Winner: Conor McGregor (UFC)
With the longtime absence of Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor spent 2016 (and much of 2015) becoming the face of the UFC and the sport of MMA. He brought in millions of dollars, broke the UFC pay-per-view buy record set by UFC 100 with his rematch against Nate Diaz at UFC 202 (1.65 millon.) He helped reset tie the UFC 100 record at UFC 196 (1.6 million) and came close (1.3 million) to resetting his own by becoming the only simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history at UFC 205 inside New York City’s legendary Madison Square Garden.
McGregor also hopes to box previously retired 49-0 Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. in a super-fight. That situation is ongoing. This is the second consecutive time McGregor has been named Fighter of the Year.
Winner: Amanda Nunes (UFC)
Holly Holm may have been the first woman to knockout Ronda Rousey, but Amanda Nunes was the fastest. “The Lioness” needed just 48 seconds to defend her UFC women’s bantamweight (135-pound) title for the first time at UFC 207 to end 2016.
This is her first FFOTY win.
Winner: Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi at UFC 206
This contest was the back and forth war that keeps dentists in business. It also had one of, if not the best photos of the year. This is the first time either man was been awarded Fight of the Year.
Winner: Michael Page (vs. Cyborg Santos at Bellator 158)
Despite there being other nominees for this award, the choice was immediately clear as “MVP” sent Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos into retirement after Bellator 158 with a fractured skull.
This is the first KO of the Year award for Page and Bellator’s single win for the year.
Winner: Nate Diaz (vs. Conor McGregor at UFC 196)
This was Conor McGregor’s first loss (and so far only) defeat inside the UFC. What more needs to be said?
Winner: Michael Bisping (vs. Luke Rockhold at UFC 199)
A ten-year championship hunt came down to an eight-week training camp. Michael Bisping is now the guy at 185 pounds after needing only part of the first of five rounds to put away Luke Rockhold for the strap. “The Count” is now set to make his first defense against legend and former welterweight (170-pound) champion Georges St-Pierre in his UFC return and middleweight debut.
This is the first time he’s won Upset of the Year.
Winner: Cody Garbrandt (UFC)
Three consecutive KO/TKO victories, an overall 11-0 and systematically dismantling the man the call “The Dominator” Dominick Cruz for the UFC bantamweight championship in that 11th fight have skyrocketed “No Love.” He later gave his belt to hometown friend and fan Maddux Maple. Maple had previously been fighting cancer.
Winner: Miesha Tate (vs. Holly Holm at UFC 196)
Miesha Tate “beat the woman who beat the woman” by defeating the first woman to knockout Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm. She was down 3-1 or possibly four rounds (depending on who you talk to) and needed to finish Holm to pick up the win at UFC 196. Finish she did! Tate put Holm to sleep by being a rabid bulldog, eventually sinking in a rear-naked choke and put “The Preacher’s Daughter” to sleep. By doing so, she earned the honor of being UFC women’s bantamweight champion.
Tate later retired following her fight at UFC 205 against Raquel Pennington, a fighter she coached on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter. Tate is now a part of the UFC broadcasting team for Fox Sports.
This is the first time she has been awarded Comeback of the Year.
Winner: American Top Team
ATT owner Dan Lambert nearly bought the UFC prior to the success of 2005’s The Ultimate Fighter. He would later be featured on the show’s 21st season (gym vs. gym) opposite heated fellow Florida-based rival, the Blackzilians. ATT topped the Blackzilians in the competition by 100 points then to be considered the best. It is currently home to UFC champions Tyron Woodley (welterweight,) Amanda Nunes (women’s bantamweight) and recent transfer, Poland’s Joanna Jędrzejczyk (strawweight) in addition to Daniel Straus (featherweight) of Bellator MMA.
This is the first time ATT has won Gym of the Year.
Winner: John Kavanagh
The coach of “Notorious” Conor McGregor captured his first COTY award this year. According to Straight Blast Gym (SBG)-Ireland’s website, he has been a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner since 1996. He is also a kickboxer and began his combat sports background with karate. McGregor is his most noteworthy champion to date.
Other Award Winners
- Trainer of the Year: Mike Dulce (Nutritionist)
- International Fighter of the Year: Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC)
- Referee of the Year: “Big John” McCarthy
- Ringcard Girl of the Year: Jhenny Andrade (UFC)
- Best Promotion/Leading Man: UFC/UFC President Dana White
- Personality of the Year: Joe Rogan (UFC)
- Analyst of the Year: Dominick Cruz (UFC)
- Best MMA Programming: The Ultimate Fighter (UFC)
- MMA Journalist/Media Source of the Year: MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani/MMAFighting.com
- Best MMA Clothing & Equipment Brand: Venum