Now that 2017 has come to an end, it’s time to reflect on some of the greatest performances, upsets, knockouts, and submissions that the year in MMA gave us. Now, I am somewhat biased towards certain fighters, but I will try to be as impartial as I can. Now let’s get started
Comeback of the Year: Darren Elkins Vs. Mirsad Bektic
Now this section could be either a career revitalization or a massive comeback in a fight. In this section, I’m going to pick Elkins. Elkins came into the fight at UFC 209 as a +520 underdog against a young and undefeated prospect in the Bosnian Mirsad Bektic. Not many people gave Elkins a chance and after two rounds, it looked like the fight was already over. Elkins knew he needed the finish in the third to win and after a nice back take, Elkins started punching him from a bad position and one of those punches clocked Mirsad, He then threw a head-kick and one of the top three UFC comebacks of all time was capped off. I go back to watch that third round and still get goosebumps from Elkins’ reaction.
Honorable Mentions: Vinc Pichel (Career), Rafael Dos Anjos (Career)
Best Performance at Home: Alexander Gustafsson Def. Glover Teixeira
Alexander Gustafsson, the Pride of Sweden, has had one other UFC fight in Stockholm, in that fight, he lost to Anthony Johnson in the first round silencing the crowd and making Alex look for redemption. He got that redemption in May when he faced off with Glover Teixeira and defeated him by a beautiful uppercut-overhand combination. Redemption is sweet.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Weidman Def. Kelvin Gastelum, Mark Hunt Def. Derrick Lewis
Best Performance Away: Alex Oliveira Def. Ryan LaFlare
Oliveira came into hostile territory when he came to Long Island to face off with their native son Ryan LaFlare. In the second round, Oliveira connected with a right hand that slept LaFlare and the crowd was silenced. The only reason I’m going to give this to Oliveira instead of Max Holloway is the fact that no-one thought Oliveira would stand a chance, and Oliveira slept him.
Honorable Mention: Kelvin Gastelum Def. Vitor Belfort, Jimi Manuwa Def. Corey Anderson, Max Holloway Def. Jose Aldo
Upset of the Year: Rose Namajunas Vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Every fight fan knew that UFC 217 was going to be a wonderful night of fights. With Three title fights topping off one of the most stacked cards of the year fans were on their feet. Fans expected the first title fight between JJ and Rose to be the easiest to call as the next two (Cody Garbrandt vs TJ Dillashaw, GSP vs Michael Bisping) were expected to be very close contests. Joanna has been unstoppable in the cage, as shown by her 14-0 record at the time, which towers over Rose’s 7-3 record. Rose managed to stand with JJ, who is the most talented striker in the division, knock her down 2 minutes in and then finish her 3 minutes in. I was in shock. I was also drunk. But in shock nonetheless. She gets my vote.
Honorable Mentions: Darren Elkins Def. Mirsad Bektic, John Moraga Def. Magomed Bibulatov, Josh Emmett Def. Ricardo Lamas
Event of the Year: UFC 217
November 4th, 2017 was the best fight night of the year with the culmination of UFC 217. In the 11 fights that took place, 9 of them ended by a finish. The way the fights were finished was also just ridiculous. There was a Head-Kick, Spinning Elbow, TKO by Punches, you name it. And to top it all off, all three champions ended up losing their titles Joanna lost to Rose, Cody Garbrandt lost to TJ Dillashaw and GSP defeated Michael Bisping for the middleweight title after sitting on his couch for 4 years. Just a ridiculous night and one that the UFC would love to replicate next time they head to Madison Square Garden. Also, those Octagon Lights were sick.
Honorable Mentions: UFC 218, UFC 214, UFC 211, Bellator NYC
Knockout of the Year: Marlon Moraes Def. Aljamain Sterling
When a Fighter gets Knocked out and it happens so quick he doesn’t even have the wherewithal to close his eyes, it’s absolutely brutal. The WSOF transport caught Aljamain flush as he was lowering for a takedown. Aljo was taken off on a stretcher and is fine, thankfully, but the UFC did not mention his health status on the program as other sports leagues do. Think about in the NFL, when a player gets injured the guys in the booth usually toss it to the sideline reporter to get an update on the player, none of that happened here, and there was plenty of time to do so with two more fights happening later that night. I don’t mean to dim Marlon’s spotlight with this unfortunate occurrence but some process needs to be put in place during fights with brutal knockouts like this one.
