2015 MMA Awards

2015 MMA Awards

Photo via Sherdog

Welcome to our second set of this year’s FGB Awards, the 2015 MMA Awards.

If you missed our boxing awards, check those out.

Here are the categories for the 2015 MMA Awards:

Fighter of the Year
Show of the Year
Fight of the Year
Breakout Star
Big Things in 2016

Participating in the awards are FGB writers Duan, Alan, Cactus Jim, GG, and Alex Goff as well as Premier Wrestling president John LaRocca, and Heidi Fang from Fox Sports.

Fighter Of The Year

Duan: Conor McGregor
This was McGregor’s year. I don’t think there can even be arguments for anyone else. He has delivered on absolutely everything he promised since signing with UFC. The win against Mendes was huge and then the Aldo one was even bigger than that. A six year championship reign ended in 13 seconds and a new top star emerged. McGregor has become something special.

Duan’s previous winners:
2014: Robbie Lawler
2013: Chris Weidman
2012: Anderson Silva
2011: Junior Dos Santos
2010: Cain Velasquez
2009: Lyoto Machida
2008: Brock Lesnar

Alan: Conor McGregor
Redefining what it means to be a successful MMA fighter, Conor has taken the accomplishments of the likes of Couture, Liddell, GSP, and Silva and he’s pushed that bar out to a distance that nobody could have ever predicted. He talked absolute nonsense but then proved that it was the furthest thing from that as he did everything he said he’d do. You can simply no longer doubt this man anymore when it comes to what he’s going to do for the business or what he’s going to do in the cage.

Alan’s previous winners:
2014: TJ Dillashaw
2013: Cain Velasquez
2012: Anderson Silva
2011: Jon Jones
2010: Cain Velasquez
2009: Jose Aldo
2008: Brock Lesnar

Alex: Conor McGregor
2015 will go down as Conor’s year. The brash, loud-talking Irishman said what he was going to do and did just that. He may see defeat in 2016, but in 2015 he laid waste to two dominant opponents in his division in Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo. Many fighters may wish or at the most believe to have his year, but very few verbalize and then achieve.

Alex’s previous winners:
2014: Robbie Lawler

John: Conor McGregor
Is there anyone else? Connor not only talked the talked, but he walked the walk in 2015.

John’s previous winners:
2014: Robbie Lawler

Heidi: Conor McGregor
Looking back at last year’s FGB recap, I predicted McGregor would be up for a title shot in 2015. I may not have believed he’d get past Jose Aldo so decisively, but now “The Notorious” has me second guessing just how powerful he is and how high he can actually climb. Will the lightweight division be next? Or will he stand his ground as the featherweight champ and clash with Frankie Edgar?

Heidi’s previous winners:
2014: TJ Dillashaw and Robbie Lawler
2012: Ronda Rousey

Jim: Conor McGregor
McGregor had a helluva 2015, posting awesome PPV numbers, running through opponents like a chainsaw through butter, and capturing both the interim and the actual featherweight title held by Jose Aldo in spectacular fashion. No one had the success that McGregor had this year which is why I chose him as fighter of the year.

Jim’s previous winners:
2012: Johny Hendricks
2011: Jon Jones
2009: Gegard Mousasi

GG: Conor McGregor
In most years, you could’ve given many fighters this award. TJ Dillashaw, Demetrious Johnson, and Robbie Lawler all went into the year as champs and came out of the year as champs. Going to Bellator, Liam McGeary and Will Brooks had great years. And Holly Holm just won the biggest upset fight in UFC history. But still, none of them compare to what Conor McGregor did. He drew big ratings, sold lots of PPVs and won big fights after he told us he would.

GG’s previous winners:
2014: Robbie Lawler
2013: Cain Velasquez
2012: Anderson Silva
2011: Jon Jones
2010: Cain Velasquez
2009: Georges St-Pierre
2008: Georges St-Pierre

Show Of The Year

Duan: UFC 189
With the welterweight war between between Lawler and MacDonald, the atmosphere and drama of the McGregor fight, and a bunch of spectacular finishes up and down the card, 189 had the feel of one of the legendary UFC shows.

