This has been long overdue but unfortunately I never got around to writing this earlier. With the Covid-19 quarantine and self isolation I have found the time and motivation to write again.
It’s that time of year again, now that 2019 has passed us and we are well into 2020, we can reflect and look back at all the great moments and memories has brought us in the world of mixed martial arts. This sport constantly provides shocking results, news, and highlights and 2019 was no different. I have put a lot of consideration into my list of MMA awards for the year. I have broken down the awards into two categories and will be written into two articles. The first will be 5 MMA awards dedicated to the fighters. and the second article will be dedicated to 5 MMA awards for specific performances.
I would love to hear your opinion and what you thought so don’t forget to leave a comment below!
1. Knockout of the Year – Jorge Masvidal vs Ben Askren
The match up between Jorge Masvidal (35-13) vs Ben Askren (19-2) had a lot of hype behind it. Askren is a master of trash talk, he is clever, funny, and does a great job of annoying other fighters. In hindsight, he may have picked the wrong guy to do that to. Jorge was irritated by his opponent at all times, and even went as far as not show up for one of their press conference media obligations to avoid Ben. During interviews that Masvidal partook in he would always mention how Askren will pay for his actions and words.
At the time I had thought Askren was still the biggest thing to hit the UFC in a long time despite his controversial debut submission win against Robbie Lawler. His superior grappling skills would be enough to defeat Masvidal. A major reason why I thought this was because Jorge had created a reputation of often being on the losing end of very close decisions.
Boy was I wrong. What we witnessed was the fastest knockout in UFC history at a whopping 5 seconds! Jorge came out with a flying knee knowing that Askren would naturally react with a takedown attempt as a veteran grappler. Because of that the flying knee landed perfectly immediately knocking him out cold and stiff. The fight should have finished at that point but because the referee could not get in fast enough, Jorge had time to follow up with two huge punches that were “super necessary” as payback for the pre fight shenanigans. Once the referee jumped in, he continued to mock him as Ben was out cold.
And with that, we have the fast knockout in UFC history and not only the best knockout of 2019 but quite possibly one of the best knockouts ever.
2. Submission of Year – Bryce Mitchell vs Matt Sayles
The submission of the year waited all the way until December to occur. There has only ever been one other Twister submission victory in the history of the UFC. That was nine years ago when the “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (16-5) pulled off the rare submission against the always tough and durable Leonard Garcia (18-13). I remember seeing that for the first time, I was in shock and had no idea how he did that and admittedly I did not even know of it. Regardless it was wildly impressive and not something I expected anyone to pull off again for a very long time if not ever.
That was until Bryce Mitchell (12-0) came along and pulled it off against Matt Sayles (8-3). Sayles did not make it easier on himself by missing weight for the fight either and losing a percentage of his show money. Bryce may have been the victim of a very unfortunate construction accident but now he will be known as the fighter with the second twister submission in UFC history, and the 2019 submission of the year. Now Reebok, please make him his camouflage fight shorts for his next fight!
3. Fight of the Year – Kamaru Usman vs Colby Covington
This fight had been in the works for a long time. The build up towards it was very long and intense between the two even getting into an altercation at a breakfast buffet. Colby Covington (15-2) has implemented the bad guy schtick insulting everyone in sight without pulling any punches even taking it as far as racism. Despite Colby’s cheap gimmick and support of the president, he is actually a very talented fighter. He had also won the Interim Welterweight title the year prior. Kamaru Usman (16-1) earlier in the year had an incredibly performance and absolutely dominated the Woodley to win the Welterweight title.
The two had an intense back and forth battle that truly showed the heart and spirit of both fighters. Each had their moments and the fight could have been scored for either fighter leading into the fifth round. One judge had it 3-1 for Usman, another had it 3-1 for Covington, and the last judge had it tied at 2-2, and with significant strikes set at 138-124 for Usman. This was obviously very close heading into the final round so Usman took it into his own hands to ensure the judges did not mess it up. Usman turned up the pressure and earned two knock downs in the fifth round with the second one leading up to the TKO victory. Colby kicked and screamed arguing that it was a poor stoppage but much of the MMA community at large did not have any issue.
With the animosity building up the fight and how competitive the fight ended up being, this was in my opinion the fight of the year for 2019.
4. Comeback of the Year – Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier.
Daniel Cormier (22-2) had defeated Stipe Miocic (19-3) by first round knockout back at UFC 226. The rematch between Cormier and Miocic was a year in the making, and far longer than it should have been. When Miocic defeated Francis Ngannou (14-3) by unanimous decision at UFC 220 Manny considered him the best UFC heavyweight in history as he had defended the belt more than anyone else. That is a major reason why it was so disrespectful of Cormier to fight Derrick Lewis (23-7) and then also try to hold off for a big money fight against Brock Lesner (5-3) that never materialized. All the while Stipe was left hanging and waiting for the rematch when he had already deserved an immediate one.
The majority of the fight Cormier was dominating leading the first three round in significant strikes by 155-87. Things were looking good for the champion until they didn’t. Stipe was down 3-0 in rounds and it looked like he was well on his way to lose the rematch and not regaining his title. He dug deep in between the third and fourth round and took incredible advice from his corner. Miocic started to attack the body hard landing 14 strikes and over the majority of the round Cormier took a lot of damage until he couldn’t anymore. Miocic rebounded from the fight and regained his UFC heavyweight title.
5. Upset of the Year: Corey Anderson vs Johnny Walker
Johnny Walker (17-5) exploded on the MMA and UFC scene in 2018 and the majority of 2019. He had three performance of the night awards, with 3 knockout finishes for a total fight time of less than two and a half minutes. Pitted as one of the next contenders to challenge the champion Jon Jones. He is tall, explosive, and has creative striking capabilities that would challenge the champion and make for an exciting fight. All he needed to do was get through Corey Anderson (13-5).
Corey had other plans. He was upset that he was constantly being snubbed and overlooked as a legitimate light heavyweight contender. He also had bad blood with the champion as well, sharing nasty tweets and trash talk in interviews. People felt that Walker was going to breeze through this fight. In the end Anderson won by TKO and only needed 2 minutes in the first round to do so. Anderson was incredibly fired up after the fight too because he had finally earned his recognition.
These are my picks for the MMA Awards 2019. You can also check out my other piece dedicated to fighter awards here. I would love to hear your opinion, please leave a comment below!