|image credit – AP/SeattleTimes|
There are a lot of factors that go into naming the 2013 Fighter of the Year. It is not only about who had the best year in the cage it is about whose fights matter most. Championship fights matter more than non-title fights and nobody had more championship fights the Demetrius Johnson. Let’s take a minute to look at who had tremendous years in which fighter is the 2013 fighter of the year.
Urijah Faber: Faber went 4-0 this year, winning three of those fights by submission. He has himself back in title contention in the bantamweight division and should have a title shot in the first part of 2014. Undoubtedly a tremendous year for Uriah and he sets himself up perfectly for a run at Fighter of the Year in 2014.
Vitor Belfort: Some might argue that nobody had a better 2013 that the “Phenom” Vitor Belfort. Belfort went a perfect 3-0 in 2013, knocking out Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and Dan Henderson, all in Brazil. A tremendous feat to be sure, but the fact that he’s had failed drug tests in the past, and is currently fighting on TRT, sours his record, right or wrong. He’s a fighter who fair or otherwise is steeped in controversy. People see him as a cheater, and in this world, perception in reality. It doesn’t help that these fights all took place in Brazil, and away from respected athletic commissions. Great year, but Vitor will continue to suffer for his perceived sins.
You can make arguments for Chris Weidman, Cain Velasquez or even Travis Browne for fighter of the year, but for me, only one man is deserving of the honor this year. That man is Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. He had an amazing 2013.
Arguably the most athletic and fastest athlete on the UFC roster, Demetrious has lightning fast takedowns, blinding hand speed and reflexes that are not to be believed. His ability to get under a punch and perform a takedown is unlike anything I’ve seen in the sport, and he simply has too much speed for fighters in the sport’s fastest division.
He started off 2013 with a five round unanimous decision victory over John Dodson, a fighter who many felt would be too fast and pack too much of a punch for Johnson to deal with. Dodson proved he had a ton of power, dropping Johnson twice in the second round. When it was all said and done, Demetrious had won the fight (48-47, 49-46 & 48-47) and the fight was awarded Fight of the Night, netting the two combatants healthy bonuses for their efforts.
Demetrious would next enter the cage in Seattle, WA to face off with John Moraga and dominated the fight from start to finish. His speed and takedowns were in full display and he controlled the fight in its entirety. Johnson set a couple of UFC marks that night, most takedowns (12) and latest win via submission. Not content to ride out the clock and earn the decision victory, Johnson went out in the fifth and final round and fought like a madman, gaining the victory via submission with just over a minute to go in the fifth and final frame. When he secured the armbar and Moraga tapped, the Key Arena went nuts, and as someone who was inside that arena watching, it was a remarkable moment. The win earned Demetrious Johnson the submission of the night bonus.
Like I said, not everything that goes into having a great year happens inside the Octagon, and in July, Demetrious and his wife Destiny welcomed their first child, Tyren, into the world. A “mini-mini mouse” if you will. Having that child, is the motivating force in Johnson’s life, and he trains, and fights to provide an amazing life for his wife and child.
Demetrious closed the year with an amazing performance on UFC on Fox December 14th, in his second fight with Joseph Benavidez. Benavidez is widely considered to be the one man who can take the belt from Johnson, and is seen my many as his stiffest challenge. Well, on this occasion it was not to be for Benavidez, who was dispatched of early, earning Johnson his third bonus in as many fights in 2013, this time winning the KO of the Night award. It only took Demetrious 2 minutes to render Benavidez unconscious and defend his belt for the third time. A vicious knockout, Johnson showed he not only has speed, but power as well, making him one of the scariest fighters in the UFC.
Demetrious sits atop the UFC’s smallest weight class, and is finally beginning to gain some of the pound for pound respect his skills time and again prove he’s worthy of. In the UFC/Media/Celebrity/Official/Unofficial rankings, Demetrious is ranked #4 Pound for Pound. I would move him ahead of Cain Velasquez into the third spot, but it’s made up rankings either way. As long as Demetrious stays firmly atop of the Flyweight ranks, he’ll be plenty happy.
I’ve heard that success is not the goal, it’s the bi-product. For Johnson, all the hard work has produced an amazing 2013, and success has come. He can add our 2013 Fighter of the Year to his growing list of accomplishments.