2013 Fighter of the Year: Demetrious Johnson

January 5, 2014
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Demetrious JohnsonThe last calendar year in mixed martial arts could be described as change. New champions emerged in the lightweight division and the middleweight division, Georges St-Pierre vacated his welterweight title, and women fought for the first time in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

During the course of 33 UFC events, a few fighters stood out amongst the rest, but whose accomplishments warranted the accolade of Fighter of the Year?

Former light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort revitalized his career in dramatic fashion scoring three highlight-reel head kick knockouts over Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, and Dan Henderson. Former featherweight titleholder Urijah Faber solidified himself as the top bantamweight contender with four wins in 2013. Middleweight champion Chris Weidman ended Anderson Silva’s seven-year title reign and defeated the former champion in a rematch on Dec. 28.

All the previously mentioned athletes became candidates for Fighter of the Year. But it’s hard to argue against a champion defending his title three times in the same year, and that’s why Demetrious Johnson is MMAWeekly.com’s 2013 Fighter of the Year.

Johnson defeated Joseph Benavidez to win the UFC flyweight tournament and the inaugural UFC flyweight championship in September 2012. He put his title on the line for the first time on Jan. 26 against John Dodson, winning by unanimous decision. In July, he submitted John Moraga by armbar, setting up a rematch with Benavidez on Dec. 14 in Benavidez’s backyard of Sacramento, Calif.

Many felt it was Benavidez’s time, but Johnson ended those thoughts with a thunderous right hand just two minutes into the title fight that rendered Benavidez unconscious. He became the first fighter to finish Benavidez.

While others were certainly impressive, all three of Johnson’s fights headlined fight cards on Fox and were all championship bouts. He probably didn’t have to knock out Benavidez to be named Fighter of the Year, but the knockout was an exclamation point on a year that he put the flyweights on the map.

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  • Timothy Malone

    I have to disagree. People can complain about the decision, but official results show in 2013 Georges St. Pierre broke the record for most UFC championship wins and most total UFC wins (among other records). GSP should be Fighter of the Year.

    • Maddawgmar

      I agree Johnson shouldn’t be Fighter of the Year. I think it should be Uriah Faber. He has improved his standing in the UFC the most this year. I don’t think GSP has more successful defenses of a championship than Silva. And since he “retired/hiatus” lost some standing in the voting.

    • Big Tuna

      He stole his only win of the year then retires more like burglar of the year for GSP

      • Timothy Malone

        He had two wins in 2013. Whatever you think of the Hendricks fight, surely you don’t think Nick Diaz beat GSP.

    • Ian Price

      Hendricks (along with me in my living room), we’re cheering right up until Bruce buffet read the verdict. Johny wasn’t pretending. He knew he won that right fair and square. This wasn’t no Frankie – bendo II….

  • Chase Brian Beebe

    Weidman is fighter of the year. Mighty mouse beat 3 guys he was favored to win over while weidman beat the man twice as an underdog both times

    • Ian Price

      Good point.

  • tyrone

    Weidman is definately fighter of the year with two muggings of ufc goat silva. Fights were one sided in weidmans favor and made silva look like an amateur.

    • silvas daddy

      Agree totally. This was the biggest ufc even ever and cost the most so therefore the most important. Weidman is fighter of the year and the fans know it!!!

    • LetsKeepItReal

      Anderson got himself knocked out in the first fight by messing around…No one knows how the second fight would of ended if he didn’t break his leg…I doubt he made silva look like an amateur.

      • Chase Brian Beebe

        excuses, excuses

      • tyrone

        I do believe weidman threw the punch to ko silva, therefore weidman ktfo silva with a punch that he threw.therefor weidman gets the credit regardless what silva was doing.silva stated afterwards that he went thru a 4 month camp and was in best shape ever.silvas not making excuses so maybe you shouldn’t!

        • LetsKeepItReal

          Silva won’t make an excuse but it’s foolish in any combat sport to try and show boat and dance around. He got caught, He beat himself. Second fight? It doesn’t matter what happened up till he broke his leg and it doesn’t matter if Chris was winning the fight. Sonnen was beating Silva as well until the last minute in which he tapped out. So both wins by Wiedman are crappy wins.Yea he won, But he certainly didn’t BEAT silva.

      • Ian Price

        He dropped Silva. In the clinch. You know, the clinch? Anderson’s favorite position?

    • El Gvapo

      Hardly looked like an amateur did he? How does breaking your leg make you look amateurish?

      • Ian Price

        He was losing before the leg breakage

        • El Gvapo

          Oh I agree, but we didn’t get a finish. Weidman was winning up until that point for sure and I’m fairly certain he would have gone on to win the fight but there will always be doubt there.

          • Ian Price

            I agree. A finish or unanimous decision would have left much less doubt…

    • Timothy Malone

      GSP has won more fights as a UFC champion than Weidman has won in his entire career. The only reason he didn’t beat Silva is because he didn’t fight him.

      • Steve Martinez

        I just can’t bring myself to consider GSP when it was clear he lost the Hendricks fight. You can’t be fighter of the year with a gift win in your biggest fight of the year…

        • Ian Price

          Sorry Timothy, I gotta agree with him on this one!

    • Rence

      I agree that he didnt make silva look like an amateur, but lets be honest. Silva comes out and screws around in almost every fight. He does it to get a feel for his opponent and dial in the range. So winning round 1 vs Silva isnt a miracle. Silva almost has a pattern. Screw around round 1, do what he does starting in rnd 2.
      But while he may have been clowning around against CW in their first fight, Chris threw the punch that knocked him out with hostile intentions. To say that its luck when something youre trying to do works is a little disingenuous. If he had not connected with a single punch all night and then landed the KO punch, maybe you would have a case for luck. But no, CW not only won that fight, but he beat Silva.

