The MMA Sucka 2020 MMA Awards are here! 2019 is over and done with and what a year it was. The MMA Sucka Awards will showcase some of that action. You can revisit the 2019 MMA Awards right here.
2020 will be remembered by most for the outbreak of Covid 19 and the amazing lengths Dana White and the UFC went to in order to get fights made and telecast. We were also treated to some amazing moments. Knockouts, submissions, and surprising firings and signings dotted the calendar and made it a year to remember.
Yoel Romero, Anthony Pettis, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, and others all left and found new homes. The UFC began cutting big name and high dollar fighters in favor of the younger and less costly group led by contract winners from the Dana White Contender Series. BKFC also landed some former UFC competitors in Paige VanZant, Thiago Alves, among others.
Let’s get after it and introduce you to the MMA Sucka 2020 MMA award winners.
MMA Sucka 2020 MMA Awards
2020 MMA Sucka Awards Fighter of the Year
Winner: Deiveson Figueiredo
Embed from Getty ImagesThere were plenty of fighters who had tremendous years but the staff here at MMA Sucka focused on two of them. All of the votes came in either for Deiveson Figueiredo or Kevin Holland. In the end, Deiveson Figueiredo earned the trophy seven votes to six.
Figueiredo had an amazing year in 2020, winning three fights as well as earning the Flyweight championship. If that wasn’t enough he was involved in a classic fight of the year candidate with Brandon Moreno that resulted in a draw. He’s really taken the next step in his career and heading into 2021 is positioned to be a major star.
Nate Freeman: Deiveson Figueiredo
Ash Camyab: Deiveson Figueiredo
Frazer Krohn: Kevin Holland
Michael Lynch: Kevin Holland
Matt Bricker: Kevin Holland
Michael DeSantis: Deiveson Figueiredo
Joshua Yule: Deiveson Figueiredo
Kenny Lee: Deiveson Figueiredo
Brandon Joint: Deiveson Figueiredo
Jeremy Brand: Kevin Holland
Andrew Benjamin: Kevin Holland
Dan Rose: Kevin Holland
Connor Deitrich: Deiveson Figueiredo
2020 MMA Sucka Awards Fight of the Year
Winner: Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Embed from Getty ImagesThe winner this year was one of the most amazing fights I’ve ever seen. Weili Zhang and Joanna Jędrzejczyk competed for the strawweight championship it was a war for the ages. For five rounds the two went back and forth landing hellacious shots and damaging each other in a beautiful display of violence.
Nate Freeman: Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Ash Camyab: Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Frazer Krohn: Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Michael Lynch: Billy Quarantillo vs. Spike Carlyle
Matt Bricker: Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Michael DeSantis: Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Joshua Yule: Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Kenny Lee: Sasha Palatnikov vs. Louis Cosce
Brandon Joint: Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Jeremy Brand: Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Andrew Benjamin: Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker
Dan Rose: Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Connor Deitrich: Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski II
2020 MMA Sucka Awards KO of the Year
Winner: Joaquin Buckley (vs. Impa Kasanganay)
It was a moment that helped define MMA in 2020. A single strike so perfectly timed and delivered that it brought MMA to its feet in celebration. Joaquin Buckley was facing Impa Kasanganay and Buckley caught a kick, then spun and delivered a spinning back kick that rendered Kasanganay unconscious. It was devastating and devastatingly beautiful.
There are always some crazy knockouts in the sport of MMA, but none could touch this year’s MMA Sucka KO of the Year winner. It will go down as one of the all-time best knockouts in the history of the sport.
Nate Freeman: Joaquin Buckley (vs. Impa Kasanganay)
Ash Camyab: Joaquin Buckley (vs. Impa Kasanganay)
Frazer Krohn: Joaquin Buckley (vs. Impa Kasanganay)
Michael Lynch: Kevin Holland (vs. Jacare Souza)
Matt Bricker: Mamed Khalidov (vs. Scott Askham II)
Michael DeSantis: Joaquin Buckley (vs. Impa Kasanganay)
Joshua Yule: Mamed Khalidov (vs. Scott Askham II)
Kenny Lee: Joaquin Buckley (vs. Impa Kasanganay)
Brandon Joint: Joaquin Buckley (vs. Impa Kasanganay)
Jeremy Brand: Joaquin Buckley (vs. Impa Kasanganay)
Andrew Benjamin: Joaquin Buckley (vs. Impa Kasanganay)
Dan Rose: Joaquin Buckley (vs. Impa Kasanganay)
Connor Deitrich: Joaquin Buckley (vs. Impa Kasanganay)
2020 MMA Sucka Awards Submission of the Year:
Winner: Khabib Nurmagomedov (vs. Justin Gaethje)
Embed from Getty ImagesSometimes this award is given because the submission is rare and amazing and other times, it’s given because the moment was so big and the end so definitive that there’s no other way to go. This year, Khabib Nurmagomedov finished Justin Gaetheje with a perfect triangle choke to close out his career as the undefeated champion.
