While the MMA world was focused on the UFC Fight Night: Lineker vs. McDonald card in South Dakota, ESPN was in the middle of its annual ESPY awards show in Los Angeles, California. A pair of UFC fighters were able to win ESPYs last night, as featherweight champion Conor McGregor won "Best Fighter" and former women's bantamweight champion Holly Holm won "Best Upset."
McGregor was sensational in 2015 and firmly solidified himself as one of the biggest draws in UFC history. "The Notorious" Irishman began the year with a stoppage win over Dennis Siver, then stopped Chad Mendes to win the UFC interim featerweight title, and finished things off with a record-setting 13 second KO of Jose Aldo at UFC 194. McGregor lost to Nate Diaz at UFC 196, but I assume that 2015's body of work was enough to see him win anyway. Other nominees for the "Best Fighter" category were Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez, Roman Gonzalez, and UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. McGregor was also up for the "Best Breakthrough Athlete" award, but lost out to Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta.
Holm's big upset was the 2nd round KO of Ronda Rousey at UFC 193, seen in front of 50,000+ in Melbourne, Australia. Her competition in this category was #15 seeded Middle Tennessee State defeating Michigan State in the NCAA Men's Division I basketball tournament, and Roberta Vinci defeating Serena Williams in the 2015 US Open. Holm's head kick finish of Rousey was nominated for "Best Play," although it lost out to Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers' game-winning Hail Mary touchdown pass to Richard Rodgers, against the sad-sack NFL franchise that is the Detroit Lions.
As for what McGregor and Holm have lined up over the next month, Holm will be headlining against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC on FOX 20 on July 23rd, while McGregor will rematch Nate Diaz (at welterweight) in the UFC 202 main event on August 20th. Oh yeah, and today is McGregor's 28th birthday, so last night was one of his presents.