UFC End Of The Year Awards for 2017

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2017 has been a wild ride. As a UFC fan, you couldn’t have asked for more; from shocking upsets to straight out slugfests, the fans were treated to some of the most incredible action. So as 2017 winds down, we wanted to look back and celebrate the sweet science that is the fight game.

Call it natural disaster, or sweet chaos – mixed martial arts evokes strong emotions, primarily due to the fact that it caters to our most primitive, and intrinsic side. The evolution of the fight game has been a fascinating one, and as fight fans, we appreciate the skills possessed by some of the most dangerous men and women on the planet.

We had also asked the fans to vote for their favourites, during our End Of The Year Awards. Below are the results from the polls, along with our picks.

Knockout Of The Year 

Category Fan Pick Staff Pick
Knockout Of The Year  Francis Ngannou vs. Alistair Overeem  Francis Ngannou vs. Alistair Overeem

There has been a consensus among everyone when it comes to the Knockout Of The Year. Who can forget the arching uppercut by Ngannou, almost separating Overeem’s soul from his body, sending him flying to the mat? The stiffened legs, the unconscious carcass, and Ngannou’s roar, reverberating throughout the arena was a statement — a statement of intent, as Ngannou inched closer toward the heavyweight strap.

There have been other memorable knockouts in 2017, but at the end of the day, the one image the fans will remember, will be of Ngannou’s left hand lifting Overeem off his feet, and the former K – 1 World Grand Prix World Champion left counting stars, flat on his back.

Male Fighter Of The Year 

 Category Fan Pick Staff Pick
Male Superstar Of The Year Max Holloway Max Holloway
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – JUNE 03: Max Holloway celebrates after his TKO victory over Jose Aldo of Brazil in their UFC featherweight championship bout during the UFC 212 event at Jeunesse Arena on June 3, 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

“It is what it is”.

If we had to predict the next “Who the fook is that guy?” of 2018, it has to be Max Holloway’s go – to catchphrase. The current UFC Featherweight Champion realised his dreams of becoming a champion, by dethroning arguably the greatest featherweight in the history of UFC.

Jose Aldo has been a broken man, since his defeat at the hands of Conor McGregor, but Holloway defeated the Brazilian not once, but twice in the same year! While we had the likes of Rafael dos Anjos and Demetrious Johnson that have dominated their respective divisions in 2017, Max is the undisputed Male Fighter Of The Year.

Female Fighter Of The Year 

 Category Fan Pick Staff Pick
Female Superstar Of The Year Rose Namajunas Rose Namajunas

In the UFC, there have been two dominant champions, that had cleaned their respective divisions. While Ronda’s luck ran out in 2015, Joanna ran into the one fighter she failed to break before they stepped inside the Octagon.

Rose Namajunas took everything Joanna threw at her leading up to their showdown, and once both of them were locked inside the cage, it was “Thug Rose” that planted doubts inside her opponent’s head. Years of hard work, perseverance and battling adversity finally led to Namajunas walking out with championship gold, and she did that while dethroning arguably the most dominant women’s champion in MMA history!

Needless to say, this pick was a no – brainer.

Breakout Star Of The Year 

 Category Fan Pick Staff Pick
Breakout Star Of The Year Francis Ngannou Volkan Oezdemir

Now this is where the fan pick and the staff pick differed. While there is no doubt in anyone’s mind, that Francis absolutely dominated in his fights, Volkan Oezdemir quietly rose up the ranks, and will be fighting for the UFC Light Heavyweight title in January 2018.

There are similarities between Ngannou and Oezdemir. Both men have quickly risen up the ranks, and will be fighting for the title next. Both men have the “touch of death”, with their power shots knocking out their opponents. Oezdemir has been on an absolute tear, knocking his opponents out cold, and was our pick for the Breakout Star Of The Year for 2017.

Fight Of The Year 

 Category Fan Pick Staff Pick
Fight Of The Year Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje Michael Johnson vs. Justin Gaethje

Firstly, the fights between Yancy Medeiros – Alex Oliveira and Eddie Alvarez – Justin Gaethje deserve to make the list. However, just the sheer brutality between Gaethje and Michael Johnson forced us to name it the Fight Of The Year.

Gaethje came to the UFC with a lot of expectations, and more importantly, a lot of hype. The self proclaimed “Most Violent Man” had to live up to the tag, and boy did he ever! Gaethje bulldozed his way through Johnson, while Michael didn’t hold anything back either.

One man had to go down, and it was Michael Johnson that broke first.

Comeback Of The Year 

 Category Fan Pick Staff Pick
Comeback Of The Year Darren Elkins vs. Mirsad Bektic Darren Elkins vs. Mirsad Bektic
Mar 4, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Darren Elkins (blue gloves) reacts after submitting Mirsad Bektic (not pictured) during their bout at UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena. Elkins won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The fight between Elkins and Bektic was spectacular for two reasons – Elkins took a brutal beating for two rounds, and the fight was nearly stopped on a couple of occasions. Secondly, the tattoo on Elkin’s chest (as grotesque as it may be) actually predicted Elkin’s ability to take severe damage, only to return from the brink of death!

Elkins, who many believed would be stopped in the third round, turned things around in spectacular fashion, and won the fight by TKO! The image of a blood – soaked Darren Elkins almost in tears, roaring at the cameras will be something that the fight fans won’t forget anytime soon.

Submission Of The Year 

 Category Fan Pick Staff Pick
Submission Of The Year Mouse trap Mouse trap

At first, we wanted to go for the Ezekiel Choke, purely because of its rarity, and the difficulty in executing it. But it was hard to ignore the artistic nature in which Demetrious Johnson – someone that is considered to be the pound for pound “G.O.A.T” – executed the flying armbar during his fight with Ray Borg.

There is a reason why DJ has been undefeated for many years, and the current UFC Flyweight Champion has virtually cleaned the flyweight division. While there was also the Calf Slicer, and OSP’s almost patented Von Flue Choke, the spectacular fashion in which DJ suplexed Borg, and caught him in mid – air will be something that will not likely be replicated again.

Upset Of The Year

 Category Fan Pick Staff Pick
Upset Of The Year Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk Josh Emmett vs. Ricardo Lamas

Finally, there have been a couple of fights that truly shocked the MMA world. From Rose Namajunas beating Joanna to win the UFC Strawweight Championship, to Brian Ortega submitting Cub Swanson – thereby effectively ending Cub’s dreams of fighting Holloway next, we witnessed some memorable upsets.

However, the biggest of the lot has to be Josh Emmett’s defeat of Ricardo Lamas. “Bully” was the first big test for Josh in the UFC, and while Emmett did not do himself any favours by coming in over the weight limit, he certainly made the most of his opportunity, by knocking out the veteran.

In doing so, Josh leapfrogged his way up the top 15 rankings, and now finds himself ranked at number 5, from being unranked before the Lamas fight. That, if anything, is an upset!

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