TSN TV Schedule TSN2 TV Schedule
Mixed Martial Arts

Looking back at the best MMA performances of 2013

{eot}
James Lynch, TSN.ca
12/20/2013 7:55:26 PM
Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
Text Size

Combat sports fans were treated to a number of memorable performances inside the cage this past year. 2013 will go down as one of the greatest in Mixed Martial Arts history and as we close out the year, TSN.ca's MMA staff takes a look back at these performances with our Year End Awards. As always we'd love to hear your opinion, so tweet myself (@LynchOnSports), Jordan (@FitCityJordan) or Big Marv (@BigMarv204) on Twitter. Or feel free to leave your opinions in the comment section below.

Knockout Of The Year

James Lynch – TSN.ca (@LynchOnSports)

Vitor Belfort def. Luke Rockhold at UFC on FX 8 (Spinning heel-kick knockout, 2:32. RD. 1)

Many pundits will point to Chris Weidman's upset knockout over Anderson Silva at UFC 162 for the knockout of the year, but in this case I'm taking style over significance. In a finish that emulated Street Fighter II character Ryu's "Hurricane Kick", Belfort stunned fans in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil this past May, by finishing the former Strikeforce champion in the first round. Interestingly enough, this would be the second of three straight head kick knockouts for Belfort in 2013.

Jordan Cieciwa - TSN Radio 1290 (@FitCityJordan)

Demetrious Johnson def. Joseph Benavidez (Knockout Punch, 2:08. RD 1)

This gets my nod because NO ONE EVER gets knocked out at flyweight. Johnson has been looking impressive as of late, but the power and timing it takes to knock out someone like Benavidez is more than impressive. This knockout came out of nowhere, and established Johnson as a force to be reckoned with in the Flyweight division. In addition, this was the first knockout loss for Benavidez in his career.

Marvyn Timog – TSN Radio 1290 (@BigMarv204)

Junior Dos Santos def. Mark Hunt at UFC 160 (Spinning heel-kick knockout, 4:18. RD.3)

Too many to choose from and most of them are of the spin kick variety. What a year for MMA highlight reels! I picked this one because of two major reasons. One, when does JDS throw a kick, much less a spinning back kick. Reason number two, who the heck knocks out Mark Hunt?

Submission Of The Year

Lynch

Rose Namajunas def. Kathina Catron at Invicta 5 (Flying Armbar, 0:12, RD 1)

Sure Anthony Pettis had a great submission win over Benson Henderson to win the title, but in this case I have to give props to Namajunas (especially with how quickly she sunk in the hold). The 21-year old wastes little time with this impressive flying armbar finish back in April at Invicta 5. Fans will be seeing more of Namajunas in 2014, as she's been added to the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter and subsequently will be joining the UFC's newly created strawweight division.

JC

Anthony Pettis def. Benson Henderson at UFC 164 (Armbar, 4:31, RD 1)
This gets the nod for the submission of the year simply because of the stage it was set on, a championship fight. Pettis had to follow up his off the cage kick with something amazing. He did the unthinkable with a first round submission against Ben "Smooth" Henderson. He beat the unbeatable, and he did it quickly and out of his normal practice. The submission was slick, and secured Pettis a title he deserves.

Big Marv

Anthony Pettis def. Ben Henderson at UFC 164 (Armbar, 4:31, RD 1)
Pettis beat Henderson in 2010's fight of the year to win the WEC Lightweight championship. Fast forward three years and they meet again, this time for the UFC Lightweight title. We all expected another epic five round war and we were all shocked that the man who seemed like he could never get submitted tapped out to this arm bar.

Fight Of The Year

Lynch

Jon Jones def. Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 (Unanimous Decision, RD 5)

I've had few lucky moments in my life but this was one of them. Sitting cage-side this past September in Toronto at UFC 165, I was able to witness what I consider one of the greatest fights in Mixed Martial Arts history. What puts this contest above other worthy candidates such as Mark Hunt vs. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva (UFC Fight Night 33) or Diego Sanchez vs. Gilbert Melendez (UFC 166) for me was the implications. Nobody gave the 26-year old Swede a chance in this fight and he was nearly seconds away from taking home the UFC Light Heavyweight title.

