2017 has come and gone, leaving us with some very difficult year-end decisions. To whom do we give all of this hardware when there are so many men and women who are beyond deserving of it? Welcome to the 9th annual Fight Booth MMA Awards folks. Check out this year’s winners below and be sure share any questions, concerns and/or insults with us on social media @FightBooth.
Fighter of the Year: Max Holloway
In 2017, Holloway defeated former featherweight king, Jose Aldo, on his home soil to unify the world titles. You could hear a pin drop in Rio on that night. Six months later, he’d batter Aldo again in Detroit to solidify himself as the greatest featherweight of all-time. He did this after enjoying a full week of Detroit’s culture, thus earning a new Midwestern fan base in the process.
Holloway is having just as much fun inside of the cage as he is outside of it and it shows; he has an addictive personality that has made him a fan favorite across the globe, not unlike a former 2- division champion and UFC Hall of Famer out of Hawaii. The UFC would be doing a disservice to both Holloway and “The Aloha State” by not bringing an event there in 2018. It’s time.
Honorable Mentions: Francis Ngannou, Rose Namajunas, Robert Whittaker, Demetrious Johnson
Fight of the Year: Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje (UFC 218)
The fight for the title of UFC’s “Most Violent Man” took place in Detroit—of all places—and it boy did it deliver. I may be a little biased since I was there live, but this was easily the most captivating fight I’ve witnessed in person. If you saw this fight take place in a movie you would deem it too unrealistic due to the sheer amount of punishment these two men took. This was the very definition of a “Last Man Standing” fight if there ever was one.
Alvarez put on a virtuoso performance here, landing to the body early while somehow keeping himself upright after eating a steady diet of Gaethje’s traumatizing leg kicks. This war of attrition continued in the second with Alvarez wearing down Gaethje with more body work while he used his superior boxing and head movement as these two violent warriors left fans asking themselves, “how are these two still standing?”
In the third and final round, Alvarez, whose left leg was about to give out due to Gaethje’s thunderous kicks, ate some massive uppercuts from his opponent which would prompt him to shake his fingers like Dikembe Mutombo to the crowd. The two continued to battle like a couple of drunks on roller skates until Alvarez landed a monstrous knee to the face of Gaethje that finally sealed the deal. Gaethje’s face spurted blood as he fell to the canvas; it was like watching one Terminator temporarily turn the lights off of another. Gaethje still wanted to fight after eating 155 strikes that were all designed to put him down for the very first time in his career. What a night—what a fight. These two deserve some kind of award for this one. Am I right?
Honorable Mentions: Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson (TUF 25 Finale), Yancy Medeiros vs. Alex Oliveira (UFC 218), Jim Miller vs Dustin Poirier (UFC 208), Angela Hill vs. Jessica Andrade (Fight Night 104)
KO of the Year: Francis Ngannou KO’s Alistair Overeem with an “Uppercut from Hell” (UFC 218)
Francis Ngannou holds the world record for the hardest punch. Being hit by Ngannou is the equivalent of 96 horsepower; it’s like being hit by a Ford Escort that’s going as fast as it can go according to UFC President Dana White. It’s also more powerful than getting smashed by a 12-pound sledgehammer from overhead.
Ngannou landed the cleanest left uppercut you will ever see just one minute and forty-two seconds into his #1 contender’s bout with Alistair Overeem, earning himself a title shot against 2016’s fighter of the year, Stipe Miocic, just a little over month later in Boston. This wasn’t just the best KO of 2017, it was the greatest uppercut KO in the history of the sport.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Brown KO’s Diego Sanchez via sadistic elbow (Fight Night 120), Francis Ngannou KO’s Andrei Arlovksi (UFC on FOX 23), Paul Daley’s flying knee KO of Brennan Ward (Bellator 170), Tyron Claxton flying knee KO’s Jonny Bonilla-Bowman (Bellator 186), Edson Barboa flying knee KO of Beneil Dariush (Fight Night 106), Holly Holm’s head-kick KO of Bethe Correia (Fight Night 111)
Submission of the Year: Demetrious Johnson’s flying suplex armbar (UFC 216)
Truly a sight to behold, one of the slickest submissions you’ll ever witness in this sport. DJ is just toying with his opponents at this point. He’s a video game come to life.
