Memorable MMA Moments from the 1st Quarter of 2013
In just three months of MMA action, 2013 has already topped 2012.
Last year was bedeviled with injuries and main event cancellations, while this year has done nothing but entertain both inside the cage and outside of it. Simply put, this year has had it all. Get your checklist ready.
Early Fight of the Year nominees? Um, check. I'm pretty sure no other fight will top Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann this year.
Grudge matches? Absolutely—most notable was the enticing war of words between Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz.
Anything new? Well, Ronda Rousey took everyone by surprise when the mainstream media heavily promoted her fight with Liz Carmouche in the first-ever UFC women's bout.
So out of all of these wonderful moments, which moment was the best in 2013? Here are the top 10 moments so far in 2013.
10. Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks Steal the Show at UFC 158
GSP and Diaz drew the most attention heading into UFC 158. However, following the event, Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks had everyone buzzing.
Condit and Hendricks stole the show. Hendricks' head-hunting style and Condit's flashy striking mixed very well inside the Octagon.
These two traded strikes back and forth, and every time Hendricks took Condit to the ground, Condit was able to attempt submissions and get back to his feet.
It was a fantastic three-round battle, and it had fans clamoring for two more rounds. The fight garnered Fight of the Night honors.
9. Mark Hunt Breaks Stefan Struve's Jaw
Don't worry guys—the Cinderella story remains intact.
If he gains a knockout over Junior dos Santos at UFC 160, Mark Hunt will receive a UFC title fight for the heavyweight championship. How did he get put in such a position?
After battling back and forth with Stefan Struve for three rounds at UFC on Fuel TV 8, Hunt delivered a jaw-shattering walk-off knockout shot.
The patented left hook broke Struve's jaw, and it marked Hunt's fourth straight win in the UFC (three by knockout).
8. Vitor Belfort Knocks Out Michael Bisping
Head-kick knockouts are a beautiful sight to see, right, fight fans?
Driven by testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) or not, Vitor Belfort's knockout against Michael Bisping at UFC on FX 7 was no different.
In one swift, perfectly timed motion, Belfort lifted his leg and caught Bisping square on the side of his head.
The blow dropped Bisping, and Belfort finished him soon after with some ground-and-pound. It was the first main event of the year for the UFC, and it certainly "kicked" things off strongly for the company.
7. Submission of the Year: Renan Barao Submits Michael McDonald
Slick is often used to describe someone's Brazilian jiu-jitsu in MMA.
Well, the adjective could not suit Renan Barao's arm triangle on Michael McDonald any better.
At UFC on Fuel TV 7, Barao faced McDonald for the interim bantamweight championship, and McDonald proved to be a worthy challenger.
McDonald pushed the tempo on Barao, and after Barao settled in and started to win the striking exchanges in the third and fourth round, he decided to lean on his BJJ for the victory. After maintaining full mount, Barao slipped in an amazing arm triangle as sneakily as one possibly could. McDonald had no choice but to tap.
6. Nick Diaz's Pre-Fight Hype
When you think of great fighters who have a distinct ability to hype fights, you instantly think of names like Chael Sonnen, Michael Bisping and Josh Koscheck.
These men are nothing short of brilliant in the way they antagonize their opponent and generate interest for their upcoming fights. Diaz isn't usually known for issuing a war of words...outside of the cage.
That all changed leading up to UFC 158. Before his championship bout with GSP, Diaz went on rant after rant about GSP possibly cheating, getting pampered and the UFC selling "wolf tickets."
Unlike Sonnen, Bisping and Koscheck, Diaz didn't intentionally antagonize GSP to build pay-per-view buys. Rather, he was just being himself. Numerous memorable exchanges with GSP came as a result.
5. Matt Grice and Dennis Bermudez Slug It out
It's too bad Silva vs. Stann took place in 2013.
If it hadn't, Matt Grice and Dennis Bermudez would easily be the Fight of the Year so far. On the prelims for UFC 157, Grice took it to Bermudez early by rocking him and dropping him in the first two rounds.
Bermudez rebounded. In the third, Bermudez teed off on Grice and hurt him badly. Then magic happened.
Grice and Bermudez traded strikes back and forth, and neither man would give in to the other. The fight resulted in a decision for Bermudez. No worries, folks—no "there's no real loser in this fight" cliches here, even if there wasn't...
4. King Mo Upset
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal is not Anderson Silva.
King Mo cannot stalk his opponent with his hands down and proceed to leave himself wide open. King Mo must have forgotten.
At Bellator 90, King Mo fought a lesser opponent in Emanuel Newton, but because of his cocky approach in the fight, he was left lying flat on his back.
The knockout blow from Newton was a spinning backfist, and it was easily one of the biggest upsets in Bellator history.
3. Knockout of the Year: Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva Knocks out Alistair Overeem
From one man who fought with his hands down to another—Alistair Overeem let his guard down at UFC 156.
Overeem is a better striker than Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. Winning the K-1 Grand Prix tournament can attest to that notion.
However, Silva is a heavyweight, and like most heavyweights, he has heavy hands. At 6'4", 265 pounds, Silva packs a lot of power in his punches. So standing in front of him with his hands down is not the greatest idea Overeem has ever had.
Thankfully for Silva, Overeem did just that and left a big opening in the third round. One power shot after another followed against the cage until Overeem finally collapsed. Overeem made the classic mistake of giving a fighter with a puncher's chance, a chance.
2. Fight of the Year: Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann
Let's throw technique out the window and trade strikes like men, shall we?
This seems to have been the agreement between Silva and Stann prior to their meeting in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 8.
Once Silva and Stann took the center of the Octagon, they wasted little time before swinging for the fences. It was a classic game of give and take, and both men had their moments of falling to the canvas. The brawl was a full-on sprint, and Silva walked away with the second-round technical knockout.
The fight also made for the best Harlem Shake video to surface on the Internet.
1. Ronda Rousey Puts Women's MMA on the Map
Ronda Rousey is fearless.
She's unafraid of confrontation, she's game for continuous interviews and media obligations and she's courageous in the cage. No wonder the mainstream media became obsessed with her.
After doing interviews with HBO, ESPN and many other media outlets, Rousey's first championship defense in the UFC harnessed the interest of fans around the world.
Headlining UFC 157 with Carmouche, Rousey led the pay-per-view card to draw more viewers than UFC 156 (headlined by Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar). She not only drew attention but also finished Carmouche with her patented armbar.
Instantaneously, women's MMA was put on the map.