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Most Overrated MMA Fighters of 2013

Craig AmosFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2014

Most Overrated MMA Fighters of 2013

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    2013 was a simpler time. Those were the days that you could buy UFC fight cards or pay-per-view or see them on cable. You didn't even need to dabble in this newfangled "Fight Pass" sorcery.

    Speaking of 2013, we will take a look into the not-too-distant past and use the uncanny power of hindsight to make some observations about a particular group of fighters—namely those deserving of the overrated moniker.

    Overrated is a touchy topic in sports, so we'll try to keep it clean and provide a clear justification for each inclusion.

    For a full explanation of the criteria used to build this list, check out the next slide. 

Criteria

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    Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

    Before getting to the point, let's take a moment to define "overrated" for the purpose of this list. The word does not mean a poor performer being mistaken for a great one.

    What it denotes is a performer who is commonly credited with abilities greater than those he or she truly possesses.

    With that in mind, please note that those included on this list are not being judged wanting as mixed martial artists.

    The reason for fighters appearing on this list is because they have been credited with more than they deserve. This can mean one of three things:

    • They rank artificially high at the end of 2013
    • They achieved results in 2013 that are unsustainable
    • They were exposed as overrated in 2013

    These criteria take into account UFC rankings when applicable, 2013 performance, body of recent work and the dreaded opinion of the author.

    Also note that because this exercise is subjective, I didn't rank these fighters in order of most overrated to least overrated. The list is alphabetical.

    Lastly, I have attempted to separate clearly declining fighters from those I've labeled overrated. For example, Wanderlei Silva may no longer match the reputation he built for himself in Pride, but because this is generally recognized, pinning him with the overrated label would be a misnomer. Instead, I've tried to focus on fighters who have failed to match their current renown.

    Please feel free to logically deconstruct my inclusions in the comments section, explicating why they are so utterly foolish. Or just call them foolish—it's your call.

Matt Brown

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    2013 record: 2-0

    UFC welterweight rank: No. 8

    Why he is on the list: Because he won't sustain his current career trajectory.

    Brown ran his win streak to six last year, notching a pair of stoppage victories against quality opponents in Jordan Mein and Mike Pyle. The performances were supposed to lead to a date with Carlos Condit, but an injury sidelined Brown beyond December 31.

    I take nothing away from what Brown did last year, but it's difficult to imagine him finding similar results against a guy like Condit or any other top-ranked welterweight. In fact, a few fighters behind him in the UFC rankings would likely be favored in a matchup against Brown.

    So while "The Immortal" had a memorable 2013, don't expect the gravy train to keep cruising. Brown is a solid veteran, but a six-fight win streak is more than likely an anomaly rather than a late career rebirth.

Nate Diaz

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    2013 record: 1-1

    UFC lightweight rank: No. 5

    Why he is on the list: One win does not a good year make.

    Diaz mocked the UFC system of title shot distribution after he knocked out Gray Maynard in November, kidding that he'll wait around until an opportunity falls into his lap. Some people, for some reason, believe the win at the very least put him back in contention.

    While Diaz's 2013 wasn't a disaster by any stretch, we have to consider the diminished value of his win over Maynard. "The Bully" has now been knocked out in three of his last four matches and has just one victory over his last five outings. Granted, Maynard has had a tough schedule, but let's not get too excited about what Diaz did to him.

    Add in that Diaz's loss to Josh Thomson in April was pretty devastating and that he entered the year coming off a decisive loss to Benson Henderson. At best, Diaz did nothing but tread water in 2013.

Jon Fitch

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    2013 record: 1-2

    UFC welterweight rank: N/A

    Why he is on the list: After getting "Fitched" in the UFC, he got submitted in WSOF.

    There aren't a lot of overrated fighters outside the UFC, since anyone whose pay check doesn't say "Zuffa" tends to get passed over. But Fitch is an exception.

    He was never the most exciting fighter, but his uncommon grittiness and big heart led him to a successful career. Another key trait was his uncanny ability to shrug off chokes like they were nothing.

