Welcome to the latest of many MMATorch Awards for 2018. MMATorch staff have voted in a wide array of categories, with the top vote-getters receiving the awards. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments or Tweet us @MMATorch. Be sure to check out our other awards thus far.
- MMA Story of the Year
- Career Tailspin Award
- Rising Star of the Year
- Submission of the Year
- Knockout of the Year
- Fighter of the Year
- Worst Event of the Year
Best MMA Event of 2018
Much like the worst event of the year award, this one could go one of two ways. It can go to a largely hyped show with big stars that mostly lived up to expectations or it could go to an under the radar type of card that ended up over delivering. This year’s winner was definitely in the former category and is a show that will likely live on in infamy for what happened in the final moments of the event.
Winner: UFC 229
UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor is by nearly any measure, the biggest show UFC has ever presented. It was McGregor’s return to the UFC cage after nearly two years away and was a feud fuelled by the well-publicized dolly-throwing incident of the previous April.
The pay-per-view card opened with a surprising decision win by Michelle Waterson over Felice Herrig. Next, we saw Alexander Volkov pick apart Derrick Lewis for nearly 15 full minutes until Lewis came out of nowhere and knocked the Russian out in a come from behind win that would earn Lewis a title shot a month later. A solid decision win for up and comer Dominick Reyes over Ovinct Saint Preux followed.
The final two fights are really what earned UFC 229 its Event of the Year honors. The co-main event saw a bloody war between Tony Ferguson and Anthony Pettis. After the second round, Pettis’ corner ended the fight once their fighter revealed he had a broken hand. It was one of the best fights of 2018 but was quickly overshadowed by the main event.
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor had a very good fight that was competitive at times, but ultimately, Khabib proved to be too much for the Irishman. Nurmagomedov proved that he could hang exchanging strikes with McGregor and was able to impose his will on the ground as well. The fight ended with a fourth-round rear-naked choke across the face of McGregor, forcing the tap.
From there is where things got really interesting, Khabib jumped the cage and went after McGregor’s cornerman, Dillon Danis. Meanwhile, members of Nurmagomedov’s corner tried to enter the cage to go after McGregor. Khabib was escorted from the arena, Bruce Buffer read the final announcement solo, and fans went home seeing a hell of a card, and wondering when Khabib and Conor would go at it again – hopefully in the confines of a UFC cage.
Honorable Mention: UFC 220 – Miocic vs. Ngannou, UFC Denver
It was a razor close decision, but UFC 220 came up a little short. It was the first pay-per-view of 2018 and was carried by two big title matches between heavyweights Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou as well as a light heavyweight tilt between Daniel Cormier and Volkan Oezedemir. The show played out perfectly and couldn’t have been scripted to be better as Miocic and Cormier both came out on top, setting up a clash between the two for the coming July.
Also receiving some votes was UFC’s 25th Anniversary show from Denver headlined by Yair Rodriguez’s stunning knockout of Korean Zombie. It was a fun night, with old-school UFC graphics and art on the canvas. It was one of only two free TV events to get any votes (the other being UFC on FOX 29 with the Dustin Poirier-Justin Gaethje fight).