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Man’s Life UFC Awards 2021

Kamaru Usman with UFC Championship belt
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Some fans would say that 2021 has been the best year in the history of the promotion, newfound stars such as Paddy Pimblett and Ian Garry made their debuts, legends such as Junior Dos Santos, and Demian Maia retired from the sport. The year also saw seven new UFC World Champions across blockbuster PPVs across the year with huge upsets and lots of knockouts and submissions. So without further ado, let’s take you through our Man’s Life UFC awards for the year 2021. 

▶ Kamaru Usman – Fighter of the year (Male)

 

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The Nigerian Nightmare had one of the best years in his MMA career as we saw him move up to the #1 spot in the pound-for-pound rankings after three successful defenses of his Welterweight title. The Champion picked up big finishes against Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal before winning a decision against arch-rival Colby Covington back in November. With that win against Covington, Usman took his win streak to 15 wins in a row taking his MMA record to 20 wins and 1 loss.

Julianna Pena – Fighter of the year (Female)

 

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This was a tough one to narrow down but we have to go with Julianna Pena for this one. The Venezuelan Vixen submitted Sara McMann back in January and got her title shot in December against the G.O.A.T Amanda Nunes. The fight saw one of the biggest upsets of the sport in 2021 as Amanda Nunes was kicked off her Women’s Bantamweight throne after a rear-naked choke forced the former champ to tap out after just 03:26 of round 2.

Alexander Volkanovski VS Brian Ortega, UFC 266 – Fight of the year

 

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In the main event of UFC 266, Alexander Volkanovski retained his UFC Featherweight championship in a title thriller against Brian Ortega which has to go down as the best fight of the year. The Great made a strong start to the fight and kept putting Ortega under pressure in the initial two rounds. The third round has to go down as one of the best rounds ever in UFC. Ortega caught Volkanovski’s leg in the air and landed a quick jab which put the champ down to the canvas and looked to seal the fight with a mounted guillotine choke but Volkanovski showed how tough he is as he managed to transition it into him being in top mount position to land some heavy ground and pound which led Ortega to have a swollen eye. In the following round, Ortega managed to secure a takedown and went for a choke right away but Volkanovski didn’t give up. Right when everyone thought the fight was over, the Australian gave a thumbs-up to the referee before escaping the choke. The fight surprisingly made its way to the judges after the pair traded heavy blows in the final round. The judges scored the fight 49-46, 50-45, and 50-44 in favor of Volkanovski 

▶ Jiri Prochazka – Knockout of the year

 

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Jiri Prochazka took on Dominick Reyes at UFC Vegas 25 with the fight only lasting two rounds. In those two rounds, both the fighters were in a slugfest, exchanging heavy blows and throwing a combined 215 strikes. At the 04:30 minute mark of round two, the Polish martial artist produced a moment of brilliance with his memorable spinning back elbow.

UFC 267 – Event of the year

 

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UFC 267 and UFC 268 went down on back-to-back weekends and the majority of hype was surrounding the latter considering the name value but UFC 267 has to go down as the best fighting event of the year. The main card kicked off with Magomed Ankalaev dominating former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir in the 205 category. The next fight was perhaps the performance of the night by Khamzat Chimaek who made his way into the Welterweight rankings after choking out Li Jinglian in the very first round of the fight. In the following fight Islam Makhachev took on Dan Hooker in the Russian took down the Hangman in the very first round and secured a kimura submission. In the co-main event, Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen battled it out in a five-round war. The duo produced one of the best fights of the year with Yan coming out on top and getting his hands on the Interim Bantamweight championship. 

In the main event, Jan Blachowicz faced off with 41-year-old UFC veteran Glover Texiera for the Light Heavyweight Title with the Brazilian producing one of the most inspiring performances in MMA history after a surprising rear-naked choke in the second round to win the belt.

 

[Featured Image Credit: Kamaru Usman]

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