2013 MMA Awards: Event of the year

Elias Cepeda

Card after card delivered this year in the world of MMA. So, choosing one "best" event of 2013 is a tough call, to be sure.

Events we expected to be good were excellent and fight cards that were about to fly under our radar instead saw its fighters show out in big ways.

There was August's UFC Fight Night 26, headlined by Chael Sonnen taking on Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in a light heavyweight scrap. "Shogun" is an all-time great former champion in both Pride and the UFC.

On contrast, Sonnen's career highlight has been finishing second twice to former champion Anderson Silva, at the lighter weight class of middleweight, no less. Rua is well-rounded and a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, while Sonnen has been susceptible to submissions throughout his career.

That's why it was so shocking when it was Sonnen who pulled guard and locked in a guillotine choke against Rua in the first round, forcing the Brazilian to tap out. Earlier in the night, Travis Browne provided another shocker against Alistair Overeem in our pick for 2013 Comeback Fight of the Year.

Before that, bantamweights Michael MacDonald and Brad Pickett went to war on the undercard.

UFC 164 exceeded expectations with surprises and competitive fights, both. In the main event, hometown kid Anthony Pettis shocked the world by quickly submitting Benson Henderson to become the lightweight champion.

Lower down the card, Josh Barnett returned to the UFC after a decade away and for the first time since winning the organization's heavyweight title. Barnett jumped all over fellow former heavyweight champ Frank Mir for a triumphant and exciting return to the Octagon.

We also can't forget how featherweight contenders Dustin Poirier and Erik Koch lit up the arena to start off the pay per view portion of the card.

The UFC's last pay per view of 2013, UFC 168 is many folks' choice for event of the year. It had two main event rematches that each exceeded expectations in unique ways. Miesha Tate unexpectedly pushed rival and women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey further than she had ever been pushed before.

Chris Weidman showed that his first win over Anderson Silva in July was not fluke by knocking "The Spider" senseless in the opening round before using deft defense to turn the long-time champion's own offense against him in devastating fashion.

Lower down on the card we also witnessed Travis Browne truly emerge as a contender for the UFC heavyweight strap when he knocked Barnett out in the first round. On the undercard, Jim Miller also won in a way that had us rewinding over and again to watch every little detail of his slick arm bar submission win over Fabricio Camoes.

It is hard to top UFC 168 for drama, especially when intense rivalries and story lines are included. However, our pick for Event of the Year was unmatched in pure, unadulterated action within the fights themselves.

We are proud to announce that the winner of the Yahoo! Sports 2013 MMA Award for Event of the Year is...

UFC 166

It seemed that almost every fight on the UFC 166 card overshadowed the last as things got better and better. Sarah Kaufman and Jessica Eye put on a competitive and hard-fought show.

Daniel Cormier and Roy Nelson would have stood out more for Cormier's technical mastery if it were not for the fact that it followed perhaps the year's nastiest blood and guts bout - Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez.

In the main event, Cain Velasquez managed to assert his dominance over rival Junior Dos Santos and the entire heavyweight division in their title rubber match. Velasquez looked better than ever and Junior somehow managed to prove just as resilient and gutsy as he had in their prior bout.

For exceeding expectations and delivering beautifully brutal fight after beautifully brutal fight, UFC 166 is our choice for the best MMA event of 2013.

Tomorrow is our final day of award announcements. We will announce the winners of Trainer of the Year, Television Commentator of the Year, Referee of the Year and Biggest upset of the Year awards.

Below, are the other categories we've already awarded prizes for:

Breakthrough Fighter of the Year, Comeback Fighter of the YearFight of the YearMale & Female Fighters of the YearKO of the YearSubmission of the Year and Comeback Fight of the Year.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

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