The nominees for the “Best MMA Fighter” for the 2021 ESPYS have been announced.
Former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is one of the four fighters up for the award, and is the only retired nominee on the ticket. The all-time great retired at UFC 254 in Oct. 2020 after he defeated Justin Gaethje by second round submission via triangle choke, and finished his career with a record of 29-0.
Nurmagomedov is the only fighter in UFC history to retire as the no. 1 ranked pound for pound fighter in the world.
UFC women’s featherweight and bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes is also up for the award. Nunes is currently on a 12 fight winning streak and she has not lost in almost seven years.
Since she defeated Miesha Tate for the bantamweight title at UFC 200 in July 2016, she has defended the 135 pound belt five times.
After she went up to featherweight and knocked out Cris Cyborg in 51 seconds for the 145 pound belt at UFC 232 in Dec. 2018, she has defended that belt twice. Most recently against Megan Anderson at UFC 259 in March 2021, where she won by first round submission by way of armbar.
Up next is UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas. While ‘Thug’ Rose lost her strawweight title to Jessica Andrade in May 2019, she avenged her championship defeat and defeated Andrade in a rematch at UFC 251 in July 2020.
Namajunas then defeated UFC strawweight champion Weili Zhang at UFC 261 by KO in the first round with a picture perfect head kick to regain her title and became the first woman to have multiple title reigns in one division.
The fourth and final nominee is UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. Ngannou’s last four fights prior to his second title shot lasted a total amount of 2 minutes and 42 seconds. Each of those fights ended in first round knockout victories for Ngannou, and of course warranted his second title shot.
With that title shot at UFC 260 that took place in March 2021, Ngannou avenged his first defeat to Stipe Miocic by knocking him out in the second round to punctuate a masterclass performance against arguably the greatest heavyweight of all time.
The UFC heavyweight champion was so excited once he found out about his nomination, he broke out some dance moves. That video can be found below.
To vote for the ESPYS ‘Best MMA Fighter’ award, click here.