So yeah, ESPN Fighter of the Year is not a close race in 2013. It’s Chris Weidman by a landslide.
Even Weidman, who isn’t one to pat himself on the back or pause to admire his own work, knows a fighter of the year when he sees one. His year speaks for itself.
“I did beat the greatest of all time, twice,” Weidman told ESPN.com. “I think that’s pretty good. Other guys had more fights than me but I fought as much as I could and I only had big fights. They were some of the biggest fights of the year.”
It was acceptable to doubt Weidman after his first win over Silva in July. As it turned out, it was wrong to do so, but at least it made sense at the time. Silva did clown in their first fight. It was hard to put that fight in perspective.
To still doubt him now, after a repeat performance, is silly. He dominated Silva in the rematch -- more so than in the first. He knocked him down, landed elbows from the top and turned the champ’s greatest weapon against him when he checked that kick.
“He fought the greatest twice and beat him twice,” said Weidman’s coach and former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra. “Dude can’t catch a break. He beats him the first time and it’s ‘Oh, Anderson was joking around.’
“This time, they’re calling it a freak thing. No. He checked the kick. He did the right move. I think he should get more credit. I think he’s being picked on.”
According to FightMetric, Weidman landed 36 significant strikes over the course of the two fights, compared to 22 by Silva. He scored 50 percent of his takedowns and attempted three submission attempts to Silva’s zero. He won all four rounds.
That’s not luck. That’s your new UFC middleweight champion and landslide winner for fighter of the year.
No 2: UFC middleweight Vitor Belfort, 3-0
When he’s not discussing his place in the jungle or carving figures into what’s become the best hair in MMA, Belfort proved he is still an elite fighter in 2013.
No. 3: UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, 3-0
Mighty Mouse defended his title three times and still found time to see the birth of his first child AND undergo shoulder surgery. That barely seems possible.
No. 4: UFC bantamweight Urijah Faber, 4-0
Faber doesn’t seem like a guy who takes fuel from doubters, but it can’t be all coincidence he put together a monster year at a time when so many counted him out.
No. 5: UFC welterweight Robbie Lawler, 3-0
Maybe Lawler would cherish a UFC title. Or maybe he could really care less about one. It’s hard to tell with ol’ Robbie. What we do know is he was one of the most entertaining fighters to watch in 2013, which he capped off with an upset win.