Putting on a "Fight of the Year"-caliber scrap entails extraordinary action from both opponents in essentially every facet of the game.
Although Johny Hendricks didn't throw many kicks or attempt any submissions, and Carlos Condit failed to shoot for a takedown, the bout between "Bigg Rigg" and "The Natural Born Killer" at UFC 158 contained captivating action from start to finish, regardless of where the fight went.
Hendricks and Condit, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 by the UFC, respectively, put on the type of enthralling brawl that leaves fans and experts yearning to see more five-round affairs.
But how does the epic battle that ensued between Bigg Rigg and The Natural Born Killer stack up against the other early "Fight of the Year" candidates?
Less than three months into 2013, there are several scraps that the Hendricks vs. Condit battle are already drawing comparisons to. Those fights are: Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche at UFC 157; Michael Bisping vs. Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 7; Brian Stann vs. Wanderlei Silva at UFC on Fuel TV 8; and Dennis Bermudez vs. Matt Grice at UFC 157.
Granted, these five fights were all aesthetically pleasing, but the Hendricks vs. Condit and Bermudez vs. Grice fights must be placed in a category above the rest on account of the back-and-forth nature of both bouts.
Unlike Rousey, Belfort and Silva, who each won in rather convincing fashion, Hendricks and Bermudez each had to engage in tooth-and-nail wars from bell to bell to secure wins.
Hendricks got outstruck by Condit 94-69, including 42-30 in the significant strikes category. But Bigg Rigg, who threatened Condit with several heavy combinations in standup exchanges, scored on 12 of his 15 takedown attempts.
Hendricks also absorbed punishing knees, elbows, kicks and punches from Condit, but never stopped stalking The Natural Born Killer in pursuit of a KO.
In Bermudez's case, the former Bloomsburg University wrestler fell one blow shy of doubling up Grice in strikes landed (181-91). But no matter how many times Bermudez drilled Grice on the button, he couldn't manage to stop the former four-time Oklahoma state wrestling champ.
Bermudez also failed to ground the feisty Grice, who stuffed each of his nine shots. Grice, in the meantime, only mustered one takedown in 12 attempts.
Both fighters flashed remarkable defensive grappling dexterity, and as a result, Bermudez and Grice ended up wildly duking it out.
All things considered, however, Hendricks displayed the more impressive skills, the more intricate game plan and the bigger heart on a much larger stage than Bermudez, making his fight with Condit a slight favorite to garner "Fight of the Year" honors.
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