Boxing has long been called the Theater of the Unexpected, but mixed martial arts can lay claim to that title as well, because with so many ways to win, there are also so many ways for big favorites to lose. As we hit the halfway point of 2013, here are the biggest upsets of the year thus far.
5 – Kelvin Gastelum-Uriah Hall - TUF 17 Finale (watch event replay)
Uriah Hall was scary during season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter. So scary that many believed all the New Yorker needed to do was show up for his final bout against unheralded Kelvin Gastelum and pick up his UFC contract and trophy. Gastelum, a 21-year-old who fought against the odds from the time he made it on the show, wasn’t concerned with what everyone else thought. He knew he had the goods to win the fight and he did just that, toughing out a split decision win to become the TUF 17 winner and pick up his very own UFC contract.
4 – Renee Forte-Terry Etim - UFC on FUEL TV 7 (watch event replay)
A couple years back, Terry Etim was all set to be the next British UFC star, the next in a line that started with Michael Bisping and Dan Hardy. He didn’t have the brash, media-friendly personality of The Count and The Outlaw, but he did have four Submission of the Night awards that showed he could fight. And whether it was the aftermath of his head kick knockout at the hands of Edson Barboza in 2012, ring rust following a year long layoff, or just a heckuva night for TUF Brazil 1’s Renee Forte, when the two collided in February, Etim just couldn’t find his rhythm, allowing Forte to sail to a unanimous decision victory that also prompted the Liverpool native’s release from the promotion.
3 – Stipe Miocic-Roy Nelson - UFC 161 (watch event replay)
Stipe Miocic is one of the top rising stars in the heavyweight division. But with a mix of a knockout loss to Stefan Struve in his last fight and Roy Nelson’s three first round knockout rampage through the weight class (Dave Herman, Matt Mitrione, Cheick Kongo), it was assumed that “Big Country” would keep his streak going against the Ohio native. Miocic had other ideas, showing off the boxing that won him a local Golden Gloves title to score a dominant three round unanimous decision win that made him a player at heavyweight once again.
2 – TJ Grant-Gray Maynard - UFC 160 (watch event replay)
After dropping to 155 pounds, TJ Grant was unstoppable, turning back Shane Roller, Carlo Prater, Evan Dunham, and Matt Wiman in succession, with the January knockout of Wiman particularly notable. But this was Gray Maynard he was facing at UFC 160 in May, a longtime contender whose only pro loss came in the third bout of his series with then-lightweight champ Frankie Edgar. So with a shot at current champ Benson Henderson on the line, it was expected that it was “The Bully” who would get it. He didn’t. Instead, Canada’s Grant delivered a career-best performance, stopping Maynard at 2:07 of the first round, a win boxing legend Mike Tyson declared Knockout of the Night for UFC 160. And who knows knockouts better than Iron Mike?
1 – Antonio Silva-Alistair Overeem - UFC 156 (watch event replay)
Coming off a one-sided loss to Cain Velasquez and a knockout win over Travis Browne that many believed was made easier by the leg injury suffered by Browne moments into their fight, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva wasn’t exactly an oddsmakers’ favorite heading into his February meeting with Alistair Overeem. Overeem’s 12 fight, five + year winning streak had a little to do with the Brazilian’s underdog status as well. And while things went according to plan for “The Reem” in the first two rounds, in the third, Silva blitzed him, hurt him, and finished him. It took just 25 seconds of the final frame for Silva to pick up a Knockout of the Night bonus, a title shot, and a career resurrection. He also scored the biggest upset of 2013 thus far.
Honorable Mention – Cat Zingano-Miesha Tate, Reza Madadi-Michael Johnson, James Krause-Sam Stout, Shawn Jordan-Pat Barry, Mark Hunt-Stefan Struve, Rogerio Nogueira-Rashad Evans
Unofficial Half-Year Awards: The Upsets of 2013
The Highly Unofficial Half-Year awards season continues with the biggest upsets of 2013 thus far...