Honorable Mentions: Oleksiy Olyinik scores the first Ezekiel choke in UFC history (Fight Night 103), Brian Ortega guillotines Cub Swanson (Fight Night 123)
MVP: Georges St. Pierre
It was no coincidence that the UFC was unable to put on an event that would garner a million PPV buys for the first time since 2014 last year. It was the first year since 2014 that Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor did not go to battle inside of the Octagon. It was also the first time since 2013 that Georges St. Pierre did.
After four years away from the game, St. Pierre proved that he’s still a valuable PPV player during a year that was in desperate need of some star power. UFC 217 ‘Bisping vs. St. Pierre’ earned a reported 875,000 buys, which was more than any other event in 2017 and more than UFC 208, UFC 212, UFC 213, UFC 215 and UFC 216 combined. Aside from UFC 214 ‘Cormier vs. Jones II’, it was the only event to do over 300,000 buys.
St. Pierre would score a third round rear-naked choke victory in the contest to become the fourth man in UFC history to earn a title in two divisions. It was his first fight at middleweight and his first finish in nearly a decade. The Canadian hero would eventually vacate the title leaving his UFC future in doubt once again due to colitis.
Honorable Mentions: Daniel Cormier, Michael Bisping
Comeback of the Year (Performance): Darren Elkins (UFC 209)
The undefeated Misrad Bektic entered this fight as high as a -700 favorite on some betting sets with to come back on Elkins being +550. And the fight played out as advertised—for the first two rounds. I’ll be completely honest with you guys, I was talking to the referee through my television during this one—I would’ve stopped this fight. After what was likely a 10-8 first round and another dominant second, Elkins scored the shocking head kick KO at the 3:19 marker of the third, proving that we should never count him out until his lights are completely turned off.
Comeback of the Year (Career): Georges St. Pierre
To come back after a four-year layoff and move up a weight class to win a world title is basically unheard of at this level. Georges St. Pierre is beyond special when it comes to the fight game and I truly hope we see him again if and when he’s ready.
Upset of the Year: Rose Namajunas KO’s Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 217)
For the third consecutive year, the upset of the year involved a title change due to a vicious knockout. In 2015, it was Holly Holm knocking out Ronda Rousey in Sydney to secure the UFC women’s bantamweight championship. Last year, we’d see Michael Bisping shock the world by separating Luke Rockhold for consciousness to become the middleweight champion of the world. This year, we’d witness another disturbance in the force when Rose Namajunas dropped the now former 5-time defending champ with a left hook after already knocking her down earlier in the fight; this time it would be for good. Namajunas would seal the deal with some more shots to her downed opponent, forcing a champion who was once thought of as invincible to tap to strikes as the referee waved it off.
Honorable Mentions: Darren Elkins defeats Misrad Bektic, John Moraga defeats Magomed Bibulatov
Most Vulgar Display of Power: Matt Brown elbows Diego Sanchez into oblivion (UFC Fight Night 120)
This was just as beautiful as it was disturbing. A storybook ending to one of the most violently entertaining careers in UFC history.
Honorable Mention: Ngannou KO’s Overeem
Performance of the Year: Robert Whittaker defeats Yoel Romero to capture the UFC interim middleweight title (UFC 213)
Whittaker suffered a grade two medial ligament injury to his left knee during the first round of his interim title bout with Yoel Romero at UFC 213. We certainly didn’t know the extent of the injury during the fight, we just knew that he was in obvious pain and he wasn’t likely going to finish this fight unless Romero finished it for him. Boy were we wrong.
Whittaker’s heart was on full display here as he toughed it out to defeat Romero via unanimous decision to capture the UFC interim title. He’d be promoted to undisputed champion after Georges St. Pierre vacated his title while he recuperated from his injury. “The Reaper” will be back to make the first defense of his world title in his home country of Australia next month.
