First, a note on terms - We've already announced who we've awarded the 2013 Comeback Fighter of the Year to. If you haven't, go check it out.
That award went to a fighter whose career underwent the biggest positive turnaround of the past year. Ie. they started 2013 at or near the bottom, now they here.
The Comeback Fight of the Year award is meant to highlight the MMA fight in 2013 that saw the biggest come back from a fighter within the fight. Ie. a come-from-behind-win.
Comeback Fighter of the Year is the macro comeback award. This one, Comeback Fight of the Year, is the micro comeback award. Perhaps we should have stuck with the Drake reference and left the economics analogies aside.
Oh well, this keyboard doesn't have a delete key on it so proceed we shall.
There's always a ton to pick from in this type of category and so selection is particularly difficult and utterly subjective. We can all agree, however, that come from behind wins are part of what makes sport great.
In those wins we see our own potential to recover from the metaphorical beatings life can dole out and achieve victory despite starting out way behind. Even a crowd with a clear-favorite can find themselves cheering on the opposition at times when they display ungodly resilience and begin to mount their own offense.
Stakes, as always, only make come backs more exciting. That's part of the reason why Cat Zingano's TKO win over Miesha Tate last April was so incredible.
The two were fighting for a shot to become the first (alongside UFC champ Ronda Rousey) female coach of a season of The Ultimate Fighter as well as a shot at Rousey's belt. Tate looked like she was too much for Zingano early on but the ferocious mother and fighter rallied back violently, elbowing and smashing her way to victory.
Alistair Overeem was involved in two other of the year's most epic come backs. Unfortunately for the UFC heavyweight, he was on the wrong end of those come backs.
The first came last April when the Dutchman faced Brazilian Antonio Silva. Leading into their fight, Overeem said that "Bigfoot" would be little more than a walking punching back
For two rounds, Overeem did indeed control the action against Silva. In the final round, however, the giant South American came out charging and knocked the "Demolition Man" silly with punches before roaring at his felled opponent in satisfied, "I told you so," anger.
As surprising as that comeback was, Overeem's next fight takes the cake for 2013, as far as we are concerned.
The 2013 MMA Award for Comeback Fight of the Year: Travis Browne vs. Alistair Overeem
Travis Browne was not simply losing his fight to Overeem the same way Silva was - he was getting shellacked and looked out of his league in the opening moments of their fight in August. Overeem pressed the Hawaiian against the cage and dropped him with viscious knee strikes.
Browne looked moments away from having the fight called by the attending referee as he la face down on the mat, eating more strikes from Overeem. Then, Browne says he thought of his children and began to move, then stand, even though he could not yet find his wind.
"Hapa" did, though, and then began to find his own range against Overeem with a front kick through the open, leaning-forward guard of the K-1 kickboxing champion. Browne threw the kick, then threw it again and again, until his skill met one final time with Overeem's arrogance.
Browne connected flush to the face of Overeem and he crumpled to the ground, out cold. For not only surviving a bad beating, but recovering quickly and then mustering up the strength to deliver his own repeated and ultimately fight-ending blows, Travis Browne made his fight against Alistair Overeem the Comeback Fight of the Year, 2013.
Awards yet to be announced:
Jan. 6: Breakthrough Fighter of the Year
Jan. 7: Event of the Year
Jan. 8: Trainer of the Year, Television Commentator of the Year, Referee of the Year, Biggest upset of the Year