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2021 MMA Awards – Fight of the Year

2021 fight of the year

We’re doing the Fight Game Media Awards a little differently this year. We’re breaking up the awards into multiple posts. Our MMA writers Ryan Frederick and Paul Fontaine are the panel. They also host the In The Clinch podcast on the Fight Game Media Network.

In a year of great fights, which fight stood out the most?

Fight of the Year

Paul Fontaine: Michael Chandler Vs. Justin Gaethje (UFC 268)
From the second this fight was announced, UFC fans were frothing at the mouth to see these two in action. Both have a history of exciting fights that usually end violently. There were some initial concerns that the fight may not happen due to vaccination policies in New York state but things were worked out and the fight happened. And it did not disappoint. Both men rocked the other with shots that would’ve finished most fighters. The first round was incredible and a contender for the round of the year. Action slowed a bit over the rest of the fight but not by much. At the end, Chandler’s face was a bloody mess and Gaethje had taken some damage but looked relatively fresh as he got the unanimous decision and vowed to win the title in 2022. 

Ryan Frederick: Michael Chandler Vs. Justin Gaethje (UFC 268)
There are a legitimate about seven or eight fights that could have won this award, but very few of them had the expectations going in that this fight had. When it was announced, fans, media and everyone were expecting an instant classic and one of the best fights in UFC history. Those types of lofty expectations are often hard to match when it comes to a fight, but Gaethje and Chandler lived up to them, and possibly even surpassed them. It was also helped by having an absolutely hot crowd behind them inside of Madison Square Garden, when a lot of other fights in contention took place inside of the empty confines of the UFC APEX. The two landed a combined 237 strikes during the fight, with both men hitting each other as hard as they could, including Gaethje dropping Chandler, only for Chandler to keep on fighting.

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