COMMENTARY | The year 2013 has been an enjoyable 12 months for the sport of mixed martial arts. After the way 2012 was hampered by injuries that hindered multiple main event bouts, this year featured a number of fights that were titled "Fight of the Year" or even "Greatest Fight Ever." As many MMA media outlets begin to start their award selections for 2013, let's take a step back and really think about how many great battles were held during this year.
Recent Candidates for "Fight of the Year"
Now may not be the best time to even have the conversation to see which was the best fight of this year. Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva put on a heavyweight contest that left people standing in awe after 25 minutes of action. Some individuals across the social media world were caught up in the moment and tagged this their fight of the year which started an immediate debate to include other fights that are less than two or three months old.
At UFC 166 in October Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez put on an epic showcase during their lightweight bout that had fans begging for two more rounds. UFC President Dana White's excitement was at an all-time high immediately after the contest, as was the rest of the MMA community.
Less than 30 days before that bout, Alexander Gustafsson pushed Jon Jones in a way that experts were unable to predict. Many still believe he should be the light heavyweight champion today, but Jones and Gustafsson put on what may have been the best fight that weight class has ever seen.
Great 2013 Fights You May Not Remember
These three fights immediately stand out as front runners for "Fight of the Year" awards in 2013. However, there are others that deserve consideration as well. Looking back over the calender there are fights both in and out of the UFC that may draw some votes when trying to decide which was the best contest during the last 365 days.
For those who enjoy technical fights that feature multiple aspects of mixed martial arts, the fight between Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 106 may be more of your flavor. These two were both very crisp with every strike they threw for all 25 minutes of their rematch. They also had some interesting grappling scrambles that saw both fighters secure positions of dominance at key points of the contest. Their showing proves that they are the two feature stars that Bellator has to offer who can perform in the cage at a very high level. The anticipation for the rubber match is already to the point where it is one of the fights to most look forward to in 2014.
Within the UFC there were other championship fights that portrayed some interesting dynamics that captivated the crowd during viewing.
In January the flyweight title was on display on Fox when John Dodson met Demetrious Johnson in the main event of UFC on Fox 6. Johnson and Dodson were both very active throughout the entire fight which kept people entertained with the bout. The most interesting aspect of the contest was how Demetrious had to pull himself back from two early knockdowns to show his heart as a champion and walk out of the Octagon with his title.
Even the Jose Aldo versus Frankie Edgar fight at UFC 156 was an early candidate for "Fight of the Year." Edgar pushed Aldo late in a fight in ways that he hadn't been pushed before but the Brazilian champion kept his iron grip on the featherweight division.
Gilbert Melendez could actually be part of two "Fight of the Year" candidates for the April 20th fight against Benson Henderson for the lightweight championship. Coming into the Octagon with the hopes of unifying the Strikeforce and UFC belts, Melendez took the fight to Henderson to keep it very close. Controversial decision or not, the fight between Benson and Gilbert is certainly worth a nomination and rematch in the future.
More Action Still To Come
There is still a great chance that more fights can be added to this list. The UFC has two more events scheduled for the year. They feature three title defenses with rivalry match ups that may bring out the best of those involved. At the same time, one can't overlook the under card of these events. More often than not, the best action comes from the preliminary fights leading into the evening's main event.
Mixed martial arts fans have a lot to be thankful for in way of action from 2013. With so many great fights held nearly every month this year it will be very difficult to pick out a sure cut winner for a "Fight of the Year" award. Still, the discussion around this year's candidates will make them all worth remembering.
Raphael Garcia lives in Washington, DC and has worked as a sports journalist since 2006. His work has contributed to outlets that includes multiple newspapers, websites and ESPN.
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