The UFC had a big year in 2016 but there were up and downs for the promotion. On the other hand, a lot of fighters showed great skill and domination this year. Here is SportsRageous’ list of the five best UFC fighters of 2016.
5. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
The reigning women’s strawweight champion maintained her undefeated record this year. She defended her title twice against top competition. Jedrzejczyk defeated rival Claudia Gadelha last July and Karolina Kowalkiewicz last November, both by unanimous decision.
4. Donald Cerrone
“Cowboy” took the advice of many people when he lost to Rafael Dos Anjos to end 2015. He moved up to welterweight and immediately dominated the division. He is 4-0 this year since making the jump from the 155-lb division to the 170-lb.
Cerrone submitted Alex Oliveira back in February in his welterweight debut before knocking out Patrick Cote in June. He came back two months later and defeated Rick Story by TKO. He finished the year with a KO head kick win over Matt Brown in December and he is set to fight again early in 2017.
3. Conor McGregor
“Notorious” is the only fighter on this list that has lost in 2016. Conor McGregor lost to Nate Diaz by submission last March but he bounced back in August. He defeated Diaz by majority decision before setting his sights on the lightweight title.
McGregor shocked the world when he defeated Eddie Alvarez with ease at UFC 205 to become the lightweight champion. He made history by becoming the first UFC fighter to hold two belts from different weight classes simultaneously.
2. Michael Bisping
“The Count” started off 2016 by defeating Anderson Silva via unanimous decision back in July. He then got an unexpected title shot in June when he challenged Luke Rockhold for the UFC middleweight in 17 days notice.
Bisping was a heavy underdog heading into the fight but he managed to win his first-ever UFC title. He knocked out Rockhold in the first round after a flurry of punches. He then defeated Dan Henderson via unanimous decision last October to end the year with a 3-0 record and the reigning middleweight champ.
1. Stipe Miocic
The top UFC fighter of 2016 is Stipe Miocic, who is the reigning heavyweight champion of the world. He started the year right with a first round TKO win over Andrei Arlovski. He then challenged Fabricio Werdum for the heavyweight title in May.
The match was in Brazil but Miocic got the KO win after landing a counter left to Werdum’s chin in the first round. Finally, he defended the championship successful in front of his hometown of Cleveland last September with another first round KO, this time against Alistair Overeem.
Note: Amanda Nunes and Cody “No Love” Garbrandt could have easily made the Top 5. However, they are both undefeated this year but they still have to fight at UFC 207. Nunes will face the returning Ronda Rousey while Garbrandt challenges Dominick Cruz.
Photo Courtesy: Andrius Petrucenia/Flickr