The 2017 MMA Awards

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2017 had its ups and downs for the world of MMA. We saw a historic title defense streak broken, a return of an All-Time legend, and an MMA fighter reach mainstream notoriety like never accomplished before. Our staff looked over the year, and voted for winners of a series of awards Here is our 2017 MMA awards winners.

 

2016 Awards Winners

Fighter of the Year: Amanda Nunes

Fight of the Year: Cub Swanson vs Doo Ho Choi

Knock Out of the Year: Lando Vannata Knockout of John Makdessi

Submission of the Year: Nate Diaz Rear Naked Choke of Conor McGregor

Event of the Year: UFC 206

Upset of the Year: Michael Bisping Over Luke Rockhold

Breakthrough Fighter of the Year: Cody Garbrandt

 

2017 The MMA Takeover Awards

 

The Story of the Year: Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor Boxing Match

Written by Jordan Carroll.

Last August, combat sports fans were treated to a spectacle like no other we’ve ever seen before. UFC lightweight champion and undoubtedly mixed martial arts biggest star, Conor Mcgregor crossed over into another world when he took on legendary multiple time boxing world champion, Floyd Mayweather Jr. We at TheMMATakeover voted this as our storyline of the year, and here is why.

This fight was rumored for quite some time, with some back a forth (via the media) between the two dating as far back as early 2016. Mcgregor famously called out Mayweather at the UFC 205 pre-fight press conference, saying that he may “have to drag Floyd Mayweather out of bed” after his fight against Eddie Alvarez. Well, Mcgregor dismantled Alvarez in November of 2016, and that’s where it really began. Mayweather, after having completely dismissed the sport of MMA as well as the idea of a fight against Mcgregor, was finally beginning to engage in some jabbing at Mcgregor and speaking about MMA as a legitimate sport.  We had hope. Maybe, just maybe… Bang! The announcement seemingly came out of nowhere. UFC president Dana White made an appearance on Sportscenter to let the world know that the two biggest names in combat sports would be standing across the ring from one another in just a couple months time. The hypothetical dream match was a reality, the imagining and fantasizing had turned into analyzing and predicting. We had a bona fide super fight.

The build-up was incredible. As the anticipation mounted, the debating began. “Conor won’t land a punch”, “Floyd will toy with Conor Mcgregor”, “Mcgregor doesn’t get out of the first round”. These were all very popular opinions among the boxing purists of the world. “Conor has a puncher’s chance”, “all he needs to land is one left hand”, “Floyd is 40 years old, he shouldn’t be boxing anyone”. All popular arguments among Mcgregor’s army of fans. Mcgregor got the better of the trash talk as expected, but I’m not sure how many people really believed he had a shot. As an MMA fan first, I was rooting for Mcgregor myself, but if I’m being honest I never had a lot of faith that he could compete with arguably the greatest boxer of all time. Then the fight happened. Mcgregor had an active first round and even landed a big uppercut clean on the chin of Floyd Mayweather.  He was the busier of the two athletes for the first four rounds, with a lot of spectators even giving him all four. As the fight progressed, Mcgregor slowed down and Mayweather sped up. Mayweather really began to take control in the sixth and seventh rounds. Round eight was an anomaly, as Mcgregor seemed to catch a second wind and arguably won the round. Round nine was all “Money” Mayweather and the tenth was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Mayweather finally got the stoppage in the tenth and the two superstars showed respect for each other post-fight. The big takeaway was that an MMA fighter moved to boxing and took the best of this era all the way to the tenth round, even winning three to five rounds along the way. That’s a big deal no matter how you look at it. It was a spectacle, it didn’t make sense and it probably never should have happened. In any case, both boxing and MMA are expected to provide a certain level of entertainment value. Mayweather vs Mcgregor did that more so than any other fight in 2017. It offered countless headlines, funny quotes and a shocking product on fight night. For these reasons, we at TheMMATakeover didn’t have a very hard time picking this as our story of the year, as it seems pretty obvious to us.

Others Receiving Votes: Return of Georges St. Pierre, Jon Jones USADA Violation

 

The Fighter of the Year: Max Holloway

Written by Jason Powers.

Despite beating the same guy in his two fights of 2017, Holloway is our Fighter of the Year. Why? Because the fighter he beat twice is José Aldo. You know, the best featherweight of all-time! The only two fighters to make Aldo look ordinary are Conor McGregor and Max Holloway, and Holloway did it twice in spectacular fashion. Please don’t mistake Aldo for being washed-up because of what Holloway was able to do in both fights. Aldo rolled through Frankie Edgar in mid-2016 in between the McGregor and first Holloway fights. Aldo is one of the most technical fighters in the sport and Holloway just demolished him. Edgar, who was supposed to have the title shot at UFC 218, got injured and was replaced by Aldo for Aldo’s chance at redemption. Not only did the second title fight end with the same result and Holloway’s hand raised, it was an even more dominating performance than the first fight.

