Fighter of the year, starting with 1993

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Inside Job

Sapere Aude
First 100
Jan 17, 2015
45,824
50,367
Fucking hell that took a lot more time than I thought it would. When you look at my selections you might quickly agree and think it wouldn't take long to come to these conclusions, however I was very thorough to look at so many fighters every year to make sure none were left out.

It's also very telling that as we progress in mma, top fighters fight less and less per year. I hate that. Many Websites have Max Holloway as the fighter of the year for 2017 and he literally fought 1 guy, he fought a total of TWO TIMES IN ONE YEAR, and some people think that is remarkable enough to suggest him as the fighter of the year.

I'm glad I took the time to do this because for the longest time mma fans myself included have had very subjective "rankings" and there's been so much emphasis on champions I think we overlook top contenders who perhaps were en route to a title fight or trying to climb back up the ladder to championship again. People don't appreciate active fighters they just care about big name wins and extravagant finishes. Francis Ngannou was considered fighter of the year for winning a whopping TWO FIGHTS in 2017. Yes one was a very brutal knock out but it was two wins, both over guys far past their prime whose chins have been weakened via prior knockouts.


My next "project" is to do comparison of champions versus fighters of the year and basically just look at a champions work of art for fights just before earning a title shot, fights as champion, and fights just after being champion. I will compare them to other top contenders to see if there are guys like Donald Cerrone who may not have been a champion but were more active and have wins against top guys compared to champions in the same weight class.
yep, I know its not easy

props to you and thanks for taking a long look at each year
 

D241

Banned
Jan 14, 2015
4,385
4,696
yep, I know its not easy

props to you and thanks for taking a long look at each year
I'm kinda kicking myself because in hindsight I realized that the furthest an mma fighter of the year award goes back is 2008 and from then on usually you can see who runner ups are like top 3 or top 5.

I should've included guys I was comparing and who my final choice was b/c new fans could take a look and see some familiar or unfamiliar names and be motivated to go back and watch fights of theirs. Ah well.
 

D241

Banned
Jan 14, 2015
4,385
4,696
2006- GSP has wins over Matt and BJ.
Liddell has wins over Tito, Babalu, and Randy.
CroCop has 4 wins including the tournament
Really it's a toss up. I look at your list which personally I think GSP's is the weakest of the 3, but Liddell and Cro Cop what they did in 06 and comparing what Big Nog and Barnett did, I can see an argument either way.

It's funny because I did so many years but the main controversial one is 2006 and it's not just between two fights but five. Can't have a five way tie I don't even like a two way tie. I guess it's just preference but let me do a breakdown of all nominees, pro's and con's just off the cuff and we'll see if anything changes.....
 

D241

Banned
Jan 14, 2015
4,385
4,696
GSP
Pro's
no losses
One of the wins was avenging a loss
The names he beat are two of the best

Con's
Finishes Hughes but barely beats BJ, extremely controversial fight(personally think it should've been a draw)
Only fought two times
One of his wins was against a natural lw

Cro Cop
Pro's
No losses
Four fights, four finishes
Four fights, four months
Two of the wins were in one night

Con's
Two of the wins were against considerably smaller opponents in Minowa and Wanderlei
His win over Barnett happened in tournament fashion where Mirko was matched up against a natural Lhw where as Mirko's 2nd opponent's first match was a 15 minute War against top 3 HW Antonio Nogueira



Chuck Liddell
Pros
No Losses
All 3 finishes
All 3 opponents were top level opponents(maybe a stretch for Tito at that time)

Cons
At the time Chuck was a favorite in all of these fights
All 3 of these were rematches in which Chuck dominated the prior bouts

