It was a violent 52 weeks in the world of mixed martial arts, easily the most violent yet. Every single weekend fans got to enjoy watching the best competitors in the sport beating the Dickens out of one another. Multiple new champions were crowned, seemingly unbeatable champions were dethroned. Major records were broken and then broken again in the same year. For some it was the best of times – for others it was the worst of times. Welcome to the 2015 Fight Booth MMA awards.
It seems like almost a lifetime ago but it was less than a year ago when Conor McGregor TKO’d Dennis Siver in Boston to kick of his 2015 campaign inside of the octagon. After that, it was only uphill from there. If McGregor’s ‘Money’ victory over an elite wrestler in Chad Mendes on short notice didn’t make fans believe, his KO of the top P4P fighter in the world, Jose Aldo, certainly shut a lot of folks up. The amount of press McGregor and Aldo did leading up to their eventual title unification at UFC 194 was more than any fight in UFC history – and the fight only lasted 13 seconds. Understandably so, this left a lot of fans wanting more. Don’t worry – you’ll get plenty more of McGregor in 2016 and beyond. In 2015, it became his Octagon – we’re just living in it.
Runner Up: Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Fight of the Year – Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald (UFC 189)
Runner Up: Tony Ferguson vs. Edson Barboza (TUF 22 Finale)
This was a tough one. Do you go with Holly Holm’s beautiful headkick KO of Ronda Rousey or McGregor’s left-handed dandy that ended a decade of dominance. It’s close, but you have to go with McGregor. He ended a 19-fight winning streak by defeating the only UFC featherweight champion in history and set the record for the fastest finish in UFC title fight history in the process.
Runner Up: Holly Holm KO’s Ronda Rousey
Submission of the Year – Ronda Rousey’s 14-second submission of Cat Zingano at UFC 184
Speaking of setting records, all the way back in February a fighter named Ronda set one of her own that many (including myself) thought would last forever. Even though she did end up losing her title in spectacular fashion later on in the year, you simply cannot scoff at her 14-second straight armbar finish of Cat Zingano (a legit #1 contender then and now). In a year that brought us so many brilliant submissions, this is the one that took the proverbial cake.
Runner Up: Werdum’s guillotine choke finish of Velasquez at UFC 188
Comeback of the Year (Performance) – Uriah Hall (vs. Gegard Mousasi – UFC Fight Night 75)
Upset of the Year: Holly Holm smashes Ronda Rousey
This was easily one of the most insane moments in recent MMA history. Holly Holm didn’t get lucky folks – she meticulously broke down a fighter that looked unbreakable heading into this fight. The head kick that finished it all off was just the sadistic cherry on top.
Runner Up: Hall TKO’s Mousasi in Saitama
Most Vulgar Display of Power: Stipe Miocic vs. Mark Hunt
361 strikes from a 6 ft 4 in 241 lbs grown man fighting out of the Strong Style Gym in Independence, Ohio should never have to be absorbed by any man, even if he is the toughest Kiwi in the world. This fight should’ve been stopped long before the 2:47 marker of the fifth and final round. Miocic followed up this performance with a 54 second finish of Andrei Arlovski just last weekend. One could consider Arlovski the winner of that fight for not having to go longer than a minute with a man who just may be the scariest heavyweight in the world today.
Runner Up: Namajunas vs. VanZant
Performance of the Year: Holly Holm’s perfect performance
Rousey made it clear that she had no plan B after Holm was able to negate her incomparable Judo. Holm proved many wrong, including myself, by staying calm and picking Rousey apart before finishing her off to become the 2nd UFC women’s bantamweight champion in UFC history. Let’s be honest folks, it wasn’t just her world-class boxing that brought her UFC gold as one of the biggest underdogs in UFC history.
Under the tutelage of her long time coaches, Greg Jackson and Mike Winklejohn, expect Holm to be ready for the inevitable rematch. Questionable coaching aside, hopefully Rousey will be able to make some adjustments of her own or else she’s in for another rough night.
Runner Up: Dos Anjos dominates Pettis for 5 full rounds
Event of the Year: UFC 189 ‘Mendes vs. McGregor’
Our fight of the year, breakout fighter of the year and fighter of the year all had a hand in making this card the best of the year – bar none. We also got to see both main event fighters walk out to live music and the debut of the Reebok era. Whether the latter was a good thing or not is debatable. When it comes down to it though – it’s all about the fights. And from the preliminary headliner between Matt Brown and Tim Means to the main event pitting Conor McGregor against Chad Mendes we witnessed the best consecutive six fights of mixed martial arts this year.
Runner Up: UFC 194 ‘Aldo vs. McGregor’
Breakout Fighter of the Year: Thomas Almeida
Almeida upped his UFC record to 4-0 with three performance of the night bonus worthy finishes in 2015. His professional mixed martial arts record now stands at 20-0 as he enters 2016 as the bantamweight contender no one is chomping at the bit to stand inside of the cage with.
Runner Up: Sage Northcutt
Staredown of the Year: Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor in Rio
I lost track of how many times these two men were forced to staredown in 2015. I’ll guess it was somewhere around a dozen, give or take a few. The one that stands out the most though was the 1st stop during the ‘UFC 189 World Championship Tour’ in Rio. In hindsight, it has to be the most important.
Rivalry of the Year: Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor
The fight may have only lasted a mere 13-seconds but the hours of footage we enjoyed all year long will last forever. Make no mistake about it, these two men will fight again. They have to.
Lady Violence 2015: Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Runner Up: Holly Holm
King of Violence 2015: Conor McGregor
Runner Up: Tony Ferguson