MMASucka 2017 MMA Awards

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With 2017 in the books, another amazing year of MMA has come to an end. It was a year of great knockouts, great submissions and great fights. MMASucka would like to recognize and award fighters and promotions for making 2017 another memorable year for the sport. As a staff, we voted on who the publication should recognize in each category. These are the MMASucka 2017 MMA Awards.

Fighter of the Year

Winner: Rose Namajunas

In a year full of contenders for fighter of the year, Namajunas stood out as just a bit more special. She went 2-0, but both wins were of the utmost importance to her career. “Thug Rose” defied the odds and was the one to dethrone former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and end the year with the belt. Before that, she destroyed Michelle Waterson in the second round of their April fight. Namajunas applied a rear-naked choke after downing Waterson with a well-placed head kick. Namajunas not only becoming a UFC champion but in the fashion that she did it makes her MMASucka’s fighter of the year.

Michael DeSantis- Rose Namajunas
Mike Skytte- Kyoji Horiguchi
Nick Godin- Robert Whittaker
Jeremy Brand- Volkan Oezdemir
Justin Pierrot- Rose Namajunas
Wesley Riddle- Rose Namajunas
Ryan Wagner- Rafael dos Anjos
Kyle Dimond- Robert Whittaker
Melanie Gale- Rose Namajunas
Jason Burgos- Rafael dos Anjos
Jacob Debets- Robert Whittaker
Nick Baldwin- Demetrious Johnson

Knockout of the Year

Winner: Francis N’Gannou def. Alistair Overeem

Francis Ngannou’s knocking out Alistair Overeem wasn’t so much a shock as how he did it. At just 1:42 into the UFC 218 co-main event, Ngannou landed what many dub the “Uppercut from Hell” square on Overeem’s chin. Overeem was out before he hit the ground. Some even said they felt unsettled by what they had just watched. The knockout left no doubt that Ngannou would be UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic’s next challenger. They meet at UFC 220 this month.

Michael DeSantis- Francis Ngannou def. Alistair Overeem
Mike Skytte- Paul Daley def. Brennan Ward
Nick Godin- Matt Brown def. Diego Sanchez
Jeremy Brand- Francis Ngannou def. Alistair Overeem
Justin Pierrot- Matt Brown def. Diego Sanchez
Wesley Riddle- Humberto Bandenay def. Martin Bravo
Ryan Wagner- Edson Barboza def. Beneil Dariush
Kyle Dimond- Matt Brown def. Diego Sanchez
Melanie Gale- Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Jason Burgos- Marc Diakiese def. Teemu Packalen
Jacob Debets- Francis Ngannou def. Alistair Overeem
Nick Baldwin- Francis Ngannou def. Alistair Overeem

Submission of the Year

Winner: Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg

“Mighty Mouse” became the all-time record holder for consecutive UFC title defenses (11) in style when he submitted Ray Borg with a spectacular armbar. The flyweight champ lifted Borg off the ground, then snatched the challenger’s arm in mid-air. He did not let go, and forced a tap from Borg. One of the greatest submissions of all time was reflected by a near-unanimous selection from the Sucka staff.

Michael DeSantis- Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg
Mike Skytte- Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg
Nick Godin- Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg
Jeremy Brand- Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg
Justin Pierrot- Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg
Wesley Riddle- Brett Johns def. Joe Soto
Ryan Wagner- Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg
Kyle Dimond- Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg
Melanie Gale- Claudia Gadelha def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Jason Burgos- Ovince St. Preux’s two Von Flue chokes
Jacob Debets- Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg
Nick Baldwin- Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg

Fight of the Year

Winner: Yancy Medeiros vs. Alex Oliveira

On one of the best cards of the year in UFC 218, Medeiros and Oliveira were arguably the best part. The two went to war for 12 minutes. The fight saw a combined four knockdowns and 168 significant strikes. At the end, it was Medeiros who was left standing in one of the most unforgettable bouts of the year.

