The 411 MMA Top 10 01.06.14 Top Ten Non-Title Holders of 2013
Posted by Alex Rella on 01.06.2014
From Urijah Faber and Johny Hendricks to Vitor Belfort, Robbie Lawler, Travis Browne and more, 411's Alex Rella counts down the top 10 fighters that didn't hold a title in 2013!
Top Ten Non-Title Holders of 2013
Hey everybody, I am Alex Rella and this is another edition of the MMA Top Ten. For the first list of 2014 I will be looking back at the best fighters to not hold a title in 2013. Last week I said I was going to rank the best fighters in general from 2013, but another writer on here beat me to it. So rather than have you guys read the same stuff, I decided to mix it up a little and write about the top contenders of the year. These are the fighters that were successful while chasing the title in 2013, the champs get enough attention anyway. I did the rankings mixing in the number of wins, the quality of their opponents, where they ended the year in the rankings, and some of my personal opinion.
10: Tim Kennedy
I went back and forth on who should get the tenth spot this week and I finally decided Tim Kennedy would get the opening spot over Takeya Mizugaki and Bobby Green. The Staff Sergeant went 6-2 in Strikeforce where he picked up his first win of the year by submitting Trevor Smith with a guillotine choke. Then he moved onto the UFC where he beat Roger Gracie. The fight wasn't good, but I enjoy when someone outgrapples a Gracie. He finished the year off by headlining the Fight for the Troops. He knocked out Rafael Natal to become a top ten middleweight inside the UFC. That's a nice jump with the first fight of the year being on the Strikeforce prelims and the last one is the main event of a UFC show. All signs are pointing to Kennedy taking on Michael Bisping in 2014 and I think I might take him in that one.
9: Alexis Davis
The only lady on this week's list, Alexis Davis had a fine 2013. After a couple years in Strikeforce, Davis started the year over in Invicta where she avenged an earlier loss to Shayna Baszler. Davis submitted the future TUF competitor with a rear naked choke in the third round to earn Fight of the Night and a spot in the UFC. She defeated Rosi Sexton in her UFC debut and picked Liz Carmouche apart at the Fight for the Troops. She's now near the top of the women's bantamweight division and will take on Jessica Eye at UFC 170 in a fight that could have title implications depending on when Cat Zingano returns from her injury.
8: Johny Hendricks
Placing Johny Hendricks on this list was a little tough. Technically he did only go 1-1, which gives him the fewest wins on the list and the only fighter to not be undefeated in 2013. But I think this is a good spot for him based on what he was able to accomplish. Hendricks was passed over for a title shot a UFC 158 in favor Nick Diaz. Instead, Hendricks took on Carlos Condit in another number contender fight. Hendricks beat the former WEC and interim UFC champ in a really great back and forth fight. Then he finally got his title shot against GSP at UFC 167. GSP won by split decision, but myself and many others thought Hendricks won that fight. I recently watched it a second time and it wasn't as bad as I thought it was the first time I watched it, but I still think Hendricks won it. Regardless, Hendricks came the closest to beating GSP than anyone else has in years. Now he'll fight Robbie Lawler for the vacant UFC welterweight title in 2014.
7: Chad Mendes
Chad Mendes continued his winning streak in 2013 as he is undoubtedly the second best featherweight in the world right now. He started the year off by knocking out Darren Elkins, a top featherweight who was also on a nice winning streak at the time. Then Mendes became the first person to knockout Clay Guida, which is really impressive considering Guida has gone up against some of the strongest lightweights over the years. Mendes finished off the year with a unanimous decision win over Nik Lentz. It hasn't been announced, but there's no way Chad Mendes isn't the next guy in line for a featherweight title shot in the UFC. I would even be tempted to take him over Jose Aldo in the rematch.
6: Ronaldo Souza
Jacare Souza might have had the most dominant year of any fighter in 2013. The former Strikeforce champion fought on the final Strikeforce show in January against Ed Herman. Herman isn't a great fighter, but he has been with the UFC since 2006 and that's not easy to do. Souza submitted him with a really nice kimura in the first round and then he mauled Chris Camozzi in his UFC debut finishing him off with an arm triangle choke. Then he beat Yushin Okami in a way we've never seen before. Okami is a former number one contender and he usually only loses to elite middleweights, and Souza just owned him. I really hope he does the same to Francis Carmont in February.
5: Robbie Lawler
Robbie Lawler truly turned his career around in 2013. Lawler returned to the UFC after spending three years in Strikeforce where he went a disappointing 3-5. Lawler was also returning to welterweight for the first time since 2004 and he was taking on Josh Koscheck, who was recently knocked out of title contention. I've always liked Robbie Lawler, but I was not picking him to win that fight. Then he knocked out Koscheck and Bobby Voelker a few months later to set up a fight against Rory MacDonald. A lot of people viewed MacDonald as the heir to GSP's welterweight throne, but I thought Lawler would at least bring the fight to him unlike his recent opponents. Lawler pulled off another upset by split decision and is now fighting for the vacant UFC title in 2014.
4: Glover Teixeira
Glover Teixeira was one of the most talked about fighters when he debuted for the UFC in 2012 and he was even more impressive in 2013. Glover started the year off by defeating former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson. Teixeira outboxed and outwrestled Rampage for the biggest win of his career. Then he destroyed James Te Huna at UFC 160 winning by guillotine choke. In his last fight he took on Ryan Bader in Brazil. He knocked out the former TUF winner to earn a title shot against Jon Jones sometime in 2014. Jones will be the heavy favorite, but Teixeira's explosive striking could pull off the upset.
3: Travis Browne
I admit I did not have high hopes for Travis Browne coming into 2013 and I probably picked against him every time in the roundtables. Browne ended his 2012 with a loss to Antonio Silva, but he rebounded as well as he possibly could. Browne got three first round knockouts over some top competition. He beat former number one contender Gabriel Gonzaga, but some of his elbows were kinda questionable. Then he had a great comeback as he knocked out former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem with a nice front kick. Browne finished off the year as he became the first person to KO Josh Barnett since Pedro Rizzo at UFC 30. Three straight Knockout of the Night bonuses too. Browne will now take on Fabricio Werdum in a number one contender fight at some point in 2014.
2: Vitor Belfort
Vitor Belfort just killed people in 2013. The UFC did everything they could to stop Belfort from getting another title shot. They threw him up against top middleweight contenders like Michael Bisping and Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold, but Belfort finished them off with highlight reel knockout head kicks. Then he moved up to light heavyweight to take on Dan Henderson in a fight where he had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Belfort became the first person to KO Henderson as he picked up his third straight Knockout of the Night Bonus. TRT aside, Belfort is now the number one contender and right now I don't know who to pick in a fight between him and Weidman.
1: Urijah Faber
Urijah Faber entered 2013 with a 26-6 record and the only six times he lost were in title fights. Faber's only fight in 2012 was a unanimous decision loss to Renan Barao at UFC 149, he took six months off and had a very active 2013. Faber fought four times as he beat Ivan Menjivar with a really nice rear naked choke, submitted former number one contender Scott Jorgensen, dominated Iuri Alcantara, and just owned Michael McDonald in December to finish off the year. Going 4-0 in 2013 has established Faber as the top contender in the UFC's bantamweight division and nobody else even comes to him. He'll likely have to wait until around June though to take on the winner of Barao vs Cruz at UFC 169.
So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fighter out that you thought should be in the top 10.
As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.
Next week will be the ten best fights from each weight class in 2013.