Josh Barnett
Pros
5-2, one of the most active fighters significantly more in this time period than most high level fighters
1st opponent(Kaz Nakamura)=4-1 previous five before facing being finished by Barnett
2nd opponent(Aleksander Emelianenko)=5-0 previous five finishing 4 of the five before being finished by Barnett
3rd opponent(Mark Hunt)=5-0 previous five before being finished by Barnett
4th opponent(Antonio Nogueira)=4-1 previous five with his only loss being to Fedor before losing to Barnett
5th opponent(Mirko Filipovic)=4-1 previous five who fought a Lhw prior to Josh Barnett fighting HW Antonio Nogueira. Mirko beat his first round lhw in 5 minutes via ko where as Barnett had a 15 minute war against Noguiera before having to face a more rested, less tested Mirko
6th opponent(Pawel Nastula)=1-2 however his first two ever mma fights were against Big Nog and Aleksander Emelianenko, was coming off his first win before being finished by Josh Barnett
7th opponent)Antonio Nogueira)=lost via decision in a very exciting bout that could've gone either way
If Barnett stopped fighting after his 4th fight this fiscal year of 2006, he'd be 4-0 with 3 finishes against Kaz Nakamura, Aleks Emelianenko, Mark Hunt, and Big Nog. Instead he fought THREE more times going 1-2 however one loss was at a significant disadvantage and his other loss was very close decision, both losses to two top hw's of this era(2006).

Cons
Kaz Nakamura was not a natural HW and very undersized
His bout with Big Nog, while exciting as a mother fucker, was very close
Pawel Nastula, while a natural HW, was not too much of a threat with the skillset he had against guys of Barnett's calibur


Antonio Nogueira
Pros
Fought five times going 4-1, avenging his only loss the same year
First opponent(Tamura)=3-2 before being finished by Big Nog
2nd opponent(Zulu)=4-1 before being finished by Big Nog
3rd opponent(Werdum)=4-1 before losing to Big Nog
4th opponent(Barnett)=3-2 before barely beating Big Nog
5th opponent(Barnett)=avenged his loss the same year

Cons
Tamura was a weak ass opponent. Small LHW or big MW, sporting a shitty 3-2 record his last five against guys not heavyweights, was expected to lose and he delivered.
Zulu=Had size and power but that was it.
Werdum=Considered a poor man's Nogueira back then as he was jiu jitsu heavy but stand up was raw as well as toughness and fight iq at this point in his career. Werdum was not the world beater then as he's known now
Both matches against Barnett were close and out of both bouts, Barnett came closest to finishing(kneebar saved by bell) out of the two
 

D241

Banned
Jan 14, 2015
4,385
4,696
So, RaginCajun @RaginCajun
I am glad you chimed in so that I could further dissect that particular year and the nominees.

While I still feel Big Nog/Barnett are better candidates than GSP/Chuck/Mirko, I will say I am going to edit 2006 and give it to Josh Barnett.
What he did against who that time period, reigns supreme in my opinion. What are your thoughts after seeing the pro's and con's of each?
 

RaginCajun

And knowing is half the battle
Oct 25, 2015
20,667
49,358
So, RaginCajun @RaginCajun
I am glad you chimed in so that I could further dissect that particular year and the nominees.

While I still feel Big Nog/Barnett are better candidates than GSP/Chuck/Mirko, I will say I am going to edit 2006 and give it to Josh Barnett.
What he did against who that time period, reigns supreme in my opinion. What are your thoughts after seeing the pro's and con's of each?
I agree that Josh Barnett has the better wins in 2006. I forgot that the loss to CroCop was after the Big Nog war. Solid pick and insight.
 

wiz

Posting Machine
Jan 31, 2016
2,678
2,857
2002-2009
Fedor Emelianenko

During those years he was clearly the best heavyweight on the planet going 22-0 with wins over Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira x2, Brett Rogers, Andrei Arlovski, Tim Sylvia, Matt Lindland, Mark Hunt, Mirko Filipovic, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, Kevin Randleman, Mark Coleman x2, Gary Goodridge, Kazuyuki Fujita, Heath Herring, Semmy Schilt, and more.
Best HW? From 2003-2005 yea

Best fighter for all of 2002-2009? No way

Anderson and GSP had equally impressive wins, arguably more impressive

GSP particularly beat more well rounded opponents and Anderson finished most of his fights in devastating fashion

