Check out Dale Jordan and Nick Rizner’s picks for 2017, MMA Fighter of the Year below. Do you agree? Comment on who you think should have won below.
Nick Rizer’s Fighter of the Year
When determining each year’s best fighter, I tend to stick to a few basic principles. You have to be undefeated, you need to be at the top of the sport – either a champion or a top contender – and you need to have had a handful of ‘holy shit’ moments. There are exceptions, of course, but essentially you’ve got to face the most dangerous opponents, defeat them, and defeat them spectacularly. For me, this year, that answer was clearly Max Holloway.
Holloway knocked out the former featherweight king not once, but twice. By doing so, he announced himself as Jose Aldo’s successor to the throne, sitting atop one of the deepest divisions in MMA. Hell, even his twelve fight win streak plays a factor. Though that may not be a fair way to look at an ‘of the year’ award, it adds a certain aura of invincibility to his performances and that has an effect on what I’m seeing. Sorry. He only fought twice but no active champion competed more than twice in 2017 and that levels the playing field. Holloway takes it for me. A fantastic year for the Blessed Hawaiian.
Dale Jordan’s Fighter of the Year
I agree with Nick, that Max Holloway had a stellar year, but he is not my ‘Fighter of the Year’. My pick for ‘Fighter of the Year’ is middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker.
After moving to middleweight in 2014, the Australian amassed a 5-0 record coming into 2017.
This year, he fought and beat convincingly, arguably the best two middleweights in the UFC.
At UFC on Fox 24 in April, he dominated and finished former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza in dominant fashion earning a second-round KO over the Brazilian.
Following the win, he was matched against Yoel Romero at UFC 213 for the interim UFC middleweight title. After injuring his leg in the first round, Whittaker managed to earn a unanimous decision (basically on one leg) to capture the UFC gold.
To top off the year, he was then promoted the undisputed champion after Georges St-Pierre vacated the UFC Middleweight Championship after being diagnosed with colitis.