Year End Record: 189-108-6
A new year dawns, 2016 has just ended. What a year it has been for the UFC and fans alike. Exceptional shows and amazing fights that has culminated in another successful year for the best MMA organisation in the world. The ownership traded hands late in the year but the excitement inside the octagon remained the same. UFC 207 was the final showcase of the year and now with its climax I can begin my review of the past years fighting. Unfortunately, I only started previewing and predicting the outcome of events half way through the year; my first being Fight Night 89 in June, therefore I have only taken into account fights from that point on. So you will understand why my Fight of The Year doesn’t have Carlos Condit and Robbie Lawler from UFC 195 or why Michael Bisping knocking out Luke Rockhold isn’t considered for my Knockout of the Year. But before I get to announce the winners I’ll give you a slight recap into my year of previewing.
Like I said beforehand, I only started blogging mid-way through the year, in that time frame I have broken down 303 fights and from those predictions I have compiled a final record of 189-108-6. To break that down again; my Prelim record is 104-67-4; my main card record is 85-41-2 while I also correctly predicted the way a main card fight would finish 44 times. Furthermore, I correctly tipped 13 bets and a simple ten euro bet on each of them would have given you a healthy profit of E406.50. Not bad for seven months work but I’ve high hopes for 2017- a much better record and a far healthier bank balance, not to mention the holy grail of correctly prediction each and every fight on the card. Finally I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has read and engaged with my blog, I truly appreciate it, wishing you all a happy and successful new year.
FIGHTER OF THE YEAR (MALE)
So many options with so many fighters really putting on standout performances time and time again. “Cowboy” Cerrone stepped up to welterweight and has dominated his new division wining four fights in quick succession. Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson has continued his rise up the lightweight ladder by extending his winning streak to nine. Max Holloway ended another impressive year by claiming the UFC featherweight interim belt. And of course we have the exceptional performances of Conor McGregor who made history by being the first man to hold two belts in two weight divisions, a feat that may never again be achieved. But for me, my Fighter of the Year was a man that began 2016 outside the Top 15 before bulldozing through three opponents, knocking each out in the first round and then demanding a title shot while also creating a bitter rivalry in the process. That man is Cody “No Love” Garbrandt, who at UFC 207 did what no one believed he could do and dethrone Dominick Cruz to claim the bantamweight belt. It wasn’t just the fact he beat Cruz, it was the manner in which he did, making an extraordinary athlete look ordinary. An amazing finish to a fantastic year for “No Love”.
Winner: Cody Garbrandt
FIGHTER OF THE YEAR (FEMALE)
2016 has been another outstanding year for women’s MMA. With Ronda Rousey on the side-lines, two women picked up the mantle to become the greatest in their respective divisions. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is the undefeated Strawweight champion who has cruised past everyone put in front of her. Twice this year she defended her belt, firstly beating Claudia Gadelha at the Ultimate fighter Finale and then repeating the process in a five round war with her Polish compatriot Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 205. Joanna Champion is one of the elite in WMMA but her achievements this year have only been bettered by one women and she is; Amanda Nunes. Nunes shocked everyone at UFC 200 when she destroyed Miesha Tate so easily to become the women’s bantamweight champion. Tate is an outstanding wrestler and was expected to smoother Nunes for the duration of the fight but Nunes was too quick and too smart as she picked Tate apart in one round. For her first defence Nunes could have opted for an easier fight but she insisted on welcoming Ronda Rousey back, believing she could beat her and then doing just that in a mere 48 seconds at UFC 207, to cap of an amazing year for the Brazilian.
Winner: Amanda Nunes
FIGHT OF THE YEAR
We have been blessed with so many intriguing fights this year. Match making has been phenomenal by Joe Silva; who has now sadly retired. UFC 202 brought us the rematch between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor that lived up to its billing as both men fought tirelessly for 25 minutes that resulted in the “Notorious” getting his hand raised. Next we had UFC 205 where newly crowned champion Tyron Woodley defended his belt against the number one contender Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. “Wonderboy” entered the octagon as the betting favourite and was expected to finish him early but instead what unfolded was both men going hell for leather for five rounds. Woodley was mistakenly announced the winner before it was corrected to a draw with the champion retaining his belt. But for me, my Fight of the Year happened at UFC 206 between Cub Swanson and Doo Ho Choi. When I previewed this fight I said that Swanson would be a tough task but I expected Ho Choi to continue his rise and cruise to victory. Instead what played out was the most amazing three rounds I have witnessed in God knows how long. Both these fighters traded shots non-stop and despite being pushed to the limits neither man gave up. Swanson was a worthy winner that night, he out struck Do Choi but both men certainly left with their heads held high.