Michael DeSantis- Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson
Mike Skytte- Yancy Medeiros vs. Alex Oliveira
Nick Godin- Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson
Jeremy Brand- Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson
Justin Pierrot- Justin Gaethje vs. Eddie Alvarez
Wesley Riddle- Yancy Medeiros vs. Alex Oliveira
Ryan Wagner- Justin Gaethje vs. Eddie Alvarez
Kyle Dimond- Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson
Melanie Gale- Cris “Cyborg” Justino vs. Holly Holm
Jason Burgos- Yancy Medeiros def. Alex Oliveira
Jacob Debets- Yancy Medeiros def. Alex Oliveira
Nick Baldwin- Yancy Medeiros def. Alex Oliveira

Comeback of the Year

Winner: Darren Elkins def. Mirsad Bektic

Darren Elkins was well on his way to losing a lopsided decision to Mirsad Bektic in their UFC 209 fight. Bektic had been doubling up on Elkins in significant strikes landed and strikes landed. He had four takedowns to Elkins’ zero. Bektic had nearly nine minutes of control time. That all changed in the blink of an eye. Elkins landed a right hand followed by a right kick that sent Bektic to the floor. Bektic had previously been an undefeated prospect. Elkins’ fantastic comeback victory warranted our website’s award.

Michael DeSantis- Darren Elkins def. Mirsad Bektic
Mike Skytte- Darren Elkins def. Mirsad Bektic
Nick Godin- Darren Elkins def. Mirsad Bektic
Jeremy Brand- Darren Elkins def. Mirsad Bektic
Justin Pierrot- Ryan Janes def. Andrew Sanchez
Wesley Riddle- Darren Elkins def. Mirsad Bektic
Ryan Wagner- Darren Elkins def. Mirsad Bektic
Kyle Dimond- Darren Elkins def. Mirsad Bektic
Melanie Gale- Roxanne Modafferi def. Sarah D’Alelio
Jason Burgos- Justin Gaethje def. Michael Johnson
Jacob Debets- Justin Gaethje def. Michael Johnson
Nick Baldwin- Darren Elkins def. Mirsad Bektic

Comeback Fighter of the Year

Winner: Georges St-Pierre

“GSP” returned from a four-year retirement stint and claimed UFC gold. That’s nothing short of fascinating. The former welterweight champion came back, moved up a division, and claimed a submission win over then-UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping at UFC 217. It was the main event of one of the greatest cards ever. St-Pierre may have vacated the belt a month after winning, but that doesn’t erase his accomplishment of becoming a two-weight champion. It was a near clean sweep on our staff picks.

Michael DeSantis- Georges St-Pierre
Mike Skytte- Georges St-Pierre
Nick Godin- Georges St-Pierre
Jeremy Brand- Georges St-Pierre
Justin Pierrot- Georges St-Pierre
Wesley Riddle- Georges St-Pierre
Ryan Wagner- Georges St-Pierre
Kyle Dimond- Georges St-Pierre
Melanie Gale- Felice Herrig
Jason Burgos- Georges St-Pierre
Jacob Debets- Georges St-Pierre
Nick Baldwin- Georges St-Pierre

Upset of the Year

Winner: Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Namajunas’ win over Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 for the strawweight title was that fight that shocked the MMA world in 2017. Jedrzejczyk was one win away from tying Ronda Rousey’s record for most consecutive title defenses for women in the UFC at six. The Polish star was a -700 favorite to defeat Namajunas. Those who picked Namajunas to win never thought she’d do it by TKO, as Jedrzejczyk is considered one of the best strikers in the sport, man or women. Namajunas knocking Jedrzejczyk down twice and earning her first stoppage via strikes constitutes the upset of the year.

Michael DeSantis- Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Mike Skytte- Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Nick Godin- Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Jeremy Brand- Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Justin Pierrot- Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Wesley Riddle- Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Ryan Wagner- Zach Freeman def. Aaron Pico
Kyle Dimond- Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Melanie Gale- Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Jason Burgos- Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Jacob Debets- Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Nick Baldwin- Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Best UFC Breakout Star

Winner: Volkan Oezdemir

during the UFC 214 event at Honda Center on July 29, 2017 in Anaheim, California.

Oezdemir broke onto the UFC scene this year and went 3-0, had two devastating knockouts, and earned a title shot. Not bad for one year. Oezdemir’s first bout was a controversial split decision win over Ovince St. Preux, but fans quickly forgot when “No Time” blasted Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa back-to-back. Oezdemir was an underdog in every fight. He’ll be one yet again when he battles UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 220 later this month.

