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2024 Mid-12 months Awards: Debating the most important winners and losers thus far this 12 months


Time flies once you’re having enjoyable, and as normal, there’s been lots to have for battle followers.

Simply previous the halfway level of 2024, there’s no scarcity of speaking factors. The UFC machine continues to roll on within the face of accidents, a significant lawsuit, and Conor McGregor being Conor McGregor. PFLator is on its maiden voyage. And BKFC has emerged as one of the talked-about promotions in all of fight sports activities, carving out its personal path whereas the likes of KSW, ONE Championship, and RIZIN proceed to work for his or her items of the pie.

MMA Preventing’s Shaheen Al-Shatti, Mike Heck, Alexander Okay. Lee, and Jed Meshew have a look again at what went down over the previous six months and pick a few of 2024’s finest, worst, and weirdest moments thus far.


Battle of the Half-12 months: Max Holloway vs. Justin Gaethje — UFC 300

Max Holloway and Justin Gaethje
Photograph by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC by way of Getty Photographs

Meshew: Rewind the clock a couple of months again to the start of this 12 months. Followers have been slowly working themselves right into a lather about UFC 300 and the way it wasn’t any good as a result of the UFC didn’t ebook any unbelievable fights for it. And despite the fact that these followers have been dumb on the time, nearly each one in every of them shut up when UFC introduced Justin Gaethje would battle Max Holloway for the BMF title.

Is the BMF belt actual? No. Did anybody care? (Mike) Heck no. This was violence nirvana: Essentially the most thrilling fighter in MMA historical past (Gaethje) vs. a top-20 thrilling fighter who can also be one of the beloved (Holloway). Earlier than the battle even occurred, I declared with absolute certainty that it could be the Battle of the 12 months. I didn’t know the way proper I used to be.

For twenty-four minutes and 50 seconds, Gaethje and Holloway beat the bejesus out of one another. Gaethje was repeatedly harm and battled again. Holloway acquired dropped (unofficially) for the primary time in his profession. The 2 males mixed for practically 300 important strikes and never one second of management time. After which, with 10 seconds left, it occurred.

I received’t waste extra digital ink on the knockout as another person will focus on it momentarily, however within the waning seconds of an unbelievable battle, one which Max Holloway was going to win by choice after dominating the fifth spherical, Max etched himself into historical past with one of many biggest finishes to a battle any of us have ever seen. It was the exclamation level that turned an outstanding battle into an unforgettable one.

After we look again on 2024, the Battle, the Second, the Knockout, the All the things of this 12 months will all stand within the shadow of two of essentially the most thrilling fighters to ever do it.

Honorable Point out: Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier — UFC 302

It will not be totally truthful, however notion performs a giant function in how fights are obtained. Living proof, the runner-up this 12 months.

Heading into UFC 302, the temper was unusual. Poirier fairly clearly didn’t deserve this title shot, however he’s so beloved, nobody a lot cared. Plus, everybody was assured he would get run over, as Makhachev’s mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov had executed to him beforehand. As a substitute, “The Diamond” confirmed simply how good he’s.

After a tricky opening body, Poirier gave Makhachev a hell of a time within the cage. He confirmed vastly improved takedown protection (all the time a weak point) and busted Makhachev open with a nasty elbow. Each actually and metaphorically, it was the primary time we’ve seen the champion bleed. After which, Makhachev responded how champions do: He completed the battle with brutal authority.

With the battle within the stability in opposition to a surprisingly tough opponent, Makhachev elevated himself within the remaining spherical, trapping Poirier right into a sequence that allowed him to transition right into a fight-ending D’Arce choke. It was an ideal conclusion to some terrific drama, with the champion asserting himself as one of the best fighter alive, whereas the beloved determine managed to impress in defeat.

Ballot

What has been one of the best battle of 2024 thus far?

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    Max Holloway vs. Justin Gaethje

    (0 votes)

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    Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier

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    Dustin Poirier vs. Benoit Saint Denis

    (0 votes)

  • 0%

    Brendan Allen vs. Chris Curtis 2

    (0 votes)

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    Different (depart remark under)

    (0 votes)



0 votes complete

Vote Now


Fighter of the Half-12 months: Alex Pereira

UFC 303: Pereira v Prochazka 2

Alex Pereira
Photograph by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC by way of Getty Photographs

Heck: On the mid-way level of 2024, it’s “Poatan” on the entrance of the pack.

There are a number of nice choices so far, however Alex Pereira, the unicorn of a UFC gentle heavyweight champion, takes the lead into the second half of the 12 months.

