2015 was another year packed with one outstanding MMA fight after another. FO have whittled the contenders down to a final five, and now it's up to MMA fans to decide which one is awarded the 'Fight of the Year' nod.
Justin Gaethje vs. Luis Palomino (WSOF 19)
With so many epic UFC clashes in 2015, it would be a great shame if this WSOF lightweight championship contest flew under the radar. Thank the MMA gods we have the World MMA Awards to officially recognize great fights such as this!
World Series of Fighting (WSOF) lightweight champ Gaethje got the action started early when put his strap on the line against Palomino in March, coming out hard and fast in the opening seconds. The first round was a tremendously close-fought affair, with the champ pulling off a couple ofÂ never-before-seen moves in a rear-naked-choke-takedown and a front-flip-axe-kick. The second round was more of the same - albeit with less creative techniques - before the champ got the win in the third with legs kicks and ground 'n' pound.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Travis Browne (UFC 187)
It may have lasted less than one full round, but the 'Fight of the Night'Â war between former Jackson-Wink teammates Andrei Arlovski and Travis Browne at UFC 187 was so action-packed that it simply couldn't be kept off this shortlist.
After some very friendly pre-fight banter between the two, Arlovski and Browne entered the Octagon on May 23rd in a fight which placed the former as the underdog. So imagine the Las Vegas crowd's surprise when Arlovski rocked Browne early and arguably the greatest slugfest of 2015 ensued. First Andrei hurt Travis, then the American rallied with a counter that dropped his opponent but was unable to capitalize and Arlovski recovered to get the TKO win with 19 seconds remaining in the round.
Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald 2 (UFC 189)
After a close fight at UFC 167 in 2013, Rory MacDonald challenged UFC welterweight champ Robbie Lawler in a rematch in July on one of the biggest cards of the year.
It may have been main event star Conor McGregor who most fans had paid to see, but Lawler and MacDonald almost stole the show in the co-main with an immense back-and-forth spectacle. The defining moment came after the buzzer sounded to end a brutal fourth roundÂ - instead of returning to their corners at the direction of the referee, the two bloodied fighters simply stood and stared at one another. The intensity was palpable and the fans in attendance loved it. Lawler won via TKO in the fifth and final round.
Daniel Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafsson (UFC 192)
After winning the vacant light heavyweight title earlier in the year, Daniel Cormier made his first title defense against Swedish contender Alexander Gustafsson in what turned out to be one of the best fights of the year.
Gustafsson received some heavy criticism heading into this title fight as he was coming off a TKO loss to the man Cormier beat for the title, Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson. However, after five rounds in the cage with Cormer, Gus more than proved he belonged in there with the best of the best. Though Cormier had suffered a decision loss to Jon Jones in January, it was actually Alexander who gave 'DC' the toughest fight of his career. After 25 minutes of action, both men emerged battered and earned 'Fight of the Night' bonuses. with Cormier getting the decision win.
Vitaly Bigdash vs. Igor Svirid (One Championship 32)
When defending One Championship middleweight champ Igor Svirid put his belt on the line against Vitaly Bigdash, nobody could have expected the drama that would unfold in the main event title fight.
Svirid dropped Bigdash, not once, not twice but an astonishing three times in the opening round, but all three times was unable to finish the challenger. Then, in an incredible turn, Bigdash rallied late in the round, first nearly securing a triangle-armbar off his back before getting back to the feet and dropping Svirid with knees, then locking on a rear naked choke only to have the end-of-round buzzer rob him of victory. However, Bigdash made up for that in the second round by scoring a KO win and becoming the new One Championship middleweight champ.
Fans can cast their votes for the winners at worldmmaawards.com. Voting closes on January 31st at midnight.