Duan’s previous winners:
2014: UFC Fight Night Dublin
2013: UFC on Fuel 8
2012: UFC 142
2011: UFC 139
2010: WEC PPV
2009: DREAM 11
2008: DREAM 5: Lightweight Grand Prix Finals

Alan: UFC 189
Maybe the most epic UFC show ever. The big entrances for the main event made it feel extra special. It contained the Fight Of The Year, the making of a superstar and a really exciting undercard.

Alan’s previous winners:
2014: UFC Fight Night Dublin
2013: UFC 166
2012: UFC 154
2011: UFC 139
2010: UFC 116
2009: DREAM 11
2008: DREAM 5: Lightweight Grand Prix Finals

Alex: UFC 189
Conor McGregor winning the interim title against Chad Mendes capped off, what was an amazing pay-per-view card. The semi-main event of Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald was a violent and technical display of what the sport can be at its best. Jeremy Stephens vs Dennis Bermudez must be mentioned as well as a fight that will go down as one of the best fights in the company’s history.

Alex’s previous winners:
2014: UFC 178

John: UFC 189
UFC has way too many shows and they all look the same. For 189, the UFC stepped up their production for this event. It was already a major event going with a great fight card. The card delivered and updates on the production side put it over the top for me.

John’s previous winners:
2014: UFC 181

Heidi: UFC 189
Though UFC 194 had quite a lot of hype around it, UFC 189 remains as my favorite of the year. From Matt Brown’s submission of Tim Means to Chad Mendes stepping up on short notice to go toe-to-toe with Conor McGregor, this card had it all. It even had a slow start with some decisions that weren’t necessarily showstoppers, but the main card kept viewers on the edge of their seats from the start.

Heidi’s previous winners:
2014: UFC 172

Jim: UFC 187
UFC 187 was my favorite card of the year. Lots of finishes from the prelims through the main event. Cerrone dropping Makdessi like a sack of potatoes, the Arlovski versus Browne slugfest, Weidman taking out Belfort, and Cormier stopping Rumble Johnson. If every card was this good I wouldn’t complain about the cost of PPV’s.

Jim’s previous winners:
2012: UFC 146
2011: UFC 139
2009: UFC 100

GG: UFC 189
It was a card that I had the privilege of attending live, which probably biases my ranking a bit. Being there with the rabid crowd of McGregor fans gave it a different feel from any live show that I’ve attended before. Lawler vs MacDonald was the best fight on the card, but McGregor’s stoppage of Mendes caused pandamonium like Gorilla Monsoon once said. It was a show that I’ll never forget.

GG’s previous winners:
2014: UFC 175
2013: UFC 167
2012: UFC On Fox 5
2011: UFC 139
2010: UFC 116
2009: UFC 100
2008: UFC 91

Fight Of The Year

Duan: Andrei Arlovski vs Travis Browne – May 23, 2015
Perhaps the best heavyweight slobberknocker in UFC history and one of the best one round fights you’ll ever see. More action in the last 30 seconds than most championship bouts.

Duan’s previous winners
2014: Erick Silva vs Matt Brown
2013: Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann
2012: Joe Lauzon vs Jim Miller
2011: Gray Maynard vs Frankie Edgar II
2010: Leonard Garcia vs Jung Chan-Sung
2009: Hiroyuki Takaya vs Hideo Tokoro
2008: Eddie Alvarez vs Tatsuya Kawajiri

Alan: Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald – July 11, 2015
One of the greatest wars in MMA history. Amazing twists and turns, gutsy performance from both men and the crowd reaction that the fight deserved. I will never forget this one as long as I live.

