Over the next few days, Bloody Elbow is going to ask for your opinion on some of the best things that have happened in the MMA world over the course of 2016. There will be a total of eight different categories you'll be asked to vote on. For the sake of simplicity we're going to stick with high-level and relevant MMA stuff in these posts. While I'm sure there was a ludicrous knockout in an unscheduled MMA event at The Lumberyard strip club in Des Moines, or an insane pancreas lock submission on an obscure ZST! card in Japan, let's just stick to stuff a lot of us have seen, okay? (If that spiel looked familiar, it's because I've used the same one for six years in a row. Originality? What originality?)
It's pretty simple. I'll post 5-10 options in a category, you vote for what you think was the best. If you think I left something really important off my list, post it in the comments and we can add it to the poll if it's deemed worthy. I can almost guarantee you won't like all my suggestions, but narrowing down these lists is tough.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get onto the eighth and final poll - the best fight of 2016. This was a banner year for great fights, and I'm sure there could be at least 20 candidates here. But I had to narrow it to ten. Don't hate me. I'm sensitive.
Before that though, if you haven't yet, go back and vote on the first seven categories - Best Submission, Biggest Robbery, Biggest Upset, Newcomer of the Year, Event of the Year, Best Fighter, and Best Knockout.
Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt, UFC 207 - Garbrandt's star-making performance here was sort of surreal. He didn't just beat up a guy that most saw as a top-five P4P fighter in the sport. He danced. He taunted. He talked shit. He dropped Cruz a bunch of times. He was absurdly entertaining. I'm not sure anyone expected what happened, but it was a hell of a fight.
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz, UFC 196 - Conor started well. He cut Nate open. But after five minutes, Diaz found his range and fired back. He hurt Conor to the point that he looked for a takedown, but got choked out. This was the first stage in one of the most compelling and biggest money-making rivalries in the history of the sport.
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Polo Reyes, UFC 199 - This opened the card and not many people were in the stands to watch it. They missed out. These two men beat the hell out of each other for just under 12 minutes, with Reyes nearly getting a finish in the first but ending the round on the defensive. The second was just an absolute slugfest - Kim's eye was nearly swollen shut, and Reyes was bleeding all over the place. Then Reyes just blasted him with two shots in the third and it was finally over.
Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit, UFC 195 - This was a war for the ages. You knew both men were going to bring it, but this is one of those classics that somehow exceeded expectations. I personally thought Condit won, but there isn't a single person that can say they didn't get what they asked for from this fight. That fifth round. Wow.
Michael Bisping vs. Anderson Silva, UFC Fight Night 84 - Bisping was winning rounds. Anderson was fighting a bit timidly. Then out of nowhere, Bisping started complaining about his mouthpiece and got knocked out by a flying knee? Wait, he wasn't out? The fight goes on? And Bisping wins a decision? High drama in London, and a precursor to middleweight history.
Steve Bosse vs. Sean O'Connell, UFC Fight Night 89 - This was the light heavyweight version of Chan Sung Jung and Leonard Garcia. These two men straight clobbered the bejesus out of each other, and somehow both of them stayed standing for the full 15 minutes. It was one of the roughest fights you'll ever see, with both of them enjoying themselves the entire time. Fights like this don't happen often (except for in 2016, apparently). It deserves a nod here for the sheer brutality of the spectacle.
Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi, UFC 206 - I'm not sure I've ever seen a firefight quite like this. Both men showed unbelievable heart, granite chins, and balls of steel. 188 significant strikes were landed in the 15-minute fight, and a great many of them give new meaning to significant. They would have been fight-enders against lesser competition. Swanson won the decision, but it was closer than the cards make it seem and The Korean Superboy is now a star, even though he took the loss.
Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson, UFC 204 - Were the portions where Bisping was winning the most exciting rounds ever? No. But watching him get blasted by H-Bombs for two rounds and nearly getting finished made this extra exciting, because the threat was there for the rest of the fight. Bisping could hardly see, but to his credit he kept his cool and managed to take a decision win.
Tony Ferguson vs. Lando Vannata, UFC Fight Night 91 - This fight only went just over seven minutes, but what a seven minutes they were. Vannata was a complete unknown, taking his first UFC fight on just a few days notice. But he made everyone take notice right away, hurting Ferguson multiple times and nearly finishing him after a head kick sent him to the mat. Top contender Ferguson showed what he was made of though, bloodying Vannata up early in the second and making him tap out not long after.
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz 2, UFC 202 - McGregor gets his revenge. He dropped Diaz multiple times, but looked like he might slow down again when Diaz took over in the middle of the fight. He proved that not to be the case though, taking the fourth. Diaz rebounded again in the final round, but it was too late for the judges and they gave McGregor the decision win.