    In 2013, Fitch was beaten at his own game by Demian Maia and then choked out by Josh Burkman. Fitch salvaged a win before it was all said and done, but it was only a split decision over Marcelo Alfaya, which realistically isn't worth all that much for a guy of Fitch's notoriety.

Johny Hendricks

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    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

    2013 record: 1-1

    UFC welterweight rank: No. 1

    Why he is on the list: Because he's ranked No. 10 pound-for-pound.

    Hendricks beat Carlos Condit in 2013. That is a tremendous accomplishment. He also pushed George St-Pierre to the absolute limit in 2013, losing a decision but winning on many fans' scorecards.

    So how is he one of the most overrated fighters from 2013, you ask? 

    Well, his win over Condit was close, and the St-Pierre he fought didn't look like the pre-injury version. Still, those are nice accolades, but do they really make him more accomplished than Dominick Cruz? Or Urijah Faber? Or Vitor Belfort? Or Ronda Rousey?

    If you answered yes to every single one of those questions, I'm interested to read your case. Because to me, Hendricks is a really good fighter, but he's not at the level that a lot of people are saying he is.

    Feel free to let me know how much you love this slide in the comments section...

Scott Jorgensen

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    2013 record: 0-2

    UFC flyweight rank: No. 12

    Why he is on the list: He went from fringe contender to hanging on by a thread in a lower weight class.

    2012 was a bad year for Jorgensen, and 2013 got off to just as poor a start. So he decided to shake things up a bit and move from bantamweight to flyweight.

    Taking on UFC newcomer Zach Makovsky in December, Jorgensen had the chance to reinvent himself as a 125er. The plan fell flat, and he dropped his fourth fight in five outings. 

    Before 2013, Jorgensen could be counted on to threaten even the best opponents, even if it didn't seem likely he'd win. Now it just doesn't seem likely he'll win.

Rory MacDonald

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    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

    2013 UFC record: 1-1

    UFC welterweight rank: No. 4

    Why he is on the list: We went a bit ahead of ourselves.

    His less-than-thrilling win over Jake Ellenberger can be forgiven because it was in fact a win, but MacDonald's recent loss to Robbie Lawler wasn't pretty.

    Content to box with a striking southpaw, MacDonald ate several hard shots throughout the fight and didn't settle in until after the first round. Though he had his moments thereafter, he came out on the wrong side of a decision. 

    I still buy him as a terrific competitor and possible future champion, but it turns out he isn't there yet. The question is: Will 2013 be a bump in the road or the last year we view him as a star?

Nate Marquardt

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    2013 record: 0-3

    UFC welterweight rank: N/R

    Why he is on the list: Resurrection in Strikeforce quickly turned into a catastrophe.

    Marquardt had a brutal 2013. He relinquished the Strikeforce welterweight title, was promptly knocked out in his UFC return and then lasted less than two minutes against Hector Lombard.

    It would have seemed more of an inevitable decline rather than a shocking drop off the map had he not appeared to have refound his form when he defeated Tyron Woodley in 2012. But because last January looked rather optimistic for "The Great," here he is.

Conor McGregor

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    2013 record: 2-0

    UFC featherweight rank: No. 12

    Why he is on the list: Because he's just 2-0 in the UFC.

    I won't argue that McGregor isn't a good fighter or that he doesn't have a bright future, because he is and he does. But seriously, the hype has far outstripped the production.

    Yeah, he went 2-0 in 2013, and Marcus Brimage and Max Holloway aren't pushovers, but the number of UFC newcomers to enter the Octagon and go 2-0 are too many to count, and many of them wind up looking for work 12 months later.

    Maybe McGregor will be exceptional. Maybe he'll even be a champion one day. But it's too early to crown him, and it's ridiculous that the UFC turned off the lights for his walk-in on a UFC Fight Night preliminary card. C'mon, UFC.

Frank Mir

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    2013 record: 0-2

    UFC heavyweight rank: No. 10

    Why he is on the list: He's no longer settled between the elite and the pack—now he's just in the pack.

    Mir dropped two fights last year, which means he has lost three in a row overall. Though his strength of schedule has been tough, he's been outclassed in each of those bouts.

