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Pundit Arena MMA Awards 2018: Fighter Of The Year

In this edition of our end-of-year awards, we’ll be crowning the fighter who achieved more within the world of mixed martial arts than any of their peers.

UFC 232 is now behind us and as expected, there were more than enough major talking points to be found to have a pretty impressive effect on our end-of-year awards.

And while there are more than a few categories for us to get into as we move into January, today’s piece will feature our pick for Fighter Of The Year, a prestigious honour befitting of the first day of the New Year.

So without further ado, here are the nominees.

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Our opening pick holds perhaps the most high-profile victory of the lot. In April, Khabib proved his willingness to fight any contender if it brought him the lightweight title – beating Al Iaquinta over five-rounds on just hours notice.

At UFC 229, he, of course, danced with the former dual-weight world champion Conor McGregor in a bout that was as memorable for its buildup and aftermath as it was for the action that happened inside the octagon.

Daniel Cormier

DC well and truly stepped out of the shadow of Jon Jones this year after being attached to the divisive champion for the last few years. Going 3-0 with two title-defenses (one at light-heavyweight and the other at heavyweight), Cormier was able to shut down to in-form title-challengers with relative ease, making the difference in skill levels very apparent.

It was his win over Stipe Miocic at UFC 226, however, that stands as his crowning achievement this year.

Amanda Nunes

Nunes really took her status to another level entirely after the events of Saturday night’s UFC 232. Sure, beating down Raquel Pennington on her way to a dominant fifth-round stoppage was impressive but with her sub-minute KO victory over Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino, she solidified herself in legend.

She joins Cormier as the second fighter to become a dual-weight world champion in 2018 and should be set for some similarly huge matchups closer to the summer.

Valentina Shevchenko

One of the most talented fighters on the UFC’s roster today managed to finally take home a UFC championship belt with a dominant win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231, a fight that was preceded by one of the most one-sided fights in the history of the sport – her battering of Priscila Cachoeira in February.

Overall, her nomination is one that stems from this being the year that she emerged as one of the promotion’s most feared fighters. Save for a close loss to the now-featherweight champ Nunes, Shevchenko could easily be vying for top-10 P4P status next year if she continues on the path that she is on.

The Pundit Arena MMA Fighter Of The Year 2018 is Amanda Nunes

This award was tied down by Daniel Cormier for months. And to be honest, it really didn’t seem as though anyone could do anything to budge him from his spot.

Then came Nunes and her absolutely stunning victory over the seemingly unbeatable Cris Cyborg.

Not only was it a knockout, but it was also in the first minute of round one.

For that reason, Nunes is our 2018 Fighter Of The Year.

Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena


About Cillian Cunningham

Lead mixed martial arts writer who can be contacted at cillian@punditarena.com.