It was a tremendous finish against a fighter in Gaethje who was expected to be the biggest test of Nurmagomedov’s storied career. Instead, he dominated and when he secured the choke, it was an amazing moment. He left his gloves in the Octagon, and whether of not he comes back, this was a tremendous submission.
Nate Freeman: Khabib Nurmagomedov (vs. Justin Gaethje)
Ash Camyab: Khabib Nurmagomedov (vs. Justin Gaethje)
Frazer Krohn: Antonio McKee (vs. Darrion Caldwell)
Michael Lynch: Ariane Lipski (vs. Luana Carolina)
Matt Bricker: Ariane Lipski (vs. Luana Carolina)
Michael DeSantis: Khabib Nurmagomedov (vs. Justin Gaethje)
Joshua Yule: Khabib Nurmagomedov (vs. Justin Gaethje)
Kenny Lee: Khabib Nurmagomedov (vs. Justin Gaethje)
Brandon Joint: Antonio McKee (vs. Darrion Caldwell)
Jeremy Brand: Ariane Lipski (vs. Luana Carolina)
Andrew Benjamin: Michel Pereira (vs. Zelim Imadaev)
Dan Rose: Khabib Nurmagomedov (vs. Justin Gaethje)
Connor Deitrich: Khabib Nurmagomedov (vs. Justin Gaethje)
2020 MMA Sucka Awards Comeback of the Year:
Winner: Beneil Dariush def. Drakkar Klose
Beneil Dariush was battered and busted up following the first round of his fight with Drakkar Klose at UFC 248. He had been badly hurt and nearly stopped on a number of occasions. Those of us watching felt he would be lucky to make it back to compete in round two after the damage he absorbed.
Not only did Dariush make it into the second round, but he knocked Klose out one minute into it. It was an amazing comeback from Dariush who enters 2021 on a five-fight winning streak.
Nate Freeman: Trevin Jones def. Timur Valiev
Ash Camyab: Beneil Dariush def. Drakkar Klose
Frazer Krohn: Beneil Dariush def. Drakkar Klose
Michael Lynch: Chase Hooper def. Peter Barrett
Matt Bricker: Beneil Dariush def. Drakkar Klose
Michael DeSantis: Daniel Rodriguez def. Dwight Grant
Joshua Yule: Beneil Dariush def. Drakkar Klose
Kenny Lee: Beneil Dariush def. Drakkar Klose
Brandon Joint: Trevin Jones def. Timur Valiev
Jeremy Brand: Beneil Dariush def. Drakkar Klose
Andrew Benjamin: Miguel Baeza def. Matt Brown
Dan Rose: Beneil Dariush def. Drakkar Klose
Connor Deitrich: Beneil Dariush def. Drakkar Klose
2020 MMA Sucka Awards Comeback Fighter of the Year:
Winner: Walt Harris
In life there are of course bigger things than wins and losses. Sometimes a comeback isn’t about winning fights, but overcoming the seemingly impossible. Such is the case with Walt Harris and his comeback award. Walt Harris suffered an unimaginable loss in 2019 as his daughter was abducted and murdered. Anyone who has ever lost a loved one can understand what that does. The thought of training, competing, and returning to the UFC had to be an impossible thought.
Walt showed unbelievable heart and courage and returned to the Octagon twice in 2020. What the future holds for Harris is anyone’s guess, but he’s showed more heart and courage than anyone else I can think of in 2020.
