Hosted by none other than your favorite MMA blogger, Alar.
Sitting here on the couch, I flipped the dial over to FOX Sports 1 and found that UFC Tonight was counting down the ’50 Best UFC Moments’ of the year. I thought to myself, what better time could there be to pen a year-end wrap up blog? First, we will take a look back at the ‘Bold Predictions’ I made to close out 2012 and see how awfully wrong I was about the sport that we know and love. Next, I’ll hand out some of those coveted M.M.A. MMA awards! You know the typical stuff, Fight of the Year, Fighter of the Year, etc. Last, I will make some ‘Bold Predictions’ for 2014 and beyond! Let’s get it on!
My ‘Bold Predictions’ for 2013, written December 2012
How did I do? Not well…
Predicted Champs at the end of 2013
Women’s Division: Ronda Rousey (Hey now! Does Tate have a shot?)
Flyweight: John Dodson (Whoops… Props to DJ!)
Bantamweight: Dominick Cruz will not defend his belt in 2013, Renan Barao retains his Interim belt through the year. (Ding! Ding! Ding!)
Featherweight: Frankie Edgar (Close. If that was a 7 round fight The Answer had it!)
Lightweight: Gilbert Melendez (He beat Bendo. That’s a fact in my twisted mind)
Welterweight: Georges St. Pierre (This situation just angers me.)
Middleweight: Anderson Silva (Still time to get that belt. No clowning this time!)
Light Heavyweight: Dan Henderson… loses the belt to Daniel Cormier at annual the end of year show. (Holy crap, was I wrong here…)
Heavyweight: Alistair Overeem (No comment)
-Anderson Silva won’t fight Jon Jones or Georges St. Pierre in 2013, but he will fight Michael Bisping, in England. (Well, I got half of that one right…)
-Rory MacDonald refuses to fight GSP, moves to Middleweight. (Rory’s star has certainly fallen, eh?)
-Dan Henderson will fight for the Light Heavyweight title, and win it. (Swing and a miss… Oof!)
-After losing to Hendo, Jon Jones moves to Heavyweight. (Hendo’s 2013 could not have been worse. The curse of ALar???)
-BJ Penn comes out of retirement for a fight at 155 lbs., against Nate Diaz. (Close, but no cigar. I’ll gladly take Frankie Edgar at 145, though.)
-Big Nog does not retire, but states he will only fight in Brazil. (Jury is still out here.)
-And last, but not least, Rampage Jackson stays true to his word and leaves the UFC and signs with Bellator. (100%! Call me Miss Cleo!)
Now for the 2nd Annual M.M.A. MMA Year-end Awards!
Fight of the Year Nominees:
Brian Stann v. Wanderlei Silva at UFC on Fuel TV: Silva v. Stann
Mark Hunt v. ‘Bigfoot’ Silva at UFC on FOX Sports 1: Hunt v. ‘Bigfoot’
Jon Jones v. Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165
Gilbert Melendez v. Diego Sanchez at UFC 166
Michael Chandler v. Eddie Alvarez II at Bellator 106
Each one of these fights contributes to 2013 being one of the best years ever for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. For each of these five historic scraps, I was at one point or another jumping around my living room like a some sort of hooligan. For pure brutality, Hunt and Bigfoot deserve noteworthy recognition, but they won’t be taking home this award. The first M.M.A. MMA Award goes to Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson.
In a division that had been transformed to a barren wasteland by ‘Bones’, ‘The Mauler’ rose from the depths of the weight class and proved to be Jones’s toughest test yet. Before this fight, Jones had never truly been pushed to his limits in the cage. Gustafsson’s technical style and similar sized proved to be the 205 pound foil that every MMA fan was looking for. This fight not only sported the violence that us red-blooded Americans love, but it was also a an elite display of MMA kickboxing and game-planning. Jones adapted his plan over the final rounds to ensure victory. After the bout, some believed that the big Swede was the true victor, but upon further viewings I actually agree with judges in this one. Let’s hope the MMA gods don’t ruin our plans for an eventual rematch in 2014. Hats off to Bones and The Mauler for reigniting the competition in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division!
