2021 was a huge year for the UFC. We saw some incredible fights, stunning upsets, and monumental wins. There were so many fighters who had sensational 2021 campaigns.
One fighter that stands out is interim UFC heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane (10-0). Gane has completely taken off this year and he’s showing the world just how special he is. The French heavyweight started the year by taking on Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
After outpointing Rozenstruik, he defeated Alexander Volkov. That win against Volkov earned him an interim title shot against Derrick Lewis at UFC 265 in Houston. Gane had the best performance of his career and stopped The Black Beast in the third round. Talk about an incredible year.
Another fighter that really stands out is Charles Oliveira (32-8). Oliveira competed twice and stopped Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier to win and defend the UFC lightweight title.
While these are just two examples, there are so many other fighters who also had incredible years. All that being said, there is one UFC fighter who stands out amongst all fighters for their year in 2021.
2021 UFC Fighter of the Year – Kamaru Usman
Make no mistake about it, Kamaru Usman (20-1) is the only choice for UFC Fighter of the Year. The Pound for Pound king had three appearances in 2021 which solidified him as the best in the world.
To start the year, Usman defended his UFC title against Gilbert Burns. In all transparency, I thought Burns had the best chance to dethrone him given his style. However, Usman showed just how good he is and stopped Burns.
Then, he had a rematch with Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261. Most people expected Usman to defeat Masvidal by utilizing his wrestling. However, Usman shocked everyone when he knocked Gamebred out cold on the feet.
To cap off his year, Usman defended his title against Colby Covington at UFC 268. If Usman is 1A, Covington is clearly 1B. Covington would be the welterweight champion if Kamaru Usman wasn’t competing.
However, Usman is competing and these two had another close fight in November. When the scorecards were read, Usman won again making him 2-0 against the second best welterweight in the world.
Usman is starting to beat guys at 170 for the second time. However, his greatest UFC challenge might come to a head in 2022. If you want one fighter who has the potential to stop Usman’s run, it would be Khamzat Chimaev.
However, Chimaev is still a win or two away from a title shot. Right now, it’s hard to see Usman’s reign coming to an end. The Pound for Pound king deserves to be celebrated and he’s clearly the UFC’s Fighter of the Year in 2021.