ESPN’s Midyear MMA Awards
Every year shortly after June, the ESPN midyear MMA awards take place. Each year ESPN looks at all the best fighters, fights, prospects, and more. With all of the unpredictable moments and endless storylines in the UFC, a midyear reflection is warranted. When awards are handed out later in the year fans, suffer from recency bias. The midyear awards are a staple every July, acting as a bookmark for ‘The Best of the Year’ come late December. UFC London has officially made its place in the history books.
2022 brings plenty of stories so far, with Brazilian sensation Charles Oliveira losing his title due to weight issues, despite securing a first-round submission over Justin Gaethje. Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington brawling inside and outside of the cage, an event worth buying just for the blood. Both Alexander Volkanovski and Israel Adesanya continue their dominant title runs with wins earlier this year. We’ve seen amazing emerging talent in the likes of Ian Machado Garry and Jack Della Maddalena.
Best Event: UFC London, March 19th
For some of these prospects, UFC London was a coming-out party. Tom Aspinall, Arnold Allen, Paddy Pimblett, and Molly McCann all had shining moments that night. The event rightfully won ‘Best Event’ at the ESPN midyear MMA awards. “There were no title fights on this card, not even a No. 1 contender eliminator.” Said Jeff Wagenheim of ESPN, “But, in the main event, a contender announced his arrival among the heavyweight elite when Aspinall, born in Manchester, England, and fighting out of Liverpool, sent the crowd home with a first-round armbar of Volkov. It was the main card’s third straight first-round finish, all authored by Englishmen. There were four more in the prelims.”
It wasn’t just the in-cage work but also the outside cage antics “, And that was just stuff that happened inside the Octagon. Add Molly McCann giving fight fans and soccer legend Wayne Rooney the total “Meatball” experience and Paddy Pimblett leaving the cage to celebrate with Dana White. The O2 Arena was on edge the entire night.” Jeff continued. “The drama show in London was full tilt that night: The cageside judges were shaky, fighters were finishing fights quickly, and the party was raucous all evening. The UFC will be back in London on Jul. 23, and fight fans would be well served to mark their calendars and get ready for another party in The O2.”
Other Winners on the night
The best male fighter so far is a tie between Alexander Volkanovski and Charles Oliviera, while Zhang Weili takes the best female fighter. Most improvements went to crime fighter Kevin Holland while Jack Della Maddalena took the best rookie. Jiri Prochazka took the best submission, while his fight with Glover Teixeira took the best fight. Michael Chandlers’ knockout of Tony Ferguson undoubtedly took the best knockout. Chandlers’ follow-up with the WWE-style delivery on the mic gets him the best on-the-mic moment as well.
So far this year, we’ve been treated to some unforgettable moments. UFC London was an absolute crowd pleaser that any fight fan would kill to be a part of. It’s always wondering if these early moments have longevity. Come to the end of the year, as the best on-the-mic himself would say, “we’ll see you at the top.”
Featured image credits to Embed from Getty Images