REAL COMBAT MEDIA 2016 ‘MMA FIGHTER OF THE YEAR AWARD’
Las Vegas, NV (January 5th, 2016)– In 2016, there was many changes in mma. The UFC changed ownership from Zuffa to WME-IMG and many championships turned hands during this year. Overall the sport grew more than any other year and the sport finally became mainstream and left their niche status. 2016 will be remembered as the turning point for what is to come in the future. Here are the best mma fighters of 2016. The list is based on difficulty of the opposition and overall success during the year.
Donald Cerrone (32-7) has been on a tear since losing his title fight in 2016 to Rafael dos Anjos in 2015. In 2016, Cowboy decided to enter the 170lbs. division and won all 4 fights at 170lbs. Not only he won 4 fights, he defeated all quality welterweights by stoppage including Alex Oliveira, Patrick Cote, Rick Story and most recently Matt Brown by head kick stoppage. In 2017, look for Cerrone to contend for a 170lb title and fight a couple of contenders before being granted a title shot.
Amanda Nunes (14-4) had an outstanding year defeated two of the most popular women fighters in mma history in. In May, Nunes defeated Valentina Shevchenko. Then at UFC 200 in July, she dominated Miesha Tate by winning by submission in the first round. Then at UFC 207 she defeated Ronda Rousey in just 48 seconds. Valentina Shevchenko is scheduled to fight Juliana Pena on January 28th and the winner will most likely get a shot at Amanda’s 135lb. crown.
Tony Ferguson (22-3) had an excellent 2016 campaign at 155lbs. Ferguson defeated Lando Vannata by submission and defeated the ex lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos by unanimous decision. Ferguson has won 9 fights in a row since 2012. In 2017, Ferguson may fight undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov and the winner may fight the 155lbs champion Conor McGregor.
Max Holloway (17-3) has won 10 fights in a row and picked up a UFC 145lb. Interim title. In 2016 Max defeated former 155lbs champ Anthony Pettis by TKO to win his belt and defeated Ricardo Lamas by unanimous decision. In 2017, Max looks to fight for the UFC title at 145 against either Jose Aldo or Frankie Edgar. There is also a small chance he will get to avenge his last loss from Conor McGregor that happened in 2013. He is one of the only fighters to take Conor McGregor the distance in the UFC.
Conor McGregor (21-3) had an interesting 2015. He started the year challenging for the 155lb crown. However Rafael dos Anjos, the champion at the time, pulled out of the fight with a leg injury. On just 10 days notice, Nate Diaz accepted the fight and defeated McGregor by 2nd round submission at 170lbs. After McGregor lost for the first time in the UFC, he immediately rematched Diaz and defeated him by a close decision in July. After defeating Diaz, he challenged for the 155lb. crown again and defeated Eddie Alvarez by 2nd round TKO where he knocked down the champ 4 times. In 2017, Conor is expected to have his first child and take time off. Conor may challenge the 170lbs champ Tyron Woodley for a 3rd belt or challenge Khabib Nurmagomedov and defend his 155lb title. There is also a remote chance that Conor may fight Floyd Mayweather in 2017 in a lucrative boxing match. At the moment, the sport’s largest draw has plenty of options in the new year.
Stipe Miocic (16-2) has been one of the big surprises of 2016. Miocic upset Fabricio Werdum by Ko in May and also knocked out Alistair Overeem and Andrei Arlovski. He definitely had one of the best years for a heavyweight in UFC history and won 4 fights in a row for the year. In 2017, look for Miocic to defend his title against Werdum after Cain Velasquez just had surgery and will be out for much of the year.
Michael Bisping (30-7) has had an amazing late career resurgence at age 37. In 2016, he picked up his first UFC title when he avenged his loss to Luke Rockhold at 185lbs and knocked him out in just one round. In February Bisping defeated the legend Anderson Silva in an amazing back and forth battle in the UK. Then in October he avenged his highlight reel UFC 100 KO loss to Dan Henderson, which was also a very close battle. In 2017, look for Bisping to defend his title against the explosive Yoel Romero or give Luke Rockhold a rematch to finish their trilogy. There has also been some talk of possible super fights with George St. Pierre or Tyron Woodley at a catch weight of 180lbs. Bisping was named fighter of the year on many mma media outlets including ESPN.
Cody Garbrandt (11-0) had an historic 2016 with 4 wins. In 2016, Cody finished Augusto Mendes, Thomas Almeida, Takeya Mizugaki and defeated Dominick Cruz by unanimous decision. The win over Cruz was one of the most impressive performances in recent UFC history. Cody used his amateur boxing to create excellent counter punching to outclass Cruz. Cody was the first fighter to defeat Cruz since 2007 and that impressive accomplishment gives Cody the Real Combat Media MMA Fighter of the Year in 2016. In 2017, look for Garbrandt to defend his title against his former Team Alpha Male teammate, TJ Dillashaw and give Dominick Cruz a rematch.
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