Top 5 UFC Fights Of The Year (So Far)

The first half of 2013 for the UFC has been filled with everything we've come to love about the most powerful promotion in all of MMA. 

Shocking KO's, sudden submissions, controversial decisions and perhaps most importantly, history, are all effects we've witnessed in the first six months of 2013. 

Let's take a look at the top five fights of 2013's first half.

numbers_set_05Junior Dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt (UFC 160 – 5.25.13)

UFC 160: Dos Santos v Hunt

When it was announced that Mark Hunt would be taking the place of Alistair Overeem to face former UFC heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos, Hunt fanboys across the globe jumped for joy. It seemed like Hunt was finally getting the recognition he deserved.

Going into the fight many thought that Pride veteran Hunt was an extremely live underdog, and deservingly so. A strange tension filled the air as soon as the bell rung and both men met at the center of the octagon. You had the sense that at any single moment either man could land a devastating blow, ending the other's night abruptly.

Dos Santos had Hunt fans gasping for air in the first round as he dropped the "Super Samoan"  a bone chilling and extremely loud overhand right. Much to the delight of fight fans, Hunt got up and made it a fight again…until the third round.

Dos Santos landed himself perhaps the most gorgeous highlight of the year when he KO'ed Hunt with a spinning heel kick at the end of the third. We suspect that we'll be seeing Dos Santos again for our end of the year list when he takes on current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez in a rubber match at the end of the year. 

numbers_set_04Alistair Overeem vs. Bigfoot Silva (UFC 156 – 2.2.13)

After destroying former heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar in his 2011 UFC debut it seemed obvious that Alistair Overeem was the number one contender for then champion Junior Dos Santos' crown. Instead Overeem failed a drug test which kept him out of action for over a year. 

Fast forward to February 2013 — Overeem is set to make his return against the underrated and under appreciated Bigfoot Silva. In the lead up to the fight Overeem seemed to take a narcissistic stance when asked about the skills of his opponent. Overeem felt Bigfoot was not on his level and he was not afraid to let him know. 

His pompous attitude carried over to the fight which he was actually winning in the first two rounds with his takedowns and clinch work. During the final round of the fight Overeem had visibly slowed down, which left the perfect opportunity for Silva to achieve the brightest moment of his career thus far.

In a shocking turn of events, Overeem left his hands down and got blasted by a Bigfoot missile right hand that sent shockwaves, not only through Overeem's body but through the UFC as well.

The lesson learned was you always have to respect your opponent's – especially when you're fighting in the heavyweight division.

numbers_set_03Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche (UFC 157 – 2.23.13)

UFC 157: Rousey v Carmouche

From the moment we saw Ronda Rousey dismantle Julia Budd during 2011's Strikeforce Challengers 20, we were hooked. One fight later she was the Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion. Two fights after that, she has arguably become the face of the UFC and she is undeniably the face of women's MMA. 

When it was announced that Rousey would take on Liz Carmouche in the first ever women's match in the UFC, many fans — ahem, internet trolls — shared their disgust that this fight would be headlining a UFC event.  What we witnessed that night was not only history but a helluva fight.

Carmouche flew under the radar of many casual fans, but much to our delight, the 3-1 underdog came to fight. During the early moments of the first round, Carmouche got Rousey's back and proceeded to sink in what seemed like the most painful maneuver we've ever seen — a standing neck crank. However, Rousey held her composure for what felt like an eternity and managed to shake the "Girl-Rilla" off of her back. She then reminded us — with 11 seconds left in the round — that the most painful maneuver was not the standing neck crank;  it's a Ronda Rousey arm bar.  

numbers_set_02Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann (UFC on FUEL TV – 3.3.13)

You cannot script fights like this, folks. After establishing his name in the MMA world as one of the greatest fighters to come out of Pride, Wanderlei Silva returned to Japan to face fellow slugger Brian Stann. Many expected this to be nothing short of a war, but what we witnessed was an instant classic.

Both men furiously exchanged multiple punches in a remarkably violent fight which saw both men hit the deck multiple times in round one. The action moved so quickly it was hard to absorb what was happening all at once. It was as if two tornados met head on with reckless abandon. 

During the second round it appeared that Stann was landing the cleaner shots until Silva dropped him with a spear like right hand. Silva then reminded us why they call "The Axe Murderer," as he jumped in and swarmed the dazed Stann. Silva managed to land a thudding right hook that put Stann to sleep, much to delight of the pro-Silva Japanese crowd. A truly great moment for the Brazilian legend.

numbers_set_01Cat Zingano vs. Miesha Tate (The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale – 4.13.13)

TUF 17 Finale: Tate v Zingano

The second women's UFC bout may go down as the greatest. When it was announced that former Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate would take on the virtually unknown Cat Zingano at the TUF 17 Finale, many thought nothing of it. I mean it surely couldn't be as good as Rousey and Carmouche's historic bout, right? Wrong.

Tate used her wrestling coupled with her ground and pound at the start of the fight to control her lesser known opponent. It seemed like Zingano had no answer to the superior wrestler at the end of the first round, and to be honest, when you do see a first round like that one you expect the wrestler to keep on grinding. 

The second round started much like the first when Tate landed a takedown and gained dominant position. Tate went for multiple submissions which Zingano defended well. Zingano came out like a woman possessed in the third when she flipped the script and scored a takedown of her own. From the top position she landed good elbows that opened up her opponent's nose. When Tate managed to get to her feet with a scramble, Zingano made her pay by brutalizing her face with a series of Anderson Silva-esque knees. As the assault continued Tate fell to her knees but managed to get back to her feet again only to eat another series of deadly knees that made the ref step in to stop the fight.

It was easily the fight of that night and at this point the best fight of 2013 so far.

We can't wait to see what the rest of 2013 has in store for UFC fans across the globe.

Zachary Hutton is the lead boxing writer and an MMA contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can see what he's up to at his band's website or also subscribe on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Getty