Nobody ever knows what the future holds, but it doesn’t stop the masses from making predictions on what they think will happen. Sometimes, the events of the future take the world by surprise, but other times, people can see those events coming. People know that anything and everything holds potential to change drastically as time progresses.

Currently, our 2013 consists of a mix of both types of events—those once thought impossible in mixed martial arts, as well as those that could be forecast with ease, especially as it pertains to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The year will conclude with a rematch of former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and reigning UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, as well as a rematch of UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey vs. former Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champ Miesha Tate. Also, this weekend features a loaded UFC 167 card, where longtime UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre faces one-punch knockout artist Johny Hendricks for the title.

Everyone knew that someone would eventually take Silva’s title. In fact, despite Weidman’s underdog status, a number of fans and experts expected that Weidman be the man to take the crown, which he did at UFC 162 when he knocked out the former champion in the second round. Many also anticipated that Rousey and Tate would compete again eventually, especially given that Rousey submitted Tate to take the belt off of her in Strikeforce. But if anyone had predicted that the bout would take place in the UFC, the multitudes would have called that person a liar.

If the early days of Tara LaRosa, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and Gina Carano could not guarantee female fighters a spot under the UFC banner, what shot did either Tate or Rousey own of the same? It remains in question whether UFC President Dana White would have still brought the women into the UFC if Tate defeated Rousey and went on to defeat Sarah Kaufman, but as it turned out with Rousey, the “Rowdy” one’s charm and ultra-competitive spirit gave White the motivation he needed to actually go through with it.

It should go without saying that White’s decision to introduce a women’s bantamweight division, due in no small part to Rousey herself, led to the landmark fight of this year. Sure, Weidman’s summer upset over Silva ended the seven-year reign of “The Spider,” but when Weidman defeated Silva, it merely marked the changing of the middleweight guard. Rousey, on the other hand, broke ground when she debuted at UFC 157 in Anaheim, Calif., against Liz Carmouche with her brand-spanking-new UFC women’s bantamweight title on the line.

As of the present time, the bout with Carmouche stands as one of Rousey’s two toughest career fights. In fact, only Tate and Carmouche can claim to have lasted longer than than 54 seconds with the champ. Heading into the bout, though, few expected Carmouche to last anywhere close to 54 seconds, so many wrote the bout off as another potentially quick Rousey win, and many put more stock in the potential behind UFC 157’s co-main event of Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson.

However, to the shock of most in attendance, Carmouche actually defended herself well despite taking an uppercut to the body and took Rousey’s back after the champion tried pinning the arm for another early-round armbar. Carmouche even hunted for a neck crank with both hooks in and also an inverted triangle attempt from underneath Rousey, but the champion kept her composure. With time ticking down, Rousey looked to ensure that the bout would not see a second round, so after an early attempt to fall back on an armbar attempt got thwarted, Rousey found the tap after making a few adjustments to secure the second attempt at her patented finishing hold.

None can reiterate enough the significance of Rousey’s win over Carmounche because when people claim it marked the first women’s bout in the UFC, it holds as fact that no other women fought inside the UFC Octagon before Rousey and Carmouche made that walk. Carmouche hit a roadblock in the form of the submission loss, but would go on to to defeat Jessica Andrade en route to her first Octagon win. Meanwhile, Rousey hoped to coach opposite Cat Zingano, who defeated Tate in an instant classic at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale and earned her shot at Rousey’s gold, but an injury hit Zingano and Tate stepped in to take her place.

Luckily for MMA fans, Tate’s replacement of Zingano marked one of only a few times that a challenger to a title suffered an injury that forced them from a 2013 title fight. Injuries postponed an UFC interim bantamweight title fight between interim champion Renan Barao and challenger Eddie Wineland, and a planned UFC 163 bout with UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo and now-lightweight champion Anthony Pettis changed when Pettis suffered an injury that made way for Chan Sung Jung to challenge for the gold.

When it comes to some of the best fights under the radar in 2013, though, one can look at multiple options. For instance, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson mounted a comeback against John Dodson to retain his title in a UFC on Fox 6 headliner that many felt could not hold its own, thereby playing second-fiddle to a co-main event of Glover Teixeira vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Also, in looking back at 2013, few give a UFC 157 prelim between Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice its due. Still, when it comes to a solid fight that very few mention among some of 2013’s best bouts, fans need look no further than UFC on Fuel TV 8, where Wanderlei Silva fought Brian Stann.

For those who forgot, let us bring back this memory. Both Wanderlei and Stann came looking for an exciting fight, with both coming off of losses, and both needed a win. Wanderlei took the fight at light-heavyweight, and Stann agreed to do the fight in Japan. When the fight went down, most expected Wanderlei to get rocked, and he did, but few expected the fight to play out the way it did.

While “The Axe Murderer” did receive his share of staggering blows, he also staggered Stann multiple times in the first round, but he could not put him away early. Stann, to his credit, damaged his foe just enough to put him down in the first round, but much like Wanderlei couldn’t put Stann down, the former WEC light-heavyweight champion Stann also tried to lower the boom on the former PRIDE middleweight champion, but to no avail.

A wild first round made way for a conclusive second round in which Wanderlei endured leg kicks and counter shots to stick a right hand and a left hook to turn the tide. Stann fell into a daze and from there, Wanderlei looked for an opening to turn the rest of Stann’s lights out. Once he found an opening for a series of right hands, Stann went out and Wanderlei recorded a critical win to keep himself in the fight business for one more day.

Wanderlei now awaits a moment to coach The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 opposite Chael Sonnen, who co-headlines UFC 167 against Rashad Evans, and Stann, who occasionally put on his analyst cap for Fuel TV, called it a career after an early front-runner for “Fight of The Year”, but rest assured that the year remains alive and ready to see more instant classics steal the year, and how appropriate does it sound that the Octagon would host these potential classics? After all, the UFC took twenty long years to break through to mainstream acceptance, and while it still aims to truly reach that plateau, it already made strides in coming close to it.

Regardless of what awaits in 2014, fans know that change will come again. Divisional guards will switch, while new styles emerge and new faces shake the MMA world up. After the long journey to this point in time, though, it becomes apparent that the UFC will enjoy their next 20 years, and if the sports world thought they would never look or feel the same again from the first time they heard about this “UFC” thing, they need only stick around because what the UFC plans to do in the future may shock and amaze them all, regardless of whether or not they see it coming.

Photo: Liz Carmouche, UFC President Dana White, and UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.