We’ll be honest, it wasn’t easy, and it never is. That said, we had to do it. And we loved every second of it. Welcome to the 8th annual Fight Booth MMA Awards, where we continue our tradition of handing out hardware to the best of the best in the world of mixed martial arts. Do yourself a favor and check out this year’s winners below.
Fighter of the Year: Stipe Miocic
Man this one was tough. For me it was a dead heat between Miocic and Bisping up until I was forced to make a decision. We don’t do ties here but if we did, this would be the year. Both men had career years. Bisping defeated arguably the greatest fighter of all-time in Anderson Silva, KO’d Luke Rockhold on two weeks notice to win the middleweight title and avenged the greatest loss of his career by besting Dan Henderson in his first title defense. How do you beat that?
Stipe Miocic kicked off his 2016 campaign early by ripping Andrei Arlovski to shreds at UFC 195 in just 54 seconds. Miocic would target UFC President Dana White immediately after separating Arlovski from consciousness to demand a title shot. White, scared out of his mind, had no other choice than to agree. 4 months later, Miocic would head into enemy territory in Brazil to tear the UFC heavyweight strap away from Fabricio Werdum in under 3 minutes with a life changing right hook. Follow that up with a successful title defense on home soil in Cleveland, Ohio against kickboxing legend Alistair Overeem (chalk up another 1st round KO for Miocic) and you have your 2016 fighter of the year.
Honorable Mentions: Michael Bisping, Amanda Nunes, Cody Garbrandt
Fight of the Year: Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor II (UFC 202)
From Lawler and Condit’s instant classic on January 2nd in Vegas to Swanson and Choi’s war for the ages on December 10th in Toronto, there was no shortage of out of this world fights in 2016. Somewhere right in between the two aforementioned fights, on August 20th, Nathan Diaz and Conor McGregor met in a back and forth rematch that sold more PPV’s and had more folks on the edges of their respective seats than any other main event in UFC history. This fight delivered in so many ways; one would be hard pressed to script a better outcome. If you’re looking for a fight or a rivalry that defined the sport in 2016 – this would be this one.
Honorable Mentions: Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi (UFC 206), Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit (UFC 195), Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Claudia Gadelha II (TUF 23 Finale)
KO of the Year: Lando Vannata walk-off KO’s John Makdessi via spinning wheel kick (UFC 206)
Remember Edson Barboza’s spinning wheel kick of destiny back in 2012? Greatest head kick KO of all-time, right? Lando Vannata may or may not disagree.
WHAT A KICK!
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) December 11, 2016
Honorable Mention: Stipe Miocic faceplants Fabrico Werdum
Submission of the Year: Miesha Tate submits Holly Holm via RNC (UFC 196)
The scorecards told us that Tate wouldn’t have won if this fight went the distance. The warrior spirit of Tate told us that the you can never count her out. In a year that saw Tate become a UFC champion, lose the title in the main event of UFC 200 and ultimately retire from the sport that made her a star a handful of months later – her submission victory over Holly Holm still holds up as the submission of the year. This was just one of those moments that we’ll never forget as MMA fans.
Honorable Mention: Nate Diaz submits Conor McGregor via RNC at UFC 196
MVP: Conor McGregor
McGregor solidified himself as the top star in the world of MMA in 2016 by breaking the 1 million PPV buy mark not 1, not 2, but 3 times in the same calendar year as a headliner. Heading in 2017, McGregor holds all of the cards. The UFC needs him more than he needs them and this may be the first time in history we’ve been able to say that about a mixed martial artist.
Honorable Mention: Nate Diaz
Comeback of the Year (Performance): Neil Magny (UFC Fight Night 85)
Lombard earned a 10-8 on the judges scorecards after having Magny dead to rights in the 1st round of their UFC Fight Night 85 co-headliner bout. This fight could’ve easily have been called early and no one would’ve argued. Magny came back to destroy Lombard in the 2nd and ultimately finish him off in the third to record one of the greatest comebacks in UFC history.
Honorable Mention: Dan Henderson TKO’s Hector Lombard
Comeback of the Year (Career): Mirko Cro Cop
Performance enhancing drugs or not, Cro Cop going 4-0 and winning the Rizin Open-Weight Grand Prix at 42-years-old (dude KO’d King Mo) wins him comeback of the year honors and then some. This Cro Cop is a scary dude. And what’s even scarier is that we likely haven’t seen the last of him.