      The second fight, Yes he won round one there also. Yes he checked the kicks. But there was no intention to break Silvas leg, nor was it logical to think that checking his kicks alone was going to win him that fight. Yes it may have in the long run made it easier to win the fight since Silva may have stopped kicking him if he checked enough kicks, but you’ll never hear Bruce announce “And your winner, via checked leg kicks…”
      So, Chris won the second fight, but he didnt beat Silva to do it.

      At no point though did he make Silva look like an amateur

  • Josh

    Weidman didn’t get the nod for obvious reasons. Sure he beat Silva, But both wins just served to ask more questions than they answered. as for Pierre. he broke records and won his fights, but he was nearly defeated then decided to step away from the sport. I think Johnson is the right pick. He won 3 Championship fights this year against 3 very game opponents. He didn’t show weakness and finished 2-3 of his fights. He couldn’t be more deserving.

    • silvas daddy

      Obvious reasons? What reason? Weidman answered all questions with an exclamation mark and rode off on his new Harley

      • Josh

        If you actually read my post you would see the reasons. He didn’t win either fight definitively. both fights left people all over wondering if he still could actually do it. Silva got caught in the first fight. That is Silvas Fault so yes Chris won that one. but would he have won if Anderson actually came to fight that night. and the second fight ended after a nasty injury in the second round. there was still 3 rounds to go and he could have destroyed Weidman. so no exclamaition point. more like a Question mark. Which is sad because he is a good fighter. but until he defeats Belfort. people are just gonna view him more as the guy who got lucky.

        • El Gvapo

          Correct Josh. I’m a big Weidman fan but there’s still a few ‘what ifs’ in my mind about the second fight.

          • mendoza

            Perhaps you need a psychologist if you question reality.what if you are nuts? What if you are a weidman hater? What if? …

        • silvas daddy

          He beat clowning silva and beat down serious silva.weidman did what he was supposed to do regardless which silva showed up. Gun toting silva is the only silva who would win against weidman. That should answer your questions

          • Ian Price

            I’m gonna go out in a limb and say that a younger Anderson of let’s say 2-3 years ago is even with Weidman.

        • Ian Price

          I don’t even think that’s gonna give Weidman the credit he deserves. He’s gonna beat Vitor and through some mental loophole people will once again complain. It will be in 2015 that people finally relent. Just as with Jones, how long did it take people to finally say “ok, he’s the man”.

          • Ian Price

            What if Weidman defends his belt against Vitor ad maybe Machida, Sonnen and maybe another Anderson fight…. How long before people start clamoring for a Jones superfight with him?

          • El Gvapo

            No it’s clear Weidman is the real deal, he’s proved that. I’d say right now only Vitor and Machida can challenge him.

    • Ian Price

      I’m not upset that Demetrious got it. It was close. I still would have given it to Weidman though. Imagine if Rashad had beat jones twice this year…. Wouldn’t you give it to him? Same thing!

      • El Gvapo

        If he KOd or subbed him twice then yes.

  • Big Tuna

    Considering he got dropped and lost the Dodson fight the fighter of the year should be Weidman!

  • mongoose

    Cain not even in the debate

    • Chase Brian Beebe

      he beat the same two guys he beat last year

    • El Gvapo

      Not for me. Fighter of the year should have thought three times in my opinion

    • Steve Martinez

      Cain is a great fighter but his wins aren’t as impressive as wins over the Spider.

  • JDMMA

    Yes beating Anderson Silva twice is a joke !!! obviously anyone can do that

  • Qb

    Weidman. Period.

  • El Gvapo

    I’d say for the achievement then Weidman should win but I feel the winner has to have fought three times. I’m not having Demetrious though, there’s only one or two contenders in that whole division and opinions are a tad divided over whether he actually beat Dodson.

    For me, it’s got to go to Vitor. Three fights and three stunning KOs, including one over a former champ who’s never been KOd before. My other pick would be Travis Browne. Again, three KOs of higher rated fighters all in the first round.

    • Ian Price

      Some good points.

    • solo

      Good points, but champion is always in front of the fighter without a belt.

  • Steve Martinez

    To say the fighter HAS to fight three times in a year is just dumb. Johnson is a great champ but he doesn’t have a win over a pound for pound top ten fighter (or even top 15). Weidman has two wins over the best fighter in the history of the UFC who had not lost since 2006. If you don’t think The All-American is fighter of the year then you’re either an Anderson Silva appologist, just plain stupid, or both. I’m leaning towards C!

    • El Gvapo

      If that is the only way you can formulate an argument then you are the stupid one. Weidman defeated Silva once, great achievement no doubt and one that nobody else in the octagon has. He won the second fight too but you can hardly call it a decisive win because of the circumstances of the fight. If you are unable to take an objective view then you are indeed stupid and your opinion should be discounted.

      • Ian Price

        The leg kicks were Anderson’s only move left. And Weidman took that one away too.

    • gurdy

      Or you just have weidman’s nuts so far down your throat its making you delirious :).

  • Tony

    Weidman’s got too many asterisks next to his name to be considered fighter of the year. I would have to give it to Vitor.

    • frank

      Talk about asterisks. Athletes who use steroids LITERALLY have an asterisk next to their name. Vitor has used steroids and TRT.

      • Tony

        All of that won’t matter when Vitor destroys him and takes the middleweight title.

  • Ian Price

    Sorry, but beating Anderson twice is harder than beating any other 3 guys in a year. No disrespect to Demetrius, but Weidman gets my nod by a landslide. He didn’t even lose 1 round to Anderson, and dropped him TWICE? What dream am I dreaming?!?!

  • $9244763

    If Hendricks wasn’t ripped off by a couple corrupt judges he would be in the running for fighter of the year