Event of the Year: UFC 217 ‘Bisping vs. St. Pierre’
Three title fights, three title changes. An absolutely unprecedented event that delivered on all sorts of levels. Not since UFC 116 ‘Lesnar vs. Carwin’ and UFC 117 ‘Silva vs Sonnen’ have there been two better back-to-back events than UFC 217 and UFC 218.
Honorable Mention: UFC 218 ‘Holloway vs. Aldo II’
Breakout Fighter of the Year: Nicco Montano
Montano beat Lauren Murphy, Montana Stewart, Barb Honchak and Roxanne Modafferi to become the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion. Not bad for a fighter who came into the TUF house with a 3-2 record and was the number 14 pick out of 16 fighters.
Honorable Mention: Cynthia Calvillo
Rivalry of the Year: Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier
Even though this would be soured due to Jones testing positive for steroids, Jones and Cormier gave us another compelling build to what was a fantastic fight that would end up being erased from the record books. Jones’ head-kick KO was not eligible for any other awards this year, but the troubled former champ still gets to share this award with Cormier. I can’t imagine how depressing this whole situation must be to both fighters. It’ll make for one heck of a ESPN ’30 for 30′ sometime in the future.
Honorable Mention: Cody Garbrandt vs. TJ Dillashaw, Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee
Lady Violence: Rose Namajunas
I still get chills when I think of Rose reciting the Lord’s Prayer while Jedrzejczyk mouthed off to her for the final time before Namajunas sent her to the canvas at UFC 217. The final result had to have been the feel good moment of 2017.
‘Thug’ Rose would also score a rear-naked choke submission against Michelle Waterson back in April after landing a head-kick to earn that title shot against Joanna. It’s been an absolute joy to watch the evolution of Rose Namajunas. She’s finished her opponents in six out of seven fights and at just 25-years-old, the UFC strawweight champ is only going to get better.
Honorable Mentions: Cris Cyborg, Megan Anderson, llima-Lei Macfarlane, Jessica Andrade, Julia Budd
King of Violence: Eddie Alvarez
When you win the UFC’s ‘Most Violent Man’ title by becoming the first man to defeat Justin Gaethje, it only makes sense that you’d win the 2017 King of Violence award. Alvarez becomes the first 2-time King of Violence winner since this award was first introduced in 2011.
Honorable Mentions: Justin Gaethje, Francis Ngannou, Matt Brown, Max Holloway
2018 Fight Booth MMA Awards
Welcome to the 10th — you read that correctly — the 10th annual Fight Booth MMA Awards.
It’s been an honor to be a part of this game for a decade now and I can assure you, we take this very seriously. So without further ado, check out who @dw_reno and @fightfanaticpod had as your best of the best for the 2018.
Fighter of the Year: Daniel Cormier
Runner Up: Israel Adesanya
Fight of the Year: Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero II
Runner Up: Justin Gaethje vs. Dustin Poirier
KO of the Year: Korean Zombie KO’s Rodriguez via elbow with one second remaining
Runner Up: Ortega KO’s Edgar
Submission of the Year: Ryan Hall becomes the first man to submit BJ Penn
Runner Up: Oleinik submits Albini via Ezekiel Choke
MVP: Conor McGregor
Runner Up: Daniel Cormier
Comeback of the Year (Performance): Derrick Lewis
Comeback of the Year (Career): Max Holloway
Runner Up: Corey Anderson
Upset of the Year: Henry Cejudo ends the historic reign of Demetrious Johnson
Runner Up: Alex Hernandez over Beneil Dariush
Most Vulgar Display of Power: Amanda Nunes KO’s Cris Cyborg in 51 seconds
Runner Up: Jessica Andrade knocks Karolina Kowalkiewicz out cold
Performance of the Year: Robert Whittaker, again
Runner Up: Khabib Nurmagomedov dominates Conor McGregor
Event of the Year: UFC 229 ‘Khabib vs. McGregor’
Runner Up: UFC Fight Night 139 ‘Korean Zombie vs. Rodriguez’
Breakout Fighter of the Year: Israel Adesanya
Runner Up: Zabit Magomedsharipov
Rivalry of the Year: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor
Lady Violence: Amanda Nunes
King of Violence: Dustin Poirier
Fight Booth PW 2016 Awards Recap
And just like that, our 4th annual Fight Booth PW Awards are officially in the can. We’re forever grateful to everyone who took part in this year’s voting process – it truly means the world to us. It goes without saying that this was a most incredible year for the world of professional wrestling and we fully expect things to get even better in 2017 and beyond. Before then, check out who went home with this year’s hardware and why by clicking through any of the links below:
