Full list of FanSided MMA’s 2021 Award winners

Full list of FanSided MMA’s 2021 Award winners. 

In 2021 MMA saw a lot. We experienced rematches, returns to live audiences, many (and I mean many) broken bones, new champions, and old champions returning. It was an epic year, to say the least.

Now, it’s time for the FanSided MMA team to reveal its 2021 awards. We voted as a team on 20 categories and they will be revealed every 30 minutes or so, starting on Monday, January 10, 2022.

You can stay tuned to each winner which will be announced first on our official Twitter account and then here, in this running list of winners.

Here is the Full list of FanSided MMA’s 2021 Award winners

Kamaru Usman is FanSided MMA’s Male Fighter of the Year

“After dismantling Jorge Masvidal by decision in his lone fight in 2020, Usman took his game to the next level in 2021. He began the year by viciously finishing his former teammate, Gilbert Burns, at UFC 258. The UFC would then book a rematch with Masvidal on the promotion’s return to crowds at UFC 261.” – Read more via Curtis Calhoun

Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler is FanSided MMA’s Fight of the Year

“In what was expected to be a FOTY caliber battle from start to finish, Gaethje and Chandler met in the middle of the Octagon and rarely took steps back. The two lightweight sluggers threw heavy combinations over three rounds, with both men putting each other in serious trouble throughout the matchup.” – Read more via Curtis Calhoun

Rose Namajunas is FanSided MMA’s Female Fighter of the Year

“Fast forward to the start of 2022, however, and Namajunas enters the year back on top of the 115-pound mountain. And she did it in such a manner that FanSided MMA has elected to select Namajunas as our 2021 Female Fighter of the Year.” – Read more via Tom Albano

Sergio Pettis knocking out Kyoji Horiguchi at Bellator 272 is FanSided MMA’s Knockout of the Year

“Pettis went full sniper mode and caught Horiguchi with a perfectly timed spinning back fist that dropped the Japanese MMA icon.” – Read more via Chad Porto

AJ McKee’s standing guillotine of Patricio Pitbull is FanSided MMA’s Submission of the Year

“While some had McKee getting the win over Pitbull, no one had McKee dominating the fight from the start. The fight lasted less than two minutes in total and it felt like it was a nonstop blitz from McKee. He ended up dropping Pitbull with a kick to the head, and while McKee thought he had knocked out Pitbull, the referee didn’t stop the fight, forcing McKee to reengage.” – Read more via Chad Porto

Pat Sabatini is FanSided MMA’s Rookie of the Year

“Sabatini had a successful, championship career on the regional circuit before entering the UFC Octagon in 2021. He’d compete three times, win three times and impress three times, earning himself FanSided MMA’s pick for Rookie of the Year.” – Read more via Tom Albano

Merab Dvalishvili defeating Marlon Moraes is FanSided MMA’s Biggest Comeback of the Year

“In the second round, Dvalishvili returned to his game plan of wresting Moraes, and it paid off. Dvalishvili would spend the rest of the fight controlling his opponent from the ground, landing a monstrous 142 unanswered strikes on his opponent over the course of four minutes, finally exhausting Moraes and prompting a referee stoppage.” – Read more via Byron Smith

Dustin Poirier is FanSided MMA’s Peoples Champ

“The FanSided MMA’s Peoples Champ award goes annually to the MMA fighter who is beloved by fans worldwide but failed to break through and win an undisputed championship in their weight class. In 2021, Dustin Poirier was the obvious choice for Peoples Champ.” – Read more via Adam Stocker

Valentina Shevchenko is FanSided MMA’s Most Dominant Champion of the Year

“In the history of MMA, there are few fighters who have been as dominant in their weight class as Valentina Shevchenko. Since making her return to flyweight, Shevchenko has won eight straight fights, including seven title fights, and has rarely lost a round on any of the judges’ scorecards. Shevchenko’s dominance in the UFC women’s flyweight division earned her the FanSided MMA’s award for Most Dominant Champion of the Year.” – Read more via Adam Stocker

UFC 261 is FanSided MMA’s Fight Card of the Year

“For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, UFC 261 was held in front of a full building of fans. While the events held at the UFC APEX offered a different view experience that allowed fans to hear the impact of the strikes and the instructions from coaches’ corners. The return of fans at UFC 261, reminded everyone how much bigger and better things are with an excited audience. Unlike some crowds that arrive only for the main card, the crowd in Jacksonville was there for the first fight and was loud until the very end of the card. The addition of an electric crowd made everything seem more important and more impactful.” – Read more via Adam Stocker

Bellator 263 is FanSided MMA’s Fight Card of the Year (non-UFC)

