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2021 MMA Awards – Who’s Next?

2021 mma awards who's next

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.

Our second award is about who made the ascent in 2021 for bigger and better things in 2022.

Who’s Next

Paul Fontaine: Alex Pereira
The former Glory kickboxing world champion is the only fighter to ever knock out current UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in combat sports competition. He made his UFC debut in November at UFC 268 in spectacular fashion. In the featured prelim, a spot usually reserved for veterans with big names, this UFC newcomer had a somewhat lackluster first round while being held against the cage by his more experienced opponent. Toward the end of the round, he figured out how to land strikes from that position and was doing some damage. He came out for the second and landed an incredible jumping knee to knock him out and a star was born on the undercard of one of the biggest shows of the year. He will need a few more wins but UFC is clearly building him to face Adesanya again down the road and he’s definitely someone to watch on the way there. 

Ryan Frederick: Ian Garry
There were several contenders I had for this award, but I give Garry the slight nod over Erin Blanchfield and Jake Hadley, who are two others to watch in 2022. Garry made his UFC debut in November inside Madison Square Garden, and had an impressive first-round knockout win over Jordan Williams. Being from Ireland and in the same arena where Conor McGregor had arguably his defining moment as a fighter, Garry put on a performance similar to early-UFC McGregor, and then cut a post-fight promo reminiscent of McGregor, talking about how the Irish are here to take over yet again. It moved him to 8-0 in his career, and he’s only been fighting professionally since 2019. He’s only 24-years-old and has a nickname of “The Future”, and, based on his 2021, I say the future is bright for Garry, and he’s one to watch in 2022.

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