Nate Freeman: Walt Harris
Ash Camyab: Walt Harris
Frazer Krohn: Neil Magny
Michael Lynch: Walt Harris
Matt Bricker: Bobby Green
Michael DeSantis: Walt Harris
Joshua Yule: Kevin Holland
Kenny Lee: Kevin Holland
Brandon Joint: Walt Harris
Jeremy Brand: Walt Harris
Andrew Benjamin: Kyoji Horiguchi
Dan Rose: Walt Harris
Connor Deitrich: Aaron Pico
2020 MMA Sucka Awards Upset of the Year:
Winner: Shana Dobson def. Mariya Agapova
Embed from Getty ImagesShana Dobson was a massive underdog when she fought Mariya Agapova. Most if not all fight fans and pundits expected a one-sided affair. Dobson was +950 (or 9.5 to 1) to win the fight. What happened was very unexpected. That said, not only did Shana Dobson win the fight, she did so in convincing fashion stopping Agapova via ground and pound 90 some seconds into the second round.
Apapova was 9-1 heading into the clash and the former Invicta FC fighter was coming off of a great UFC debut against Hannah Cifers when she won via submission. It was a massive win for Dobson and one that put her in the max at flyweight. “Danger” will make her 2021 debut next month against Casey O’Neill.
Nate Freeman: Shana Dobson def. Mariya Agapova
Ash Camyab: Roxanne Modafferi def. Maycee Barber
Frazer Krohn: Roxanne Modafferi def. Maycee Barber
Michael Lynch: Shana Dobson def. Mariya Agapova
Matt Bricker: Shana Dobson def. Mariya Agapova
Michael DeSantis: Shana Dobson def. Mariya Agapova
Joshua Yule: Derek Brunson def. Edmen Shahbazyan
Kenny Lee: Andrei Arlovski def. Tanner Boser
Brandon Joint: Roxanne Modafferi def. Maycee Barber
Jeremy Brand: Shana Dobson def. Mariya Agapova
Andrew Benjamin: No Vote
Dan Rose: Shana Dobson def. Mariya Agapova
Connor Deitrich: Roxanne Modafferi def. Maycee Barber
2020 MMA Sucka Awards UFC Breakout Star of the Year:
Winner: Kevin Holland
Embed from Getty ImagesThis was a two-man race, as Kevin Holland and Khamzat Chimaev went nose to nose to earn the honors here. In the end, it was a razor-thin victory for Holland, who bested Chimaev by one vote.
Kevin Holland had an amazing 2020, going a perfect 5-0 and besting the likes of Jacare Souza, Darren Stewart, and KO of the year winner Joaquin Buckley. He stepped up time and again and fought on short notice when needed. He’s going to get a much deserved top ten matchup next and could set himself up for a potential title fight in 2021.
For runner up, Khamzat Chimaev made his UFC debut on Fight Island and went 3-0 on the year all via finish. He stopped John Phillips, Rhys McKee, and Gerald Meerschaert making himself an instant star for the UFC. He was outstanding but didn’t do quite enough to edge out Kevin Holland.
Nate Freeman: Kevin Holland
Ash Camyab: Kevin Holland
Frazer Krohn: Khamzat Chimaev
Michael Lynch: Kevin Holland
Matt Bricker: Khamzat Chimaev
Michael DeSantis: Khamzat Chimaev
Joshua Yule: Khamzat Chimaev
Kenny Lee: Khamzat Chimaev
Brandon Joint: Kevin Holland
Jeremy Brand: Khamzat Chimaev
Andrew Benjamin: Kevin Holland
Dan Rose: Kevin Holland
Connor Deitrich: Kevin Holland
2020 MMA Sucka Awards Non-UFC Breakout Star of the Year:
Winner: Vadim Nemkov
There are always so many possibilities in this category. Simply saying outside of the UFC covers a ton of ground. When it was all said and done, Vadim Nemkov earned the award due in large part to finishing Ryan Bader and winning the Bellator light heavyweight championship. He’s a super talented fighter and will undoubtedly be one to watch in 2021.
He only fought one time in 2021, but he certainly made it count. Add to that the fact that he’s beaten former Bellator champions in each of his last four fights and he’s quite deserving of this award. He beat Liam McGeary, Phil Davis, Rafael Carvalho, and Ryan Bader in his last four fights.
