This may come as a surprise to many, but I am not picking Chris Weidman’s knockout victory over Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 162 as my 2013 Upset of the Year.
I know this will be controversial, but hear me out.
As UFC 162 approached, I predicted a fairly effortless victory for Silva to pad his legendary resume with yet another highlight-reel victory. He had been the king of MMA for so long and defeated the elite of the elite at 185 pounds, so it was very difficult to imagine someone else other than Silva having the UFC middleweight championship belt wrapped his waist.
I was essentially basing my prediction solely on the fact that I couldn’t imagine Silva losing, as opposed to taking the time to look at what both men brought to the table and making a well thought out decision as I have done for every other fight outside of this one.
But Weidman did not care, nor should he, about the fans’ or the media’s opinion was on his upcoming title opportunity. All he knew was that his fellow fighters, the most important fans in the fight business, had his back.
Just take a look at what some of the biggest superstars in the UFC were saying leading up to Weidman and Silva’s main event matchup:
“I took Anderson down repeatedly, and while I punched him all night, I don’t have the submissions Weidman has. Weidman is going to have the same success I had with a ground attack but then he’s going to choke Anderson. The seven-year reign is over. That’s genuinely what I feel.” – Two-time UFC middleweight title challenger Chael Sonnen
“I’ve trained with Weidman and I know how good he is. He will be the champion. Anderson is smart, though, and is fighting Chris after a long layoff for injury. That’s why it is important for Weidman to have a great camp. But if Weidman gets though camp with no problems, he will win this fight.” – Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre
“Chael Sonnen almost beat Anderson based on being a wrestler. And Weidman is a more dynamic wrestler than Sonnen — and Weidman doesn’t get caught in submissions. Weidman’s wrestling definitely gives him a chance.” – Former Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion and UFC title contender Miesha Tate
“I think Anderson’s takedown defense has improved over the years, but Chris is such a good wrestler he will get the job done. I pick Weidman by decision.” – Former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier
“Anderson doesn’t like to start fast but I think in this fight he needs to get going early. Weidman is coming off a long layoff and Anderson should take advantage, jump on him, and go for the first round KO. But if Weidman gets to the later rounds, his wrestling and being so young will take over. I think Weidman has the style and the skills to win this fight and I pick him to win a decision.” – Current UFC welterweight title contender Johny Hendricks
“Anderson usually waits in his guard for a chance to escape or counter, but Chris hits hard enough and is active enough to force Anderson to try to get back up fast. That’s where I see Weidman winning the fight, in the scramble as Anderson tries to get back up.” – Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz
So looking back at that historic July night, I cannot call Weidman’s second-round knockout victory an upset because almost everyone who actually knew what they were talking about were all saying the same thing: Weidman was going to win.
So with that being said, it should come as no surprise that I am picking Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva’s third-round knockout victory over Alistair Overeem as my 2013 Upset of the Year.
Anyone who has read any of my past Overeem fight previews will know my fascination for Overeem’s career. Here was a man who entered the UFC as the reigning Strikeforce and Dream Heavyweight champion and the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix champion. He had beaten the best of the best in the toughest division and all that was left was UFC gold on his mantle to cement his place as one of, if not the greatest heavyweight fighter in MMA history.
In his UFC debut, he more than lived up to the hype as he put away former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar with a monstrous liver kick halfway though round one. But after testing for elevated levels of testosterone, he was forced to sit for almost a year as the heavyweight division moved on without “The Demolition Man.”
After months of waiting, fans were finally treated to Overeem’s follow up performance as he squared off against the monstrous ‘Bigfoot’ Silva. Following a heated exchanged between the two at a media appearance, Overeem revealed he planned on dismantling his opponent in the most devastating way possible to earn his UFC heavyweight title shot.
As he entered the arena with his hat slightly tilted and a smirk on his face, Overeem’s confidence was palpable as he made his way to the octagon.
For two whole rounds, Bigfoot had no answer for his opponent as he was battered and tossed around. Overeem was well on his way to a dominant decision victory as the third round started. That is until Bigfoot caught his second wind and landed a vicious head kick followed by a barrage of powerful punches to the unprotected skull of Overeem.
As the referee tried with all his might to pull Bigfoot away from his downed opponent, he let out a murderous yell as he begged Overeem to stand up and continue fighting.
So in the end, it was not Overeem, but the man he was supposed to wipe the floor with that earned the shot at the heavyweight title, making this an easy pick my 2013 upset of the year.
Honorable mentions: Josh Burkman over Jon Fitch, Kelvin Gastelum over Uriah Hall, Stipe Miocic over Roy Nelson, Chris Weidman over Anderson Silva I, Emanuel Newton over ‘King Mo’.