Yesterday we kicked off 2014 by presenting our awards for 2013 MMA Male & Female Fighters of the Year. Today, we award the 2013 MMA Fight of the Year. Tomorrow, and each day after that through Jan. 8 there will be more awards, so stay with us.
The full awards schedule to come is below:
Jan. 3: KO of the Year
Jan. 4: Submission of the Year
Jan. 5: Comeback Fighter of the Year & Comeback Fight of the Year
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
Now, for the Yahoo! Sports 2013 MMA Fight of the Year award...
Throughout 2013, it seemed as though every time we thought for certain we had a new front-runner for "fight of the year," another crazy bout would happen and would challenge the last one for the honors. There were many exciting, significant and back-and-forth battles in the world of MMA this year and choosing the "best" one is difficult and ultimately futile.
All the warriors who stepped into the ring and cage and gave it their all deserve everyone's respect. There were blood and guts battles like Diego Sanchez vs. Gilbert Melendez, Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann and Antonio Silva vs. Mark Hunt. Technical slug fests like Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar, Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez II and comeback wins like Cat Zingano's over Miesha Tate.
Ultimately, our pick for Fight of the Year was the one that best combined surprise, technique, slugging and stamina and heart from both fighters that had fans everywhere demanding a rematch.
Yahoo! Sports 2013 MMA Fight of the Year: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Few gave Alexander Gustafsson a chance leading up to his title challenge against Jon Jones last fall. By the end of their UFC 165 main event, however, Gustafsson had proven to be the dominant light heavyweight champion's stiffest test yet, and arguably deserved to win the decision.
From the start, Gustafsson used excellent foot work and quick hands to touch up Jones and stay away from the champion's own strikes. The Swede also deftly avoided Jones' take downs and became the first man to ever take down the young champion.
Jones limped away with the controversial decision win but fans everywhere now knew that Gustafsson was in the same rarified pound for pound air as "Bones," and demanded an immediate rematch. Unfortunately, that won't happen.
Jones will next defend his belt against Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 and Gustafsson will fight Jimi Manuwa March 8
If both men win, or both men lose, we hope we get to see them get after it again in 2014. Whoever you scored their first fight fore, we can all agree that both men were winners that night. The fans, even more so.
Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva
Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez
Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez II
Cat Zingano vs. Miesha Tate