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Fight Booth MMA Awards

Breakout Fighter of the Year 2013: Conor McGregor



mcgregorstyleEven if you fancy yourself as one of the biggest MMA fans around, it’s highly likely that you didn’t know who Conor McGregor was heading into 2013. I’m being completely honest when I tell that I didn’t know a whole lot about him myself. That was until our very own Sean Sheehan began here at hov-mma/FightBooth.One of Sean’s first articles (it may very well have been his first on this site) was called: Introducing ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor, and reading it got me kind of pumped about his upcoming UFC debut against Marcus Brimage. It made me go back and watch his two Cage Warriors title fights from 2012 and it certainly made me believe what everyone in Ireland already knew – this kid had special sort of aura bout him. Then I went on with my life and didn’t think much of it again until that aforementioned fight in April.

Fast forward to today, less than a full year later. Everyone knows Conor McGregor’s name. He hasn’t won any championships in the UFC, let alone even fought in a #1 contenders bout, but he certainly has become one of the hottest names in the business. He has a knack for showing up in the headlines, even when he isn’t fighting, and he is now beyond rock star status in Ireland. UFC President Dana White made it no secret that he may have even developed a bit of a crush on the young and dapper Irishman during the Summer weeks leading up to the Boston show. Well, all of that is fine and good, but how did he fare as a featherweight since being signed to the UFC?

It only took McGregor 97 seconds to dispose of Marcus Brimage in his UFC debut in Sweden. It wasn’t just the barrage of uppercuts and quick combos that led to the eventual demise of his opponent that impressed us, it was that swagger (sorry, I had to use that word) he had about him during the full duration of the fight. If McGregor had any nerves, any of those octagon butterflies fighters talk about during their debuts, he certainly didn’t show them.

After campaigning hard for a spot on the UFC’s FOX Sports 1 debut in Boston, the company would eventually cave to McGregor’s wishes and pit him against another young up and comer in the form of the ‘Blessed’ Hawaiian, Max Holloway. Having finished the first 15 opponents of his career and never having gone past the 2nd round, this fight would prove to be a test for the 25-year-old from Dublin, and pass it he would.

He’d take home a hard fought unanimous decision victory, one that we’d find out later on was won despite having suffered a torn ACL during the contest. Although this injury is keeping McGregor out of the cage for what could be up to ten months, it certainly hasn’t kept him out of the headlines. The ‘Notorious’ one was even Ireland’s most Googled sportsperson in 2013.

If I had to use one word to describe McGregor’s debut year as a member of the UFC, I’d simply say it was loud. He was like that new transfer in high school that just crashed the party and made everyone fall in love with him. It’s been rumored that McGregor could return to combat ahead of schedule, as early as May of 2014. If that’s the case, expect to see him blow the roof off the O2 in Dublin when the UFC arrives there for the first time since 2009.

Honorable Mention – Brandon Thatch


Fighter of the Year, KO of the Year, King of Violence 2015: Conor McGregor




Fighter of the Year

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 them 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.

KO of the Year

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.

King of Violence

In a year where we strongly considered Luke Rockhold, Tony Ferguson and a couple of others, McGregor also earns the honor of being called King of Violence in 2015. It wasn’t just the trifecta of T(KO) finishes during the calendar year that earned the new King of MMA this trifecta of awards (check out our full 2015 awards list here) from the folks at Fight Booth, it was the strength of his opposition and the way he carried himself inside and outside of the cage.

So, was McGregor’s 2015 a once in a lifetime magical ride for him and his die hard legion of fans, or can he repeat the magic he made back in 2012 for Cage Warriors by becoming a two division champion in 2016. Well, we won’t have to wait very long to find out.

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2014 Fight Booth MMA Awards



Sure, it may be a different .com, but it’s the same staff. And we are more than happy to continue the tradition started 5 years ago over at HOV-MMA right here inside of the FightBooth. Welcome to our 6th annual year-end MMA award extravaganza. Let’s start right at the top.


Fighter of the Year – Robbie Lawler

It was a storybook year for the “Ruthless” one. After losing a hard-fought five round title fight to Johny Hendricks for the strap vacated by Georges St. Pierre, Lawler fought his way back to a title shot with wins over Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown. In the final PPV of 2014 he would bring the welterweight title back to AKA by beating Hendricks in another close fight. Lawler turned the volume up to 11 in the final sequence of the fight completing one of the greatest comeback stories in MMA history with an exclamation point. Hearing the words “UFC Champion Robbie Lawler” in the year 2014 was quite the pinch me moment.

Fight of the Year – Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes 2 (UFC 179) 

This rematch happened the right way. Mendes earned it the hard way winning five consecutive fights after being knocked senseless by Aldo back at UFC 142. This time around he went the distance, but the result was the same. King Aldo got his hand raised once again while Prince Mendes gained even more respect in defeat than he ever has in victory.