In most years, Pereira going 2-0 — with two completely vicious knockouts in lower than 9 minutes of mixed octagon time — in defenses of his second divisional title would put him in pole place, however think about that he saved two of the UFC’s largest playing cards of the 12 months within the course of and the feat turns into much more spectacular. Jamahal Hill seemed like an absolute world-beater in his win over Glover Teixeira in January 2023, and sure, whereas he was getting back from harm at UFC 300, Pereira obliterated him.

Jiri Prochazka is an absolute lunatic and one of many three finest 205-pounders on the planet. Pereira, on two weeks’ discover and with a pair of damaged toes, arguably seemed higher than ever as he delivered a completely ridiculous knockout within the opening seconds of Spherical 2 in the primary occasion of UFC 303.

Query is, can he maintain on to the spot?

Honorable Point out: Max Holloway

If Pereira didn’t step up at UFC 303, Holloway could be the chief within the clubhouse with out query after shifting up in weight, dominating Justin Gaethje for twenty-four:59, after which delivering one of the memorable knockouts in UFC historical past to win the BMF title. With that win, “Blessed” probably has the chance subsequent to reclaim one other championship.

Regardless of the recent begins out of the gate from Pereira and Holloway, 2024 might find yourself being one in every of more durable votes for this class.

If Holloway will get the featherweight title shot in opposition to Ilia Topuria and delivers, “Blessed” will get A LOT of first-place votes. If Topuria beats Holloway and Volkanovski in the identical 12 months, that’s ridiculously spectacular. One title many could also be forgetting is Arman Tsarukyan. If the excellent light-weight can finish the 12 months with wins over Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev, whereas profitable essentially the most tough title in MMA within the course of, he may have a factor or two to say about this dialog.

Ballot

Who has been one of the best fighter of 2024 thus far?

  • 0%

    Robert Whittaker

    (0 votes)

  • 0%

    Different (depart remark under)

    (0 votes)



0 votes complete

Vote Now


Knockout of the Half-12 months: Max Holloway def. Justin Gaethje — UFC 300

UFC 300: Gaethje v Holloway

Photograph by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC by way of Getty Photographs

Al-Shatti: Ilia Topuria’s response mentioned all of it.

On the evening of UFC 300, I wrote that somebody is going to must ship a cranium into orbit with a rolling thunder within the remaining milliseconds of a title battle to dislodge Max Holloway from this perch, and my associates, you don’t want me to inform you that hasn’t truly occurred. And albeit, even when it had, we’d in all probability nonetheless be giving Holloway his flowers right here. That’s how absurd the one most enduring picture from one in every of MMA’s biggest ever playing cards is.

As soon as each few years, if we’re fortunate, the kind of second arrives in that immediately etches itself into the game’s all-time pantheon. The kind of second that stops time and turns into a benchmark for MMA fandom, that continues to be part of our lives from now into infinity. Stick round lengthy sufficient and you already know precisely what I imply. Conor McGregor’s 13-second coronation. Anderson Silva’s fifth-round heroics. Fedor vs. Cro Cop in a duel of the almighties. The nights you both bear in mind precisely the place you have been once they occurred or hear wistful tales advert nauseam about the way you’d by no means perceive since you weren’t there. And make no mistake, Holloway’s point-down throwdown with Justin Gaethje is the most recent to affix that sacred record, destined to endure lengthy after we’re all six toes within the floor.

Holloway was already a first-ballot Corridor of Famer earlier than UFC 300. Afterward, he reworked into one thing else totally: An icon. Sorry to the remaining, however this class is locked up till award season rolls round in full in December. Everybody else is competing for second place.

Honorable Point out: Ilia Topuria def. Alexander Volkanovski — UFC 298

All good issues ends badly, in any other case they wouldn’t finish in any respect.

That cliche could not apply to all aspects of life, however most of the time it rings true within the battle sport. Alexander Volkanovski can attest to that. At UFC 298, the fifth-longest consecutive title reign in UFC males’s historical past ended with one good proper hook to the jaw. Volkanovski is both the best or second-greatest featherweight champion of all-time (relying on the way you view Jose Aldo), however time is undefeated and Ilia Topuria arrived in Anaheim with the aura of a grim reaper. The charismatic Spaniard advised the world what was going to occur and even modified his Instagram bio to anoint himself as the brand new UFC 145-pound king properly earlier than he ever stepped foot within the Honda Heart and starched a legend.

Whether or not Topuria is a flash within the pan or can harness the identical endurance of a lot of featherweight’s nice champions earlier than him stays to be seen, however there’s little question “El Matador” authored one hell of a primary chapter to wherever this story finally ends up main.

Ballot

What has been one of the best KO of 2024 thus far?

