Fighter of the Year- Conor McGregor
With one of the most successful years in MMA history, #ConorMcGregor seemed to be at the forefront of it all. McGregor kicked off 2016 as the new featherweight champion coming off a 13-second knockout victory against the former champion, Jose Aldo. The Dublin native was scheduled to meet then-lightweight champion, Rafael Dos Anjos, for the opportunity to simultaneously hold two world titles, a feat that no one has done in UFC history. Due to an injury, Dos Anjos pulled out of the fight and panic among the MMA community ensued. Many asked for this fight with McGregor, and little did we know, the replacement would be the cause of one of the greatest rivalries we have ever witnessed.
The stage was set. Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz were scheduled to battle. As always with fights scheduled with only two-weeks notice, there was a twist. The fight would take place at welterweight, 170 pounds, as Nate Diaz would not make the 155 weight limit on short notice. McGregor lost to Diaz via second round rear naked choke – McGregor’s first and only loss to date in his UFC career. McGregor was humble in defeat and immediately requested a rematch with Diaz. Originally set for UFC 200, the rematch would take place at UFC 202 in August. McGregor won a majority decision after a five round back-and-forth battle that was truly one for the ages. This match recorded 1.65 million buys; the most watched PPV in UFC history.
Only months after his battle with Diaz, Conor McGregor was set to achieve his goal he set at the beginning of 2016; become a two weight world champion. To achieve this, he would have to defeat Eddie Alvarez. With some of the best trash talk fans have ever heard, the fight took place at Madison Square Garden. McGregor would put on a flawless performance, knocking out the champion, Eddie Alvarez, in just the second round to become the first fighter to hold two world titles simultaneously. The official numbers have not been released for UFC 205, although all signs point to another record breaking event led by none other than Conor McGregor.
Fight of the Year- Cub Swanson vs. Dooho Choi
This fight took place at UFC 206, Pettis vs. Holloway, which was possibly the most overlooked fight card of the year. Luckily, these two featherweight contenders put on a show. Swanson (24-7) and Choi (15-2) made for a very interesting bout. Swanson, a veteran of the sport, against a young contender trying to make a name for himself in a stacked featherweight division.
This fight went three rounds and it did not disappoint. All three rounds seemed as if both fighters were hurt, but both continued to throw strikes with unbelievable precision and power. This fight would conclude via unanimous decision in favor of Cub Swanson.
Official results: Cub Swanson def. Doo Ho Choi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz II: UFC 202
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz: UFC 205
Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson: UFC 205
Performances of the Year:
Knockout of the Year- Anthony “Rumble” Johnson KO’s Glover Teixeira: UFC 202
Submission of the Year- Mackenzie Dern omoplata/rear naked choke: Legacy 61 (Seriously, check this one out)
Upset of the Year- Michael Bisping def. Luke Rockhold to earn middleweight championship: UFC 199
and last but not least…
What The F*ck Just Happened of the Year- Michael “Venom” Page defeats and cracks Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos’ skull (Yes, you read that right) Bellator 165