Make your pick for the 2017 fight of the year in the last of this year’s Bloody Elbow Year-End Awards. It’s back!
Over the next few days, Bloody Elbow is going to ask for your opinion on some of the best things that have happened in the MMA world over the course of 2017. There will be a total of eight different categories you’ll be asked to vote on. For the sake of simplicity we’re going to stick with high-level and relevant MMA stuff in these posts. While I’m sure there was a ludicrous knockout in an unscheduled MMA event at The Lumberyard strip club in Des Moines, or an insane pancreas lock submission on an obscure ZST! card in Japan, let’s just stick to stuff a lot of us have seen, okay? (If that spiel looked familiar, it’s because I’ve used the same one for seven years in a row. Originality? What originality?)
It’s pretty simple. I’ll post 5-10 options in a category, you vote for what you think was the best. If you think I left something really important off my list, post it in the comments and we can add it to the poll if it’s deemed worthy. I can almost guarantee you won’t like all my suggestions, but narrowing down these lists is tough.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get onto the eighth and final poll – the best fight of the year. MMA fans were lucky to see so many great fights in 2017, and here are the ten I thought rose above the rest.
Before that though, if you haven’t yet, go back and vote on the first two categories – Best Submission, Biggest Robbery, Biggest Upset, Newcomer of the Year, Event of the Year, Best Fighter, and Best Knockout.
Lando Vannata vs. David Teymur, UFC 209 – This was so long ago that many have forgotten about it, but it was one of my favorite fights of the year. It featured dazzling offense from both men, a chin of steel from Vannata, and stuff that looked like it was out of a video game at points. Teymur took the decision, but Vannata showed a lot. This fight was so good that it won fight of the night over another fight on this list.
Yancy Medeiros vs. Alex Oliveira, UFC 218 – These two men were known as action fighters going in, but I don’t think anyone could have expected that level of savagery. If there was an award for round of the year, I think the first round of this fight would win it hands down. The round featured three knockdowns, crazy back-and-forth-action, and a lot of blood. The second was still pretty awesome too, and the fact that Medeiros was able to pull out the win in the third was really remarkable. Such a great fight.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier, UFC 211 – An awesome scrap with a terrible ending. The first round started slow, but picked up in the second half. It was the second round that propelled the fight onto this list though. Both men had the other in major trouble at different points, and they just brawled their way though hell. Unfortunately a couple of illegal knees led to a No Contest (which really should have seen Alvarez DQ’d instead).
Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson, TUF 25 Finale – Johnson is one of the best technical strikers in the sport. Gaethje came into the UFC with quite a reputation as an all-action guy. This was the perfect matchup, and it was an absolutely brutal war. Both men were hurt multiple times. Gaethje showed incredible perseverance, then a ton of swagger after he dropped Johnson and told him to get up a couple of times. Gaethje took the fight via TKO, and everyone was left with their jaws on the floor in amazement.
Jessica Andrade vs. Angela Hill, UFC Fight Night 104 – Another case of great matchmaking leading to a great fight. Andrade was totally relentless, walking Hill down and throwing huge shots for the entire bout. Hill stood her ground and fired right back. Andrade took the fight, but it didn’t hurt Hill’s stock at all. Quite the opposite.
Tim Elliott vs. Louis Smolka, UFC on Fox 24 – While every other fight on this list is some type of brawl, this was most a grappling fight featuring a bunch of great scrambles. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fight move so fast for so long, to the point that I remember not even being able to keep up on play-by-play. Elliott won all three rounds, but it was an amazing display of grappling and quickness.
T.J. Dillashaw vs. Cody Garbrandt, UFC 217 – The heated rivals got off to a timid start, but it didn’t take long for them to start brawling. Garbrandt dropped Dillashaw late in the first and almost finished him, but T.J. was saved by the bell. Amazingly, he recovered quickly and dropped Garbrandt with a head kick in the second. Halfway through the round they got into another firefight, and Dillashaw landed the perfect right hook to claim back the bantamweight title.
Justin Gaethje vs. Eddie Alvarez, UFC 218 – Each of these guys had already made this list by now, so everyone had huge expectations about this being a war. And it totally, totally was. Both men ate dozens of hellacious shots from the other and just kept coming forward. Gaethje battered Eddie’s front leg to the point that he could barely stand, but Alvarez showed ridiculous heart by continuing to land shots. Finally, a knee actually cracked Gaethje’s chin for the very first time in his career, and Alvarez was declared the winner. But really, everyone that watched the fight won. Because it was brilliant.
Mirsad Bektic vs. Darren Elkins, UFC 209 – I’ll be blunt here – Bektic kicked the shit out of Elkins for two rounds. Elkins was cut up all over the place, and it’s crazy that he was even able to survive into the third. Then he got a takedown. Then he started to beat Bektic up a bit. Then landed a massive head kick and a punch and picked up the biggest comeback win of the year, by far.
Dustin Poirier vs. Anthony Pettis, UFC Fight Night 120 – From midway through the first round until the unfortunate injury finish in the third, these two never let up for a second. The first round ended with a ridiculous back-and-forth against the cage. The second round was takedowns, reversals, brawling, and blooood. Poirier was dominating early in the third, but Pettis got injured as Poirier mounted him and tapped out in sever pain. Again we were robbed of a standard conclusion to a Poirier fight, but it was still all kinds of awesome.