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    Max Holloway def. Justin Gaethje

    (0 votes)

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    Ilia Topuria def. Alexander Volkanovski

    (0 votes)

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    Alex Pereira def. Jiri Prochazka

    (0 votes)

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    Vinicius Oliveira def. Benardo Sopaj

    (0 votes)

  • 0%

    Different (depart remark under)

    (0 votes)



0 votes complete

Vote Now


Submission of the Half-12 months: Brian Ortega vs. Yair Rodriguez 2 — UFC Mexico Metropolis

Lee: Brian Ortega simply couldn’t catch a break.

When Ortega stepped into the octagon for a rematch with Yair Rodriguez this previous February, no person knew what to anticipate from the two-time UFC featherweight title challenger. His first battle with Rodriguez resulted in a disastrous shoulder harm for Ortega, lengthy bouts of inactivity left him winless since October 2020, after which in a darkly comical second, he appeared to tweak his ankle moments after getting into the cage.

Suffice to say, Ortega’s misfortune didn’t look like anyplace near coming to an finish.

Rodriguez blistered him along with his deadly standup within the first spherical, notching a 10-8 on one judges’ scorecard. Nonetheless, Ortega’s famed resilience kicked in and he took Rodriguez to the mat in Spherical 2 and bludgeoned him for his personal 10-8 spherical. Then, within the third, Ortega grounded Rodriguez for good. The submission specialist tied Rodriguez up with an arm-triangle choke and compelled the faucet so as to add one other Spherical 3 end to his résumé.

On condition that Ortega just lately got here underneath fireplace for a weight debacle that led to the cancellation of his UFC 303 bout with Diego Lopes, it’s laborious to recollect what a cathartic second this was, nevertheless it was inspiring to see Ortega again within the win column after going through a lot adversity.

Honorable Point out: Liz Carmouche vs. Kana Watanabe 2 — PFL 4

Our honorable point out goes to a different rematch with its fair proportion of drama, although underneath vastly totally different circumstances.

Liz Carmouche and Kana Watanabe’s rematch on this season’s PFL flyweight event came about three years after their first encounter at Bellator 261, when Carmouche dealt with Watanabe en path to a 35-second TKO win. Carmouche went on to turn out to be Bellator flyweight champion and finally run off 9 straight wins, with no marks in her loss column since dropping a regrettable choice to Valentina Shevchenko in 2019.

That unbeaten run — and simply as importantly qualification for the PFL’s $1 million postseason — was in jeopardy after two rounds with Watanabe, with the Japanese veteran stifling Carmouche’s finest makes an attempt at offense. With time ticking away and Carmouche going through a loss on the playing cards, she went for broke with an armbar from backside place and was rewarded with a clutch tapout.

Formally, there was solely eight seconds remaining within the contest.

Carmouche doesn’t all the time get the respect she deserves, however with two league wins underneath her belt and pending matchups with Taila Santos and, probably, prized PFL prospect Dakota Ditcheva, she might quickly have a seven-figure bonus to remind everybody what she’s value.

Ballot

What has been one of the best submission of 2024 thus far?

  • 0%

    Brian Ortega vs. Yair Rodriguez 2

    (0 votes)

  • 0%

    Liz Carmouche vs. Kana Watanabe 2

    (0 votes)

  • 0%

    Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier

    (0 votes)

  • 0%

    Kleber Koike vs. Juan Archuleta

    (0 votes)

  • 0%

    Different (depart remark under)

    (0 votes)



0 votes complete

Vote Now


Coolest Factor: Eddie Corridor has the energy of two males

Meshew: Hey, I don’t know if y’all missed it, however again in June, former World’s Strongest Man Eddie Corridor did this.

Sure, that’s Eddie Corridor preventing two folks, and sure, that’s the world’s first powerbomb-into-right hand combo. (Not seen in that clip, after ending that one man, the battle was restarted with Corridor in opposition to simply the opposite man; it was over moments later.)

Circus fights are dope and circus fights with the World’s Strongest Man are doper. Plus, afterward, Corridor known as for an MMA battle with former umpteen-time World’s Strongest Man Mariusz Pudzianowski. That is what MMA was imagined to be like when our Founding Fathers envisioned it.


Most Insane Factor: The Chunk

UFC Fight Night: Severino v Lima

Photograph by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC by way of Getty Photographs

Al-Shatti: Right here’s how weird issues have gotten in 2024: Igor Severino truly violently bit a dude (Andre Lima) on a random APEX card, and that dude then went to a tattoo parlor and inked a same-night “Chunk of the Night time” memento on prime of an additional $100,000 he collected from the game’s most seen authority determine, and the entire saga was outdated information like three days later.