“Bellator 263 featured a variety of talent, including wins from Usman Nurmagomedov, Goiti Yamauchi, Islam Mamedov, Mads Burnell, and more. Also, eight of the 11 fights ended by finish, keeping the crowd energy going all night. After ten intriguing fights, Pitbull and McKee ended the night with the best moment in Bellator history.” – Read more via Jake Foley

 Julianna Peña submitting Amanda Nunes at UFC 269 is FanSided MMA’s Upset of the Year

“Peña withstood a barrage of punishment from Nunes early on in the fight, but the tide turned quickly as Peña managed to overwhelm Nunes with counter strikes, knocking her off balance and eventually taking her to the ground. Peña followed up by taking Nunes’ back and sinching on a rear-naked choke. To the disbelief of almost everyone, including Peña, Nunes tapped almost immediately, and history was made.” – Read more via Al Mac

Paul Felder is FanSided MMA’s Biggest Retirement of 2021

“Felder announced his retirement live on the air during UFC Vegas 27. After teasing a potential leave from MMA for months, he ultimately decided to leave the fight game and focus on his broadcasting career.” – Read more via Curtis Calhoun

Aljamain Sterling winning bantamweight title after Petr Yan DQ is FanSided MMA’s Biggest Scandal of the Year

“Sterling became the first UFC fighter to win the title on a disqualification. Immediately, fighters tweeted out their opinions on the disqualification. While fans were upset, believing that the title should not change hands and that title should have been vacated. That is where the scandal and controversy began. It would only get worse from there.” – Read more via Adam Stocker

Miesha Tate’s return to UFC is FanSided MMA’s Feel Good Moment of the Year

“On March 24, it was announced Tate would be heading back to the UFC and back to the Octagon, taking on Marion Reneau in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 31 on July 17. And it was that comeback performance from Tate that’s earned her this year’s FanSided MMA Feel Good Moment.” – Read more via Tom Albano

Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor 2 and 3 are FanSided MMA’s Rematch of the Year

“It would be seven long years before Poirier was able to get McGregor back into the Octagon to settle the old score. UFC 257 was promoted as Poirier’s quest for revenge. He would complete that quest finishing McGregor in the second round via TKO.” – Read more via Sam Gladen

Paddy Pimblett to the UFC is FanSided MMA’s Biggest Signing of the Year

“The former Cage Warrior’s featherweight champ made his move with a statement-defining win in his last appearance for the European MMA outfit, securing a dominant finish by submission and immediately sending a message to UFC president Dana White that the time to sign him up is now. The UFC would go on to announce the signing of Pimblett as a done deal less than two weeks later.” – Read more via Steven Irvine

Trevor Wittman is FanSided MMA’s Coach of Year

“Trevor Wittman has continued his reign of dominance in 2021 as MMA’s premier head coach and corner analyst on UFC broadcasts, as he has once again been named the FanSided MMA Coach of the Year in 2021.  After snagging UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, Wittman guided the champion to three of the most electrifying wins of his title reign including two highly-anticipated rematches against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261 and Colby Covington at UFC 268.” – Read more via Zain Bando

Laura Sanko is FanSided MMA’s Analyst of the Year

“Sanko made history this year as the first woman to serve as a color commentator for the UFC in the Zuffa era. Sanko brought her knowledge of MMA and her broadcast skills to the Dana White Contender Series analyst team. She joined former UFC fighter Paul Felder and fellow commentator Dan Hellie cage-side for the duration of the Tuesday night events. She not only was on color commentary for the events, but she also did the in-cage interviews.” – Read more via Nicole Bosco

Derrick Lewis throwing his cup in the crowd is FanSided MMA’s Funniest Moment of the Year

“After the fight, in front of the audience, his family, and those watching at home, Lewis reached his hand into his pants and pulled out his cup. Holding it up in the middle of the Octagon, the crowd at the UFC Apex went wild, cheering and calling for Lewis to throw them his used cup. Lewis, a man of the people, obliged, launching his used cup into the stands.” – Read more via Byron Smith

Khetag Pliev losing his finger at CFFC 94 is FanSided MMA’s Most Gruesome Injury of the Year

“Once the dust settled, Pliev was calmly sitting down with a missing finger on his left hand. The finger was missing for several minutes before being found. The finger had been bent back into the glove, barely hanging on. At first, the fight was determined a TKO win for Goodale but ended up being a no-contest later on. Safe to say, you never know what to expect in an MMA fight. Luckily, the finger was salvageable and reconnected.” – Read more via Jake Foley

The annual FanSided MMA Awards are voted on by the FanSided MMA team each year. Please stay tuned for more awards announced throughout the day.