UFC: The 2013 All-Star Team
With the dingers having flown out of Citi Field last night (something that fellow fans of my beloved Mets have grown painfully used to this season) and the MLB All-Star Game ready to take center stage this evening, there's not much room for MMA.
Or is there?
What if there was a midseason roster of talent in the sport that got recognition for excellent years in the cage, just as in team sport?
Good news, People Who Probably Didn't Ask For This But Will Read It Anyway Because It Beats Today's Work Task: Now there is!
Behold, the divisional all-stars of 2013 in the UFC.
Flyweight: Joseph Benavidez
The former bantamweight contender is 2-0 in 2013 and may very well be the only guy at 125 lbs. who can go out and give champion Demetrious Johnson a run for his money.
His wins over Ian McCall and Darren Uyenoyama proved he's firmly entrenched as the No. 2 guy in the division, and you can expect to see him fighting for the title again before the end of the year.
Honorable Mention: Jussier Formiga, John Lineker
Bantamweight: George Roop
Roop might well be a breakout contender in 2013, already posting two wins and healthy enough to fight two more times before the year is up.
His first success on the calendar was a short-notice meeting in a new weight class that he took via decision, only to follow it up with a quick turnaround KO win over former champion Brian Bowles.
He's fought at 135 before, but this time he looks like he's got it figured out.
Honorable Mention: Urijah Faber, TJ Dillashaw
Ladies' Bantamweight: Ronda Rousey
The champion proved the world was ready for a top female pay-per-view draw when she headlined UFC 157 against Liz Carmouche. She also proved that she's pretty good at armbars by winning via submission in the first round.
People kind of already knew that last part though.
Regardless, she won her only fight, made her way to coaching The Ultimate Fighter and has become a full-blown media sensation along the way. That's an all-star.
Honorable Mention: Cat Zingano, Sara McMann
Featherweight: Cub Swanson
Swanson has been a monster in the UFC, posting a 5-1 record and taking home four of those wins via finish. His stoppage win over Dennis Siver at UFC 162 pushed him to 2-0 in 2013 and positioned him within a fight of a title shot.
He's exciting, nasty and a guaranteed source of violent thrills every time he's in the cage. 2013 seems to be the year he's finally breaking through.
Honorable Mention: Frankie Edgar, Nik Lentz
Lightweight: TJ Grant
Against all odds, TJ Grant keeps winning and keeps pushing his way to the front of the line. While he's lost his chance at a UFC 164 title shot due to a concussion, rest assured he'll be booked to face the winner of Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis, barring injury.
Grant has never lost at 155 lbs. and is 2-0 in 2013, both convincing finishes. His last win, a quick destruction of perennial contender Gray Maynard, placed the Canadian firmly in the all-star conversation.
Honorable Mention: Edson Barboza, Khabib Nurmagomedov
Welterweight: Georges St-Pierre
GSP won his only fight this year, dispatching a longtime thorn in his side as he rode a decision out against Nick Diaz. In addition to that win, he agreed to face Johny Hendricks in November and became the longest-serving UFC champion with Anderson Silva's loss to Chris Weidman.
St-Pierre may always fight safe and may always be a lightning rod for criticism, but he will also always be champion. There aren't many challenges left for him at 170 lbs., and he could be the best mixed martial artist in the world today.
Honorable Mention: Johny Hendricks, Demian Maia
Middleweight: Chris Weidman
How can it be anyone else? The guy went out and KO'd the best combat athlete of this generation, and he did it after telling the world that was exactly what he was going to do for about a year.
He also faced the challenge knowing that he'd have to fight Anderson Silva two times in a row to prove that it wasn't a fluke, and then signed on to do just that.
Honorable Mention: Vitor Belfort, Jacare Souza
Light Heavyweight: Glover Teixeira
Sometimes hype isn't enough. Guys often don't live up to the billing they get before stepping into the cage, and then they're forgotten.
By now, it's safe to say that's not going to happen to Glover Teixeira.
He's 2-0 in 2013, battering Rampage Jackson for three rounds and quickly finishing James Te Huna as well. Realistically, if he beats Ryan Bader in Brazil come September, the only guy left for him is Jon Jones.
People said the John Hackleman protégé was legit. He's done nothing but prove them right since hitting the UFC.
Honorable Mention: Wanderlei Silva, Thiago Silva
Heavyweight: Cain Velasquez
He's only fought once in 2013, but the performance was the definition of "all-star." He beat Antonio Silva senseless for the second time in a calendar year, finishing the hulking Brazilian in a little more than a minute and setting up a third bout with Junior dos Santos later this year.
Velasquez is, when on his game, the best heavyweight in the world and may very well end up as the best ever by the time he's done in this sport.
Honorable Mention: Gabriel Gonzaga, Junior dos Santos