Honorable Mention: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Upset of the Year: Michael Bisping KO’s Luke Rockhold (UFC 199)
When you look up cocky in the dictionary you may or may not see Luke Rockhold’s smug face. When you paid $59.99 for UFC 199 you did not expect Michael Bisping to defeat, let alone KO Rockhold to become your new UFC middleweight champion. Rockhold held his chin up in the air with total disdain for anything Bisping had to offer him in this fight – and it cost him everything.
Honorable Mentions: Cody Garbrandt schools Dominick Cruz at UFC 207, Brandon Moreno submits Louis Smolka at the TUF 24 Finale
Most Vulgar Display of Power: Dan Henderson TKO’s Hector Lombard (UFC 199)
It was our honorable mention for comeback performance of the year and it also earned Hendo honors for 2016’s Most Vulgar Display of Power. After taking a beating in the 1st round, 45-year-old Dan Henderson destroyed Lombard with a head-kick and some nasty elbows from different angles to solidify himself as the most dangerous man to ever compete in the sport of mixed martial arts.
Honorable Mention: Yoel Romero busts Chris Weidman open at UFC 205
Performance of the Year: Cody Garbrandt cruises past Dominick Cruz at UFC 207
Garbrandt outclassed Cruz in every way, shape and form and we still can’t believe it. Cruz made Garbrandt look like an amateur in the build up to this fight. Garbrandt paid him back by closing out the year to defeat the greatest UFC bantamweight of all-time at his own game.
Honorable Mention: Conor McGregor TKO’s Eddie Alvarez to become a double champion
Event of the Year: UFC 205 ‘Alvarez vs. McGregor’
We couldn’t even have scripted the first UFC event to take place in New York City any better. Rarely does a card scheduled to feature three title fights actually end up giving us, well, three title fights. This one did. And all three title fights delivered. Not only did we get ourselves a historic moment when Conor McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez to become the first man to hold two UFC titles simultaneously, we also got to witness a hard-fought majority draw between welterweight champ Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson and a UD win for Joanna Jedrzejczyk over Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Yoel Romero’s soul crushing KO of Chris Weidman and Raquel Pennington’s retiring of Miesha Tate helped round out this PPV masterpiece. We won’t even get into Frankie Edgar versus Jeremy Stephens and Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Michael Johnson. This was one of those cards that looked great on paper and looked even better inside of the cage.
Breakout Fighter of the Year: Mickey Gall
New Jersey’s Mickey Gall kicked off his 2016 campaign in a “CM Punk eliminator bout” against an MMA media member named Mike Jackson. He’d go on to defeat Jackson in just 45 seconds via rear-naked-choke and he’d go on to defeat CM Punk in just two minutes and 14 seconds via rear-naked-choke in Cleveland at UFC 203. Gall would close out the year by submitting Sage Northcutt via rear-naked-choke in the co-main event of UFC on FOX 22. Oh ya, let us not forget how Gall called out Punk and Northcutt, basically writing his own script to begin what could and should be a long and fruitful career inside of the world-famous octagon. Mickey Gall may just be the best self promoter in the game today.
Honorable Mention: Cody Garbrandt
Rivalry of the Year: Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz
An out of the blue rivalry that mixed martial arts fans and UFC officials will forever be grateful for. Here’s to a rubber match in 2017.
Honorable Mention: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Claudia Gadelha
Lady Violence 2016: Amanda Nunes
Amanda Nunes’ 2016 calendar year included victories over Valentina Shevchenko, Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey. The latter two were of the finishing variety. In 2016, “The Lioness” became the “Legend Killer,” and if she attempts to become a 2-division champion by moving up to 145 lbs in 2017, she may just became a legend herself.
Honorable Mention: Joanna Jedrzejczyk
King of Violence 2016: Stipe Miocic
When you KO Alistair Overeem, Fabrico Werdum and Andrei Arlovski in the 1st round, respectively, in 9 months time, you can go ahead and add King of Violence to your resume. Stipe Miocic is a force to be reckoned with. And we have a feeling that 2016’s Fight Booth Fighter of the Year, King of Violence 2016 award winner and defending UFC heavyweight champion will be back in a big way come 2017.
Honorable Mention: Donald Cerrone
image credit – UFC.com