground, but Zingano started to turn the corner late in the second, and got to another level in the third round. She hurt Tate early and often, then forced a stoppage with a series of knees against the cage. Though Tate went down, she felt she could still continue, leading to some slight controversy, and she ultimately replaced an injured Zingano against Rousey on the currently filming season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Carlos Condit vs. Johny Hendricks - UFC 158 - 3/16/13
Another one of those fights featuring just about everything the sport has to offer. This was a close back and forth fight between two elite level welterweights, with Hendricks showcasing his wrestling and being effective enough on the ground to edge past Condit by decision. However, Condit did plenty from his back and in the striking game to have an argument for the win himself. It was such a close fight that it truly was a toss up going to the judges, and Hendricks had his hand raised. The two may face off for the Title in 2014 if both win at UFC 171.
Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez - UFC 166 - 10/19/13
There's no question that this fight was thrilling as all hell, but what made it so exciting also undercut it as the top fight of the year. Sanchez is nigh unstoppable, but he was at a significant skill disadvantage against the former Strikeforce Champ. He got cracked by strike after strike after strike, and the only thing that brought him into the fight was a third round uppercut which landed. But he was out-struck by a wide margin, and the outcome was never truly in doubt here.
Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez II - Bellator 106 - 11/2/13
A rematch of their 2011 "Fight of the Year," this five-round fight was even better. Alvarez had so much on the line after his contentious legal battle with Bellator, and wanted to prove that, even a year out of action, he was the best lightweight on the roster. They gave each other every ounce of what they had, and both were battered and bloody by the end of 25 minutes. Alvarez got his hand raised by split decision to recapture the belt, and it sets up a third fight sometime in 2014 which will now have impossible expectations to live up to.
Mark Hunt vs. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva - UFC Fight Night 33 - 12/7/13
This was an even better style brawl than what we got from Sanchez and Melendez in October. 25 brutal minutes with Hunt and Silva throwing heavy shots, and despite the ugliness of some of the action, both kept throwing strikes until the end of the fight. Silva's failed drug test out of the event dampens it somewhat, but it was absolute carnage in Australia from them both, and was exciting start to finish.
Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate - UFC 168 - 12/28/13
Rousey closed the year as she began: showcasing her dominance against an overmatched foe. Liz Carmouche gave her the biggest challenge in February, and Tate dragged out of the first round for the first time ever. This time, though, it was just an extended display of Rousey's excellence. She patiently out-worked Tate in every aspect of the game, pulled off excellent reversals in the few non-dominant spots she found herself in, and ultimately secured her eighth straight armbar win as a pro.
*Pat Curran vs. "Pitbull" Freire (Bellator 85)
*Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson vs. John Dodson (UFC on Fox 6)
*Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar (UFC 156)
*Cub Swanson vs. Dustin Poirier (UFC on Fuel 7)
*Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve (UFC on Fuel 8)
*Matt Brown vs. Jordan Mein (UFC on Fox 7)
*Brad Pickett vs. Michael McDonald (UFC Fight Night 26)
*Carlos Condit vs. Martin Kampmann (UFC Fight Night 27)
*Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks (UFC 167)
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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Frank Hyden - Rich Hansen
Chris Park - Matt Pelkey
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