What’s up everybody and welcome to the 2017 Roc Sports MMA Awards! I am your host, Ryan Thomas. Well, 2017 is officially in the books and as each year passes in the sport of MMA, I feel it is necessary to acknowledge the top athletes in specific categories, which you’ll find below.
Enjoy, and let me know what you think of my choices in the comments…
Male Fighter of the Year: Max Halloway
His destruction of Jose Aldo not once, but twice was a sight to see. I enjoyed it I really did. Not in the sense that I have anything personal against Jose Aldo. I am a fan for sure, but Halloway is a breath of fresh air that the UFC Featherweight division desperately needed. The first time around Halloway had his fair share of tough moments in the first round vs. Aldo but showed the true heart of champion finishing Aldo in the second round. In their second meeting, Halloway put on the most impressive performance that I have seen in quite some time. It was a symphony of destruction. Halloway fired off three times as many punches than that of the former champion and made Jose Aldo appear as if his best days were behind him. Keep in mind, Aldo has been around for awhile despite only being 30 years old. He looked old out there. For that and being that his original opponent was slated to be Frankie Edgar, Halloway is my fighter of the year.
Female Fighter of the Year: Rose Namajunas
This was the easiest pick of any for me. “Thug Rose” walked into UFC 217 as a heavy underdog and the funny thing is on my sports podcast “The Thomas Take” I picked Rose to win. Shortly after I had many people commenting on the video saying I was crazy and that I had no idea what I was talking about. A few punches later Joanna was out on the canvas. Thug Rose is the champion and now the current face of Women’s Mixed Martial Arts. That’s a big deal.
Fight of the Year: Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson
A fight that could have easily ended on two occasions as Gaethje was dropped twice by the fast and funky Michael Johnson. A rock’em sock’em robot tale that will be a featured fight forever. After Gaethje took all he could he dropped Johnson in Rocky Balboa-like fashion. This fight has made Gaethje a household along with his bout against Eddie Alvarez. Whether it be in victory or defeat he became noticed. Mission accomplished.
Round of the Year: Round 3 Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje
Alvarez was coming off of a 0-1-1 record and Gaethje was predicted by many to be a rising young gun that could defeat the longtime MMA Lightweight. That didn’t happen but so much more happened in between. This fight was dubbed “The Most Violent” and the winner would be dubbed “The Most Violent” fighter. Alvarez silenced the haters, while Gaethje became more well known, even in defeat. Again, mission accomplished.
Submission of the Year: Demetrious Johnson’s “Mouse Trap” vs. Ray Borg
The best submission ever. Yeah, I said it. I can’t imagine another submission being as shocking or thrilling as “The Mouse Trap.” Borg didn’t see it coming. Joe Rogan didn’t see it coming. The whole MMA world was forced to pick their jaws up off the floor afterward. A title fight that broke an all-time great record and a finish that seals the legacy of “Mighty Mouse” as one of the best UFC fighters of all-time and one of the sport’s greatest champions.
Event of the Year: UFC 217
An event that featured the return of the greatest of all-time, a true rivals fight, and a fight that changed the face of Women’s MMA. UFC 217 was hands down the best card of the year. Three titles were on the line at Madison Square Garden and they all changed hands. What could be better than that?
Comeback Fighter of the Year: Georges St.Pierre
At one point I wondered if I would ever see “GSP” back in the cage. His four-year hiatus was a complicated one, as strict contract negotiations led the former welterweight kingpin to come up with a new plan for his return. A return to the cage for St.Pierre would be a true test. That was what he asked for and that was what he received. Most thought his chances of coming back after a four-year break to win a title in a weight class he had never competed in was an insane attempt at reliving his glory days. Well, the attempt became reality as Georges St.Pierre snuck in the rear naked choke and put Michael Bisping to sleep. Georges became the fourth fighter in UFC history to win two titles in two different weight classes. St.Pierre then did what few fighters are willing to do. 31 days after the greatest performance of his career, he vacated the UFC Middleweight title and headed back to Montreal. Will we ever see him again? I truly don’t know but I do know one thing: Georges St.Pierre is the best UFC fighter of all-time.
Knockout of the Year: Francis Ngannou’s “soul taking” uppercut vs. Alistair Overeem
The knockout heard around the MMA world. Ngannou was known to have earth-shattering power but this knockout was something out of a movie. A picture perfect looping, winding uppercut. It appeared that the “soul taking” punch had knocked out Overeem as soon as it touched his chin. The knockout gave Ngannou his next title shot vs. current heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. I can’t wait for that fight.
Breakout Fighter of the Year: Robert Whittaker
This was an easy choice and a truly well-deserved choice. The current Middleweight Champion defeated the likes of Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero. The Romero win helped Whittaker capture the then interim title. With Georges St.Pierre’s decision to vacate the lineal title Whittaker then became the champion. Next on his list is Luke Rockhold the former champion who started this whole mess; remember when he got knocked out by Michael Bisping? Around and around we go but at least the middleweight division can sink its teeth into this fallback plan. The Aussie might be an underdog but I will bet on him. The more people that doubt this kid the better it is. That’s the Robert Whittaker way.
Coach Of The Year: Trevor Whitman
The man behind the curtain to the biggest “upset” of 2017. Whitman coaches both Rose Namajunas and Justin Gaethje two fighters that are mainstays on my awards list. Not only has Whitman coached both fighter’s for the majority of their careers but he previously worked with former UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Shane Carwin and current heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic. One key component of Whitman’s coaching stands out to me. He applies the same principles across all weight classes and across two sports in both boxing and MMA. What a year it was and I expect his list of accomplishments as a coach to continue growing
There you have it folks the show is over what do you think of my list?