Honorable Mentions: Ovince St. Preux Def. Corey Anderson, Francis Ngannou Def. Alistair Overeem, Edson Barboza Def. Beneil Dariush, Bojan Velickovic Def. Nico Musoke, Mike Perry Def. Jake Ellenberger, Gilbert Burns Def. Jason Saggo, Ricardo Ramos Def. Aiemann Zahabi
Submission of the Year: Demetrious Johnson Def. Ray Borg
When you fight a grappling specialist people don’t expect you to submit him. When you fight a high-level fighter people don’t expect you to finish him. When you face a Fighter like Ray Borg and you DOMINATE 4 ROUNDS and FINISH THE FIGHT via a BRAND NEW SUBMISSION and you BREAK THE RECORD FOR CONSECUTIVE TITLE DEFENSES, then you should be considered the GREATEST OF ALL TIME!!. Demetrious Johnson is the greatest fighter to ever step in the octagon and this just helped prove that. He came up with a NEW FUCKING MOVE!!, A Flying Fucking Armbar!!! Fuck. Greatest fighter of all time in my book and I don’t think it’s close anymore.
Honorable Mentions: GSP Def. Michael Bisping, Ovince St. Preux Def. Yushin Okami
International Fighter of the year (Not USA, Canada or Brazil): Robert Whittaker
I’m choosing Robert Whittaker for International Fighter of the Year because of the way that he came to hold the title that he now can say is his and his only. He fought two fighters who absolutely no one in the division wanted to face. First, he took on Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist and due to Robert’s outstanding takedown defense and accurate striking, he defeated who would be the next title challenger to Michael Bisping’s throne (Or not cuz Bisping never fought anybody he thought could beat him). Then he took on Yoel Romero, A Notorious fighter who is known for Broken English, finishing fights in the third round and sitting on stools for too long. During the First Round, Robert took a side-kick to the knee, in between rounds he came back to his corner and said: “My Knee is Fucked”. Robert proceeded to lose the next round like he did the first, but fought through the pain in the 3rd, 4th and 5th and won by a Unanimous Decision. Just an unbelievable run from an emerging fighter.
Honorable Mentions: Santiago Ponzinibbio, Volkan Oezdemir, Francis Ngannou
Breakthrough Fighter of the Year: Volkan Oezdemir
Volkan got the call by Dana White and the UFC to come in and face Ovince St. Preux on two weeks notice after his original opponent had to pull out during injury. In this fight I had St. Preux winning, a new fighter coming in on two weeks notice? no chance he can hang with Ovince. Oezdemir fought St. Preux to a split decision victory in a fight I actually thought Volkan lost. I was still skeptical when he was matched up to face Misha Cirkunov. Misha won his four UFC fights and Just defeated Nikita Krylov by a finish. I had Misha finishing Volkan and didn’t think much of his fluky first bout. Volkan proved me wrong once again, defeating Misha Cirkunov within a Minute with a clear Right Hook as he was up against the fence. Again I thought it was fluky because a hook to the back of the head could knockout anyone. He was then matched up against Jimi Manuwa who was in line for a title shot with Knockouts over Corey Anderson and Ovince St. Preux. I had Manuwa in this fight. What did Volkan do? He defeated Manuwa within a minute just like Misha. Volkan now has a title shot against Daniel Cormier at UFC 220, less than a year after he made his UFC debut.
Honorable Mentions: Eryk Anders, Justin Gaethje, Nicco Montano, Yancy Medeiros, Brian Ortega,
Female Fighter of the Year: Rose Namajunas
This is a pretty easy call to make, Rose is 2-0 this year and did so by first stopping Michelle Waterson and then by finishing the Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk by beating her in her own game, striking. I would write more but it’s not even necessary.
Honorable Mentions: Nicco Montano, Cris Cyborg, Cynthia Calvillo
Male Fighter of the Year: Max Holloway
This was a tough choice to make because I was 50/50 with Max and Demetrious Johnson. I decided to go with Holloway because his wins over the former Champion Aldo to A. win the belt and B. bring Hawaii another champion, give him the edge in my book. The best thing about Max Holloway in my mind is the fact that he hasn’t changed since he came to the UFC. He didn’t move to a super camp like Jackson-Wink or Team Alpha Male, he just stayed true to his roots and built a great training camp in Waianae.
Honorable Mentions: Robert Whittaker, Demetrious Johnson, Tyron Woodley
Fight of the Year: Yancy Medeiros Def. Alex Oliveira
I didn’t watch this fight live, as I was busy playing drinking games with my friends at college and getting ready to throw a house party. nonetheless, I opened Twitter and saw that the fight was getting fight of the year consideration. The next morning, I found a bootleg version of the fight and made my decision that it was the fight of the year, which beat out what would be my previous fight of the year choice that I saw drunk as shit during a house party in Gaethje Vs. Alvarez. It was just a back-and-forth war in which both gave all of their heart until Oliveira couldn’t handle it anymore.
Honorable Mentions: Justin Gaetjhe Def. Michael Johnson, Eddie Alvarez Def. Justin Gaethje, Frank Camacho Def. Damian Brown, Shane Burgos Def. Charles Rosa