Alan’s previous winners:
2014: Erick Silva vs Matt Brown
2013: Diego Sanchez vs Gilbert Melendez
2012: Carlos Condit vs Georges St-Pierre and Miesha Tate vs Ronda Rousey I
2011: Benson Henderson vs Clay Guida
2010: Shane Roller vs Anthony Pettis
2009: Hideo Tokoro vs Abel Cullum
2008: Eddie Alvarez vs Tatsuya Kawajiri

Alex: Conor McGregor vs Chad Mendes – July 11, 2015
This fight was the fight that wasn’t supposed to be the fight. Going into fight week the rumors of Jose Aldo’s injury and the fact he was pulling out looked to sour the big July event. Chad Mendes, in an effort to reach championship status, took the fight against Conor on short notice. Chad represented everything that smart people believed would derail Conor’s hype train. A second round knockout was the finish and the Irish fans that packed the arena went ballistic, seeing their countryman win the big fight. I believe the result of this fight, dampened slightly the “real” big fight between Conor and Jose, but will represent this year in fighting.

Alex’s previous winners:
2014: Erick Silva vs Matt Brown

John: Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald – July 11, 2015

John’s previous winners:
2014: Jose Aldo Vs Chad Mendes

Heidi: Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald – July 11, 2015
I currently have a list of fights that made this extremely hard to narrow down to one. Daniel Cormier’s showdown with Alexander Gustafsson, Luke Rockhold’s victory over Chris Weidman, and Tony Ferguson’s W over Edson Barboza are all among some of the best I saw this year. But my favorite of 2015 had to be Robbie Lawler’s crushing finish of Rory MacDonald. It was a fight that had all the elements; adversity, back and forth action, and a devastating end. For Lawler, it solidified his reign and upped his rematch record to 4-0.

Heidi’s previous winners:
2014: Johny Hendricks vs Robbie Lawler I
2012: Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller

Jim: Daniel Cormier vs Alexander Gustafsson – October 3, 2015
Brutal. Competitive. Action packed. I want to see this matchup again.

Jim’s previous winners:
2012: Joe Lauzon vs Jamie Varner
2011: Michael Chandler vs Eddie Alvarez
2009: Diego Sanchez vs Clay Guida

GG: Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald – July 11, 2015
I remember talking to Alex about this fight and he was talking about how Rory had to be willing to go through a lot to win this fight and that he didn’t think Rory had what it took. He was so on the money. But I also remember thinking that MacDonald was in it right until the end, when Lawler stopped him. It’s unfair to define MacDonald solely on how the fight ended rather than on how he fought throughout, but if he never reaches that top level, that might be how he’s remembered.

GG’s previous winners:
2014: Erick Silva vs Matt Brown
2013: Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson
2012: Joe Lauzon vs Jim Miller
2011: Gray Maynard vs Frankie Edgar II
2010: Chris Leben vs Yoshihiro Akiyama
2009: Diego Sanchez vs Clay Guida
2008: Rampage Jackson vs Forrest Griffin

Breakout Star

2015 MMA AwardsDuan: Holly Holm
Holm knocking out Rousey wasn’t in most people’s plans, but she did it and did it in a way that proved it was no fluke. She goes into 2016 carrying the flag for women’s MMA and will be a firm favorite next time her and Ronda meet.

Duan’s previous winners:
2014: Conor McGregor

Alan: Rafael Dos Anjos
Nobody talked about this guy as a potential champion but then he just kept winning in a manner that couldn’t be ignored. He was not expected to win his title fight against Anthony Pettis… but he did, convincingly. He was not expected to successfully defend against Cowboy Cerrone… but he did, convincingly. RDA might just rack up a few more convincing victories in 2016.

Alan’s previous winners:
2014: Conor McGregor

Alex: Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor started this year as a fighter propped up by the UFC. Conor vs Denis Siver stuck out as the promotion putting a thumb on the scale to possibly put the brash McGregor in a position above his status. With contenders such as Cub Swanson and Frankie Edgar putting away the best in the division, Conor had put away stalwarts. Hardly the same class, yet when McGregor got the shot he didn’t deserve, he delivered in beating Chad Mendes who he wasn’t supposed to beat, then Jose Aldo who no one could beat. Conor said all of this was going to happen, but in fighting, the brash are often met with reality as fighting is a hard profession. The year that Conor had, talking and beating the best in route to winning a world title put him on the map as the legitimate top guy in the company.

