Fight of the Year Watch: June 2013 Edition
The UFC has been putting together some great scraps through the first five months of 2013.
At UFC 160, Junior dos Santos and Mark Hunt became the latest duo to make their case for Fight of the Year honors. The heavyweight contenders slugged it out for 14 minutes before dos Santos downed Hunt with an unexpected spinning heel kick that led to the finish.
For their efforts, dos Santos and Hunt were awarded Fight of the Night bonuses. Was that battle between the pair of heavyweight strikers enough to be considered one of the leading candidates for 2013 Fight of the Year?
Let's take a look.
5. Johny Hendricks vs. Carlos Condit
Event: UFC 158
Official Result: Hendricks defeated Condit by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
On an outstanding run through some of the best welterweights in the world, only Carlos Condit stood in Johny Hendricks' way for a shot at the 170-pound championship.
While he couldn't put Condit away in the same devastating fashion that he did Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, Hendricks separated himself as the clear No. 2 welterweight in the world by outwrestling the former interim champion and even landing some big shots when standing.
The tough and talented fighter he is, though, Condit certainly made things interesting.
The Jackson's MMA product had holes in his takedown defense, but he consistently worked his way back to his feet after being taken down and gave Hendricks some tense moments in the striking department.
Still, the entertaining fight went the distance, and the scorecards favored Hendricks, who is finally next in line for a shot at Georges St-Pierre and his UFC belt.
4. Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar
Event: UFC 156
Official Result: Aldo defeated Edgar by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47).
Just when it looked as though Jose Aldo was running short on serious challenges in the featherweight division, former lightweight titleholder Frankie Edgar decided to make the move to 145 pounds for an immediate shot at the Brazilian champion.
Early on in his bout with Edgar, dubbed a superfight, Aldo appeared to be on a whole other level than an opponent who was expected to be his toughest test to date. The featherweight champion battered Edgar's legs with kicks and landed his jabs with incredible precision.
In typical Edgar fashion, though, the challenger did not go away easily.
Edgar made things interesting in the championship rounds, utilizing his excellent conditioning to overcome the lack of spring remaining in his legs as a result of the damage he had taken from Aldo's leg kicks.
Although his late rally was too little, too late on the scorecards, Edgar's performance at UFC 156 was another great display of heart from a real-life Rocky Balboa.
Although Aldo wasn't able to put Edgar away, he picked up one of the biggest wins of his career in the matchup and solidified himself as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.
3. Cat Zingano vs. Miesha Tate
Event: TUF 17 Finale
Official Result: Zingano defeated Tate by technical knockout (knees) at 2:55 of the third round.
Lacking experience against the best of the best in the women's bantamweight division, Cat Zingano was thrown into the deep end in her UFC debut against Miesha Tate. A former Strikeforce champion, Tate was also stepping into the Octagon for the first time and looking to earn a rematch with Ronda Rousey.
Early on, Tate looked the part of the more proven competitor, taking Zingano down twice in the opening round and finishing the round on top. Tate's wrestling continued to look strong in the second stanza, but she wound up on bottom late in the frame and had momentum taken from her by some powerful Zingano ground-and-pound.
Zingano carried that momentum into the final round and began to take control.
The undefeated contender took Tate down and began landing massive knees when her opponent stood. Fading, Tate could not withstand Zingano's onslaught and ended up being stopped via strikes.
The come-from-behind win earned Zingano a coaching spot on TUF 18 and a title shot against Rousey. Unfortunately, a knee injury stole both of those things from her, and Tate will now meet Rousey despite being defeated in her most recent outing.
2. Dennis Bermudez vs. Matt Grice
Event: UFC 157
Official Result: Bermudez defeated Grice by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Had Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice met in a bout of more importance instead of the UFC 157 preliminary card, their fight probably could have topped this list for all of 2013.
After being dropped in the first round, Bermudez battled back and rocked Grice in the third. Though he was essentially out of it on his feet, Grice refused to be finished. Even more surprising, the staggered Grice began to willingly engage Bermudez in wild exchanges throughout the final round.
Grice somehow survived to hear the judges' scorecards read, but he came out on the wrong side of a controversial decision.
Regardless of the official outcome, the fight between Bermudez and Grice was one that yielded no loser. Both fighters received Fight of the Night honors and bonus checks for their efforts.
1. Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann
Event: UFC on Fuel TV 8
Official Result: Silva defeated Stann by knockout (punches) at 4:08 of the second round.
Heading into UFC on Fuel TV 8, many wondered how long Wanderlei Silva would put himself through unnecessary punishment with nothing left to prove in MMA. However, "The Axe Murderer" proved he still has the ability to create memorable moments in an amazing fight with Brian Stann.
From start to second-round finish, Silva went blow for blow with the powerful Stann. While his aggression left him staggered on more than one occasion, Silva and his oft-questioned chin stood tall at the fight's conclusion, which was brought about by a wild left hook to Stann's head.
Though many had been calling for his retirement, Silva now has wins in three of his past five fights, and all of those wins came against high-level opposition in Stann, Cung Le and Michael Bisping.
However his career eventually ends, Silva is one of the greats. His win over Stann furthered his already outstanding MMA legacy.