    From earning a title shot in spring of 2012 to being in a precarious position entering 2014, last year was rough on Mir, and he has justifiably dropped in the rankings.

Roy Nelson

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    Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

    2013 record: 1-2

    UFC heavyweight rank: No. 11

    Why he is on the list: Popularity and theatrics do not translate to success.

    So maybe Nelson's heavyweight rank isn't more than he deserves, but his popularity keeps him stationed in a higher realm of regard than some more deserving fighters. 

    Both Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier cruised to victory over "Big Country," who still hasn't figured out that he needs more than a big right hand to beat top opponents. 

    Take for example, this tweet Nelson made after Travis Browne violently knocked out Josh Barnett last weekend:

    Congrats Brown but those elbows wont work on the chin of @roynelsonmma @ufc @lunarpages @fearthefighter http://t.co/LmP3IRiuUv

    — Roy Nelson (@roynelsonmma) December 29, 2013

    Yeah, Nelson might not have been knocked out by Browne, but absorbing vicious blows for 15 minutes rather than succumbing to them in three is a lateral move. And when that's a bragging point, something isn't right.

    For entertainment, Nelson is a champ. But in terms of competing for a championship in the more traditional sense, it's time to acknowledge that he isn't a legitimate candidate.

Alistair Overeem

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    2013 record: 0-2

    UFC heavyweight rank: No. 8

    Why he is on the list: Overeem is a great one-round fighter. That doesn't cut it in the big leagues.

    Once regarded as one of the best strikers in the sport, Overeem was knocked out twice in 2013. Both times he had looked to be in control of things, only to lose focus and let the W slip away.

    Unfortunately, these are not two isolated incidents coincidentally lined up. This marks the continuation of a long-existing trend.

    He is a mediocre 6-6 in bouts that go beyond one round. For whatever reason, he just can't seem to put together results if his early onslaughts fail. 

    He's not the title threat that many thought he was a year ago.

Erick Silva

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    Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    2013 record: 1-1

    UFC welterweight rank: N/R

    Why he is on the list: He lost his "surefire future star" label in 2013.

    Silva is by no means done. At 29, he has several years left to make a run. But the once promising Brazilian destroyer now looks vulnerable after being knocked out by a grappling-only opponent in Dong Hyun Kim.

    After his inability to fend off Jon Fitch back in 2012, Silva's 2013 failing has to be seen as a red flag. Maybe he's not going to be as good as we once thought.

    Then again, maybe he is. His future is unwritten. 2013, though, is very much written, and it doesn't reflect positively on Silva or those championing him as the next big thing in the welterweight division.

Chael Sonnen

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    2013 record: 1-2

    End-of-year UFC light heavyweight rank: 8

    Why he is on the list: It's hard succeeding as a part-time, high-level UFC fighter.

    Sonnen's submission of Mauricio Rua was a nice feather in the cap, but it's difficult to think he has much left to offer as a contender after he phoned it in against Rashad Evans last November.

    He remains a decent fighter, but he's quickly shifting from a UFC athlete to a UFC personality, and there isn't a ton of room in that for making title runs. 

    Sonnen will stay in the spotlight in 2014 as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil opposite Wanderlei Silva, and he even has a good chance of winning against his counterpart when they square off after the show. But don't let the screen time and his gift of gab trick you into believing he's a contender at 205 or 185.

    A solid fighter, yes. A contender, no longer.

Miesha Tate

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    2013 record: 0-2

    UFC women's bantamweight rank: No. 2

    Why she is on the list: She's ranked No. 2 after beating no one but Julie Kedzie since 2011.

    Like a lot of the fighters on this list, Tate is far from bad or even mediocre. She is a terrific fighter, but to say that Sara McMann and Alexis Davis didn't have better years in 2013 would be ludicrous. 

    Sure, she faced two tough foes in Cat Zingano and Ronda Rousey, but rebutting her results with arguments like, "She may have lost, but she only got knocked out once and was absolutely dominated the other time" doesn't seem like much of a rebuttal at all.

    Tate is a Top Five fighter in the UFC's women's bantamweight division, but the belief that she is the best of the rest after Rousey is a fallacy. She's among the best of the rest, but she is in no way the group's leader.

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