Fedor had a lot of easy fights sprinkled in between some really impressive wins, so no way he is fighter of the year for all of 2002-2009, maybe for 1 or 2 of those years
 

RaginCajun

And knowing is half the battle
Oct 25, 2015
20,667
49,358
Anderson and GSP had equally impressive wins, arguably more impressive

GSP particularly beat more well rounded opponents and Anderson finished most of his fights in devastating fashion

Fedor had a lot of easy fights sprinkled in between some really impressive wins, so no way he is fighter of the year for all of 2002-2009, maybe for 1 or 2 of those years
True. He should not be the fighter of the year for every year, but he did have an amazing run especially for a heavyweight.
 

D241

Banned
Jan 14, 2015
4,385
4,696
What are ya'lls thoughts about 2001?

I nominated Matt Hughes, but Wanderlei Silva has a great case.

Matt Hughes fought 9 times winning 8, finishing 7, HOWEVER....
The only worthwhile name Hughes beat that year was one fighter, Carlos Newton and even that fight had major controversy.

Wanderlei Silva however, went 4-0, granted only half the amount of wins as Hughes, Wand never lost and beat Sakuraba not once but twice.
Sakuraba had a submission win over Carlos when they fought(epic match) and Wanderlei's wins were not controversial. Granted Wand only had one worthwhile name he beat in 2001, there was no controversy and he beat him twice.

How much emphasis do we put on Hughes beating/finishing twice as many guys but noting they were all weak competition?
 

D241

Banned
Jan 14, 2015
4,385
4,696
2019 FOTY=Jorge Masvidal

Notable mentions: Henry Cejudo. Only fought 2 times but both were finishes, one against former champion TJ Dillashaw and 2nd win in higher weight class against Marlon Moraes to become 3rd fighter to be double champ at the same time.

Israel Adesyanya: 3-0 in 2019 with 1 finish. 3 high level opponents(Anderson Silva Kevin Gastelum, Robert Whitaker)(Cons were Anderson fight wasn't dominant, nor was the Gastelum fight)

2019 Jorge Masvidal-3 fights, 3 finishes, one record break. Darren Till=small mw/huge ww, Ben Askren(previously undefeated) knocked out in record time, Nate Diaz.
 

Saloth Sar

Let's take a little trip to the countryside
Dec 1, 2015
6,006
10,136
2019 FOTY=Jorge Masvidal

Notable mentions: Henry Cejudo. Only fought 2 times but both were finishes, one against former champion TJ Dillashaw and 2nd win in higher weight class against Marlon Moraes to become 3rd fighter to be double champ at the same time.

Israel Adesyanya: 3-0 in 2019 with 1 finish. 3 high level opponents(Anderson Silva Kevin Gastelum, Robert Whitaker)(Cons were Anderson fight wasn't dominant, nor was the Gastelum fight)

2019 Jorge Masvidal-3 fights, 3 finishes, one record break. Darren Till=small mw/huge ww, Ben Askren(previously undefeated) knocked out in record time, Nate Diaz.
I think it's a bit silly to have a guy who never even fought for a (real) title over a guy who won an interim title, then a real title and beat an (admittedly elderly) former GOAT, or a guy who KOd the top two fighters from the division above the one he started the year at.

Don't get me wrong, Masvidal had a standout impressive year and it's tempting to reward activity. But the Cringe King's year was the most historically significant.
 

D241

Banned
Jan 14, 2015
4,385
4,696
I think it's a bit silly to have a guy who never even fought for a (real) title over a guy who won an interim title, then a real title and beat an (admittedly elderly) former GOAT, or a guy who KOd the top two fighters from the division above the one he started the year at.

Don't get me wrong, Masvidal had a standout impressive year and it's tempting to reward activity. But the Cringe King's year was the most historically significant.
It's all subjective and I made sure to mention what he did, but besides agreeing with Jorge as FOTY, I think majority of fans also feel he's more deserving. What he did against Till and Askren was impressive. Diaz fight was a bonus.