Fighter of the Year – Inside Fights Roundtable Discussion of 2013 in Combat Sports

We could’ve voted on it, of course, and discussed who should be the fighter of the year for 2013. But instead we all had different opinions and what better way to discuss the year that was in 2013 for combat sports is to discuss our favorites of the year roundtable style.

Participating are:

Scott Sawitz
Daniel Sohn
Adam Keyes
Luke Cho-Yee

And now … the best of 2013:

Sohn: Robbie Lawler

Few fighters have accomplished more than Robbie Lawler in 2013. He took three fights against quality competition, starting with Josh Koscheck. A lot of people, a LOT of people, wrote Lawler off before he even threw a punch in the UFC. It makes a ton of sense if you look at his Strikeforce record.
Then he disposed of Bobby Voelker in brutal, hightlight reel fashion before moving on to take on Rory MacDonald, a guy that many thought had the tools to be the next welterweight champion. In typical Lawler fashion, he brawled with MacDonald and won a split decision victory. Now, he’s set to face Johny Hendricks in 2014 for the vacant Welterweight title. He’s come a long way from the beginning of 2013 to where he is now. A “has-been”, a “washed-up” fighter whose best days are behind him to the next potential UFC welterweight champion. Fighter of the year, folks.

Keyes: Demetrious Johnson

My pick for 2013’s Fighter of the Year goes to Demetrious Johnson. Having closed out 2012 as the UFC’s inaugural Flyweight title holder, Demetrious Johnson was not exactly heralded from the beginning. Many fans felt that his opponent for the vacant belt, Joseph Benavidez, should have left the Octagon with the belt and even more were unhappy with the safety first fighting style that Demetrious Johnson had employed in order for him to get in a position to claim the belt. Over the course of 2013 Demetrious Johnson defended his belt on three separate occasions, more so than any other divisional champ, defeating the best that the 125lbs ranks had to offer in increasingly impressive fashion. Johnson’s 2013 was capped off with the devastating knockout of his previous opponent Benavidez and with the knockout blow, answered any questions about who was the best at 125lbs and who was the Fighter of the Year for 2013.

Sawitz: Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson

How does a champion who no one respects respond to his critics? By pulling together a three fight win streak where he answered every doubt anyone ever had about him. John Dodson thought he could finish him late … and Johnson turned it on and took the fifth with ease. Moraga was dominated and then tapped late in the fight. And Joseph Benavidez, considered by many the “real” champion, had his lights turned off in under two minutes. No other champion has defended their title more this year.

CY: Georges St. Pierre

My vote goes to the now former welterweight champion of the world Georges St. Pierre. He reigned atop of a division that is perhaps the most competitive and talent rich of them all and having returned from a career threatening knee injury he has managed to successfully defend the belt (albeit by the skin of his teeth) by overcoming a myriad of issues both in and out of the octagon.


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