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
KNOCKOUT OF THE YEAR
3. Weili Zhang vs ROSE NAMAJUNAS (UFC 261, April 2021)
One of the very best cards ever happened at UFC 261 in April, and the co-main event delivered one of the best knockouts of the year.
As Weili Zhang and Rose Namajunas met for what turn out to be the first time of the year, there was an expectation that ‘Thug Rose’ needed to use her speed as she was out-gunned in the power department by Zhang.
Just a little over a minute into the fight, that was proved both correct and incorrect with one move. Namajunas dipped a little before letting fly with a huge kick to the head that put her lights out! A couple of follow up came after but they were unnecessary, as Namajunas proved once again that she is the best.
2. KAMARU USMAN vs Jorge Masvidal (UFC 261, April 2021)
Two KO of the year contenders from the same card, one fight after the other? Yeah, that happened in 2021.
In a welterweight championship rematch between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal, the onus was on whether Masvidal could KO the champion or whether Usman would dominate him as he did in their first bout at UFC 251 the previous summer.
Considering Masvidal had only ever been stopped by KO once in his professional career up to that point, nobody expected the second round stoppage to come the way it did. Usman jabbed his head off all night, and then he used his left hand to move Masvidal’s blocking hands and then land a picture-perfect right hook that puts ‘Gamebred’ out cold.
It not only produced one of the moments of the year, it produced arguably the best photograph of the year and the second best knockout of 2021 too. Simply spectacular.
1. Dominick Reyes vs JIRI PROCHAZKA (UFC Vegas 25, May 2021)
The light heavyweight division isn’t as star-studded as it once was, but this fight was set up to deem who would be the next contender for the championship.
What ensued was a physical battle and a war for the ages, but it was Jiri Prochazka who made sure his name was on the right side of history with a stunning KO win. As he continued to walk his opponent down in Terminator-esque style, Prochazka hurt Reyes and had him up against the cage.
As both started exchanging, Prochazka measured an elbow that just missed before spinning with his other elbow and landing flush on the chin to put Reyes out cold. Reyes went down face first as Prochazka walked off, and will now fight Glover Teixeira for the strap in 2022 with the knockout of 2021 under his belt too.