JC

Gilbert Melendez def. Diego Sanchez at UFC 166 (Melendez via unanimous decision, RD 3)

Because no one saw it coming, and nothing was on the line, these two went out and put on a show. It was amazing. This year had half a dozen fights that could be right here. It was a great year for fight fans. This fight stood out for me because it was an epic back and forth battle. It represented a fight were Diego Sanchez stepped up to the next level, something he hasn't done for a while, and Melendez stood in the pocket and gave fans what they wanted. This is one for the record books, and one to be watched again.

Big Marv

Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva fight to a draw at UFC Fight Night 33 (Majority Draw, RD 5)

When have we ever had this many fights up for fight of the year? Brian Stann vs. Wanderlei Silva, Denis Bermunez vs. Matt Grice, Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler II, Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez, Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson and Hunt vs. Silva. I went with this fight because no one expected much from it, yet it was technical yet sloppy, brutal yet beautiful and the only time I've ever seen the majority of people so satisfied with a draw.

Upset Of the Year

Lynch

Chris Weidman def. Anderson Silva at UFC 162 (Knockout, 1:18, RD 1)
While odds-makers won't back up my case for this being the upset of the year as Silva was only a 2-1 favorite prior to his UFC 162 encounter with Weidman, the significance of this win earns the upset of the year in my books. If you consider that Silva was defeated for the first time by technical knockout in his 38-fight career and the middleweight title changed hands for the first time in 2457 days (since Oct 14th 2006), I have a strong case. Other upsets like Bellator's Emanuel Newton (who was a whopping 9-1 underdog) knocking out King Mo at Bellator 90 should also be noted, but that had more to do with the fact that Newton was extremely underrated.

JC

Emanuel Newton vs. Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal at Bellator 90 (Spinning back-fist KO, 2:35 RD. 1)

The best part about this knockout win was the amazing under-dog status Emanuel had heading into the fight. Then he followed it up at Bellator 106 with yet another win. He got his knock out, people said it was lucky, and then he backed it up with a solid win. That makes Newton's win special, and the upset of the year. If Weidman can defeat Silva without him show boating, then I'm going to be changing my vote on the 28th.

Big Marv

Chris Weidman def. Anderson Silva at UFC 162 (Knockout, 1:18, RD 1)
No doubt about it. Weidman over Silva will take the cake. Too much clowning on the champ's side? Maybe. But Weidman took FULL advantage. I expect nothing less than fireworks on December 28th.

Male Fighter Of The Year

Lynch

Demetrious Johnson (UFC Flyweight Champion) 3-0 in 2013

Johnson gets the nod simply because he's taken out the top guys in his weight class and is seemingly doing so more impressively in each fight. In his last title defence (UFC on FOX 9), he knocked out Joseph Benavidez in the first round, handling the Team Alpha Male fighter the first knockout loss of his career. This is always a tough choice because generally a champion has the upper hand if he is able to defend successfully, as his quality of opposition is generally top notch compared to his peers. Johnson gets this award over Vitor Belfort because the 36-year old middleweight is barred from competing in certain parts of the United States because of his TRT use. Other considerations would have been UFC Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao (2-0 in 2013) and fellow bantamweight Urijah Faber (4-0 in 2013).

JC

Vitor Belfort (UFC Middleweight) 3-0 in 2013

Vitor gets the nod for his three knockouts in one year (and in a row) He shocked us when he head-kicked Michael Bisping, then improved the style points against Luke Rockhold, and then did the unthinkable by knocking out Dan Henderson. He gets the nod for doing it three times in one year. In 2013 Vitor had three fights and spent a total of five minutes and 16 seconds at work. He defeated a top contender, Strikeforce's champ, and the legend Dan Henderson in just over the equivalent of one round of fighting. That's the reason the Phenom gets the nod.

Big Marv

Demetrious Johnson (UFC Flyweight Champion) 3-0 in 2013

Prior to UFC on Fox 9, my fighter of the year was Vitor Belfort. Then "Mighty Mouse" knocked out Joseph Benavidez in the first round of their fight (a man who's been knocking out flyweights on his way back to a title shot) Then I looked back at Johnson's year and I can clearly see he improved astronomically with each fight and just walks with that championship swagger. One impressive 2013 for Mighty Mouse

Female Fighter Of The Year

Lynch

Alexis Davis (UFC Bantamweight), 3-0 in 2013

Canadian bias aside, I had to give the nod to the Port Colborne, Ontario born Davis over champion Ronda Rousey because she's been more active. At the start of 2013 she avenged her loss to Ultimate Fighter 18 contestant Shanya Baszler at Invicta 4 and would follow that up with two-straight wins over Rosi Sexton (UFC 161) and former title challenger Liz Carmouche (UFC Fight For The Troops 3).

