It’s been a big year for Bellator MMA. Despite the craziness in the world, the promotion has made waves with big signings, a historic event in France, and a ground breaking new deal with CBS Sports Network.
All of this in addition to putting on some fantastic fights. This year, Bellator has seen a number of new champions crowned. One of the new champions that sticks out is the new light heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov (12-2).
Nemkov has looked like a destroyer since making his promotional debut in 2017. Nobody has been able to stop him since he’s joined the promotion and he had one fight in 2020 that took place at Bellator 244.
That night, Nemkov challenged Ryan Bader for the light heavyweight champion. Bader was the two-division world champion, but Nemkov ran him over. Nemkov stopped Bader in the second round to capture the light heavyweight title.
Another new champion that was crowned was Juan Archuleta (25-2). Archuleta got his start back in January when he defeated Henry Corrales. Then he got his shot against Patchy Mix at Bellator 246 for the bantamweight title.
After some early adversity, Archuleta went on to control the fight and win the vacant title. A very impressive 2-0 campaign from Archuleta which made him my runner up for Bellator Fighter of the Year.
Bellator Fighter of the Year
After going back and forth, I ultimately made the conclusion that the Bellator Fighter of the Year in 2020 was Cris Cyborg (23-2, 1 NC). Cyborg made her Bellator debut back in January after signing with the promotion in 2019.
In her first fight of the year, Cyborg took on the long-reigning Bellator champion, Julia Budd. Budd hadn’t lost a fight since 2012 and looked like she would be a tough challenge for Cyborg in her Bellator debut.
However, like many opponents before her, Budd had no answer for the power of Cyborg. Cyborg won the Bellator featherweight championship by stopping Budd in the fourth round of their title fight.
She then had her first title defense back in October against Arlene Blencowe. From the opening bell, Cyborg completely dominated the fight and ended up picking up her first career win by submission at Bellator 249.
After going through the roster, Cyborg deserved the distinction as Fighter of the Year. She made her debut by dethroning a long-reigning champion and she defended the title successfully. Those two things make her the Bellator Fighter of the Year in 2020.