An amazing year of fights has come to an end and that means it’s time to hand out the annual awards for the fight game.
After 509 fights in 2021 after the global pandemic was worked around, the UFC produced some amazing fights with incredible moments throughout the year. But which were the best? Who was the best?
For our second annual end of year awards, we’ll be handing out the honours for each of the following categories:
- Submission of the year
- Knockout of the year
- Fight of the year
- Breakthrough fighter of the year
- Fighter of the year
SUBMISSION OF THE YEAR
3. Brandon Moreno vs Deiveson Figueiredo (UFC 263, June 2021)
It was one of the most highly anticipated rematches in recent memory following on from their fight of the year contender in 2020, but this fight was remembered for different reasons.
The first fight ended in a draw, but this one was pretty much dominated from start to finish by the challenger as Moreno claimed a victory in the third-round to become the first-ever Mexican born champion in the UFC.
Moreno went for a takedown and quickly transitioned to the back of Figueiredo before locking in a body-triangle and immediately going for the choke. The then-champion tried to defend it by fighting the hands but Moreno switched grips, got it under the chin and squeezed until he forced the tap. It was a brilliant performance, capped off by a brilliant submission.
2. Jacare Souza vs ANDRE MUNIZ (UFC 262, May 2021)
This fight was deemed a very interesting one by MMA fans around the world because it was two world-renowned grapplers going head-to-head.
Jacare was well known as one of the best grapplers in the sport, but Muniz was a jiu-jitsu specialist in his own right and the question marks were about whether he would be able to secure a submission in his specialist world and what would happen if he couldn’t. We didn’t have to wait long for an answer.
Muniz initiated the grappling exchange and when he took the fight to the ground he scrambled in a way to trap the arm of Jacare in an awkward position. When Jacare didn’t move, he simply snapped his arm with a sickening thud and earned the first-round win. It was new and incredible, and earns the number two spot for the year.
1. Rodolfo Vieira vs ALEXANDER HERNANDEZ, (UFC 258, February 2021)
So when you watch the clip, you’ll see a straight up guillotine choke and think, ‘why is this the submission of the year?!’ but it needs some back-story to truly understand what happened.
Rodolfo Vieira is one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world. He has the nickname ‘The Black Belt Hunter’ because it’s what he does for a living, he submits other high level black belts in submission tournaments. So when he took purple belt Hernandez to the ground early in their fight, it should’ve been all over.
Instead Hernandez survived, got back to his feet and put a beating on an exhausted Vieira for the rest of the round. The second round started, Vieira was basically out on his feet so Hernandez beat him up a little more and then tapped out the legendary grappler himself. A genuinely insane victory and one that will go down in history as the best submission of 2021.