The 2022 Irish and International Severe MMA Awards

Another year of MMA is in the books, and it might have been the busiest 365 days in the history of our young sport. The UFC machine rolled on, Bellator did its thing, Cage Warriors’ production line produced, while the likes of PFL, KSW, ONE and more put on many enjoyable shows – and that’s before you even get to the Irish scene, which is back purring!

For the last nine years, we have voted on the best in MMA in their respective fields for our awards, and this year is no different. This year’s voting panel consists of SevereMMA founder Graeme McDonnell, MMA podcaster and media member Sean Sheehan, former Cage Warriors champion Cathal Pendred, the most well-versed man on worldwide MMA Caposa, as well as our SevereMMA staff members. Huge thanks to Ian, Andy, Caoilte and Caposa for helping to get the nominations together, as well as Jake Smith on graphics duty. There was only one tie this year, and the winner of comeback of the year was decided on a second vote from the SevereMMA crew.

Sean and Graeme recorded a podcast discussing the winners, which you can listen to below. For the full winners, please scroll down below, or don’t if you wish to avoid podcast spoilers.

Fighter of the Year

Alexander Volkanovski 

With destructive wins over Chan Sung Jung and Max Holloway, Alexander Volkanovski earned himself the pound for pound #1 spot and is our fighter of the year.

Fight of the Year

Jiří Procházka vs. Glover Teixeira

A fifth-round finish is always special, but when it comes in a back-and-forth title fight featuring two people at the top of their game, it’s something extra special.

Submission of the Year

Stevie Ray vs. Anthony Pettis – Modified Twister

There’s nothing in MMA like an underdog submission win. When Stevie Ray caught former UFC champion Anthony Pettis—himself an underrated submission artist—in a modified twister it made a real splash.

Knockout of the Year

Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman – Head Kick

It would have taken something special to beat this. The timing, meaning and magnificent technique meant Edwards knocking out Usman had absolutely everything.

Female Fighter of the Year

Zhang Weili

To win a rematch of the greatest female fight ever with a spinning backfist before taking the UFC title with a submission in her next fight made Zhang Weili a certainty for this award.

Underdog of the Year

Leon Edwards

Not many people gave Leon Edwards a chance against Kamaru Usman, but he proved all the doubters wrong.

Emerging Worldwide Prospect Of The Year

Alex Pereira 

It’s weird to see a UFC champion winning this award, but when he achieves that in only his 4th UFC fight we can make an exception.

Irish Pro Fighter Of The Year

Ian Machado Garry

The only Irish fighter to win a UFC fight in 2022, Ian Garry’s two Octagon appearances saw him earn himself a place as one of the biggest prospects on earth and Ireland’s leading fighter. 

Emerging Irish Prospect Of The Year

Lee Hammond 

For years, Lee Hammond has been widely considered one of Ireland’s most exciting up-and-comers. In 2022, he proved all of the hype was real with a series of fantastic displays. 

Irish Amateur Fighter Of The Year

Keith Keogh 

It has been a breakout year for C-MAC’s Keith Keogh, competing on eight occasions over the course of the year. On the regional scene, Keogh won Cage Conflict belts in two weight divisions, not to mention sharing number one spot with teammate Jordan Bradshaw at the national and four nations championships. Keogh finished off the year by winning bronze at the IMMAF European Championships. 

Irish Female Fighter Of The Year

Sinead Kavanagh 

Beating Leah McCourt in arguably the biggest Irish MMA fight of the year, Sinead Kavanagh not only showed her heart and will, she also proved she was the best female fighter in the land. 

Irish gym of the year


With fighters like Sinead Kavanagh, Lee Hammond, Will Fleury, Richie Smullen, Nathan Kelly and many more having stand-out years, John Kavanagh’s Straight Blast Gym leads the way as Ireland’s foremost MMA gym in 2022. 

Coach of the Year

Khabib Nurmagomedov/Javier Mendes

It’s been a banner year for AKA with title wins around the promotions. With Khabib seemingly taking on a larger coaching role, the award is shared between himself and head coach Javier Mendez.

Upset of the Year

Larissa Pacheco def. Kayla Harrison

Beating one of the most dominant fighters in the sport who has already beaten you twice is not something we’ve ever seen before in MMA. Pacheco doing it was special.

Comeback Of The Year

Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman

Our only tie of this year goes the way of Leon Edwards who looked to be on the road to a unanimous decision loss when he shocked the world.

Worst Fight of the Year

Rose Namajunas vs. Carla Esparza

Maybe the easiest category of the year. An absolute stinker of a fight with barely any strikes thrown.

Underperformer Of The Year

Petr Yan

Although Yan was unlucky in both of his split decision losses this year, it was still somewhat of a surprising downturn for a man many predicted was on his way to bantamweight domination.

Worst decision Of The Year

Michael Page vs. Logan Storley

Again, we’ve had plenty of bad individual cards this year but very few bad decisions. This was one of them. The new criteria was designed to prevent ineffective offences from winning, but Logan Storley took a title here without doing much of anything for multiple rounds.

Non-UFC Fighter of the Year

Brendan Loughnane

It was a real banner year for the chasing pack, but Brendan Loughnane’s superb post-season performances were a real stand out for arguably the best fighter outside the UFC.

Event of the Year

UFC 281

This card had it all. Title fight finishes, comebacks, amazing prospect wins and great promos!

Shocking Moment Of The Year

Leon Edwards flatlines Usman 

A moment everyone watching will never forget. One that makes you jump out of your seat in shock and awe.

Commentator Of The Year

Jon Anik

The UFC’s leading man again leads the way worldwide. Jon Anik is not just the best in the game in 2022, he’s the best ever.

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

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