April has come and gone, and it was a busy month in the sport of MMA: four weeks, four UFC shows and an Invicta FC event to boot.
What makes a fight a Fight of the Year contender?
First, the fight has to be competitive. A runaway by either fighter automatically excludes the bout from contention. Secondly, it has to be exciting. And that is where there can be some argument amongst fans.
Does a fight have to be technically proficient to be a Fight of the Year, or can an all-out brawl find its way to the top? The subjectivity of what is an exciting fight is where a lot of lists will differ in their rankings.
With May already underway and another two major MMA events this month, let's take a look at what fights are already in contention for the honor of being 2013's Fight of the Year.
Event: UFC 157
Official Result: Dennis Bermudez defeats Matt Grice by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).
Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice squared off at UFC 157 in late February. The Honda Center in Anaheim, California was anticipating the main event between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche, but this fight got the crowd on its feet a bit early.
The first round immediately got things rolling with competitive back-and-forth action. Grice managed to drop Bermudez with a left hook in the later stages of the round, and for most, that seemed to clinch the first round for him.
But Bermudez was not out of the fight.
Grice continued to land the left hook in the second, and Bermudez continued to come forward. Grice seemed to be the more effective fighter, but Bermudez took the round on two of the three scorecards.
In the third, Bermudez stormed back with a huge round. He hurt Grice several times and was on the verge of getting the stoppage. Grice's grit allowed him to stay in the fight and make it to the final bell.
Most of the media scored the fight a draw, but the judges saw it in favor of Bermudez. It was an exciting featherweight fight that put both men on the map for most fans. They went in the Octagon and left everything they had inside the cage.
Event: UFC on Fox 6
Official Decision: Demetrious Johnson defeats John Dodson by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 48-47).
The flyweights headlined a major card on Fox and delivered.
The first round was as close as they come—a fast-paced five minutes between two of the elite fighters regardless of weight class. It featured a good mix of quality stand-up and transitions to takedowns.
In the second, Dodson rocked the champion with his big power. However, the champion recovered quickly. With each close round that passed, Johnson took it on the judges' scorecards. He closed out the championship rounds as a champion should to earn the victory.
In terms of pure excitement, Grice vs. Bermudez are on top, but the importance of the title fight slides this one just above it on the list.
The level of a fight certainly helps its placement on lists such as these, and the flyweight title being tightly contested for with technical brilliance will make it a contender for the year-end award.
Event: UFC 158
Official Result: Johny Hendricks defeats Carlos Condit by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
UFC 158 was all about the welterweight, and everyone was awaiting the main event between Nick Diaz and Georges St. Pierre. Bruce Buffer screwed up in announcing the co-main event as the main event, but he couldn't have been more right.
Johny Hendricks and Carlos Condit stole the show from the champion and challenger. And fans wanted two more rounds of this.
A title fight was on the line between Hendricks and Condit, and they fought like it. They came out swinging. Hendricks wanted the knockout and so did Condit.
When Hendricks would go back to his wrestling, Condit was up to the task of getting back to his feet. All things were even heading to the final round, where the wrestler managed to score enough to pick up the win.
Event: UFC on Fuel TV 8
Official Result: Wanderlei Silva defeats Brian Stann by KO at 4:08 of the second round.
Any time Wanderlei Silva fights in the Saitama Super Arena, there is a special feeling in the air, and this fight was no different.
If this fight fails to win Fight of the Year, it will surely capture Round of the Year. Brian Stann and Silva put on one of the most fun rounds of action you will ever witness. It was a brawl that had to be seen to be believed.
Both fighters swung away, Silva was dropped twice in the round and Stann once. At the end of the first round, there was blood all over the mat.
The start to the second was more tentative, but they picked up the pace again. Silva caught Stann in an exchange and finished off the fight on the ground with vicious ground-and-pound.
It may not have been a title fight or the most technical fight you will ever see, but these two put on one of the most exciting bouts of the year.
Event: Invicta FC 5
Official Result: Michelle Waterson defeats Jessica Penne via submission (armbar) at 2:31 of the fourth round.
April didn't wait long to kick off MMA. Invicta put on its fifth show on the fifth of the month, and it was headlined by the atomweight championship of the world.
This fight was the perfect blend of competitive striking and technically beautiful ground work.
Michelle Waterson is known more for her stand-up and Jessica Penne for her ground work. In the first round, Waterson proved she could be just as proficient on the mat. Penne had her down, but the challenger fired away with submission attempts. The fun ground battle started off the fight with an extremely close round.
The second round was more decisive for Waterson. While many thought she was playing with fire, she was content on the ground with Penne. She even passed her guard and mounted the champion—an impressive feat.
The champion came back strong in the third. She righted her mistakes and showed why she was the superior ground fighter.
Penne got the takedown in the fourth again, but the challenger constantly worked from the bottom. Out of almost nowhere, she locked in a surprise armbar that stunned Penne and forced her to tap. Waterson picked up the gold in a way that surprised most.
2013 has been the year of women's MMA, and battle for the atomweight championship was one of the most exciting, competitive and fun fights you will see this year.