Nate Freeman: Timothy Johnson
Ash Camyab: Vadim Nemkov
Frazer Krohn: Vadim Nemkov
Michael Lynch: Sergio Pettis
Matt Bricker: Manon Fiorot
Michael DeSantis: Vadim Nemkov
Kenny Lee: Vadim Nemkov
Brandon Joint: Yaroslov Amasov
Jeremy Brand: Vadim Nemkov
Andrew Benjamin: Vadim Nemkov
Dan Rose: Vadim Nemkov
Connor Deitrich: Juan Archuleta
2020 MMA Sucka Awards Promotion of the Year:
Winner: Ultimate Fighting Championship
Embed from Getty ImagesThis was a landslide victory by the UFC. The fact is, they had an incredible year. They did everything imaginable to battle despite a global pandemic and consistently delivered amazing fights to sports hungry fans. They are deserving for that reason alone. KSW, RIZIN, and BKFC also received votes but this was an obvious choice for most.
The UFC has been on hiatus for the Holidays and fans are going crazy waiting for them to return. I can’t imagine if they had not delivered fights all year. They went so far as to create Fight Island in Dubai to host events when they couldn’t elsewhere. Congratulations to Dana White and all of those at the UFC for continuing to bring the action against all odds.
Nate Freeman: UFC
Ash Camyab: UFC
Frazer Krohn: UFC
Michael Lynch: UFC
Matt Bricker: KSW
Michael DeSantis: UFC
Joshua Yule: Cage Warriors/XFC
Kenny Lee: ???
Brandon Joint: UFC
Jeremy Brand: UFC
Andrew Benjamin: RIZIN
Dan Rose: Bare Knuckle FC
Connor Deitrich: UFC
2020 MMA Sucka Awards Analyst of the Year:
Winner: Jon Anik
Embed from Getty Images
Jon Anik is a professional’s professional. He’s always prepared and does a great job of combining enthusiasm with knowledge and a level head. Anik loves what he does, and it shows through in every show he does. He’s traveled the globe, during a pandemic and never showed up tired, or with any lack of enthusiasm. He also has tremendous working relationships with all his cohorts and seems to be having a great time.
Michael Bisping was last year’s winner and got the second most votes this year. He continues to improve and has a great combination of real fight experience, humor, and knowledge.
Nate Freeman: Jon Anik
Ash Camyab: Jon Anik
Frazer Krohn: Michael Bisping
Michael Lynch: Joe Rogan
Matt Bricker: Will Vanders
Michael DeSantis: Jon Anik
Joshua Yule: Jon Anik
Kenny Lee: Michael Bisping
Brandon Joint: Jon Anik
Jeremy Brand: Jon Anik
Andrew Benjamin: Snoop Dogg
Dan Rose: Michael Bisping
Connor Deitrich: Jon Anik
2020 MMA Sucka Awards Event of the Year:
Winner: UFC 249
This is another one of those categories that cover a TON of ground. It can come down to which event had the single most amazing fight, or what card had the best fights from top to bottom. It also doesn’t just cover the UFC, but all events are open for consideration. That said, the UFC pulled down the lion’s share of the votes.
UFC 249 ended up winning the award and featured Justin Gaethje vs. Tony Ferguson, Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz, and a heavyweight clash of one-punch KO specialists Francis NGannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik. The main card featured four stoppages in five fights and was impressive from top to bottom.
Nate Freeman: UFC 249
Ash Camyab: UFC 251
Frazer Krohn: UFC 249
Michael Lynch: UFC 256
Matt Bricker: KSW 55
Michael DeSantis: UFC 249
Joshua Yule: No Vote
Kenny Lee: UFC 249
Brandon Joint: No Vote
Jeremy Brand: UFC 249
Andrew Benjamin: RIZIN 26
Dan Rose: BKFC 14
Connor Deitrich: UFC 249
2020 MMA Sucka Awards Gym of the Year:
Winner: City Kickboxing
City Kickboxing has emerged as the top training facility in the world. City Kickboxing won last year and won again for the second consecutive year. The simple fact is they produce champions at the highest level. They train champions Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski as well as UFC fighters Kai Kara-France, Dan Hooker, among others. It’s just a feeding ground for dynamic high-level fighters.
Head coach Eugene Bareman continues to build a solid gym and train some of the best fighters on earth. They own two UFC championships and you can’t but think 2021 will be another banner year for the New Zealand gym.
Nate Freeman: City Kickboxing
Ash Camyab: City Kickboxing
Frazer Krohn: City Kickboxing
Michael DeSantis: City Kickboxing
Joshua Yule: City Kickboxing
Kenny Lee: City Kickboxing
Jeremy Brand: City Kickboxing
Dan Rose: City Kickboxing
Connor Deitrich: City Kickboxing