JC

Rose Namajunas (UFC Strawweight), 2-1 in 2013

The 21-year old Namajunas showed the world that the girls can play rough and do it with a real flair. Invicta 5 had Namajunas winning her fight against Kathina Catron in 12 seconds with a flying armbar. She represented the strawweights perfectly, and brought some new fans to the division with her speed and accuracy. The question now is, can she follow it up with some consistent wins.

Big Marv

Alexis Davis (UFC Bantamweight), 3-0 in 2013

I have to agree with Lynch. Not only did Davis go 3-0 this year, but she improved with each fight. Beating down former title challenger Liz Carmouche was a huge step towards her title contention.

Canadian Fighter of the Year

Lynch

TJ Grant (UFC Lightweight), 2-0 in 2013

Grant earns the award because he pushed his undefeated streak at 155lbs to five-straight in 2013. His most recent win, a first round knockout over Gray Maynard (UFC 160) back in May earned him a title shot against then champion Benson Henderson. Unfortunately for the Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native, a concussion has sidelined him for the second half of this year.

JC

TJ Grant (UFC Lightweight), 2-0 in 2013

The reason Grant gets the nod is strictly because he lived up to the hype. There was a ton of pressure put on TJ by the media and fans. With all that pressure what did the kid from Cole Harbour Nova Scotia do? He knocked out Gray Maynard at UFC 160. As soon as he shakes this concussion, he's got a direct line at the champ (Pettis). This will be a great year for him; I only hope he recovers fully before coming back. We need this young man around a while. He's got that special something, and he's Canadian!

Big Marv

Georges St-Pierre (Former UFC Welterweight Champion), 2-0 in 2013
Let's look at the former Welterweight Champion's year. He won with a total domination of Nick Diaz in his first fight and a win over Johny Hendricks in an all-out war in his second bout. Controversial ending or not, that fight was a war. He accomplished all of this while battling some personal demons. Then, knowing he needs time off, rather than holding up the division or having the UFC bring in another interim championship, he vacates his belt. All class, all the time, a true, proud Canadian.

Comeback Performance of the Year

Lynch

Travis Browne def. Alistair Overeem at UFC Fight 26 (Front-Kick Knockout, 4:08, RD 1)

Former Strikeforce champion Overeem was seconds away from pulling off what many believed would be a first round knockout of the Jackson/Winklejohn product Browne. Instead the 31-year old Hawaiian weathered the early storm and caught the former K1 champion with a beautiful front-kick knockout.

JC

Travis Browne def. Alistair Overeem at UFC Fight 26 (Front-Kick Knockout, 4:08, RD 1)

I cannot think of many fighters who could be on the brink of a loss to Overeem and come back. "The Reem" finishes people, it's what he does. He is powerful, aggressive, talented, and has a ton of experience. When Travis Browne battled back, and finished the fight, he had this locked up. That fact that he came back was amplified by the fact that he did it in the first round. He regained his sense, and ended the night for Alistair. It was a very impressive gut check.

Big Marv

Travis Browne def. Alistair Overeem at UFC Fight 26 (Front-Kick Knockout, 4:08, RD 1)

As soon as this fight ended, I knew this was my pick for comeback of the year. Browne was all but done against the cage. Then he showed some heart and fortitude and eventually introduced his foot to Overeem's face and said good night. What an amazing one round fight to watch!

Robbery of the Year

Lynch

Phil Davis def. Lyoto Machida at UFC 163 (Unanimous Decision, RD 3)

This fight, like many controversial decisions in MMA history has come down to one round. In this case, it was the first round of the light heavyweight affair and for some reason the judges in this contest valued Davis' one takedown over the flurry of punches that Machida imposed. Just to give you an idea, Machida was close to finishing the fight early on, yet the one takedown Davis made in the eyes of two judges was enough to steal the round. Almost all major media members scored this fight for Machida and to make matter more bizarre, this fight was held in Machida's native country of Brazil.