Fighter of the Year Nominees:
Chris Weidman (Defeated Anderson Silva at UFC 162, Rematch at UFC 168)
Urijah Faber (Four wins, three finishes in 2013 after a disastrous 2012)
ViToR BelforT (Three Head Kick TKOs in 2013)
As of right now, the winner of ALar’s Fighter of the Year is Urijah Faber. (Though, if Chris Weidman defeats Anderson Silva for a second time in 12 months on Saturday at UFC 168, the award belongs in Long Island.) For the purpose of this blog that fight hasn’t happened yet, soooooo…. The Cali Kid takes it home!
Most of the MMA community wrote the aging perpetual contender off after his decisive loss to Renan Barao back in July of 2012. In 2013, Faber proved all the doubters wrong. He channeled his inner WEC Champion and rallied off four consecutive victories, each more impressive than the last. When faced with the challenge of upstart and former #1 contender Michael McDonald, Faber eliminated the youngster with relative ease and a trademark guillotine choke. At the end of 2012, NO ONE thought Urijah would sniff another UFC title shot. Now here at the end of 2013, he is waiting patiently for former foes Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao to unify their belts in January. Faber looks like he will get the first crack at whoever walks away from UFC 169 as the Unifiied Bantamweight Champ.
Now for the award you have all been waiting for…
ALar’s WTF Moment of the Year Award Nominees:
ViToR BelforT and his winning streak
Sal D’Amato, Glenn Trowbridge, and Tony Weeks forgetting to do their jobs at UFC 167
Nick Diaz and his “retirement”
All three of these moments or actions deserve their own recognition, but one stands head and shoulders above the rest as being the most absurd. Sure, Johny Hendricks got ROBBED at UFC 167, but that situation has worked itself out with GSP taking some well deserved time off from the game. Nick Diaz will be back, tune in to the next section for more on that… But seriously, Vitor Belfort? Three wins in 2013, all in Brazil, all while he is loaded up on artificial testosterone??? The UFC has proved the ability to police their fighters competing in other regions (What’s up, Bigfoot?), but the burial of Vitor’s medical records in the jungles of Brazil leaves a terrible taste in my mouth as an MMA supporter. A former steroid cheat (This is key here, as opposed to other TRT users who have never tested positive…) is gaining exemptions from his promotion to continue fighting at a medically aided level. Have you seen those head kicks? They are vicious brain rattlers! Does the UFC really want to let a performance enhanced athlete carry on like that in the cage? I don’t care if you are an old-school ‘Phenom’ fan or what, but his three wins this year are nothing to celebrate.
Am I slightly salty since Vitor became the first man to knockout my favorite fighter? Maybe, but still, if you are any sort of fan of the sport and its ever rising national presence and legitimacy, Vitor Belfort’s 3-0 2013 can’t leave you feeling good about the state of the union. Add in his response to being asked about the topic and we are in WTF City, population Vitor…
Now for the fun stuff!
ALar’s Bold Predictions for MMA in 2014:
First, the champs at year’s end 2014:
Women’s Strawweight: Carla Esparza
Women’s Bantamweight: Ronda Rousey
Flyweight: John Dodson
Bantamweight: Urijah Faber
Featherweight: Chad Mendes (Aldo vacates to fight Pettis at 155)
Lightweight: Anthony Pettis
Welterweight: Johny Hendricks
Middleweight: Chris Weidman (Anderson wins at 168, promptly retires)
Light Heavyweight: Daniel Cormier (Defeats Jones. Jones then moves up to Heavyweight, gets immediate title shot)
Heavyweight: Jon Jones
The ‘Year of the Superfight’ moniker proves to have come about a year too early. We see Pettis/Aldo and Jones/Velasquez in the second half of 2014.
Nick Diaz comes out of retirement and faces Carlos Condit. And wins.
BJ Penn defeats Frankie Edgar at 145. Announces move back to 155 and faces Nate Diaz.
Chael Sonnen retires from MMA and becomes full-time analyst at FOX Sports 1.
After all the trash talk, Ben Askren loses his second fight in ONE FC.
The UFC’s digital distribution network’s price point proves to be a detriment to sales. $9.99/Month price tag is dropped to $7.99/Month by mid-year.
There it is folks, my bold predictions for the year to come! It should be another crazy 12 months in MMA. Happy holidays!