The Biggest MMA Winners from the Month of January
The 2013 MMA calender started much stronger than the 2012 one finished.
In January, the UFC held two events and featured a flyweight title fight, while Bellator MMA made its Spike TV debut and put three championship bouts on display.
A number of fighters disappointed, but just as many made big statements in their first appearance of 2013. The latter competitors will be looking to have career years in 2013, and they are the subject of this article.
These are the biggest MMA winners of January.
Glover Teixeira had an opportunity to make a huge statement against Quinton Jackson on network television at UFC on Fox 6. Although he didn't put Jackson away in devastating fashion, Teixeira was finally able to prove himself against a top light heavyweight.
The Brazilian did not shy away from trading with the heavy-hitting Jackson and showed he is more than just a slugger by taking "Rampage" down on multiple occasions.
While the win didn't make Teixeira out to be worthy of a title shot right now, it definitely put him in the line for a chance to claim UFC gold.
After beating Hatsu Hioki, Ricardo Lamas had emerged as one of the top contenders in the featherweight division. As a result, he was booked for a fight with Erik Koch on the UFC on Fox 6 main card.
Lamas was able to beat Koch decisively, finishing the fighter who had once been pegged top contender with brutal elbows from the top position.
Though that win seemingly put Lamas in position for a title shot, Anthony Pettis' request to drop down and fight featherweight champion Jose Aldo has put Lamas' chance at UFC gold on hold.
After losing to Jon Jones, Vitor Belfort needed to make a big statement to return to title contention, and he did with a second-round knockout of Michael Bisping.
While he'll likely need another win before finding himself in a championship bout, Belfort is once again being talked about as one of the top middleweights in the world.
Before fighting for the belt, Belfort may welcome former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold to the Octagon (via MMAFighting.com).
With a dominant performance against Donald Cerrone at UFC on Fox 6, Anthony Pettis separated himself as the most worthy lightweight to meet the winner of an upcoming title fight between Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez.
Instead, out of nowhere, Pettis requested a move to the featherweight division and a fight with 145-pound champion Jose Aldo. The UFC could not pass up the matchup between two of the most athletic fighters in the sport and booked the bout for this August (via USAToday.com).
Pat Curran has already established himself as the best featherweight competing outside of the Octagon. With a title defense against Patricio Freire at Bellator 85, Curran took one step closer to becoming the best 145-pound fighter in the world.
Unfortunately, that distinction may be out of reach unless he joins the UFC ranks, but Curran is doing everything he can to make his presence known outside the world's top MMA organization.
Daniel Straus, who beat Marlon Sandro in a recent Bellator MMA featherweight tournament, will likely be next for Curran.
Ben Askren has long been criticized for his lack of finishing ability. However, by stopping Karl Amoussou with his ground-and-pound, Askren finally silenced some of his detractors.
Most of the top welterweights in MMA compete under the UFC banner, so Askren hasn't had a chance to elevate himself to elite status. However, his wrestling prowess makes him a difficult opponent for any 170-pound fighter on the planet.
The most recent Bellator MMA welterweight tournament winner, Andrey Koreshkov, should be next up for Askren.
By beating Eddie Alvarez, Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler has cemented himself as one of MMA's top lightweights until he is dethroned.
At Bellator 85, Chandler showed how hard it will be to end his reign by breezing through Olympic judoka Rick Hawn.
In all likelihood, Chandler now awaits the winner of a lightweight tournament final between Marcin Held and Dave Jansen.
With every win, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is engraving his name further into the history books.
At UFC on Fox 6, Johnson became the first fighter to defend the UFC flyweight title by beating John Dodson in an entertaining five-round bout.
Since the 125-pound division is still developing, Johnson's next title defense could come against an opponent he has already beaten in Joseph Benavidez.