The Year 2013 In Review: The Best of December

By Raphael Garcia

2013 was an exciting year in the world of mixed martial arts. There were countless memorable moments and fights in the last 12 months. Looking back at this year in the sport, we at MMA Ratings are picking out particular moments from every month that stand out amongst them all.

The fourth quarter of 2013 was one of the most action-packed three months in recent mixed martial arts history, and December might have been the biggest month of them all. The UFC put on three strong cards to close out the year with some of their biggest names on display. Looking at the month of December, these are some of the brightest points of action worth mentioning:

Fight of the Month: Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva

UFC Fight Night 33

Going into UFC Fight Night 33, you would have been hard pressed to find a person willing to take a bet that we would have seen the main event between Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva go the distance. However, not only did these heavyweights fight for a full 25 minutes; they also put on a show that left the crowd and online world cheering in amazement.

Hunt and Silva would both landed big shots and secure moments of control during this fight. One judge awarded Hunt the victory, while the two others felt that the fight was a draw in the end. Unfortunately, Silva’s elevated testosterone results has thrown a black eye on the fight in some sense. Still, this was the best fight of December, and one of the better fights of the year.

UFC Fight Night 33

Mark Hunt vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva: Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva, majority draw (48-47, 47-47, 47-47).

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Submission of the Month: Ronda Rousey’s armbar variation on Miesha Tate

Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate, UFC 168

It will never be a secret what Ronda Rousey’s move of choice will be in the Octagon. Her Judo abilities are among the best that have ever been used in the cage. When fights hit the ground, her instincts allow her to hit armbars from nearly any position. That was on display at UFC 168, when Rousey and Miesha Tate rematched for the women’s bantamweight title.

Tate looked prepared in some moments to defend Rousey’s throws and submission attempts. However, what then occurred is that we got to see just how much Ronda’s game had improved in multiple areas. Her variations of where she attempted to secure armbars from led to some interesting position battles on the mat. While she eventually caught the contender in a “traditional-style” armbar, the fight let the mixed martial arts world know that Rousey’s grappling is worth mentioning along with the best in the sport.

UFC 168

Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate (UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship): Ronda Rousey def. Miesha Tate via submission (armbar) at 0:58 of Round 3.

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Knockout of the Month: Demetrious Johnson blasts Joseph Benavidez

Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez, UFC on Fox 9

In 22 professional fights and seven years of fighting experience, Joseph Benavidez had rarely suffered defeat. What’s more is that the Team Alpha Male standout had never been separated from consciousness while in MMA action. Demetrious Johnson changed that, and needed only 128 seconds to do so.

Their rematch atop the UFC on Fox 9 card was expected to be very competitive, as Johnson and Benavidez have proven to be the two best flyweights in the sport. Instead, “Mighty Mouse” would catch Benavidez with a right hand that would put his lights out upon impact. The dejection that Benavidez’s face showed immediately after the fight made it very clear that he knew he will have to face a long road back towards contention.

On the other hand, Johnson has continued to improve while being champion, and now looks to have the potential to hold onto that belt for an extended period of time.

UFC on Fox 9

Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez – UFC Flyweight Championship: Demetrious Johnson def. Joseph Benavidez via knockout (punches) at 2:08 of Round 1.

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Controversy of the Month: Edson Barboza escapes with a victory 

Edson Barboza vs. Danny Castillo, UFC on Fox 9 

UFC on Fox 9 was a very solid event from start to finish. One of the more interesting talking points after the event concluded was the outcome of the lightweight matchup between Edson Barboza and Danny Castillo. The touted Brazilian striker was able to leave the Octagon with the majority decision victory, but many believe that this bout should have been scored a draw in the end.

Castillo was able to severely rock Barboza in the opening moments, battering him across the cage. Barboza was able to survive, but it was clear that the round should have been scored 10-8 by the cageside judges. Barboza would take over in round two, however, as Castillo had exhausted himself. For the next ten minutes, he took his opponent apart with his varied striking style, landing blows that made the crowd “Ohh” and “Ahh.” At the end of the third round, the prevailing opinion was that Edson had won the last two rounds 10-9. That would have created a 28-28 draw, but two judges did not award Castillo 10-8 scorecards in the first round.

One of a multitude of poor scoring performances that occurred in 2013, this one gave Edson Barboza the win in a bout that should have been scored a draw.

UFC on Fox 9

Edson Barboza vs. Danny Castillo: Edson Barboza def. Danny Castillo via majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28).

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December was a very strong month for mixed martial arts, as the UFC finished out 2013 with a number of strong cards. With that momentum behind them, the promotion expects to move into 2014 ready to capitalize on opportunities to further build the sport up to new levels.

Do you agree with these choices for December 2013? Rate these fights and others, and be sure to make your voice heard, so that your favorite fights can be considered for the 2013 Fans’ Choice Awards.

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