KO of the Year –  Ronda Rousey’s 16-second obliteration of Alexis Davis 

Because armbars are so 2013.

Submission of the Year – Anthony Pettis guillotines Gilbert Melendez

There were plenty of incredible submissions in 2014: St. Preux, Rockhold’s kimura on Boetsch, Benavidez’s Joa Constrictor, and Oliveira’s Peruvian are just a few of the pleasing to the eye variety that immediately come to mind. Pettis’ takes the honors this year though for being the most important and unexpected.

roxy-9000Comeback of the Year (Career) – Roxanne Modafferi

After six consecutive losses, Roxanne Modafferi needed a victory in the worst way. In her Invicta FC debut, we witnessed a “Happy Warrior” reborn. A completely reinvented Modafferi was able to best fellow women’s MMA pioneer Tara LaRosa to go up 2-1 in what has to be the best WMMA trilogy to date. She followed it up by teaching the extremely talented and dangerous Andrea “KGB” Lee in December to position herself as a legit contender for a rematch with Barb Honchak’s  (for the Invicta FC title this time) in 2015.

Comeback of the Year (Performance) – Cathal Pendred (UFC Fight Night: Dublin)

Holy mackerel. If you missed Pendred’s comeback performance against Mike King (who it turns out was all juiced up mind you) at UFC Dublin I suggest you go back and watch it on Fight Pass….NOW. This was one for the ages folks. Since King did end up popping positive for PED’s, Pendred would be awarded his half of the fight of the night bonus as well. What did Pendred do with that extra $50K? Proving that the good guy truly did win, Pendred donated a portion of King’s bonus to a Children’s Hospital in Dublin.

Upset of the Year: Herica Tiburcio defeats Michelle Waterson (Invicta FC 10)

Like Yasuko Tamada before her, Herica Tiburcio was expected to be another albeit talented, virtually unknown import to make “The Karate Hottie” look good. Instead, the 4’11” Brazilian atomweight prospect became a champion on a December night in Houston, Texas. Her victory over Waterson was just as moving as it was surprising. The shallowness of the division easily warrants an immediate rematch between the new champion and the newest chosen face of the company. Tiburcio-Waterson sits right near the top of our list of 2015 fights to watch for.

Most Vulgar Display of Power: Michelle Waterson abuses Yasuko Tamada at Invicta FC 8

After watching the fight between Michelle Waterson and Yasuko Tamada for the Invicta FC atomweight title at Invicta FC 8 I fully expected Waterson to be escorted off the premises in handcuffs with yellow caution tape surrounding the cage.

Performance of the Year – T.J. Dillashaw upsets Renan Barao to become UFC Bantamweight Champion

A runner up to upset of the year, Dillashaw’s masterful performance at UFC 173 was quite the revelation. Depending on what site you frequent, Dillashaw entered the contest as the +700 dog who clearly had no business ending Renan Barao’s 33-fight unbeaten streak. Dillashaw’s performance on this night would be one that had fans and media alike uttering the words “holy sh*t” out loud and in their minds for a good 20+ minutes. UFC color man Joe Rogan called it the best performance he had ever seen, and he’s seen plenty. While I don’t agree with everything Joe says, this one is tough to disagree with. It certainly was without question the best performance of 2014 in all of sports.

Event of the Year – UFC 175: Weidman vs. Machida

A fight of the year contender in the main event, our KO of the year in the co-main, some unfortunate live drama that saw a heavyweight fight scrapped, Uriah Hall’s toe, and plenty more from a cast of supporting players like Urijah Faber and Rob Font made certain that the UFC’s 3rd annual International Fight Week offering provided fireworks from start to finish.

halsey-bellatorBreakout Fighter of the Year – Brandon Halsey

Brandon who? The Cal-State Bakersfield wrestling standout entered 2014 as a 5-0 MMA prospect poised to make an impact in Bellator’s season 10 middleweight tournament. After winning the tourney, Halsey would end Alexander Shlemenko’s 13-fight win streak inside of the middleweight division in just 35-seconds to become Bellator’s middleweight champion. Halsey joins the likes of previous breakout fighter of the year winners Anthony Pettis, Daniel Cormier, Nick Newell, and Conor McGregor. Just saying, you may want to keep an eye on this one.


Staredown of the Year: Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier

While the fight didn’t materialize in 2014, one would be hard pressed to find a better “staredown” than the one that happened when these two shook up the world inside of the MGM Grand on August 4th.