If Draymond Inexperienced bit a random participant on the Minnesota Timberwolves on a random Tuesday evening, and that dude then went and tattooed it as much as the tune of a six-figure bonus from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, it’d be a narrative for the subsequent 4 months! Anytime you assume MMA has developed previous its Wild West period, it solely takes a bizarre evening like March 23 to remind you that the lawless spirit of 1993 continues to be embedded deep into the material of this dumb, lovely sport. Nowhere else might this have been a factor. How will you not like it?


Largest story: UFC 300

Heck: I do know, I do know, the simple reply is Conor McGregor and the drama of UFC 303, however for the sake of constructive vibes, I’m going with UFC 300 for a variety of causes.

To start with, internet hosting the vast majority of the programming on the community offers me a reasonably stable concept of trending subjects and what folks need to discuss. All through 2024, essentially the most questions I used to be requested needed to do with UFC 300, from no matter the primary occasion was going to be, to if Dana White might attain the inconceivable expectations he placed on the cardboard, and numerous others.

Not solely did the cardboard ship in execution, UFC did one thing they hardly ever ever do: They really had enjoyable with it, though it took a scorching minute to get us there.

Did the Pereira vs. Hill principal occasion announcement “blow everybody’s socks off?” No, in reality, one way or the other I added extra layers of clothes even residing in South Carolina. However we sang the cardboard’s praises as soon as the lineup was finalized, calling it one of the best on-paper card in UFC historical past.

What I beloved most about it? This was not the informal MMA fan’s card. UFC usually books for the informal fan, the newbies who go to the native pub and faux they know concerning the sport as a result of they observe Conor McGregor on Instagram. These have been the oldsters in the entire chats doo-dooing on this card. However UFC 300 was for us! It was for the followers who drudge by means of the quicksand of endless playing cards at “The World’s Most Well-known APEX” two to 3 Saturdays a month, or the subpar highway present Battle Night time lineups, and even half of a pay-per-view calendar 12 months that has been, fairly frankly, underwhelming, and that is perhaps too variety.

However on April 13, none of that mattered. UFC’s lack of effort in promotion, the corporate caring extra about Energy Slap than the precise entity that made them the MMA chief by about 30 international revolutions and the fight sports activities GOAT, the terrible battle playing cards on the APEX, fighter pay, Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic — all forgotten. No, on that evening, the quicksand turned a conveyor belt, and the hardcore MMA followers floated by means of a time machine, of types, by means of easier instances, when Gladiator Man and Face the Ache set the desk for chaos. Alex Pereira’s star continued to rise. Max Holloway delivered an all-timer. Zhang Weili continued her dominance. And so many different constructive moments.

On the flip aspect, we additionally realized {that a} seemingly humbling knockout loss in a principal occasion from a fighter who talked an unbelievable quantity of trash heading into it might truly show months later that not a single lesson was realized. UFC 300 had all of it.

On that evening at T-Cell Area, a number of generations of MMA followers got here collectively for a blockbuster filled with reminiscences, enjoyment, and nostalgia. An evening that reminded us that when UFC truly offers a shit, it may be magical.


Most MMA MMA Promotion of 2024 So Far: UFC

Lee: For the umpteenth 12 months in a row, the MMA-iest of MMA promotions is — you guessed it — the UFC!

By thick and skinny, Dana White and firm proceed to trudge alongside, posting file earnings, staying ubiquitous on social media (shout out to Energy Slap!), and garnering huge mainstream curiosity with new broadcast offers on the horizon. At its coronary heart, UFC promotes fights, however as a enterprise entity, it has turn out to be a lot greater than that.

It’s not about giving followers one of the best particular person fights, however as an alternative about signing as a lot inexpensive expertise as attainable and trotting them out on the UFC APEX each week come hell or excessive water. When UFC goes on the highway, occasions promote out earlier than lineups are even near being finalized, and the promotion is all the time working within the black with costly web site charges now the norm (no extra off-beat Battle Night time cities anymore, sorry Moncton!). What was as soon as an outlaw model within the skilled sports activities world is now a self-sustaining machine with no main obstacles in sight.

That final half is vital to say, as a result of bear in mind the antitrust lawsuit that has been hanging over UFC’s head for the previous few years? It’s all however settled, with a just some Is to be dotted and Ts left to be crossed earlier than the nine-figure payout is resolved. A giant hit for UFC, no query, till you keep in mind that it’s a success it might afford to take, one which will likely be swept underneath the rug by the point we’ve hit the midpoint of 2025.

Add within the partnership with fellow sports activities leisure large WWE underneath the TKO banner, and you may see why UFC is in no hazard of trending downward anytime quickly.

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