First quarter report cards: Which fighters rose above early in 2013?

Maggie Hendricks

Sunday will mark the end of the first quarter. It's been a busy three months in MMA, so it's a good time to look back at the past three months and see who rose above the rest.

Biggest upset: Did you expect to see Robbie Lawler walk away with the win over Josh Koscheck at UFC 157? What about Antonio Rogerio Nogueira beating former UFC light heavyweight champ Rashad Evans? But there's no question who scored the biggest upset of the first quarter of 2013. Antonio Silva's TKO of Alistair Overeem at UFC 156 left more than Overeem's jaw on the floor.

Best knockout: Vitor Belfort's knockout of Michael Bisping at the January UFC on FX was memorable, as was Tyron Woodley's 36-second dismantling of Jay Hieron at UFC 156. Wanderlei Silva, Robbie Lawler and a slew of Bellator fighters have posted impressive knockouts. But the one that had everyone talking was on "The Ultimate Fighter." Uriah Hall's knockout of Adam Cella* was perfectly executed, and had the rest of the TUF house worried about Hall's skills. For that, Hall wins knockout of the first quarter.

* The knockout actually occurred last year, but aired in the first quarter of 2013.

[Also: Video blog shows the other side of UFC's Dana White]

Best submission: For the best tapouts of the first three months of 2013, Bellator provided a nominee when Dave Vitkay choked out Jesse Peterson in just 18 seconds. Gabriel Gonzaga's guillotine of Ben Rothwell stands out, as is Ronda Rousey's arm bar of Liz Carmouche at UFC 157. The winner comes from the undercard of UFC 157 as Kenny Robertson managed a weird yet incredibly painful looking kneebar-esque submission of Brock Jardine. It was the kind of submission that left MMA fans wondering what had happened.

Best rising star: There were plenty of candidates for fighters who really made an impressive leap in the MMA world early in 2013. Jordan Mein's UFC debut at UFC 158 included rolling out of an arm bar with Dan Miller, and then knocking him out before the first round ended. Abel Trujillo's TKO win by knees to the body of Marcus Levesseur was pretty fantastic, too. But it's Trujillo's opponent at UFC 160, Khabib Nurmagomedov who is taking home the prize. His TKO of Thiago Tavares in Brazil showed he can fight well under any conditions.

Best fight: Johny Hendricks and Carlos Condit put on a great scrap at UFC 158. Brian Stann and Wanderlei Silva's bout was thrilling before Stann was knocked out. Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson's title fight at UFC on Fox 6 was memorable, as was Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo's title bout at UFC 156. The one fight that stood out above the rest, though, was Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice's fight from UFC 156. Throughout the bout, both fighters should have given up. Both fighters should have been knocked out. But neither man gave in. Bermudez won the decision, but both fighters will be remembered for this bout.

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