The 2017 SevereMMA Irish and International Awards

After another jam-packed year of MMA it’s time to pick the performers that separated themselves from the pack over the last 365 days. From the UFC to Bellator, BAMMA, Cage Warriors, KSW, Invicta and more, we’ve never had more MMA to keep on top of than in 2017.

This year’s awards were voted on by a four man panel of SevereMMA owner Graeme McDonnell, UFC veteran/former Cage Warriors champion Cathal Pendred, SevereMMA and Sherdog journalist Sean Sheehan and the man who dedicates himself to seeing every fight on every promotion in the world, MMA twitter legend Grabaka Hitman. Special shout-out to Caposa for his huge help with the nomination process.

Here are our winners:

Fighter of the Year:

Robert Whittaker

With wins over Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero, the UFC’s middleweight division had been given much needed life by the phenomenal “Bobby Knuckles” in 2017.


Fight of the Year:

Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson

For years, MMA fans longed to see Justin Gaethje in the UFC and he did not disappoint in his Octagon debut with a fantastic back and forth brawl with Michael Johnson.

Submission of the Year:

Demetrious Johnson suplex armbar vs. Ray Borg

From a technical point of view, Demetrious Johnson is a level above anyone else in the history of MMA and he proved that yet again with one of the best submissions ever seen in the sport.


Knockout of the Year:

Edson Barboza vs. Beneil Dariush

In a year filled with big KOs, the timing and ferocity of Edson Barboza’s flying knee got him a well-deserved nod here.


Female Fighter of the Year:

Rose Namajunas

After dethroning the seemingly unflappable Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Rose Namajunas fulfilled all of her potential and was the unanimous choice here.

Underdog of the Year:

Darren Elkins

Having beaten Mirsad Bektic and Dennis Bermudez in 2017, Darren Elkins has vaulted himself from an afterthought to the verge of contendership.

Emerging Worldwide Prospect Of The Year:

Brett Johns

Now 15-0 as a professional, Wales’ Brett Johns announced himself as a real championship prospect in 2017.

Irish Pro Fighter Of The Year:

James Gallagher

After Conor McGregor won this award for the last two years, it’s SBG’s next big thing, James Gallagher, who takes the nod for 2017 after a stand-out year in the Bellator cage.

Irish Amateur Fighter Of The Year:

Dillan Douglas

With three submission wins, Dillan Douglas tops a talented bunch of Amateur Irish MMA fighters this year.

Irish Female Fighter Of The Year:

Danni Neilan

With 5 wins from her 7 fights this year, world Amateur silver medallist Danni Neilan announced herself as the best female prospect in Ireland.

Emerging Irish Prospect Of The Year:

Will Fleury

After struggling to get fights in the early part of his pro career, 2017 was a busy and successful year for the “Raw Bastard” Will Fleury who now sees himself fighting for EFC in Africa.


Coach of the Year:

Trevor Wittman

Wittman has been an underappreciated MMA coach for years but with the emergence of Justin Gaethje and Rose Namajunas this year he is finally getting the love he deserves.

Upset of the Year:

Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Many people thought Joanna Jedrzejczyk was close to unbeatable but Rose Namajunas out on a tactical masterclass to end the reign of the Polish star.


Comeback Of The Year:

Darren Elkins vs. Mirsad Bektic

After losing the opening two rounds badly, Darren Elkins rose like a phoenix from the ashes to derail the Bektic hype train.


Worst Fight of the Year:

Cindy Dandois vs. Alexis Davis

It’s rare to see a fight of this low a quality on a UFC card and it stood out so much that Dandois was immediately given leave of her duties.


Underperformer Of The Year:

Lorenz Larkin

Losses to Douglas Lima and Paul Daley in his opening pair of Bellator outings were really disappointing for a fighter with the quality to achieve more.


Worst decision Of The Year:

Joe Lauzon vs. Marcin Held

This one came early in a year which didn’t see much in the way of horrendous judging.

Non-UFC Fighter of the Year:

Nathaniel Wood

The Cage Warriors bantamweight champion had three finishes in his three wins this year with round of the year, fight of the year and comeback of the year contenders amongst them.


Event of the Year:

UFC 217

With three title changes in the top-3 fights this was clearly the best event of the year and arguably one of the greatest ever.


Shocking Moment Of The Year:

Conor McGregor signs to fight Floyd Mayweather

In many people’s wildest dreams, the prospect of 0-0 Conor McGregor taking on one of the greatest boxers ever even seemed unlikely, and when it did happen it sent shockwaves through the sporting world.

Commentator of the year:

Dan Hardy

MMA is full of exceptional commentators at present but Dan Hardy has really stood out this year as a great asset to the sport.


Please let us know your choices in the comments section below.

Lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Co-host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Tuesday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook