As the year draws to a close in what has been another epic 12 months of UFC action, we begin to review the comings and goings in the ever changing landscape of MMA’s premiere organisation. But who was this years best fighter? we take a look at our top 3 UFC fighters of 2017.
3. Rose Namajunas
After defeating ‘The Karate Hottie’ Michelle Waterson with a rear naked choke in April, former Ultimate fighter runner up Rose Namajunas earned herself a second shot at a UFC gold – but what she faced next was considered to be an almost impossible task. Squaring off against a formidable champion in Joanna Jędrzejczyk, many gave ‘Thug’ Rose very little chance of claiming the belt. Though Rose it seemed, hadn’t read the script.
After negating much of Joanna’s psychological tactics in the build up to the fight, Rose was able to enter the Octagon in a calm and collected manner – allowing her to catch the champion off guard – twice dropping her to the canvas. It was the second knockdown that was followed by a ferocious barrage of punches, that forced Joanna to tap, earning Namajunas the coveted Flyweight belt.
This victory was the biggest upset of the year and earns 25 year old ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas 3rd place on our list.
2. Robert Whittaker
What a year it’s been for Australian Middleweight Robert Whittaker. Despite a number of hold ups at the top of the division, the 26 year old continued to rack up impressive victories, forcing his way to title contention.
After a stunning KO victory over veteran, Jacare de Souza early in the year, Whittaker was given the opportunity to face off with Yoel Romero for the interim Middleweight belt, in the absence of champion Michael Bisping. This was an opportunity Whittaker would not let slip, and despite suffering an injured knee just moments into the first round, he was able to secure a clear decision victory over the Cuban.
This victory would make the Sydney native, Whittaker, the first Australian to claim UFC gold, and after GSP vacated his Middleweight belt he was promoted to rank undisputed champion. Whittaker will defend his title for the first time against Luke Rockhold early in 2018.
1. Max Holloway
Without doubt our number 1 spot for this year goes to Hawaii’s own Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway. The 26 year old ended 2016 with a bang when he captured the Featherweight interim title against Anthony Pettis. If anything he came in to 2017 looking even stronger. In June Holloway fought to unify the division against long time champion Jose Aldo. The Hawaiian who follows in the footsteps of greats such as BJ Penn, did so in spectacular fashion, putting on a perfect technical performance, and stopping the Brazilian by TKO in the third round.
If stopping Aldo in his own back yard wasn’t impressive enough though, Holloway later defeated him for a second time in December, after Frankie Edgar pulled out of their scheduled match up in Detroit. Another impressive 3rd round stoppage cemented his dominance at the top of the Featherweight division, and makes Max Holloway our 2017 fighter of the year.
Tony Ferguson, Chris Cyborg, Darren Till, Francis Ngannou
Do you agree with this years list? Have your say in the comments below.