At just 26 years old, we may be looking at an “Aldo-esqe” run here for the current featherweight champion. Out of all the fighters who currently hold a belt in the UFC, who would you bank on having that same belt on January 1, 2019 and beyond? My money would be on Holloway. Out of all the fighters we debated over making our Fighter of the Year Holloway is also the one that I think could be represented here next year as well. He’s that talented and on the verge of dominance.

The UFC is in need of new stars with questions surrounding McGregor’s status and George St. Pierre returning for one fight at middleweight and quickly abandoning the belt. They may not have to look any further than their own featherweight division. He’s riding a 12-fight win streak with his last loss coming to McGregor in 2013, a loss he desperately wants to avenge. When asked about the origin of his nickname he said “It just came because of the things I was able to accomplish in the time I did, so my coach at the time simply said ‘You’re blessed, man.’ The nickname just stuck”. “Blessed” with a UFC belt at such a young age and possibly not even hitting his full potential yet. We are all excited to see what the future has in store.

Others Receiving Votes: Robert Whittaker, Volkan Oezdemir, Francis Ngannou, Rose Namajunas

 

Fight of the Year: Yancy Medeiros vs Alex “Cowboy” Oliviera

Written by Bryant Jenkins.

Heading into UFC 218, many thought that the fight would between Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje would be an All-Time great fight. The fight didn’t disappoint at all and was an All-Time great matchup, but it wasn’t even the best fight of the event A prelim fight on the card between Yancy Medeiros and Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira was. The fight was so good, it was voted our Fight of the Year.

From the opening bell, both competitors gave all they had to give for the fans. After a very brief gauging of distance, both seemed to decide to let go. Barely thirty seconds into the bout Cowboy would get dropped and the pace would be set. Throwing huge bombs, kicks, spinning attacks and knees in the clinch both displayed a wide range of striking technique. Not to mention the almost inhuman ability to absorb damage, and this was just the first round. Round two was more of the same as round one. With both fighters holding nothing back in an incredible striking display. The exception, Medeiros gaining mount from an attempted trip by Oliveira in the final minute of the round which lasted about twenty seconds. Round three finally showed a little groundwork from the pair with a slam from Oliveira to get it there. With some nice transitions and reversals from both before once again standing to trade. With Oliveira staggering backward, Medeiros unleashes a series of unanswered shots. After Cowboy falls to the canvas Medeiros pounces and the ref stops the fight just over two minutes into the final round. Oliveira vs. Medeiros is sure to be one of the greatest action fights you will come by in 2017 with both fighters showcasing heart and love for the sport.

 

Others Receiving Votes: Eddie Alvarez vs Justin Gaethje, Justin Gaethje vs Michael Johnson, Frank Camacho vs Damian Brown

 

Knockout of the Year: Francis Ngannou Knockout of Alistair Overeem

Written by Cory Groeneveld.

When it comes to MMA, there’s nothing more exciting than a big knockout. There were plenty of knockouts in the year 2017. Many that got us out of our seats and very excited. Although there was one that stood tall above all the rest. One that made our jaws hit the floor. One that blew up the internet and became an instant meme. One that left Joe Rogan completely silent and in awe when it happened. That, of course, was when Francis Ngannou knockout Alistair Overeem at UFC 218.
Going into the fight many people were still skeptical of Ngannou. Many were all sure Overeem was going to silent all the hype surrounding Ngannou. Ngannou put all doubters to rest with a first-round uppercut knockout that will be talked about for a long time. Ngannou will get to showcase his power again in a couple weeks when he takes on current heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. Can he get the best knockout of 2018?
Others Receiving Votes: Galore Bofando KO of Charlie Ward, Matt Brown KO of Diego Sanchez, Paul Daley KO of Brennan Ward

 

Submission of the Year: Demetrious Johnson Submission of Ray Borg

Written by Keith Shillan

There are moments in time when All-Time great athletes do something that we didn’t think was humanly impossible. These images are forever etched into our brains and remind us that these athletes are not mere mortal men. This might be Ken Griffey Jr climbing an outfield wall to rob a home run, Odell Beckham Jr looking like a Cirque de Soleil performer making a sideline catch, or Julius Erving with a windmill slam dunk over a defender. The MMA’s version of this moment is when Ray Borg being suplexed and immediately placed in an armbar as he hits the canvas by Demetrious Johnson at UFC 216. Johnson did the two moves almost simultaneously.  The fans nicknamed the move “the Mouse Trap” though Johnson calls the move “the Mighty Wiz Bar”.

