2015 had its share of epic fights, back-and-forth battles, comeback wins and stunning finishes in every division. Out of the hundreds of matches, one stood out among the rest.
At UFC 187, former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski and Travis Browne logged one of the most exciting rounds in heavyweight history earning runner-up for Fight of the Year. The bout received 14-percent of the votes in the MMAWeekly.com Reader’s Choice Awards.
Arlovski stunned Browne with a right hook early in the opening round. “The Pit Bull” pressured “Hapa,” looking to put the Hawaiian away. He dropped Browne and the end looked near. While Browne staggered around on wobbly legs desperately trying to retain his equilibrium, he caught Arlovski with a winging right hand that dropped the former titleholder. Arlovski scrambled to his feet and finished with a combination along the cage.
As impressive as the UFC 187 co-main event was, it paled in comparison to the welterweight title bout that took place at UFC 189 on July 11. The rematch between champion Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald received 67-percent of the fan votes for 2015 Fight of the Year.
MacDonald utilized his jab early in the fight to keep Lawler on the outside and avoided getting into a brawl with the heavy-handed veteran. The pace picked up in the second frame. Lawler began landing power shots and opened up a cut on MacDonald.
A bloodied MacDonald came back in the third round, landing a head kick that staggered Lawler. The momentum of the fight was squarely with the Canadian following the third.
In the fourth round, MacDonald continued to unleash high kicks. He battered the champion, leaving him bloodied. At the end of the frame, Lawler stood in the center of the Octagon, pounding his chest as blood streamed from his mouth and nose. It was almost as if he were saying to MacDonald, “Is that all you’ve got?”
Lawler came out as the aggressor in the final frame. He unloaded a left hand counter after MacDonald attempted a head kick. The punch shattered MacDonald’s nose and sent him crashing to the canvas. Referee “Big John” McCarthy stepped in to stop the fight. At the time of the finish, Lawler was down 39-37 on all three judges’ scorecards, but the big finish wiped them away.
(Photo courtesy of Firas Zahabi)