Tag Team of the Year: The Revival
Ring Announcer of the Year: Melissa Santos
Best Television Announcer: Mauro Ranallo
Face of the Year: Finn Balor & Bayley (tie)
Heel of the Year: Kevin Owens
Faction of the Year: Bullet Club
Best Non-Wrestler: Dario Cueto
Most Improved Wrestler: Alexa Bliss
Event of the Year: Wrestle Kingdom 10
Best Gimmick: ‘Broken’ Matt Hardy
Promotion of the Year: NJPW
MVP (Most Valuable to His/Her Promotion): Matt Hardy
Feud of the Year: Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks
Best Mic Worker: Chris Jericho
Best Moment of the Year: Daniel Bryan’s Retirement Speech
Match of the Year: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn (NXT TakeOver: Dallas)
Female Wrestler of the Year: Sasha Banks
Male Wrestler of the Year: AJ Styles
2016 PW Awards: Male Wrestler of the Year
Winner: AJ Styles
“Quite frankly, AJ Styles was the story of 2016, and there was a reason for it. He put on constant great matches and both his on-air and off-air arc was extremely compelling. He was the total package in a year where a lot of unexpected names (Miz, Jericho, even Omega) really took their game to a whole new level. I think there are about six guys you could make a compelling case for at #2, but AJ Styles is a step above any of those six.” – Aaron Oster
“I’ve had problems with AJ Styles in the past… his rhetoric on the indies was often homophobic and I feel very differently than most about the Styles Clash… but he’s been willing to pay his dues at WWE, even though he’s an international hot-shot. I saw nearly everyone on the roster say that he deserved the world title, which to me signals a growth from cool guy McIndie scene to responsible backstage mentor. He elevates any match he’s in while still being able to learn and take from the people he works with. He was a bright spot in a pretty meh year.” – Mira Waters
“Dreams do come true, even for smarky wrestling fans. It was just a year ago that it became clear AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura were leaving Japan, and that WWE was going to be the benefactor of that move. When Styles appeared to a thunderous ovation at the Royal Rumble, it was as though all of the wrestling planets had aligned. Whatever your feelings about him personally might be, it is absolutely undeniable that he is the new standard-bearer for WWE. Every opponent he faces comes away better for having wrestled him. If you run down the list of people who faced Styles in 2016, their best matches were with him. Even as a recovering Ambrose fan, I would be remiss to say that putting the WWE World Title on Styles wasn’t the absolute right thing to do. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if it stayed there – for a long, long time. No matter who’s standing across the ring from AJ Styles in 2017, they won’t be nearly as Phenomenal as him.” – Lady J
“There has not been a better one-year span in WWE history. Kurt Angle and a few others are comparable, but AJ’s 2016 can be put up against any of them.” – Matt Addie
“This is the case of someone who has for YEARS been seen as a guy that would thrive in the WWE, decided not to sign. He goes over to NJPW, completely revamps his character and skills, THEN decides to come to WWE and lights the damn place on fire. He pulls off 2 of the best matches I’ve ever seen out of Roman Reigns, then pulls 2 of the best matches I’ve ever seen out of John Cena, then pulls of a GREAT series with Dean Ambrose, wins the WWE Title, all while making me want to slap the smug look off his face. If he would have won at Wrestlemania, his entire year would have been the perfect debut year in WWE.” – Chris Langevin
“When it comes to consistently delivering great matches, AJ is like another HBK in the WWE.” – Jim LaMotta
“The best in the world. Amazing athlete, can work with anyone. I think he’s number one in the world, and it isn’t really that close.” – Dan Rose
