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.
What was the show of the year?
Show of the Year
Paul Fontaine: UFC 261 (Jacksonville, FL)
The reason I’m choosing this show is twofold. First off, it was a great show in a year full of them. There were three title fights at the top of the card and all of them ended with a finish. The other two main card fights were notable due to freak injuries suffered by Jimmy Crute and Chris Weidman, the latter of which was one of the most ironic moments in MMA history. The show kicked off with two prelim fights featuring fighters that not even hardcore fans were familiar with and the atmosphere was electric for every second of them. The reason? This was the return of fans for the first time in 13 months, due to the pandemic. These fans were starving for UFC action and the fighters were fueled by the electricity they provided. The UFC did not have an unsold ticket to a PPV event in 2021 and this was the start of their incredible run.
Ryan Frederick: UFC 269 (Las Vegas, NV)
It was such a strong year of action inside the cage, and there were several contenders for best event of 2021, and there may be a little bit of recency bias in this one, but I felt UFC 269 in December was the best of the best when it came to UFC action. It’s an event that I felt incapsulated a lot of what the UFC was in 2021. It ended with what many felt was an underdog champion in Charles Oliveira, who had a career resurgence to win the UFC Lightweight Championship during the year, (one of several who had career resurgences) and ended the year as a UFC champion. It had one of the biggest upsets in UFC history when Julianna Pena submitted Amanda Nunes to win the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship. It had arguably the two best rounds of the year; the second round in the Pena/Nunes bout and the first round in the Oliveira/Poirier fight. It had a future superstar with a big first-round finish on the main card in Sean O’Malley. There were some great fights on the prelims, including a fight between Dominick Cruz and Pedro Munhoz. There was an all-time great post-fight celebration when Tai Tuivasa won by knockout over Augusto Sakai. It was an event that had just about everything you can ask for when it comes to the UFC. There are many contenders for this award, and there’s not really a wrong answer for this, but I just loved this show from start-to-finish.