Posted 01/24/2014 by Mike Fagan in Untethered MMA

The Top Ten MMA Moments of 2013, No. 1-5

5. Fallon Fox comes out as transgendered.

Fallon Fox was born Boyd Burton, the son of a conservative family from Ohio. In 2006, Fox traveled to Bangkok to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Six years later she fought MMA twice, first in Idaho and then in Florida.

Three days after the fight in Florida, Fox came out as a transgender woman, and all hell broke loose.

Joe Rogan, Matt Mitrione, and other meatheads attacked Fox for being a “man” fighting women. Ronda Rousey felt Fox would have a physical advantage as a result of being born male. The LGBT community mixed with the MMA community with predictably hilarious results.

The debate over how to handle transgendered fighters is unlikely to end soon. In the meantime, Fox has fought twice, submitting Allanna Jones in May before losing by TKO to Ashlee Evans-Smith.

4. Chris Weidman knocks out Anderson Silva.

No one counted Chris Weidman out.

Weidman entered his Independence Day weekend title fight against Anderson Silva as 2-1 underdog. Those are significant odds, but not insurmountable: the underdog is still given a 33% chance of winning the fight.

So, it wasn’t surprising that Chris Weidman beat Anderson Silva that weekend. Weidman, an effective wrestlers with some serious submission grappling creds, was supposed to expose Silva’s perceived weakness on the floor. The same weakness that cost him embarrassing losses against Ryo Chonan and Daiju Takase in Pride.

After chasing a clowning Silva around for the better part of five minutes, Weidman threw a wild punch combo that send the champion into Matrix mode. Weidman ended the sequence with a bizarre backhanded punch that Silva avoided with casual arrogance.

Normally, that’s where the story ends. This time, however, Weidman followed with a left hook. Silva never saw it coming. He crumpled to the mat, his head bouncing off the canvas. Weidman followed with more punches until Herb Dean stepped in. He turned away with hands raised high as Silva clutched at Dean’s legs.

Chris Weidman knocked out Anderson Silva. That was surprising.

3. Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche stare down inside the UFC Octagon.

Women’s MMA didn’t materialize out of thin air at UFC 157. Women in MMA has a long history, one that starts in Jeff Osborne’s HOOKnSHOOT and travels to Smackgirl in Japan before the emergence of Gina Carano and Cris “Cyborg” Justino in EliteXC and Strikeforce. It wasn’t the first time women had headlined a major event; Carano and Cyborg drew over half a million viewers as the lead draws on Showtime.

But HOOKnSHOOT and Smackgirl and EliteXC and Strikeforce aren’t the UFC. So, when Ronda Rousey met Liz Carmouche at UFC 157, it was a big deal. It was full and total acknowledgement of women’s place in the sport. And just months after Dana White’s declaration that women would never fight in the UFC.

The success of women in the UFC will be an interesting story over the next few years. Both of Rousey’s 2013 fights drew well, with the caveat of the historical nature of the first fight and being paired with a big Anderson Silva main event in the second. Her third fight, a quick, eight-week turnaround against fellow Olympian Sara McMann, will give us a great look.

And then there’s the Hollywood effect. Gina Carano fought the big-money fight against Cyborg, and then Steven Soderbergh cast her in Haywire. She hasn’t fought since. Rousey’s already filmed parts in two large franchise movies: The Expendables 3 and Fast & Furious 6. Will the allure of a paycheck that doesn’t require real punches and kicks draw her away as well? Will the UFC have another female star on their hands if she does leave? And, if not, where will that leave the division?

2. Georges St-Pierre announces his (temporary?) retirement.

Firas Zahabi told a media outlet that Georges St-Pierre would consider retiring after his fight against Johny Hendricks. Zahabi backed off those remarks – claiming, of course, they were taken out of context – but rumors continued to swirl.

St-Pierre retained his title against Hendricks – sort of, barely. His post-fight interview with Joe Rogan featured a flustered St-Pierre rambling about needing to “go away for a while.” Dana White blew up at the post-fight press conference, going on about St-Pierre owing the company, the fans, and the sport. St-Pierre showed up – a surprise to those in attendance as White told the media he was taken to the hospital, and White turned sympathetic when his welterweight champion talked about personal issues. After a brief private pow wow, White emerged in the media scrum St-Pierre would fight again.

The writing was on the wall when the UFC called a special conference call for December 13th. As a surprise to few, St-Pierre announced he was stepping away from the sport. He carefully avoided calling it a retirement, leaving the door open for a future return.

Since leaving, St-Pierre has ruffled some feathers, taking issuing with how the UFC handled him in the immediate aftermath of the Hendricks fight and also criticizing the company’s willingness to take on drug testing. Whether that prevents a return remains to be seen.

1. Anderson Silva snaps his leg.

The rematch at UFC 168 wasn’t supposed to be any more surprising than the first bout. Chris Weidman proved Anderson Silva mortal, after all. When Weidman powered out of Silva’s Thai clinch, it looked like the story would revolve around Silva’s age, his deterioration as a fighter, Weidman proving he was no fluke.

Just past a minute into the second round, Silva threw a leg kick. Then he fell down, clutching at his leg. At first, I thought Silva had injured his knee, similar to Patrick Cote at UFC 90. But Silva was holding far below his knee. And he was screaming. Shrieking. Then the UFC showed us the replay. And again. And over and again.

This is not how a champion is supposed to go out. This is Michael Jordan catching his arm in the netting and tearing his arm from his socket. This is Wayne Gretzky breaking his stick and catching the splintered end in his eye. This is Peyton Manning’s decapitation on a professional football field.

Miraculously or insanely, Silva is talking as if he will fight again.

Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter


Mike Fagan