“I gave him the MVP of his promotion because since the week after WrestleMania when the main roster completely depleted NXT, he was the one person that carried NXT. Which is also why I give him my nod as the #2 wrestler of the year. We all know that Japanese and Chinese wrestlers have the TOUGHEST times in the WWE. We know that if they can’t cut a promo, it’s going to be tough for them to get over. From the moment Shinsuke debuted with the video challenging Sami Zayn to a match at Takeover, he captivated the WWE/NXT audience. Not to mention, much earlier this year, he was lighting it up at Wrestle Kingdom against my #1 wrestler. There are not many people who have had a year like Shinsuke from a great program with Samoa Joe, to his MOTY candidates v. Styles and Zayn, it’s only a matter of time before he’s taking over the main roster.” – Chris Langevin
“This charismatic former New Japan superstar transitioned seamlessly to the America audience, and he has the skills to be as big of a star as the powers that be permit him to be. While it makes sense to allow him to carry the NXT brand for now, make no mistake, Nakamura is undoubtedly a Wrestlemania main event level talent. His matches with Samoa Joe provide an example of what he can bring to the main stage of WWE.” – Jim LaMotta
“I love The king of strong style. His entrances are beyond epic, and his work style is jaw dropping. He will be so special on the WWE roster.” – Dan Rose
3. Kevin Owens
“Kevin Owens will fight your dad on Twitter and he will deserve it.” – Mira Waters
“Listen, he’s simply put, talented. He has the ability to work with anyone, his in ring mic work is epic. His work overall is unbelievable. Kevin Owens is the complete package.” – Dan Rose
“Wow. What more could we say about Kenny Omega’s 2016. The void left by AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura during the first week of the calendar year was filled and then some by Omega and Naito. Omega put forth match of the year after match of the year performances ending the year as the G1 Climax winner and #1 contender for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. And he didn’t stop there. I have a feeling his first match of 2017 at a little show inside of the Tokyo Dome may end up appearing right at the top of every single year-end list in the business. Couldn’t be more excited to see what’s next for “The Cleaner” in 2017.” – Dave Reno
“Kenny started the year making an impact heard round the wrestling worldwide when he took over BULLET CLUB. With that momentum he proceeded to have an amazing year, co-starring with The Bucks in The Elite videos, winning G-1 and heading into the new year as part of the headliner for Wrestle Kingdom. Arguments can be made for who truly had the best year in wrestling, but Omega took this year to go from that cool guy who people enjoyed watching and could make a match with a little girl & a sex doll awesome to the guy who could be the top guy in any company anywhere in the world.” – Reid Harris Cooper
“When you have such high-profiled acts like AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows leave the Bullet Club, and they seem to get STRONGER… that’s huge. It’s all a testament to the year that Kenny Omega had. From the moment they turned on AJ Styles and established Kenny Omega as the new leader, to him capturing the G1 Climax championship, becoming the first non-Japanese wrestler (Canadian) to do so.” – Chris Langevin
5. Chris Jericho
“While not in the theoretical prime of his career, in 2016, Jericho is as good now, if not better than he has ever been. This 26-year pro went step for step with Seth Rollins, a young lion that could be the future of the company, which speaks volumes to his ability. Even more amazing is Jericho’s ability to adapt to the current product and remain fresh instead of a nostalgia act. Props to Chris Jericho, you just made the list!” – Jim LaMotta
“Chris Jericho will not go home and I am so glad. Sometimes alumni hangs around and it takes a spot from a deserving young guy or lends itself to repetitive not-stories and half-assed gimmicks. With Jericho that’s never the case. His improvisation and ability to change character from week to week very often saves the guys he’s paired with or up against from poor planning or lack of writing on creative’s part.” – Mira Waters
“I understand his in ring abilities are not what they once were. I watch wrestling to be entertained, and nobody is more entertaining on a regular basis than Y2J. Disagree? You just made the list, you stupid idiot!” – Dan Rose
6. Matt Hardy
