The Ninth Annual Fighters Only World MMA Awards are now taking your votes, but in case you're torn over who to vote for in the Female Fighter of the Year category here's a small reminder of their 2016 campaigns.
The year may have ended on a bit of a downer for Cris Cyborg with a USADA violation that is yet to be resolved, but looking back at the past 12 months; it was arguably her best year in the sport. It started with a defence of her Invicta FC featherweight championship, beating Daria Ibragimova via first round KO. Then she fought Leslie Smith in a soccer stadium in Curitiba, Brazil, on her UFC debut, winning via first round TKO. And finally she headlined a UFC card when beating Lina Lansberg via second round TKO and solidifying her position as a major draw in the sport. Three fights, three finishes, the promotional debut and headlining a UFC event all in the same year.
When you consider how 2015 was such a bad year for Angela Hill, losing twice in the UFC, her performances in 2016 have been nothing short of phenomenal. Like any true fighter, she went back to the drawing board and came roaring back with ladies-only promotion Invicta FC. She kicked things off in January by making her promotional debut and beating Alida Gray via first round TKO. Then she beat Stephanie Eggnik via second round KO in March. In May, she fought for and won the Invicta strawweight championship, defeating Livia Renata Souza via split decision. And finally she made a successful first defence of her title against Kaline Medeiros in November. Four fights, four wins and attaining champion status. Amazing.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk, aka Joanna Champion, remained undefeated and undisputed last year and was also part of one of the most fascinating and entertaining fights of 2016. She defeated Claudia Gadelha in the main event of TUF finale during UFC 200 fight week and showed the heart of a champion out pacing and out pointing the Brazilian over a 25-minute classic. She then called for her shot on the UFCâ€™s debut event in Madison Square Garden, NYC, and got what she asked for. Her fight with Polish compatriot Karolina Kowalkiewicz was part of a triple main event for UFC 205, and it didnâ€™t disappoint. History was made that night and Jedrzejczyk was part of it, winning via unanimous decision. Now 13-0, Joanna heads into 2017 simply the best.
Perhaps not too well known to MMA fans in the west, but One Championshipâ€™s Angela Lee had a fantastic year in 2016, really defining herself as the leading female fighter in Asia. She continued where she left off after a great 2015 by adding two more wins to her undefeated streak last year. It started with textbook neck crank submission victory over Rebecca Heintzman in February. And then in May she captured the One Championship atomweight title, defeating Mei Yamaguchi via unanimous decision. Heading into 2017 she is an undefeated champion with the world at her mercy.Â
What a year itâ€™s been for Amanda Nunes. It started with a unanimous decision victory over top bantamweight contender Valentina Shevchenko, but then things went out of neutral and into fifth gear. First, due to circumstances out of her control, she winded up co-headlining UFC 200 in a title fight with Miesha Tate. Outcome? Nunes defeated Tate via first rear naked choke submission on this historic card to become the new UFC womenâ€™s 135lb champion. How did she top that? Well you take on one of the sports icons in Ronda Rousey in the main event of UFC 207 and absolutely obliterate 'Rowdy' in 48 seconds, thatâ€™s how. Three fights, three wins, two of which took place on two of the biggest blockbuster events of the year. â€˜The Lionessâ€™ is roaring right into 2017!
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