MMA Awards

The awards below are equation-guided and have been awarded by FightMatrix to fighters, based on their career results and its relation to the FightMatrix rating system.

Older awards were populated retroactively at their creation, using a manner similar to that in which we’d use for future awards.  In these cases, the text will be presented in italics.

Keep in mind, that annual awards strictly adhere to the calendar year.  This is especially important for the “fighter of the year” awards where things like rank position are considered.


FightMatrix Fighters of the Year

The “Fighter of the Year” award looks back on the entire year as a whole and the fighters’ ranking position held and performances within it.  Further credit given for type of wins, and activity.

Year Winner Runner-Up 3rd Place
1993 Royce Gracie Ken Shamrock Masakatsu Funaki
1994 Ken Shamrock Royce Gracie Manabu Yamada
1995 Ken Shamrock (#2) Bas Rutten Dan Severn
1996 Bas Rutten Jay R. Palmer Masakatsu Funaki
1997 Masakatsu Funaki Bas Rutten Yuki Kondo
1998 Frank Shamrock Semmy Schilt Guy Mezger
1999 Semmy Schilt Kazushi Sakuraba Matt Hughes
2000 Nate Marquardt Alexandre Franca Nogueira Tito Ortiz
2001 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira Tito Ortiz Alexandre Franca Nogueira
2002M Matt Hughes Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira Murilo Bustamante
2002F Yuka Tsuji
2003M Fedor Emelianenko Randy Couture Matt Hughes
2003F Jennifer Howe
2004M B.J. Penn Fedor Emelianenko Matt Hughes
2004F Yuka Tsuji (#2) Megumi Yabushita Roxanne Modafferi
2005M Takanori Gomi Mauricio Rua Matt Hughes
2005F Yuka Tsuji (#3) Hisae Watanabe Satoko Shinashi
2006M Chuck Liddell Fedor Emelianenko Shinichi Kojima
2006F Tara LaRosa Hisae Watanabe Megumi Fujii
2007M Anderson Silva Quinton Jackson Randy Couture
2007F Tara LaRosa (#2) Megumi Fujii Yuka Tsuji
2008M Anderson Silva (#2) Miguel Torres Thiago Alves
2008F Megumi Fujii Gina Carano Cristiane Justino
2009M Georges St. Pierre Lyoto Machida Mike Brown
2009F Tara LaRosa (#3) Megumi Fujii Sarah Kaufman
2010M Georges St. Pierre (#2) Jose Aldo Dominick Cruz
2010F Cristiane Justino Megumi Fujii Sarah Kaufman
2011M Jon Jones Anderson Silva Frankie Edgar
2011F Naho Sugiyama Miesha Tate Sarah Kaufman
2012M Ben Henderson Jon Jones Cain Velasquez
2012F Ronda Rousey Ayaka Hamasaki Jessica Penne
2013M Demetrious Johnson Chris Weidman Cain Velasquez
2013F Ronda Rousey (#2) Barb Honchak Cristiane Justino
2014M Jose Aldo Demetrious Johnson Robbie Lawler
2014F Ronda Rousey (#3) Jessica Aguilar Herica Tiburcio
2015M Conor McGregor Rafael dos Anjos Demetrious Johnson
2015F Joanna Jedrzejczyk Holly Holm Cristiane Justino
2016M Stipe Miocic Michael Bisping Demetrious Johnson
2016F Amanda Nunes Joanna Jedrzejczyk Cristiane Justino
2017M Demetrious Johnson (#2) [tie] Max Holloway [tie] Tyron Woodley
2017F Cristiane Justino (#2) Rose Namajunas Livia Renata Souza
2018M Daniel Cormier Khabib Nurmagomedov Dustin Poirier
2018F Amanda Nunes (#2) Valentina Shevchenko Jessica Andrade


FightMatrix Most Improved Fighter of the Year

Year Fighter
2011 Michael Chandler
2012 Joshua Sampo
2013 Albert Tumenov
2014 Tom Gallicchio
2015 Alex Morono
2016 Emil Weber Meek
2017 Volkan Oezdemir
2018 Ray Cooper III

Based on increase in rank (and points as a tie-breaker) from the end of the previous year.

FightMatrix Comeback Fighter of the Year

Year Fighter
2011 Shinichi Kojima
2012 Georges St. Pierre
2013 Ryan LaFlare
2014 Tito Ortiz
2015 Sergio Moraes
2016 Dominick Cruz
2017 Georges St. Pierre (#2)
2018 Magomed Magomedkerimov

Fighters must be in an active status at the end of the award year and did not have a fight in the previous calendar year or are coming off of injury that caused an inactive period of 15+ months.