“Matt Hardy made TNA relevant for the first time in my entire life with one of the most inventive gimmicks I’ve ever seen. He’s so committed to it that somehow it doesn’t land as a parody and it works in any promotion he visits.” – Mira Waters
“We’ve never seen anything close to Broken Matt Hardy, Brother Nero, Senor Benjamin and that weird world he’s created.” – Matt Addie
“Cody Rhodes is a very lucky man. He was born into a perfect storm, destined to become something great. But even with The American Dream for a father, dashing good looks, and a natural deftness in the ring, it would be foolish to claim Cody’s success in WWE was simply the result of nepotism. If you love your work in the way that Rhodes clearly does, you will always strive for more, to grow and become better. How do you accomplish that when you’re already working for the biggest company in the industry and they’re not writing anything for you? You shock everyone and walk away. With his sights set on conquering some of the biggest names in independent wrestling, Cody traded his regular paycheck and some David Bowie-inspired make-up for challenging himself to think on his feet, and find his own destiny. Kicking off 2017 in Tokyo at Wrestle Kingdom 11, it seems clear that Bullet Club’s newest member is set on turning wrestling fan’s dreams for Rhodes on the indie scene into the American Nightmare. Bring it on, Cody. Bring it on.” – Lady J
“Cody Rhodes? I don’t remember that wrestler. OHHHH… do you mean Cody? Just Cody? *cue eye roll* First off, let me address WWE… Hey… Vince… just let him use the god damn Rhodes name. Don’t hold it against Cody because you guys refused to let him drop the Stardust gimmick. Ever since he left WWE, Cody has shown exactly why he wanted to drop the Stardust gimmick. It’s not him. He makes a GREAT heel when he is just himself, because he has the perfect punchable face. For the foreseeable future, I am VERY much looking forward to his work in ROH and with the Bullet Club, especially after his Final Battle contest with Lethal. He plays the role well, and add that to the Bullet Club’s reputation, and Cody is primed for one hell of a 2017.” – Chris Langevin
“A round of applause for Cody’s decision to leave WWE. He’s made good on his wrestling bucket list thus far, and his barnstorming tour should rage on in 2017.” – Matt Addie
“When the WWE overlooked him, Cody had the guts to ask for his release and is proving the writing team wrong, as he’s wrestling stellar matches in almost every major promotion.” – Jim LaMotta
8. Tetsuya Naito
The 2016 MVP of Japanese pro wrestling (and the first since 2011 not named Okada or Tanahashi) you could make an argument for Naito as the most important player for NJPW this past year. Naito forming the Japan version of the Los Ingobernables stable in late 2015 after a short stint in Mexico earlier in the year turned out to be the best move of his career. LIJ got over huge in 2016 as a villainous stable and Naito got over even bigger as their leader. His heel tactics, his total disregard for the IWGP heavyweight and Intercontinental championships during his runs, his incredible matches and his unparalleled swagger brought him to new heights in Japan over the past year. Tetsuya Naito may be the coolest wrestler in the world today.” – Dave Reno
9. Seth Rollins
“The #1 pick in the WWE Brand Split, Seth Rollins had quite the year. After having to miss Wrestlemania because of his knee injury, he came back to a raucous ovation when he planted Roman Reigns at Extreme Rules. From his quick title reign, to his match at Summerslam against Balor, to his eventual showdown with HHH, Seth Rollins continues to set the bar on the Raw brand.” – Chris Langevin
10. The Miz
“The Miz has been this company’s best heel low-key for years and I’m glad he slandered Daniel Bryan and brought back his hot devil wife and they’re Square Enix outfits to make it clear once and for all.” – Mira Waters
“I think his level of in ring ability is top-notch, and his ability to work the mic is great as well. One of the best heels in the business. I think The Miz could be the best sooner rather than later.” – Dan Rose
11. Jay Lethal
12. Chris Hero
13. Pentagon Dark
14. Adam Cole
15. Kazuchika Okada
16. Cedric Alexander
17. Kyle O’Reilly
19. Will Ospreay
20. Roman Reigns
21. Samoa Joe
23. Son of Havoc/Matt Cross
24. Matt Riddle
25. Sami Zayn
26. Johnny Gargano
27. Zack Sabre Jr.
28. Katsuyori Shibata
29. John Cena
30. Dean Ambrose
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