Last night, UFC 168 ended the calendar year with the most anticipated card in recent memory. Aside from Anderson Silva’s attempt to regain the middleweight title from Chris Weidman, the rest of the card was stacked. It was the perfect ending to 12 months of bone-crushing knockouts and breathtaking submissions spanning 33 fights worldwide.
Every UFC event didn’t deliver the perfect matchup, but the few that did are part of what made 2013 memorable. Let’s take a look at the best UFC events in the last year.
UFC on FOX 7: Henderson vs. Melendez
Counting the preliminary card, UFC on Fox 7 held a record-tying eight knockouts. Among the knockout victors were Josh Thomson, Matt Brown, Chad Mendes and Joseph Benavidez. In his UFC debut, Daniel Cormier needed the judges’ scorecards to beat Frank Mir. It wasn’t pretty, but it landed Cormier a slot at UFC 160.
Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez went the distance in the main event. Many believe Melendez was robbed, but Henderson managed to slip away with a split-decision victory.
UFC Fight Night 26: Shogun vs. Sonnen
The first UFC event on FOX Sports 1 featured two fighters looking for redemption. Chael Sonnen submitted ‘Shogun’ Rua in the first round, but not before audiences got to see a great card without paying a dime.
Travis Browne knocked out Alistair Overeem with a front kick late in the first round of the co-main event. But the Fight of the Night honor went to Michael McDonald and his triangle choke of Brad Pickett. Top to bottom, it was a great debut for the UFC on the new FOX network.
UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson
Jon Jones carried an air of invincibility going into the light heavyweight title match with Alexander Gustafsson. That quickly faded with a shocking unanimous decision in favor of the champion. This is easily a contender for fight of the year, with a heavily-anticipated rematch hopefully coming sometime in 2014.
Renan Barao knocked out Eddie Wineland 35 seconds into the first round of their interim Bantamweight Championship fight and Brendon Schaub submitted Matt Mitrone to become the first heavyweight in UFC history to win a fight via D’Arce choke.
UFC 166: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos 3
On a card filled with heavyweight bouts, Gilbert Melendez’s victory over Diego Sanchez stole the show. The ‘Mexican World War’ showcased Melendez, who fought in Strikeforce before getting a shot in the UFC. In the co-main event Daniel Cormier defeated Roy Nelson by unanimous decision.
Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos split their first two encounters, with Dos Santos winning by knockout and the champion dependent on a unanimous decision verdict. The finale to this trilogy nearly lasted the full 25 minutes with Velasquez defending his title via TKO.
UFC 168: Silva vs. Weidman 2
What can be said about this card that hasn’t been said? One can even question whether the co-main event between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate garnered more attention than the rematch between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman. Eitherway, it was arguably the most anticipated card in UFC history.
‘The Spider’ said that he wanted to regain the middleweight title to legitimize his legacy. Unfortunately, he suffered a gruesome leg injury when Weidman check one of his kicks. There is no question that Silva is one of the greatest fighters of all-time, but there is serious doubt as to whether he will step in the Octagon again.
Bad blood between Rousey and Tate fueled their rematch for the Women’s Bantamweight Championship. Rousey submitted Tate by armbar early in the third round, and in an act of defiance, refused to shake Tate’s hand after. It was a fitting ending to a rivalry that defined Rousey’s importance to the UFC.