Written by: J. Johnson
The Ultimate Fighting Championship organization has been on fire for the entire year of 2015. We’ve seen some naturally gifted fighter pound their way to the top as some fighters have been K.O’d from the mountain top in under a minute’s time. 2015 will definitely be the year where you can look back on UFC and appreciate the hunger each fighter displayed in the octagon. All fighting for the right to be called the best (depending on the weight class they dawn). There’s no secret that fighters like Conor McGregor has captured the hearts of the Irish nation with his charismatic trash-talking-in-your-face attitude only to back it up, or Ronda’s dominance for much of 2015, only to halted by the surprising victory of Holly Holm, or maybe it was the grandiose way Luke Rockhold defeated Chris Weidman at UFC 194. Well for whatever reason the UFC has had an amazing year and we know 2016 has big shoes to follow especially since the rematch of ‘Rousey/Holm II’ was announced by Dana White for some time next year.
In honor of this year we want to give our ‘Top 5’ UFC Fighters Of 2015. It’s only right given the magnitude of this year.
5. Rafael Dos Anjos
Starting off the countdown is Rafael “The Pressure” Dos Anjos (the nickname is definitely made up). Last week, Rafael dos Anjos reaffirmed his position at the top of the Lightweight division with, what’s becoming a trademark, mauling of an opponent. Dos Anjos defeated Donald Cerrone by TKO in just 66 seconds to mark his first title defense as the 155-lb. champion. The win also earned dos Anjos his third Performance of the Night bonus award.
Cerrone, a phenomenal kick-boxer who fought six times last year, looked beaten the moment the bell rang and had no answer for the pressure of dos Anjos.
The victory cements the Brazilian as the man to beat, a task that appears more challenging with every appearance. Not that dos Anjos is lacking in contenders. Dos Anjos faced Anthony Pettis for the UFC Lightweight Championship on March 14, 2015 at UFC 185.
Dos Anjos won the bout via unanimous decision in a dominant fashion, earning him the UFC Lightweight Championship. After the fight, dos Anjos revealed that he had torn his MCL only a few weeks before the bout. The win once again earned him a Performance of the Night bonus award.
Who’s the tell what the future may hold for the current UFC Lightweight Champion? Conor McGregor has expressed his interest in challenging the Dos Anjos. Pettis and Alvarez also on hot on the trail to have a potential ’bout with him. 2016 will be real interesting for Dos Anjos we just have to wait and see.
4. Paige VanZant
At the number 4 spot is the rising star that is Paige VanZant. She makes the list for the style in which she’s been displaying in the octagon along with the an unusual trend. Even with her beautiful looks it seems some UFC critics and pundits counted her out as a true contender for the Strawweight division. She’s proven herself by officially debuting in 2014, defeating Kailin Curran by TKO in the third round at UFC Fight Night. That fight honored her with the ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus award.
Even after defeating Kailin, an increase in popularity, the Reebok sponsorship “controversy” she still remained strong in her resolve to be the best fighter in the Strawweight division.
VanZant typically attacks with aggressive grappling, then seeks to finish the fight with strikes. She is noted for the constant pressure she applies while grappling. If an opponent escapes her clinch, she will usually look to close the distance again within moments. While fighting from a distance, she typically attacks with high kicks and punches. In addition to her striking, VanZant has a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
With all those accolades on her belt, VanZant would taste the sting of defeat at UFC Fight Night 80. VanZant was expected to face Joanne Calderwood on December 10, 2015 at UFC Fight Night 80. However, Calderwood was pulled from the fight in October and replaced by Rose Namajunas. VanZant lost the one-sided fight via submission in the fifth round. After the fight VanZant would say “I got outclassed in every way.”. In 2016, the outcome(s) could look different for VanZant as you know she’s training for her next fight. It’s only a matter of time until she’s gunning for the championship.
(Continue to page 2: #3: Luke Rockhold | On Page 3: #2: Ronda Rousey | On Page 4: #1: Conor McGregor)