Every time Demetrious Johnson steps inside the Octagon, you get to watch a fighter do things that nobody else on planet earth could. Johnson was looking to make history at UFC 216 by breaking the all-time title defense record. While most expect Johnson to get the win, nobody expected him to cap the historic fight with a move that is so unreal, you wouldn’t see it in a Hollywood movie.

There are few submissions that could qualify for greatest All-Time. Rumina Sato’s flying armbar, Ryo Chonan flying scissor heel hook, Toby Imada’s standing inverted triangle choke, all come to mind. Johnson’s “Mighty Wiz Bar” joins the debate, but there is no debate that it was the best submission of the year.

Others Receiving Votes: Brett Johns Submission of Joe Soto

 

Event of the Year: UFC 217

Written by Brandon Sibcy.

UFC 217 was a momentous event. The card kicked off with Ricardo Ramos defeating Aiemann Zahabi with a brutal spinning back elbow. Also on the prelims, Ovince St. Preux landed a thunderous head kick on Corey Anderson in the third round and James Vick and Joseph Duffy threw down until the end of the second when Vick picked up the T.K.O win. On the main card, the opening bout saw Paulo Costa steamroll former welterweight champion, Johny Hendricks en route to second round TKO.

The second fight featured Stephen Thompson putting on a striking clinic against Jorge Masvidal.

Then it was on to the three title fights. We witnessed “Thug” Rose Namajunas dethrone longtime strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk with ease to win the title and become MMA Takeover’s “upset of the year”. The long-awaited bantamweight grudge match between Cody Garbrandt and T.J. Dillashaw finally went down and was an exciting back and forth affair that culminated with Dillashaw knocking out Garbrandt in the second round.  And in the main event, Georges St-Pierre moved up to middleweight to take on champion Michael Bisping. Regardless of the layoff, St-Pierre looked great in dismantling Bisping to become one of the few fighters to win titles in two different weight classes.

With three title fights that resulted in three titles changing hands, and 9 out 11 fights ending by finish, UFC 217 was a card for the ages.

Others Receiving Votes: UFC 218, UFC 214

 

Upset of the Year: Rose Namajunas Win Over Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Written by Gary Brown.

The most shocking upset of 2017 was the upset of the strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. by Rose Namajunas. Jedrzejczyk was undefeated and on a 14 fight win streak, that spanned five years and several organizations. The champion had been dominant in her recent wins over Jessica Andrade, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Claudia Gadelha, and Valerie Letourneau. Many didn’t expect Namajunas to pose much of a threat to the champion even after coming off of her upset win against Michelle Waterson. Namajunas has always been considered to be a talented fighter, as far back as her days in the ultimate fighter house. Many saw the match between Jedrzejczyk and Namajunas as another example of how dominant the strawweight champion is and that she would continue to rule the division for some time. That all changed on November 4, 2017, when  Namajunas stopped the champion with strikes in 3:03 of round 1 with strikes.
Which makes this even more impressive is the fact that Jedrzejczyk has fought some of the hardest hitters in the division, walked them down, and defeated them. Jedrzejczyk tends to get better as the fight goes on, but in this fight, she did not have that opportunity. Namajunas was unphased by the pre-fight antics of the champion and she was even unphased by the questions of mental instability posed by the champion. While many feel that Namajunas is one of the more talented fighters in the division, the pundits did not feel that she would pose a significant enough threat to the champion at this stage of her career. This is why fights are fought in the cage and not in the social media stratosphere or the broadcast booth. Namajunas made the most of her opportunity. She used her length and unorthodox striking to catch the champion by surprise and capitalize on her opportunity and became the new women’s strawweight champion.
Others Receiving Votes: None

 

Breakthrough Fighter of the Year: Francis Ngannou

Written by Bruno Duarte

Our breakthrough fighter of the year is the man with the highest recorded punching power on the planet, Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou. For Ngannou (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC), 2017 was the year that cemented his name in the UFC heavyweight division where he beat two veterans of the sport.

Ngannou started the year by defeating Andrei Arlovski via TKO in what was a totally dominant performance. He was then supposed to fight Junior dos Santos but unfortunately, the Brazilian had to be pulled out from the fight due to an alleged USADA violation. Instead, Ngannou was given the opportunity to face the Dutch fighter, Alistair Overeem. Needless to say that Ngannou put on another incredibly dominant performance and scored one of the best knockouts seen to date in MMA where he landed a vicious uppercut punch. The knockout was voted by our staff as the best knockout of 2017.

It is safe to say that  Ngannou is now one of the most respected and popular heavyweights on the planet. Due to his dominance, the year of 2017 earned him a championship fight against the reigning champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 220.

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