Rivalry of the Year: Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler

Not every great rivalry in the fight game requires in your face antics and pre-fight smack talk. The 10 rounds of pain that took place between now former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks and current champ Robbie Lawler certainly cemented these two fiery competitors as strange bedfellows for life.  With their trilogy bout recently scrapped, one can only thank the UFC Gods for letting this ongoing battle linger on a little longer. There’s no need to match these two men up again straight away; the damage they did to one another in 2014 mentally and physically was immeasurable. Next up for Hendricks will be the tough as nails Matt Brown at UFC 185 in Texas. For the new champ and 2014 FOTY Robbie Lawler you can expect a well deserved resting period in the immediate future.

Lady Violence 2014 – Ronda Rousey

King of Violence 2014 – Donald Cerrone

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Fight Booth MMA Awards

Top 10 Most Vulgar Displays of Power 2013



‘Hapa’ slashes his way to #3 on this years list

You could argue that 2013 was the most violent year in the history of mixed martial arts to date. When you put two earthlings in a cage together and tell them you’ll give them money if they hurt each other until one of them either falls asleep or taps the person trying to submit them so they’ll stop, then of course you’re going to get a hearty helping of violence on any given night. There was something that felt different about 2013 though. Maybe it’s just the simple fact that there were more fights in 2013 than any other year in the history of MMA; the continued worldwide takeover by the UFC and the increase of promotions (local and international) has made it so all 52 weeks during the calendar year can bed called ‘Fight Week’ no mater where you are.

Narrowing down the top ten most vulgar displays of power during any given year can cause a storm of controversy. For these particular year-end lists we’re keeping it to the more well known promotions, but we ask you to please leave any glaring omissions or indie MMA ‘vulgar displays’ you deem list-worthy in the comments section below.

Enter the 2013 Most Vulgar Display of Power Countdown below at your own risk:

Big credit to Zombie Prophet for the majority of the GIFS featured -Travis Browne image via Getty

10. Miriam ‘The Queen of Mean’ Nakamoto obliterates Duda Yankovich, masterfully (Invicta FC 6, 7.13.13)
9. John Howard makes UFC 168 Siyar Bahadurzada’s own personal ‘Doomsday’ with this powerslam (UFC 168, 12.28.13)
8. Veronica Rotherhausler KO’s Malungahu – everyone expected it, ‘The Heartbreaker’ delivered it (Invicta FC 4, 1.5.13)
7. Nate Diaz besmirches Gray Maynard in trilogy bout (TUF 18 Finale, 11.30.13)
6. Sara McMann finishes Gaff to close out perfect Octagon debut (UFC 159, 4.27.13)
5. Vitor scored three head-kick KO’s in 2013 – the most visibly pleasing one landed on Luke Rockhold’s chin (UFC on FX 8, 5.18.13)
4. Josh Burkman welcomes Fitch to WSOF by putting him asleep with a tight guillotine (WSOF 3, 6.14.13)
3. Travis Browne hellbows Barnett into unconsciousness, steals his throat-slash celebration to boot (UFC 168, 12.28.13)
2. Chris Weidman showed us that checking kicks can be very offensive – in more ways than one (UFC 168, 12.28.13)
1. Velasquez‘s mauling of Dos Santos in trilogy bout (UFC 166, 10.19.13)

Hindsight tells us that Junior dos Santos’ 64-second KO of Cain Velasquez in November of 2011 was the true definition of a lucky punch. Cain put a beating on Dos Santos in the trilogy fight that was even more vulgar than last years sequel.

Below are the stats from UFC 166, and the cumulative 46 minutes and 51 seconds of pain JDS would suffer after his initial KO of the current champ. As Tracy Morgan would say, “Cain Velasquez is Junior dos Santos’ biological father.”

Total Strikes (UFC 166):

Cain Velasquez: 274 of 378 – 72%
Junior dos Santos: 62 of 140 – 44%

Total (UFC 155 and 166):

Cain Velasquez: 484 of 717 – 68%
Junior dos Santos: 128 of 286 – 45%

Significant Strikes (UFC 166):

Cain Velasquez: 123 of 201 – 61%
Junior dos Santos: 46 of 122 – 38%

Total (UFC 155 and 166):

Cain Velasquez: 234 of 425 – 55%
Junior dos Santos: 103 of 259 – 40%

This is what those numbers looked like on JDS’ face:

Takedowns (UFC 166):

Cain Velasquez: 2 of 13 – 15%
Junior dos Santos:  0 of 1 – 0%

Total (UFC 155 and 166):

Cain Velasquez 13 of 46 – 28 %
Junior dos Santos: 0 of 2 – 0%

Knockdowns (UFC 166):

Cain Velasquez: 1
Junior dos Santos: 0

Total (UFC 155 and 166):

Cain Velasquez: 2
Junior dos Santos: 0

After watching this trilogy it’s clear that Junior dos Santos should never be allowed to put on a pair of gloves and Nike trunks anywhere near Cain Velasquez again.

stats via fightmetric

Bonus Vulgar Display: ‘Bigfoot‘ makes Overeem pay (UFC 156, 2.2.13)
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