Another year is in the books for the world of MMA and there have been plenty of headlines that sent shockwaves through the community.

Anderson Silva lost, twice.

Georges St-Pierre relinquished his belt and stepped away from competition.

Yet, neither of those took the title of Biggest Story of the Year. That designation goes to a very deserving group: the women of MMA.

From Invicta Fighting Championships to the UFC to The Ultimate Fighter, 2013 was, without question, the biggest year in history for women’s MMA.

As highlighted by our Female Fighter of the Year award, UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey garnered a ton of attention during the last 12 months. Between her first title defense in February, her movie roles, coaching TUF and her epic battle with Miesha Tate to close out the year, Rousey is in the driver’s seat to become the UFC’s queen of pay-per-view in 2014.

The ladies also got their feet wet on The Ultimate Fighter for the first time as Rousey and Tate coached eight bantamweights apiece on TUF 18. Julianna Pena came out on top of a cast that also featured veterans Shayna Baszler and Roxanne Modafferi as well as rising prospects Raquel Pennington and Jessamyn Duke.

But it wasn’t all about Rousey and the UFC.

All-women’s promotion Invicta Fighting Championships and company president Shannon Knapp continued to change the landscape for female fighters. No longer are fighters relegated to a lone bout on a fight card. Now, they have a cage to call their own. Invicta hosted four events in 2013 and in the process put shiny, gold belts around the waists of Michelle Waterson, Carla Esparza, Barb Honchak, Lauren Murphy and Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino.

There’s no bigger testament to what Invicta has accomplished thus far than the announcement that the UFC was creating its own 115-pound strawweight division and acquiring 11 fighters from the promotion, including the aforementioned Esparza. They will make up the roster for The Ultimate Fighter 20—the reality show’s first all-female seasonin 2014.

In addition to the news from the UFC, upstart promotion World Series of Fighting has also begun assembling a roster of female fighters. It will crown its inaugural strawweight champion in January when consensus No.1-ranked Jessica Aguilar makes her promotional debut against Alida Gray.

And it doesn’t end there. Texas-based Legacy Fighting Championship has given former boxing world champion Holly Holm a stage to showcase her evolving skill set, XFC handed out belts to Stephanie Eggink and Pearl Gonzalez, and RFA will be featuring more women’s bouts in 2014.

The ladies take the cake in 2013, and they’re only getting started.

Honorable Mention: Anderson Silva Loses, Georges St-Pierre Steps Away
The MMA Corner’s 2013 Awards were selected by our staff of writers and photographers. Unless noted otherwise, the nominations were open to all fighters, promotions and events that took place during 2013.

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