COMMENTARY | Two-thousand and thirteen was a great year for fans of combat sports. The UFC continued to put on exciting fights (Hunt-Silva, Jones-Gustafsson and Melendez-Sanchez), saw the resurgence of veterans Robbie Lawler and Vitor Belfort and gave us some great finishes courtesy of Anthony Pettis, Bigfoot Silva and Junior dos Santos. Meanwhile, boxing once again proved to be far from dead with a number of thrilling showdowns (Bradley-Provodnikov, Alvarado-Rios 2 and Szpilka-Mollo) the rise of several new and exciting fighters (Gennady Golovkin, Adonis Stevenson, Sergei Kovalev) and the return of the one and only Manny Pacquiao. But when it comes to 2013's greatest moments, the list had to be narrowed down to five (in no particular order) and you can debate what should and shouldn't have made the cut.
The End Of The Anderson Silva Era
The man who has ruled over the MMA world with an iron fist was finally dethroned in spectacular fashion. And then a grotesque injury perhaps ended the career of arguably the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time. Die-hard fans had believed that Silva would be up against his toughest challenge to date but nobody saw it coming when Chris Weidman knocked out Silva at UFC 162 in only his 10th professional fight. "The Spider" had gone a remarkable 16 years without being knocked out and hadn't lost a fight since 2004. But Weidman paid that no mind and scored a remarkable second round knockout while Silva was clowning a bit more than usual to get into his opponent's head.
The rematch at UFC 168 would either prove that Weidman's victory was a fluke or slam the door shut on Silva's dominance. It appeared that the former would hold true as Weidman nearly stopped the Brazilian with a right hand from the clinch in the first round. Silva would survive but what took place in the second round will be burned into the memories of every UFC fan. Silva looked to slow Weidman down by utilizing leg kicks but the Hofstra graduate was wise to the former champion's strategy. Silva launched a kick towards Weidman's thigh but the champion would check the kick. The velocity in which Silva through the kick caused his shin to snap like a twig. Weidman would earn his second victory and retain his belt due to the injury but, more importantly, it looked as if we may have seen the last of Anderson Silva.
Georges St. Pierre Loses His Smile
Something wasn't right leading up to Georges St. Pierre's UFC 167 showdown with Johny Hendricks. He teased an announcement to be made after the fight but his brains were so completely scrambled by the pounding he took from Hendricks - in a fight he narrowly, and amidst controversy, escaped with a split decision - that the only thing he could muster up was "I need to hang up my gloves for a little bit." Nobody was sure what to make of it and the mere thought of St-Pierre departing after such a controversial fight initially drew the ire of UFC president Dana White. White was sure that his welterweight champion would be back to give Hendricks the rematch he felt he deserved. But GSP meant what he said and formally vacated the title on December 13 and announced an indefinite hiatus. Citing the tremendous pressure that comes with fighting, St-Pierre said that he needed to take his mind off of the sport. "It has to be on my terms," said of the possibility of a comeback. "I don't know when, I don't know if. I don't know, I think I will. I can't say 100 percent. But right now I don't want the people thinking about me."
UFC Opens Its Doors To Women
Remember when Dana White said he didn't see the UFC ever allowing women to fight? It's safe to say that he has eaten his words and has no problem being wrong about this particular issue. Led by Ronda Rousey, the women of MMA charged into the UFC and put on one exciting fight after another. Rousey kicked things off in February by defending her bantamweight title against Liz Carmouche and the floodgates were open as the ladies showed up every event to compete for the "Fight of the Night" award. With the biggest rivalry in the UFC (Rousey-Tate) coaching opposite one another, the ladies stole the show on The Ultimate Fighter as Julianna Pena was crowned the first women to win TUF. Rousey and Tate's rivalry culminated at UFC 168 in an exciting battle that saw Rousey taken past the first round but secure her trademark arm bar in the third frame. More importantly, she proved that she could be a polarizing figure that many love and even more love to hate. With a second division (strawweights) being announced for the next edition of The Ultimate Fighter, it is evident that the women are here to stay. The only question is why the UFC didn't think to do this sooner.
Floyd Mayweather Inks Record-breaking Deal With Showtime
They don't call him "Money" for nothing. Floyd Mayweather made good on his nickname by inking a massive six-fight, 30-month deal with Showtime in 2013 rumored to rake in over $200 million and is allegedly the "richest individual athlete deal in all of sports." But what good is it if Mayweather isn't the best boxer in the sport? The pound for pound king proved that he's still the best in the business by schooling both Robert Guerrero and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in 2013. The latter becoming the highest grossing pay-per-view fight of all time by bringing in $150 million from 2.2 million buys. His dominance in boxing is unparalleled and we all wonder what he will do for an encore in 2014.
Marcos Maidana Solves "The Problem"
Boxing has tried to find a new fighter to peg as the next Floyd Mayweather but the quest had turned up empty until Adrien Broner came around. He shared a vaguely similar arrogance and skill set and was bold enough to call himself Mayweather's little brother. It appeared that "The Problem" was well on his way to becoming a major pay-per-view attraction but then he ran into Marcos Maidana and that hype train was derailed in shocking fashion. All the trash talk, rap tours and sex tapes in the world couldn't save Broner from Maidana's onslaught as "Chino" dropped Broner twice en route to a unanimous decision victory and had Broner leave the ring in a manner which he never has been: speechless. As for all that talk about being the next Mayweather? Give it up.
Andreas Hale is a former editor at websites including BET.com and HipHopDX.com. Today, he resides in the fight capital of the world and has covered boxing and MMA for mainstream media outlets such as MTV.com and Jay-Z's LifeandTimes.com, as well as die-hard outlets, including FightNews.com, Fight! Magazine, Ultimate MMA, CagePotato.com and others.
You can follow him on Twitter (@AndreasHale).
- Sports & Recreation
- Martial Arts
- Bigfoot Silva
- Anderson Silva
- Chris Weidman
- Floyd Mayweather
- Ronda Rousey
- Johny Hendricks