JC

Rashad Evans def. Dan Henderson at UFC 161 (Unanimous Decision)
Never leave it in the hands of the judges, that is the number one thing coaches will tell you. Dan Henderson has a bit of a sleepy style, looking for the big right hand. This fight was no exception. The problem I had with the decision was with the judging. There is no clear cut way to judge a fight. Dan definitely was more aggressive, but Rashad's speed landed more shots. The more damaged fighter clearly was Rashad, but he scored more strikes. I'd like to see MMA judges decide if we are scoring the Sport of MMA (More points for strikes, Rashad, GSP) or the Fight of MMA (More damage Dan, Hendricks). Whatever it is, I was heartbroken to see Dan lose.

Big Marv

Phil Davis def. Lyoto Machida at UFC 163 (Unanimous Decision, RD 3)

Lynch and I seem to be on the same wave length here. At no point was Machida in any trouble during this fight, yet somehow he loses? It's like Pacquiao/Bradley all over again.

Disappointment of the Year

Lynch

Alistair Overeem (UFC Heavyweight), 0-2 in 2013

2013 was supposed to be a breakout year for Overeem in the UFC. After sitting out all of 2012 due to getting popped for elevated levels of testosterone, the 33-year old Dutch heavyweight was a round away from earning himself a UFC Heavyweight title shot back at UFC 156. Instead the Blackzillians member's overconfidence proved to be his downfall, as in the third round against Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva; he dropped his hands and suffered a knockout loss to the Brazilian. Overeem would follow that up with his second straight loss in a head-kick knockout loss to Travis Browne at UFC Fight Night 26. Now facing Frank Mir next year at UFC 169, another loss could spill the end for Overeem career inside the UFC.

JC

Alistair Overeem (UFC Heavyweight), 0-2 in 2013....but hey he's drug free.

I'm happy we have this category. You can't hear my sarcasm, but Alistair's lack of honesty in the whole performance enhancing drug scandal had me livid. Blaming doctors, using his sick mother as a cover to not take a test. You name it, and in 2012, Overeem did it. So what is Karma like? Well it's 0-2 in 2013 and losing the respect of fans and pundits around the MMA world. He looked lack luster and flat. For his reputation sake, I do hope he can turn it around in 2014.

Big Marv

Alistair Overeem (UFC Heavyweight), 0-2 in 2013

I would absolutely fawn over how awesome Overeem was when talking to fairweather MMA fans. Then he came to the UFC and suddenly I don't know what I'm talking about anymore. I sincerely hope we see an Overeem on fire in 2014!

Comeback Fighter of the Year

Lynch

Robbie Lawler (UFC Welterweight), 3-0 in 2013

Nobody in Mixed Martial Arts has had a resurgence in their career quite like Lawler did this past year. After losing his final Strikeforce bout against Lorenz Larkin in 2012, the 31-year old would be brought over to the UFC and made the smart decision to drop down to 170lbs. Facing a stiff opponent in his UFC return against former welterweight title challenger Josh Koscheck (UFC 157), the ATT product would finish the former TUF contestant in the first round. Lawler would follow that up with wins over Bobby Voelker (UFC on FOX 8) and Rory MacDonald (UFC 167). Because of current champ Georges St-Pierre taking a leave of absence, Lawler now faces Johny Hendricks for the vacant welterweight title.

JC

Robbie Lawler (UFC Welterweight), 3-0 in 2013

I had written Robbie off in Strikeforce. His weight cut to 170lbs was a thing of brilliance. He made short work of Josh Koscheck at UFC 157 with a first round knockout (at 3:57). He's turned so many heads that at 31, Lawler will be fighting for the championship. I don't think Lawler could have beat GSP, the wrestling and control would have been too much. I do think he can out strike Johny Hendricks, and you know that's the direction this fight is going.

Big Marv

Vitor Belfort (UFC Middleweight) 3-0 in 2013

Vitor looks like he's 19 again. He's really enjoyed finishing his opponents in 2013 by kicking them in the head. And these weren't tomato cans either. Belfort knocked out TUF winner Michael Bisping, Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold and the un-knockout-able Dan Henderson.

Breakthrough Fighter of the Year

Lynch

Matt Brown (UFC Welterweight) 2-0 in 2013

With finishes over Jordan Mein and Mike Pyle, Brown pushed his undefeated streak to six-straight.  Unfortunately a back injury ousted the 32-year old from his fight with Carlos Condit at UFC on FOX 9 this month, but likely would have earned a title shot with a win over the former interim welterweight champion. Considering he lost four of his last five fights at the end of 2011, the fact he's been so impressive since then has earned him this award.

