By Raphael Garcia
Although it’s only halfway through 2013, mixed martial arts fans have experienced a number of big moments so far this year. From shocking knockouts to extremely close fights, these moments will stand out amongst the others when this year is recalled. At this point in the year, these are my choices for the top fighters, knockouts, submissions, and other standout moments that have made an impact in 2013:
Fighter of the Mid Year
Nearly five years ago Josh Burkman was given his walking papers from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. When that occurs, most competitors are written off as “UFC Washouts” and struggle to find their way back into the Octagon. Burkman, however, has bided his time outside of the UFC, and his two wins this year in the World Series of Fighting have made him relevant in the welterweight division, and valuable to Zuffa once again.
In four months Burkman stopped both Jon Fitch and Aaron Simpson in a fashion that has increased his stock to a point where, if he were to so choose, he could potentially leave the WSOF and make his way back to the UFC for bigger paydays. However, for now he’s established himself as the front runner to become the WSOF’s first welterweight champion.
Gilbert Melendez vs. Benson Henderson
Urijah Faber chokes out Ivan Menjivar and poses
At UFC 157 the sports world was caught up in the idea that Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche would be headlining a UFC card. While those two competitors put on a show that resulted in Rousey continuing her submission streak, there was a submission victory earlier that night that not only proved how great of a fighter Urijah Faber truly is, but it created one of the best MMA images of the year.
In under five minutes, Faber disposed of bantamweight contender Ivan Menjivar. After a few quick exchanges, Faber found his way to Ivan's back and locked in a rear-naked choke that forced the veteran to submit while standing. With his legs still locked around his defeated foe, Faber raised both arms in celebration. The sight of Faber perched on Menjivar's back with his hands raised in victory was an unforgettable moment that will likely be a staple of highlight reels for years to come.
Knockout of the Mid Year
Emanuel Newton drops “King Mo” Lawal
Jon Fitch and others cut from UFC roster
While the UFC has always released fighters from their contracts that didn't perform at a satisfactory level, fans were shocked when Jon Fitch was released from his contract after his loss to Demian Maia at UFC 156. At that point in time he had lost 2 of 3 bouts, but he was still considered one of the best welterweights in the sport. His release let the MMA world know that no UFC fighter is safe.