Alex’s previous winners:
2014: Conor McGregor

John: Holly Holm
After a much hyped debut into the UFC, Holm did not look impressive. She then knocked out Ronda Rousey (the biggest star in MMA today) and now everyone knows the name Holly Holm.

John’s previous winners:
2014: Conor McGregor

Heidi: Sage Northcutt
A karate man that has a super awesome personality and is willing to step up when called upon? The lightweight division is full of sharks and it’s hard to say how high up the ranks young Sage can go before fizzling, but for now, he’s definitely captivated the attention of fight fans whether they like it or not.

Heidi’s previous winners:
2014: Kevlin Gastelum

Jim: Holly Holm
From relatively unknown underdog to world champion in devastating fashion, Holly Holm did what many thought was impossible in beating the unbeatable Ronda Rousey. And she did it in a completely one-sided beat down of the previously undefeated champion. She’s not unknown anymore.

GG: Holly Holm
She did nothing of note until she did everything of note. What a masterful performance against the previously unbeatable champion.

GG’s previous winners:
2014: TJ Dillashaw

Big Things in 2016

Duan: Joe Duffy
This is one that will either be right on target or right out the window two days into the new year. Duffy matches Dustin Poirer on January 2nd, which is by no means a gimme, but if he wins, he’s right in the mix. He was unfortunate to miss out on Fight Night Dublin back in October because I think a lot of the local fan and media interest in McGregor would have transferred over to Duffy. He has lovely stand up skills and a very viewer friendly fighting style. A win over Poirer would make up for lost time, putting him in the top ten and chasing the big names.

Duan’s previous winners:
2014: Kyoji Horiguchi
2013: Vitaly Minakov
2012: Gunnar Nelson
2011: Nick Diaz
2010: Eddie Alvarez

Alan: Louis Smolka
Had the pleasure of seeing Smolka live in October and his skills blew me away. I’ve never seen a grappling performance like this in person. He is so talented and I think he’ll have a lot of success next year.

Alan’s previous winners:
2014: Rory MacDonald
2013: Jacare Souza
2012: Ronda Rousey
2011: Benson Henderson
2010: Benson Henderson

Alex: Tony Ferguson
I love Tony – his jiu jitsu is effective and he strikes well. He is gaining confidence in his skills. I expect him to move up and fight the class in his division and I expect him to beat a couple of them. Expect big things from Tony.

Alex’s previous winners:
2014: Jacare Souza

John: Thomas Almeida
Coming in, Almeida was a top prospect and he quickly showed why. He is a finisher and an exciting fighter to watch. I would not be surprised at the end of 2016, that Almedia is the one who dethrones TJ Dillashaw for the championship.

John’s previous winners:
2014: Daniel Cormier

Heidi: Tony Ferguson and Rose Namejunas
One of these two will fight for a title in 2016. Namajunas previously saw the spotlight, but fell short in her title shot against Carla Esparza. Since a dominating performance over Paige VanZant, Namajunas has proven that she can evolve and can likely align herself for another shot at the belt in 2016.

Ferguson has been terrorizing the 155-pound division for some time. His only loss in the division since winning The Ultimate Fighter’s 13th season was to Michael Johnson. Ferguson broke his arm in the first round of that fight and was sidelined for 16 months as a result. Since returning from that injury, he’s won 7 straight with the last three victories coming against top-ranked competition.

Heidi’s previous winners:
2014: Conor McGregor

Jim: Robert Whittaker
The New Zealander is hitting his prime years and has looked impressive in his last few fights. While I don’t think he’ll be in line for a title shot this year, I do see him moving up the rankings and positioning himself for even greater things in 2017.

Jim’s previous winners:
2012: Bellator
2011: Rory MacDonald

GG: Tony Ferguson
I have to agree with many of my colleagues. Out of fighters who aren’t yet big names, Ferugson has the best opportunity to make big noise in his division.

GG’s previous winners:
2014: Conor McGregor
2013: Khabib Nurmagomedov
2012: Ronda Rousey
2011: Nate Diaz
2010: Jon Jones

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