JC

Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC Lightweight), 3-0 in 2013

Undefeated now at 21-0 (5-0 in the UFC) and took out top fighters Thiago Tavares, Abel Trujillo and Pat Healy all in 2013. That's enough to get my vote!

Big Marv

TJ Grant (UFC Lightweight), 2-0 in 2013

In 2012 we said, "who is TJ Grant?" Now we're saying, "when is he getting his title shot?"

Disappointing Fighter Performance Of The Year

Lynch

Gray Maynard (UFC Lightweight), 0-2 in 2013, two first round KO losses
Despite a lackluster split-decision win in 2012 over Clay Guida, it seemed to many that Maynard would be back on the road to title contention in the 155lb division in 2013. Instead the TUF 5 contestant would lose back to back fights to the hands of TJ Grant and Nate Diaz, both first round knockout losses. Now the question isn't "is Maynard a title contender?", but instead "should the 34-year old be thinking retirement?"

JC

Ryan Jimmo (UFC Light Heavyweight), 1-2 in 2013 (including the most boring fight of the year at UFC 161)

2012 had Jimmo knocking out Anthony Perosh in seven seconds, the record fastest KO in UFC history. Coming out of the MFC with the hype of a natural born superstar and starting this new chapter of his career with a bang, Jimmo shocked the world with one lackluster performance after another. His fight with Igor Pokrajac was boring and disappointing at best. Jimmo has to be on his last legs with the UFC, I'm hoping 2014 has a few performances worth watching. Love to see that robot dance again (not really).

Big Marv

Gray Maynard (UFC Lightweight), 0-2 in 2013, two first round KO losses
Totally Agree with Lynch here. What happened to Maynard? His chin seems weak and his wrestling is almost non-existent.

Event of The Year

Lynch

UFC on FOX 7: Henderson vs. Melendez, April 20th 2013

Top to bottom, this free card on FOX delivered in a number of different ways. For starters, there were 11 finishes, with the only decisions being Daniel Cormier over Frank Mir and Francis Carmont over Lorenz Larkin. We saw a number of spectacular highlight reel knockouts from Josh Thomson, Yoel Romero, Joseph Benavidez and Miles Jury. The main event (while controversial) produced an entertaining battle between two of the top lightweights in Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez.

JC

UFC on FOX 7: Henderson vs. Melendez, April 20th 2013

There is no question, 2014 was a year full of solid events. But when you cap off 11 fights finished, and many with some flash and style, with a fight people will be talking about for years, you've got something special. If the UFC could recreate the energy more often, they'd secure themselves as a mainstream success. The fights had everything, including excitement start to finish for a new fan. Not to mention an absolute war between the Champ Benson Henderson and the Challenger Gilbert Melendez. 

Big Marv

UFC on FOX 7: Henderson vs. Melendez, April 20th 2013

Again, I have to agree with Lynch. This was a fun card to watch and it was absolutely free!

What are your year-end awards? Tweet us or leave your opinions in the comments section below. Also be sure to tune into the "Weigh-In" on TSN Radio 1290 Winnipeg every Saturday at 12:30pm ET as myself, Jordan and "Big Marv" Timog go toe to toe discussing the hottest topics in MMA.

Georges St-Pierre Johnny Hendricks (Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images)

zoom

(Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images)
Share This

Share This

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to FarkAdd to TwitterAdd to Stumble UponAdd to Reddit
Print this Story



Podcasts

TSN 1050: The MMA Report w/ John Pollock - Mar 13th

Featuring: Arena Combat commentators Cyrus Fees and Casey Oxendine, Fight Network analysts John Ramdeen and Robin Black, UFC 171 preview and more.

The MMA Report w/ John Pollock - Feb. 7, 2014

Daniel Cormier chats cut down to 205 and fighting Rashad Evans, MMA Fighting's Guilherme Cruz, Twitter Q&A and news from the past week.

TSN 1050 Toronto: The MMA Report w/ John Pollock - Jan. 24

UFC lightweight Josh "The Punk" Thomson chatting FOX fight with Benson Henderson, Team Canada's Elias Theodorou chats TUF Nations, news, Q&A and more.


More Podcasts

© 2014
All rights reserved.
Bell Media Television