2017 gave us some massive fights – Jon Jones took on Daniel Cormier to win back the title he never lost, TJ Dillashaw and Cody Gardbant finally threw down, Max Holloway finally cemented himself as the true king of the Featherweight division and the legend that is Georges St-Pierre returned to become the fourth UFC fighter to win belts at multiple weight classes – And this was just from the UFC – Other promotions that killed it this year include Bellator, Cage Warriors and KSW.
MMAThread’s staff have all come together and agreed that the following fighters should receive these awards.
FCC or Full Contact Contender is a relatively small regional promotion, but in late 2017 the promotion got a massive amount of publicity thanks to an incredible submission pulled off by Manchester’s Jonno Mears – Mears entered his second pro fight coming off a TKO win over Will Cairns in his first pro outing – but it was on this September evening in the Macron Stadium in Bolton where he would cement his name in MMA history forever – Mears pulled off a Boston Crab, or as some would remember it has “The Walls of Jerrico”, becoming an instant viral sensation in doing so, the submission brought back many memories for people who used to enjoy the golden days of the WWF/E – The submission is a first in MMA, and incredibly difficult to pull off.
Paul Daley is a knockout artist, that is something most MMA fans will know, but normally he gets the KO with his fists, not this time around! Instead after being stalled on the cage wall, Daley managed to catch a break and then came running with a brutal jumping knee that knocked out Brennan Ward cold – Ward is now scarred for life!
Picking the KO of the year was a very tough choice, which so many brutal knockouts this year – but it was Daley’s KO early on in the year that continues to stick out.
Rise of the Year
There have been many fighters in 2017 who have stood out from the crowd, but none as loud or as hard as N’Gannou. Although only fighting twice in 2017, N’Gannou has turned from contender to challenger and could be one of the biggest challenges for heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic to date – N’Gannou started the year off with a literal bang by TKO’ing former champion Andrei Arlovski, he then finished out the year with a massive knockout win over Alistair Overeem in a fight which would earn him a shot at UFC gold. In between these fights N’Gannou has made Las Vegas and the UFC Performance Centre his new home, living, eating and breathing MMA.
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Posted by BT Sport on Saturday, 30 December 2017
Fall of the Year
Bisping had the year of his life in 2016, he defeated former Middleweight Champion and UFC legend Anderson Silva in London, before replacing Chris Weidman on three weeks notice to take on Luke Rockhold – the fight with Rockhold was for all the marbles, after so many years of fighting Bisping finally got his UFC title shot and he took it with both hands, he knockout Rockhold in the first to not only avenge a loss but to become the UK’s first UFC Champion. He then ended 2016 with a win over former rival Dan Henderson to avenge a devastating knockout years earlier.
2017 was the polar opposite to such an amazing 2017 for Bisping – Bisping was out injured for the start of 2017, then in March we heard rumours of a potential matchup against a returning GSP, that fight was eventually called off and Bisping was again sidelined, in this time Australian standout Robert Whittikar became the new Interim Champion after taking out Yoel Romero. Bisping would finally return to the Octagon in November after a year away he was to finally take on Georges St-Pierre, GSP dominated much of the fight and submitted Bisping in the third round – Just three weeks later Bisping, not one to shy away from an opportunity, took on Kelvin Gastelum as a late minute replacement after Anderson Silva was removed due to a flagged USADA test. At 2 minutes 30 seconds of round one Bisping’s lights were shut out by Gastelum, marking an end to a miserable 2017 for the Brit. Bisping still refused to retire, and here’s hoping we see him back on the winning side of things in 2018.
Male Fighters of the Year
Since Max Holloway lost to Conor McGregor back in 2013 he has gone on a 10 fight winning streak, tearing through the Featherweight division to get to the goal, a shot at the UFC Featherweight Title. The fight wouldn’t be a rematch with McGregor of course, McGregor was stripped of the Featherweight Title in late 2016 after winning the Lightweight Title – Instead Jose Aldo had once again reclaimed his spot as the king of the division, something Holloway was keen to put an end to, Holloway came into the fight the Interim Champion, winning the title back in 2016 against Anthony Pettis. In June 2017 Aldo and Holloway faced off to unify the division, after some early back and forth, Holloway put away Aldo in the 3rd round to become the Undisputed Champion.
