ROUNDTABLE (pt. 2 of 2): What are the top three picks for Fighter of the Year so far in 2016? Cruz? Alvarez? Diaz? McGregor?

Cody Garbrandt (photo credit Joshua Dahl © USA Today Sports)

Who are your top three or four candidates for Fighter of the Year so far this year, and why them above other top considerations?

ADAM TINDAL, MMATorch contributor

My top three fighters of the year without a doubt have to be:

1. Nate Diaz for the awesome upset of Conor McGregor back in March and then the absolutely thrilling rematch they had in August (which I do believe Nate was closer to winning than most people think). It comes down to the that second round in which he was dropped a couple times only to come back in the final 2.5 minutes to put that marathon pace on Conor and, in my opinion, take it 10-9. If you can’t capitalize on the knockdowns and then allow him to come back and finish the round teeing off on you, then in my opinion it’s going to the other guy.

2. Cody Garbrandt is my number two without a doubt. The dude is fearless and has some real slick striking. He’s awesome to watch and he blew me away when he took out Thomas Almeida. Dominic Cruz is going to have his hands full with this one.

3. Michael Bisping better be included on everyone’s list or else I’ll shed a tear for the Brit. This guy has been counted out his entire career and honestly he doesn’t look like much either, but man is he resilient. Time and time again he came up short in the pivotal fights and was forced back down the ladder. He impressed me, however, with his win over Anderson Silva. Let’s be honest, too; how many guys can legitimately get knocked out at the end of a round by a huge flying knee and some how come out exactly one minute later to win the final two rounds? Frankie Edgar maybe, but I don’t know. Man, that was a crazy moment to see. How he responded says a lot about his will power. Then he goes and steals the belt from Luke Rockhold on short notice. You earned it, Mike, and you deserve it sir.

MICHAEL GROCKE, MMATorch contributor

1. Stipe Miocic: The year started off with a bang for Miocic. Just two days into the year he knocked out Andrei Arlovski in 54 seconds at UFC 195 to become the #1 contender for Fabricio Werdum’s Heavyweight Championship. Four months later, at UFC 198, Miocic stepped into the cage to face then-champion Fabricio Werdum. Not only was Miocic a heavy underdog, he was fighting Werdum in front of over 45,000 fans in Brazil. Miocic wasn’t fazed as he knocked out Werdum in the first round to capture the UFC Heavyweight Title. Stipe completed the trifecta of first round knockouts when he defeated Alistair Overeem in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio at UFC 203.

2. Michael Bisping: Bisping’s incredible year started back in February with a victory over Anderson Silva by UD. After almost getting knocked out by a vicious knee in round three, Bisping survived and went on to win rounds four and five to earn the decision in front of his hometown fans in England. It was at UFC 199 Bisping’s dream was realized. As a heavy underdog, he stepped into the Octagon and in stunning fashion, knocked out Luke Rockhold in the first round to win the Middleweight Championship. He followed that with a less than spectacular unanimous decision over Dan Henderson at UFC 204. It’s because of this performance I put Miocic ahead of Bisping.

3. Eddie Alvarez: On January 17, at UFC Fight Night 81 Alvarez beat favored Anthony Pettis by split decision in a fight I was expecting him to lose. Alvarez followed up with another stunning win as he knocked out Rafael dos Anjos in the first round at UFC Fight Night 90 to capture the Lightweight Title. If he beats Conor McGregor at UFC 205, it will hard for me to keep him out of the top spot.

MATTHEW ECOCHARD, MMATorch contributor

(1) Conor McGregor for certain because of the number of records he has broken and the comeback victory after being humbled against Diaz the first time. Going after the second belt at lightweight, this year could certainly get a lot bigger for McGregor before it is over.

(2) Stipe Miocic won the heavyweight belt and has broken the Cleveland curse. Stipe was able to defend the belt against a tough opponent in an exciting fight in front of his home town. Stipe might be able to fight one more time before the end of the year if he wants to and another defense would just make the year better for him.

(3) If one fighter had a comeback story of the year, it had to be Dominick Cruz. After all the agony, injuries, and letdowns he has endured during the course of his career, Cruz finally came back this year and proved he was still champion material. After defeating T.J. Dillashaw in a close, technical masterpiece of a fight, he went on and demolished Urijah Faber to put an end to the rivalry they have had over all these years. Dominick Cruz looks like a world beater.

NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S ARTICLE ON THIS TOPIC: ROUNDTABLE (pt. 1 of 2): What are the top three picks for Fighter of the Year so far in 2016? Miocic? Alvarez? Diaz? Bisping?

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