Surprises are guaranteed in the UFC. If someone told you two years ago that BJ Penn would be run out of the UFC, Strikeforce would be bought and would subsequently fold you may have questioned the individual’s sanity.
So what will happen in the MMA in 2013?
Three people will hold the title this year. Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos and Alistair Overeem. It will be the best year for this division and once again Lesnar will flirt with MMA fans about a return to the UFC.
Mark Hunt will be a big fan favourite (once again) after coming back from knee surgery late in the year. Can he continue to impress with his huge hitting with next to zero ground game?
Jon Jones will defend his title at least twice and toy with the idea of challenging for the heavyweight title in early 2014. Once he sees Overeem nearly gas against JDS the rumours with flourish for the Super Bowl weekend of 2014.
Rampage Jackson will get another car and stay in the UFC.
Anderson Silva will dominate, again. He will defend his title three times. The last time he will be stepping up to save another fightcard in Brazil because of injuries.
The much anticipated ‘Super Fight’ with GSP will not eventuate in 2013 but maybe in 2014. Jacare Souza will challenge the old guard in the UFC.
Georges St-Pierre will be pushed much harder than he thought in 2013. He will defeat Nick Diaz via decision and then again win against Johnny Hendricks and make people wonder about the Greg Jackson camp and their fight strategy.
GSP will then be forced to pick either a rematch with Carlos Condit or Rory MacDonald. Thus he will look for a new challenge in 2014 and move up a weight class.
Benson Henderson will have the toughest year of all the UFC champions. He will be fighting in major wars three times and will be the first fighter to be considered, as recording back to back Fighter of the Year honours by the fans.
First he’ll win against Melendez, then Jim Miller and finally the Anthony Pettis on the NYE fightcard.
Aldo will make Frankie Edgar move back up to light weight by demolishing him within two rounds.
Once again the injury curse will strike and Dana White will consider Edgar and Diego Nunes for an interim. title match. It will be epic and a rematch will occur after the first title fight.
It will all be for naught though as Jose Aldo returns and smashes whichever fighter was dumb enough to think they were a champion at 145.
Renan Barao will hold the title until Dominick Cruz returns. By then Urijah Faber will have gotten enough wins to be credible enough for another shot at the title. However, it won’t work out for him.
He will retire in the ring and everybody will gloss over that he struggled once the WEC and the UFC merged. Eddie Wineland and Brad Pickett will have a rematch mid-year that will catapult Wineland into title contention.
A tough division with little or no stability. Demetrious Johnson will lose his title, and it will happen very soon. No slight on him, he is a very good fighter but Ian McCall will emerge victorious.
From there, Johnson will be injured and out for the rest of the year. By the end of the year the title will change hands again to either Darrel Montague or Jussier Da Sliva.
Fight camp winner
Much to Josh Koscheck’s distaste, the American Kickboxing Academy is going to reign supreme in 2013. While Cain Velasquez will struggle in the heavyweights, Todd Duffee and Daniel Cormier won’t.
Both will record three wins (Cormier will actually drop to Light Heavy after two fights). Along with a few high profile fighters jumping ship to AKA, Fitch will actually close the door on Koscheck’s MMA career with a brutal KO at the end of the year. Then Dana will smile.
Fight camp losers
The Cesar Gracie camp is going to struggle. After the Diaz brothers are exposed to losses via the same game plan (their opponent is going the thigh kick their front legs into oblivion), Jake Shields will struggle coming back for his suspension with two losses in a row and Gilbert will lose in his challenge for the Lightweight Championship belt.
The only saving grace they will have is Ronda Rousey arm-baring two more women on her way to becoming one of the most media savvy fighters in UFC history.
She will actually make Dana jealous as she outgrows her MMA role and into something bigger.
Plenty of injuries, plenty of suspensions (a few will deny knowing they took the banned substance, again) but the main play will be the UFC buying Invicata FC rather than building their own Female MMA cards.
Cyborg will drop to 135 and fight Ronda by the end of the year.
Not sure how it will end exactly but cardio will prove to be the biggest skill-set advantage in 2013. More than one fighter will struggle with the pace of a fight and be left gasping for air as they get smashed by a rival.
2013 will be a big year for MMA.