Holloway was scheduled to face off against Frankie Edgar in his first title defence on December 2nd, however, Edgar became injured and former champion Jose Aldo was brought in as a replacement – this second fight played out much the same as the first and Holloway again put Aldo away in the 3rd to cement himself as the number one Featherweight. 2018 should be a bright year for Holloway, we expect him to face off with Edgar.
Female Fighter of the Year
Thug Rose! Thug Rose! Thug Rose! – That’s all the word Daniel Cormier could muster up after Rose Namajunas pulled off the almost unthinkable in 2017, she stopped reigning Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Rose started that year with a submission over Michelle Waterson to become the number one contender, before finally taking on the Champion in the latter half of 2017. Rose dominated Joanna forcing her to tap to strikes and become the new Strawweight Champion – Rose’s post-fight interview will be one of the most standout moments of 2017, not for being controversial, but for being so humble.
One to Watch
Before Till took on Donald Cerrone in October, many Welterweights were asking just who this guy was, well after he dominated the always durable Cowboy, stopping him in the first round during their showdown in Poland, there was very little doubt that everyone knew who he was now! Darren Till has now put the entire Welterweight division on notice as he looks to establish himself as a top contender in 2018.
Till is undefeated and a very hard hitter, he is definitely a fighter to keep an eye on during 2018, don’t be surprised if he fights for a title before the end of the year, or will at the very least earn a shot by the end of the year.
Gym of the Year
Next Generation MMA – Liverpool
Next Generation based out of Liverpool is home to fighters such as Chris Fishgold, Paddy Pimblett and Molly McCann, it is also the home for many upcoming amateur talents. – 2017 has been a great year for the gym, Chris Fishgold returned to the cage at Cage Warriors 88 to defeat Alexander Jacobson, defending his title for the third time and the year was topped off when Molly McCann was named as Cage Warriors Fighter of the Year – 2018 is looking to be a big year as it may potentially see several fighters from the gym moving on to the UFC.
Conor McGregor vs Georges St-Pierre
Conor McGregor had just one fight in 2017, and it wasn’t even in the Octagon, he has yet to defend his 155lb title and many are calling him to be stripped, which is why this fight prediction makes the most sense. GSP made his UFC return, submitting Michael Bisping to become the Middleweight Champion, he soon vacated the title and will drop back to Welterweight (170lbs).
McGregor is now all about the money fight, and it would take one big offer to lure him back, the only true money fight to be made would be a showdown with GSP – It is why this prediction (and it is just that, a prediction) suggests that Conor will be stripped of the belt and Khabib and Ferguson will fight for the unified Lightweight Title in March.
Cyborg was a serious consideration for the female Fighter of the Year award, Cyborg’s biggest fight in 2017 was with the UFC and the way the promotion was mistreating her, at one point pleading with the UFC to just let her fight – She was finally supposed to fight for the 145lb title, but her opponent Germaine de Randamie refused to fight her, branding her a cheat – for this refusal the UFC stripped Randamie and this is where things finally started to look up for Cyborg, she fought Tonya Evinger in July to finaly get the title she’d long been yerning for – Cyborg’s time is NOW!. To top of her tremendous year Cyborg dominated Holy Holm to a decision win at UFC 119, Cyborg showed she isn’t just a big hitter, she stuck to a game plan and proved that she is an all-around fighter. 2018 is already set to be another big year for the Brazilian, word is that she’ll take on Amanda Nunes next in a super fight.
Might Mouse is clearly the number one pound for pound fighter in the world, he has been such a dominant fighter and in 2017 he made UFC history – he officially defended his Flyweight title 11 times, surpassing the 10 title defences made by former Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. It was during this title defense, Mighty Mouse decided to remind everyone just why he’s one of the greatest fighters to ever step inside the Octagon, in the 5th round of his title match against Ray Borg, he suplexed Borg and quickly (in mid-air) transition into what can only be described as one of the best armbars you will ever see.
Congratulations to all the winners and heres hoping 2018 is a big year for MMA.