December 31, 2013

The Year 2013 In Review: The Best of June

By Michael Ford Subscribe to Articles by Michael Ford

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 month of June was a somewhat slow one, as it featured no title fights or Fight of the Year candidates nor title fights, as the MMA world geared up for the eventful summer ahead. The high point of the month was the Brazilian sweep at the Ultimate Fighter Brazil 2 Finale, where the crowd was rabid for the triumphs of their countrymen, though the loss of the beloved legend Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira in the main event provided a bittersweet climax. June wasn't the best month for fight fans in 2013, but it wasn't without its high points:

Fight of the Month: Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson, UFC 161

In a matchup of former champions, Rashad Evans was able to battle back against adversity against Dan Henderson, who knocked him down in the first round of their matchup. After dropping the first against "Hendo," Evans was able to secure the next two rounds on two judges' scorecards to score the split decision victory. For Evans, who had lost a lackluster decision to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in his previous fight, this win showed that the spark was still there, and that a motivated Evans is still an elite light heavyweight. For Henderson, however, this represented his second straight close decision loss after an injury deprived him of a shot at champion Jon Jones. Now it seems likely that he'll never get another shot at gold, as he finished the year with the fans clamoring for him to hang up the gloves.

However, on that night in June, both Evans and Henderson looked like world-class fighters, albeit a cut below the champion. They each had their respective moments, and each man made his case for getting his hand raised. But in the end, Evans got the nod, and although it wasn't the most action-packed fight of the month, the stakes, combined with the competitiveness of the contest, earns it the title of Fight of the Month.

Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson: Rashad Evans def. Dan Henderson via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

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Knockout of the Month: Shawn Jordan Thumps Pat Barry
Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan, UFC 161

GIF courtesy of @ZProphet_MMA
It was quick and it was brutal. Despite Pat Barry's striking credentials, Shawn Jordan was able to put him down and out in under a minute, and deliver the kind of definitive finish that fans hope for when low-level UFC heavweights are matched together. In a month that was short on skillful striking finishes, the spectacle won out, as Jordan's uppercut got that downward ball rolling on "HD." Barry would fall once more before the end of the year and receive his walking papers, and it was big KO losses like these that served to illustrate why.

Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan: Shawn Jordan def. Pat Barry via TKO (punches) at0:59 of Round 1.

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Submission of the Month (tied):
Erick Silva vs. Jason High, UFC on Fuel TV 10
Fabricio Werdum vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, UFC on Fuel TV 10

These two submissions made their way onto this list for two different reasons. For Erick Silva, his one-sided display of grappling dominance over the popular Jason High restarted the hype machine for the young Brazilian prospect. The ease with which he was able to transition techniques and cinch in an inverted triangle armbar suggested that he would not let his loss to Jon Fitch in his previous bout derail his road to the Top 10 at welterweight, and the title picture of the weight class. The crowd went wild, and just like that, Erick Silva had put together the kind of performance that turns fighters into stars. Although he wasn't able to maintain that momentum, on that night, Silva came through with a stellar submission win.

For Fabricio Werdum, he was able to cement his status as the premier heavyweight submission grappler by scoring the armbar win over the great Minotauro in the second round. The crowd in Fortaleza might have wanted the heroic underdog win for "Big Nog," but it was not to be, as Werdum was able to cement his status as a fighter in the prime position for a heavyweight title shot. Though an injury to Cain Velasquez has imperiled that opportunity, Werdum still has this win to hold onto, certainly the high point of his 2013.

UFC on FUEL TV 10:
Erick Silva vs. Jason High: Erick Silva def. Jason High via submission (armbar) at 1:11 of Round 1.

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UFC on FUEL TV 10:
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Fabricio Werdum: Fabricio Werdum def. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira via submission (armbar) at 2:41 of Round 2.

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Upset of the Month: Josh Burkman Posterizes Jon Fitch
Josh Burkman vs. Jon Fitch, World Series of Fighting 3

On the heels of his unexpected release from the UFC, Jon Fitch was expected to dominate the WSOF ranks, despite Josh Burkman's career resurgence outside of the world's premier MMA organization. This fight was supposed to be a mere formality for Fitch, who fans expected to win the promotion's welterweight title, then stand out as one of the best fighters not in the UFC. Especially as the UFC continued to promote Erick Silva, a fighter Fitch had defeated, as a future champion, Fitch was poised to be the thorn in the side of Dana White, the fighter that hardcore fans would always cite as proof that the UFC doesn't have all the best fighters.

But in 41 seconds, that all changed. Burkman staggered Fitch with a short right, then choked him unconscious with a standing guillotine, and as Fitch went to sleep, so ended his dreams of dominance outside of the UFC, and fans clamoring for his Octagon return. It was a tough loss for Fitch fans, but it was a win that validated Burkman's contention that he was not a fighter to look past. Despite the substantial financial investment in Fitch by WSOF, it was Burkman who saw himself in a fight to crown a welterweight champion before the end of the year. Though unsuccessful, his upset win over Fitch was the most memorable moment of June 2013.

Josh Burkman vs. Jon Fitch: Josh Burkman def. Jon Fitch via technical submission (guillotine choke) at 0:41 of Round 1.

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Do you agree with these choices for June 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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