FightMatrix Rookies of the Year

One men’s fighter prior to 2010.  One men’s and one women’s fighter for 2010 and after.

Year Fighter
1995 Ricardo Morais
1996 Jay R. Palmer
1997 Randy Couture
1998 Sergio Melo
1999 Mamoru Yamaguchi
2000 Kazuyuki Fujita
2001 B.J. Penn
2002 Yoshinori Momose
2003 Ansar Chalangov
2004 Mark Hunt
2005 Jake Ellenberger
2006 Jamal Patterson
2007 Bryan Baker
2008 Jon Jones
2009 Joe Warren
2010 Cole Konrad (M) / Liz Carmouche (F)
2011 Sultan Aliev (M) / Ronda Rousey (F)
2012 Smealinho Rama (M) / Joanne Calderwood (F)
2013 Steve Mocco (M) / Livia Renata Souza (F)
2014 Chris de la Rocha (M) / Jessica Miele (F)
2015 Sergey Pavlovich (M) / Cristina Stanciu (F)
2016 Jose Torres (M) / Gabi Garcia (F)
2017 Shamil Amirov (M) / Liliya Shakirova (F)
2018 Rafal Kijanczuk (M) / Kayla Harrison (F)

Prior to 2011, fighter must debut in and have three pro fights in the calendar year.  In 2011, rules changed to allow fighter to have a maximum of 1 pro fight in the year previous to award year.  This fight would also count toward the three pro fight requirement.


FightMatrix Most Noteworthy Match of Year

Analyzed at year-end, looking back at the most noteworthy match of the year based on cumulative rank strength of the involved fighters.

Year Match
2002 Jens Pulver vs. B.J. Penn
2003 Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
2004 Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira III
2005 Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mirko Filipovic
2006 Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Hughes
2007 Matt Serra vs. Georges St. Pierre
2008 Anderson Silva vs. Dan Henderson
2009 Georges St. Pierre vs. B.J. Penn
2010 Cain Velasquez vs. Brock Lesnar
2011 Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard II
2012 Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos II
2013 Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva II
2014 Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida
2015 Luke Rockhold vs. Chris Weidman
2016 Michael Bisping vs. Luke Rockhold
2017 Max Holloway vs. Jose Aldo II
2018 Demetrious Johnson vs. Henry Cejudo II

In ties, preference given to stronger division.  No contests excluded.


FightMatrix Most Noteworthy Upset of Year

Analyzed pre-bout, the largest difference (X minus Y) between raw rating points, normalized by division.

Year Match
2004 Mark Hunt SD(3) Wanderlei Silva
2005 Sam Greco TKO(1) Heath Herring
2006 Mark Coleman TKO(1) Mauricio Rua
2007 Matt Serra TKO(1) Georges St. Pierre
2008 Frank Mir TKO(2) Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
2009 Mamed Khalidov TKO(1) Jorge Santiago
2010 Fabricio Werdum SUB(1) Fedor Emelianenko
2011 Robert Peralta SD(3) Hiroyuki Takaya
2012 Joshua Sampo UD(3) Antonio Banuelos
2013 Phil Davis UD(3) Lyoto Machida
2014 Andrei Arlovski KO(1) Antonio Silva
2015 Luke Rockhold TKO(4) Chris Weidman
2016 Stipe Miocic KO(1) Fabricio Werdum
2017 Francis Ngannou KO(1) Alistair Overeem
2018 Vadim Nemkov SD(3) Phil Davis


FightMatrix Most Lopsided Upset of Year

Analyzed pre-bout, the largest proportional difference (X divided by Y) between raw rating points.

Year Match
2004 Mark Hunt SD(3) Wanderlei Silva
2005 Sam Greco TKO(1) Heath Herring
2006 Tristan Yunker SUB(1) Clay Guida
2007 Gabriel Gonzaga KO(1) Mirko Filipovic
2008 Junior dos Santos TKO(1) Fabricio Werdum
2009 Marius Zaromskis TKO(1) Hayato Sakurai
2010 Jadamba Narantungalag UD(3) Akihiro Gono
2011 Robert Peralta SD(3) Hiroyuki Takaya
2012 Ilir Latifi UD(3) Tony Lopez
2013 Celine Haga UD(2) Naho Sugiyama
2014 T.J. Dillashaw TKO(5) Renan Barao
2015 Uriah Hall TKO(2) Gegard Mousasi
2016 Emil Weber Meek KO(1) Rousimar Palhares
2017 Volkan Oezdemir SD(3) Ovince St. Preux
2018 Jared Cannonier TKO(2) David Branch

Certain fights are excluded from upset records, including those with a loser who was inactive or outside the Top 20 (approximate) and previously undefeated/inactive winners.