Everyone loves a good comeback story. No matter how down and out you are, nothing is more motivating than proving the haters wrong.
Let’s look at some of 2013’s best comeback stories:
4. Urijah Faber
Here’s a guy who’s lost his last five title fights. Yet, he’s still here, and seemingly getting better. Faber fought and won four times in 2013, three of the wins by submission. Always an entertaining fighter to watch, Faber now fights with a sense of urgency and panic. He wants to win and he wants to win quickly. The 34-year-old “California Kid” is on the verge of a title shot again, after losses to Renan Barao and Dominick Cruz in the UFC, and Jose Aldo and Mike Brown twice in the WEC. Faber won’t quit, and looks better, and younger with each fight. He may have one more title shot waiting for him in 2014.
3. Eddie Alvarez
Alvarez was supposed to go to the UFC, but Bellator blocked it. So Alvarez sat out most of 2013. Alvarez wanted to fight in the UFC after his contract expired in November of 2012 and the UFC wanted Alvarez inside the Octagon. But Bellator had a right to match UFC’s offer, and did so, at least on paper. At first Alvarez threatened to challenge Bellator’s contract offer in court, but faced with a long court battle that would have cost him a lot of money, he decided to re-sign with Bellator. It all culminated with Alvarez’s return on Nov. 2 against Michael Chandler, the man who submitted him for the title in 2011. In an epic classic, Alvarez and Chandler looked like they had been in a train wreck when the fight was over. Alvarez won by split decision, affirming he is one of the best lightweights in the world and also affirming that he was worth fighting for.
2. Robbie Lawler
It’s almost as if Lawler figured out a way to hack into every fighter and trainer’s mind and make them forget about his time in Strikeforce, and block their access to old fight videos on YouTube. That’s because every fighter Lawler has faced in the UFC in 2013 has acted like they were stepping into the cage with a 20-year-old Mike Tyson. They fought scared and apprehensive, and what happened? Lawler knocked them out or beat them up. Lawler’s recreated himself better than Madonna or Michael Jackson ever did. He’s a new fighter. He knocked out out Josh Koscheck, Bobby Voelker and defeated rising star Rory MacDonald. Crazy to think that at one point Nick Diaz knocked him out, he was submitted by Jason “Mayhem” Miller and Jake Shields, and lost decisions to Renato Sobral, Tim Kennedy and Lorenz Larkin.
1. Vitor Belfort
It’s a good year when you knock out Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and Dan Henderson. And before that, you nearly tap out Jon Jones with an armbar. The 36-year-old Belfort has turned back the clock and is perhaps the hottest thing going in MMA. Belfort has returned to the top 17 years after his MMA debut. He fights smart, quick and aggressive. He’s proved the haters wrong and is on the verge of a shot at the UFC middleweight championship. If Belfort were 25, everybody would be saying he’s the future of the sport.