The 2020 Irish and International Severe MMA Awards

The most insane year in our lives, and in the short history of MMA, is finally over. So it’s now time to look back and decide the Severe MMA award winners for 2020.

This year’s awards were voted on by a five-strong panel of SevereMMA owner Graeme McDonnell, UFC veteran/former Cage Warriors champion Cathal Pendred, SevereMMA podcast host Sean Sheehan, Severe MMA writer Andy Stevenson and the man who dedicates himself to seeing every fight on every promotion in the world, MMA twitter legend Grabaka Hitman. Any draws were decided by an impartial independent adjudicator. Special shout-out to Caposa for his huge help with the nomination process.

Also, Sean and Graeme recorded a podcast discussing the winners and nominations which you can listen to below, or scroll down to read the winners.

And now…. here are the winners.

Fighter of the year

Deiveson Figueiredo 

Not too long ago, the flyweight division was on the verge of extension in the UFC but now it’s king, Deiveson Figueiredo, stands tall as the best fighter over the last year.

Fight of the year

Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

It seems like a lifetime ago that Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Zhang Weili shared the cage but the fact that the contest stood the test of time shows what an amazing fight it was.

Submission of the Year

AJ McKee vs. Darion Caldwell – Neck crank from bottom

Unorthodox and unexpected. It’s not often MMA fans are bewildered by a technique at a high level but AJ McKee did exactly that with his win over Darion Caldwell.

Knockout of the Year

Joaquin Buckley vs Impa Kasanganay – Vaulted spinning head kick

https://twitter.com/UFCEurope/status/1329354980692619264?s=19

Not only was Joaquin Buckley’s vaulted spinning wheel kick KO the unanimous winner here, it is a leading candidate for the single greatest knockout we’ve ever seen.

Female Fighter of the Year

Valentina Shevchenko 

A close call here but flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko’s domination gets her the nod.

Underdog of the Year

Jan Blachowicz

Even with Jon Jones absent, apart from a few Polish hardcores, not many people would have predicted Jan Blachowicz as the next UFC light-heavyweight champion.

Emerging Worldwide Prospect Of The Year

Khamzat Chimaev

It’s not often we see fighters burst onto the scene in such an utterly dominant way but that’s exactly what Khamzat Chimaev has done.

Irish Pro Fighter Of The Year

Blaine O’Driscoll

Another close contest here but with two wins via first round stoppage, Blaine O’Driscoll has shown huge improvements in his game and it a worthy winner.

Emerging Irish Prospect Of The Year (5 fights or less)

Ian Garry

For the second year in a row the (now 5-0) Team KF welterweight is the best emerging prospect in Ireland having made light work of his two opponents in Cage Warriors this year.

Irish Amateur Fighter Of The Year

Darragh Kelly

It has been an extremely tough year for the amateur side of mixed martial arts. Even still, many Irish up-and-comers managed to leave 2020 with wins but it’s Darragh Kelly’s two wins inside the distance that see him take the prize.

Irish Female Fighter Of The Year

Sinead Kavanagh

A banner year for Irish women’s MMA with all three active pros, Sinead Kavanagh, Leah McCourt and Danni Neilan going undefeated. All three women received a vote here, but it was Sinead Kavanagh’s domination of Katharina Lehner that won her the award.

Irish gym of the year

SBG Ireland

It has been a tough year for all gyms in Ireland so a special shout-out to each and every one of them. This year it was John Kavanagh’s SBG Ireland which won the vote as gym of the year.

Worldwide Coach of the Year

Eugene Bareman

It’s almost impossible to look at the fighters Eugene Bareman has produced and not give him this award. A worthy winner.

Upset of the Year

Roxanne Modafferi vs. Maycee Barber

Not many people gave Roxanne Modafferi a chance against Maycee Barber but the TUF alum threw out the form book and handed Barber her first loss.

Comeback Of The Year

Ed Herman vs. Mike Rodriguez

One of the craziest fights in a long time saw all sorts of madness and what was basically a knockout deemed a low blow before Ed Herman came back with a kimura win.

Worst Fight of the Year

Israel Adesanya vs. Yoel Romero

Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero can be two of the most thrilling fighters in the world to watch but when faced-off we ended up with a 5-round staring contest.

Underperformer Of The Year

Tony Ferguson

A really tough year for the former interim UFC lightweight champion saw him go 0-2 and likely lose any chance of getting a shot at Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Worst decision Of The Year

Dan Ige def. Edson Barbosa via split decision

A good old fashioned 5-way spilt here with no clear winner. Our adjudicator deemed Dan Ige’s win over Edson Barbosa as the worst decision of the year.

Non-UFC Fighter of the Year

Mason Jones

It was a tough year for MMA outside of the UFC so winning two prestigious Cage Warriors titles at two different weight-classes makes Mason Jones a real stand-out.

Event of the Year

UFC 256

The last pay-per-view of the year produced one of the fights of the year and a litany of top performances from some of the new contenders climbing the UFC ranks.

Shocking Moment Of The Year

Covid-19 halts the MMA world

When Covid-19 hit, not many people believed the impact it could have. But when UFC, Bellator, PFL and the rest were forced to cancel or postpone events it shocked the MMA world like nothing in the history of our sport.

Commentator Of The Year

Paul Felder

A tough job made even tougher by the lack of a crowd but the way Paul Felder goes about his business with an intelligence, aptitude and excitement for what’s going on in front of him is a breath of fresh air.

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. 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 Facebook.com/seansheehanmma