The UFC year in review: Part two

Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor dominated the headlines this year

The UFC year in review: Part two

Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz Image: ©INPHO/Tom Hogan

2016 was a massive year for the UFC - from celebrating its landmark UFC 200 event to selling the company for billions, there was a lot going on.

We took a look back over an eventful first six months of the year here, while the second half of the year was equally remarkable. 

July 

Fight of the month

Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha produced an entertaining women's strawweight title bout, landing 295 strikes between them before Jedrzejczyk retained her title. 

Biggest talking point

Arguably the collapse of the promotion's flagship UFC 200 event into what can kindly be described as a bit of a shambles. Days before the event, Jon Jones was pulled from his headline title fight with Daniel Cormier after being flagged by USADA for a doping offence.

There is little doubt that the absence of McGregor, who was in the midst of a feud with the company as a whole, was key to the event's success, but Jones' violation didn't help.

Brock Lesnar then failed a post-fight test and his win over Mark Hunt was turned into a no-contest. The WWE star has since been banned for a year, and was fined $250,000. 

The UFC was also sold for over $4 billion to a consortium led by WME-IMG, although Dana White remained as president of the promotion and the public face of the owners.

Best Knockout

Tyron Woodly knocked-out Robbie Lawlor to become welterweight champion. An honourable mention goes also to Eddie Alvarez, who stopped Rafael Dos Anjos to claim the lightweight title.

 

August

Fight of the month

The rematch between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor lived up to the hype as the Irishman avenged his only UFC defeat. McGregor dropped Diaz three times before the Stockton native rallied in the third. McGregor regained his composure to take the fourth round before Diaz took the fifth, taking the Dubliner down in the dying seconds of the fight.

McGregor earned a majority decision win, fighting his most tactical fight yet, targeting Diaz's standing leg throughout. We eagerly await the rubber match in 2017.

Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz
Image: ©INPHO/Tom Hogan

Biggest talking point

Demian Maia submitting Carlos Condit to win his sixth fight in a row at welterweight, and yet he somehow still did not get a title shot.

Best knockout

Anthony Johnson stopped Glover Teixera just 13 seconds into their light-heavyweight scrap to reveal the next title contender.

 

September

Fight of the month

Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic had an emotional homecoming in Cleveland and stopped Alastair Overeem at the end of the first round, sending the already raucous crowd wild.

Biggest talking point

Former WWE star CM Punk made his professional MMA debut, but was handled easily by UFC newcomer Mickey Gall, who submitted "Chick Magnet" in the first. Punk pocketed €500,000 for his efforts, and has vowed to fight on, something his opponent on the night admired, but he was less complimentary in his assessment of the former wrestler's abilities. 

"I think he'll be dealt (with) the same way I dealt him," Gall told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. "If he fights a UFC caliber guy, I think they'll do it in the same way."

Best knockout

Michael Johnson halted Dustin Poirier's surge at lightweight, stopping the Louisiana native at the end of the first round in Texas.

 

October

Fight of the month

The rematch between Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson saw the Briton narrowly retain his title in Manchester. The legendary Henderson retired after the bout. Bisping's face afterwards told the story of a grueling fight. 

Biggest talking point

The return of Ronda Rousey. The former women's bantamweight champion hadn't fought since being knocked-out in November 2015 by Holly Holm. She is scheduled to fight Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 for the title at the end of December, and the return of one of the sport's biggest stars will no doubt be eagerly anticipated.

Rousey didn't take her loss well, and her performance at the end of year card will be dissected thoroughly by fans and media alike.

Best knockout 

Jimi Manuwa taking out Ovince Saint-Preux in front of a partisan home crowd in Manchester. 

 

November

Fight of the month

Welterwight champion Tyron Woodley retained his title after a back and forth bout with Stephen Thompson ended in a majority draw in the co-main event of UFC 205. The pair are set for a rematch in 2017. 

Biggest talking point

Conor McGregor made short work of lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold titles in two divisions simultaneously. The UFC promised a huge event in New York as the state finally legalised the sport, and they delivered with three title fights at Madison Square Garden. 

Then, 14 days later the UFC stripped McGregor of his featherweight title, promoting Jose Aldo to full champion and making the Max Holloway-Anthony Pettis bout for the interim featherweight title. The Irishman was stripped only after the original main event for UFC 206 between Cormier and Johnson was cancelled due to an injury to Cormier. 

As you might expect, McGregor has not taken very kindly to the decision, and is refusing to call himself anything but the two-weight champion

Conor McGregor celebrates winning two titles
Image: ©INPHO/Tom Hogan

Best knockout

Yoel Romero's flying knee into the face of Chris Weidmann gets our vote here.

 

December (so far)

Fight of the month

Cub Swanson and Dooho Choi was an absolute barnburner, as they treated Canadian fans in Toronto to a slugfest of epic proportions. Dana White has been hugely complementary of Choi and reckons the Korean has a big future ahead of him, despite the loss on a unanimous decision. The fight was also named the Fight of the Year by UFC, so a pretty solid bet that it's the fight of December too.

Biggest talking point

Anthony Pettis failed to make weight for his interim feartherweight title fight with Max Holloway. The fight went ahead as scheduled, but only Holloway could win the interim title - which he did via third round stoppage. 

Best knockout 

Donald Cerrone knocked Matt Brown into an alternate universe with a brutal head-kick at UFC 206.