Michael DeSantis- Volkan Oezdemir
Mike Skytte- Zabit Magomedsharipov
Nick Godin- Volkan Oezdemir
Jeremy Brand- Jeremy Kennedy
Justin Pierrot- Jeremy Kennedy
Wesley Riddle- Nicco Montano
Ryan Wagner- Zabit Magomedsharipov
Kyle Dimond- Volkan Oezdemir
Melanie Gale- Aspen Ladd
Jason Burgos- Cynthia Calvillo
Jacob Debets- Volkan Oezdemir
Nick Baldwin- Volkan Oezdemir

Best Non-UFC Breakout Star

Winner: Kanna Asakura

Asakura surprised many when she won the Rizin super atomweight Grand Prix last week. She submitted the likes of Rena Kubota and Maria Oliveira to do so. Asakura not only won a belt at the end of the year, but that topped off a campaign in which she went 6-0. Perhaps the most impressive thing about it is she turned 20 years old in October.

Michael DeSantis- Kanna Asakura
Mike Skytte- Kanna Asakura
Nick Godin- Kanna Asakura
Jeremy Brand- Cris Williams
Justin Pierrot- Kanna Asakura
Wesley Riddle- Kanna Asakura
Ryan Wagner- Rafael Lovato Jr.
Kyle Dimond- Rafael Lovato Jr.
Melanie Gale- Ilima-Lei MacFarlane
Jason Burgos- Tyrell Fortune
Jacob Debets- Aaron Pico
Nick Baldwin- Aaron Pico

Promotion of the Year

Winner: UFC

The UFC is widely regarded as the biggest and best MMA promotion in the world. In many’s eyes, that didn’t change in 2017. The brand remains the far most recognizable in the sport. In a year where Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey did not fight, the promotion managed a strong end to the year. It had Georges St-Pierre return, saw the rise of new champions and stars, and put on some of the most exciting shows down the stretch of the year.

Michael DeSantis- Bellator
Mike Skytte- Rizin
Nick Godin- ONE FC
Jeremy Brand- Rizin
Justin Pierrot- UFC
Wesley Riddle- UFC
Ryan Wagner- UFC
Kyle Dimond- UFC
Melanie Gale- UFC
Jason Burgos- UFC
Jacob Debets- UFC
Nick Baldwin- UFC

Analyst of the Year

Winner: Dan Hardy

Former UFC welterweight title challenger Dan Hardy continues to be a fan favorite analyst. The MMA community praises him whenever he assumes the color commentary role for FOX at UFC events. In addition to his color, Hardy has also garnered praise for his breakdowns on BT Sport and Inside the Octagon.

Michael DeSantis- Dominick Cruz
Mike Skytte- Dan Hardy
Nick Godin- Paul Felder
Jeremy Brand- Dan Hardy
Justin Pierrot- Jack Slack
Wesley Riddle- James Lynch
Ryan Wagner- Dan Hardy
Kyle Dimond- Dan Hardy
Melanie Gale- Julie Kedzie
Jason Burgos- Jimmy Smith
Jacob Debets- Paul Felder
Nick Baldwin- Daniel Cormier

Card of the Year

Winner: UFC 217

The most memorable event of the year. UFC 217 had three title fights, all of which delivered. Bruce Buffer read “And New!” three times that November night (Georges St-Pierre, TJ Dillashaw and Rose Namajunas). The main card also featured the continuing rise of Paulo “The Eraser” Costa and saw Stephen Thompson get back in the win column against Jorge Masvidal. On the undercard, fans witnessed prospects like Curtis Blaydes, Ricardo Ramos and Randy Brown pick up exciting wins. Of the 11 bouts, eight fighters won by stoppage. Seven were T/KOs.

Michael DeSantis- UFC 217
Mike Skytte- Rizin 2017 Final Round
Nick Godin- UFC 217
Jeremy Brand- UFC 217
Justin Pierrot- UFC 217
Wesley Riddle- UFC 217
Ryan Wagner- UFC 218
Kyle Dimond- UFC 217
Melanie Gale- UFC 217
Jason Burgos- UFC 217
Jason Debets- UFC 218
Nick Baldwin- UFC 217

Featured Image Credit:

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Michael is a big MMA fan who enjoys interviewing the sport's athletes, writing about the sport, and just discussing it. He earned his Master's in Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and his B.A. in Journalism at Stony Brook University. He also enjoys hockey, football and baseball. Feel free to hit him up if you want to discuss MMA, or any other sport!

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