Winner: Swanson vs. Do Choi
KNOCKOUT OF THE YEAR
One of the reasons we all love to watch combat sports is for the big KO. Seeing one, big unexpected punch change a contest is thrilling and some of the big hitters this year have been brutal. At UFC on FOX 21, Paige VanZant made her return against Bec Rawlings, after a back and forth first round Rawlings came out swinging in the second only for VanZant to counter with the neatest of switch kicks to the cranium that sent Rawlings crashing to the mat. Another sensational finish this year was produced by “Cowboy” Cerrone, who put Matt Brown to sleep at UFC 206, the knockout was made more impressive by the perfectly timed ‘walk off’ as Brown collapsed to the canvas. One of my highlights of the year was being at UFC Belfast and seeing Abdul Razak Alhassan put on a clinic against Charlie Ward. Perhaps it was because I was only a few rows away from the octagon or that the arena was half empty at this stage but each shot that connected with Ward sounded incredibly violent. Alhassan connected several times before the ref had seen enough and Ward was left stumbling back to his feet. Any of these KO’s could have easily won my Knockout of the Year had it not been for the one man wrecking ball that is “Rumble” Johnson. At UFC 202 Johnson squared off against another knockout artist in the shape of Glover Teixeira, fireworks were expected and they dually followed. Only 13 seconds into the first round and Johnson connected with the cleanest of right hands that sent Teixeira crashing to the mat. End Game.
Winner: Rumble Johnson
SUBMISSION OF THE YEAR
Few things are sweeter than seeing a perfectly placed submission lock in and a fighter flapping helplessly as they give in and tap or pass out. There have been a few standouts this year like Tony Ferguson snatching a D’Arce choke on newcomer Lando Vannata or submission specialist Damien Maia displaying yet another master class as he forced Carlos Condit to tap. But my favourite, partially because I correctly predicted this outcome, was Josh Barnett forcing Andrei Arlovski to tap for the first time in his career. These men headlined Fight Night 93 in Hamburg, Germany and were evenly matched throughout before late in the third round the fight collapsed to the ground. From there, Barnett a veteran of 43 fights, seized the opportunity and latched onto a rear naked choke making Andrei Arlovski tap. Perfectly set up and perfectly locked in, leaving Arlovski no other option but to quit.
Winner: Josh Barnett
STORY OF THE YEAR
There have been many interesting stories this year regarding the UFC from Conor McGregor’s “retirement” to Brock Lesnar making a return at UFC 200. Then there was the high point for the UFC finally getting to put on a show in New York and the lowest point of Jon Jones career as he was banned once again. But the biggest story of the year has to go to the ‘needle mover’, “Notorious” Conor McGregor and his record breaking feat of holding two belts simultaneously. The Irishman talks a lot but he backs it up. He said before entering the UFC he would achieve this goal and he did and in style. Despite being stripped of the featherweight belt the shine hasn’t been taken from what he has achieved and his name will forever remain in the record books.
Winner: Dual weight champion Conor McGregor
BREAKTHROUGH FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
There have been some interesting UFC debuts this year most notably by the outspoken Mike Perry, who to his credit backed up when knocking out Hyun Gyu Lim and Danny Roberts in quick succession. Undefeated Englishman Marc Diakiese made his octagon bow this year, impressing when winning twice in two months. But my Breakthrough Fighter of the Year goes to Mickey Gall. A year ago he was on the local circuit and no one knew him until he appeared on Dana White’s “Looking for a Fighter” series and begged to fight CM Punk. Upon winning his octagon debut, his wish was granted. At UFC 203, Gall took full advantage of his skills and choked CM Punk out within two minutes of the first round. In his post-fight interview, he didn’t hesitate in then calling out the UFC’s golden boy; Sage Northcutt and when they both met at UFC on Fox 22, Gall didn’t mess about and ensured he made Northcutt tap in round two. Gall is only 24 and has a big future, he certainly has talent but he also knows how to use his mouth wisely when a microphone is put in front of him. An exciting 2017 is in store for Mickey Gall.
Winner: Mickey Gall
EVENT OF THE YEAR
We have been spoilt with amazing fight cards this year. From the memorable UFC 200; gold octagon and all to the incredible UFC 202 in August and plenty of fantastic Fight Night cards but the most memorable one for me was UFC 205. The first card to be held in New York City, a city steeped in fighting history and top to bottom, probably the greatest piece of matchmaking in UFC history. Any of these fights could have easily headlined an event itself, so powerful was the main card that Khabib Nurmagomedov and Michael Johnson was played out on the prelims. The main card slots were taking over by three title fights; Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Karolina Kowalkiewicz battled for the five rounds, Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson then followed suit and finally Conor McGregor dethroned Eddie Alvarez in two rounds to claim the lightweight belt. One of the greatest cards ever to be put together and we could be waiting a long time for it to be beaten.
Winner: UFC 205
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