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
FIGHT OF THE YEAR
3. Petr Yan vs Cory Sandhagen (UFC 267, October 2021)
A fight that was thrown together at short notice for the interim bantamweight championship back in October served up a thriller in Abu Dhabi.
Yan and Sandhagen went head-to-head in a bout that saw each man have their moments, but ultimately it was the Russian fighter who saw gold wrapped around his waist at the end of a 25-minute war of pure technical striking ability.
There was a mix of wrestling in there too as both contenders showed every facet of mixed martial arts is important. It was a really excellent fight and while it probably lacked moments where the fight looked like it was going to end, it was a great example of a world class MMA fight.
2. Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez (UFC Vegas 42, November 2021)
A main event bout that lived up to it’s billing between two of the very best featherweights in the world today.
Max Holloway took this fight after his title shot got delayed, and Rodriguez was making his first appearance in almost two years but it was one of the most exciting fights of the year.
Both fighters consistently threw fire at each other, with both taking plenty of damage and producing moments that would have ended the fight against a lesser opponent. On this occasion Holloway was forced to use his superior wrestling in the latter rounds to secure a victory, before both men took a trip to the hospital together.
A fight that had you on the edge of your seat for the full 25-minutes, it won’t be forgotten any time soon.
1. Justin Gaethje vs Michael Chandler (UFC 268, November 2021)
A lightweight banger that somehow exceeded expectations of the fans despite many calling it the fight of the year before it even happened.
Both men knew that a win would likely see them granted the next title shot at 155lbs and both men promised fireworks – and boy did they deliver.
It was a fight that saw both guys swinging for the fences from the opening minute and connecting, but their chin and willpower held out for a full 15-minutes for Gaethje to go the distance. It was a fight that you can watch any time for entertainment, even knowing the result.
The fight of the year by quite a distance, but arguably one of the best fights of all-time too.