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
FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
3. Ciryl Gane (3-0 in 2021)
It’s has been a great year for the heavyweight division and the man leading the charge for the new generation is none other than Ciryl Gane.
The undefeated Frenchman came into the year knowing that he had the opportunity to make a charge towards the top of the division and he took it with both hands.
He started the year by cruising to a decision win over the dangerous Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC Vegas 20, before yet another dominant display against Alexander Volkov got him into the top five of the rankings.
With the UFC keen to get a title fight for UFC 265, Gane stepped in to fight Derrick Lewis for the interim belt and seamlessly picked him apart for a vicious second-round knockout of ‘The Black Beast’.
3-0 against top contenders without barely a scratch, 2021 is the year ‘Bon Gamin’ really made an impression and he’ll get the chance to become the undisputed champion at UFC 270 against former teammate Francis Ngannou.
2. Charles Oliveira (2-0 in 2021)
It’s been one hell of a journey for Charles Oliveira but he finally made it to the top of the mountain this year and made sure nobody could question him.
After eight wins in a row, Oliveira got his chance at the undisputed title after Khabib’s retirement was confirmed and he took on Michael Chandler at UFC 262. After almost getting stopped in the first-round, ‘Du Bronx’ recovered and stopped Chandler himself with a crisp left-hook just seconds into the second round to claim the belt.
There were question marks over whether his reign was legitimate though because he didn’t beat the previous champion or number one contender to claim it, but a brilliant performance at UFC 269 saw him submit Dustin Poirier brilliantly to make sure all those doubts disappeared.
The best lightweight in the world, with two stoppage wins in title fights against against top competition, Oliveira had one hell of a 2021.
1. Kamaru Usman (3-0 in 2021)
How do you top top two stoppage wins in two title fights? You add another title fight victory to your tally for the year, duh.
That’s what Kamaru Usman did this year, to further separate himself from the pack at 170-pounds and put forward a legitimate claim to be the best welterweight of all-time.
A beautiful knockout win over Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 was quickly followed up by a stunning KO against rival Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261 to cement himself as the best in the world. He then capped off the year with a war against long-time rival Colby Covington in yet another rematch at UFC 268, where he earned a unanimous decision win once again to stretch his unbeaten streak in the UFC to a record 13.
Undoubtedly the pound-for-pound best fighter in the UFC currently, Usman had the best year of his career to date and takes the fighter of the year award.