Who should win ESPY for MMA Fighter of the Year?

Daniel Cunningham
Mar 14, 2020; Brasilia, DF, Brazil; Charles Oliveira in the press room after fighting Kevin Lee during UFC Fight Night at Ginasio Nilson Nelson. Mandatory Credit: Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

A week from tonight, ESPN will host their ESPY awards which is the annual awards show for all things sports. In the past few years, more attention has been placed upon the MMA community due to the increase of mainstream popularity.

Not too mention the UFC and PFL’s deal with ESPN. Originally, the ESPYs had an award for the best fighter in the world. While it doesn’t make sense to the MMA funs, boxers would typically win that award up until 2015.

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao traded that award for several years and then Ronda Rousey broke through in 2015. Conor McGregor and Demetrious Johnson followed before Terrance Crawford took it back in 2018.

Starting in 2019, the ESPYs split the award into the Best MMA Fighter and Best Boxer. This should have been done earlier as we are talking about two completely different sports. The 2020 ESPYs were cancelled, so there has only been two winners for Best MMA Fighter. Daniel Cormier (2019) and Khabib Nurmagomedov (2021).

ESPY 2022

This year there are four nominees for the ESPY award that fans can vote on. Those four nominees are: Charles Oliveira, Kamaru Usman, Alexander Volkanovski, and Kayla Harrison. A sensational group of mixed martial artists.

So the question is, who should win this year’s ESPY? Well, no disrespect to Kayla Harrison, but she is no where close to the other three. While she’s been sensational and dominant, the strength of schedule cannot be ignored here.

The debate for the ESPY falls to the three UFC champions. Yes, Oliveira is technically not the champ due to a weight miss, but in my eyes, he’s still the lightweight champion and I think most people recognize that.

Going back to February of 2021, all three of these men are 3-0 inside the octagon. Oliveira has defeated and finished Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier, and Justin Gaethje. Kamaru Usman has finished Gilbert Burns, Jorge Masvidal, and he won a close decision over Colby Covington.

Alexander Volkanovski dominated all three of his opponents in Chan Sung Jung, Brian Ortega, and Max Holloway. All three have sensational cases for the best pound for pound fighter in the world and they all have cases to win the ESPY.

So, who would I vote for? Personally, I’m casting my vote for “Do Bronx” Charles Oliveira. The lightweight division has always been the cream of the crop in the UFC. Oliveira went through arguably the three toughest contenders and finished all three of them.

Usman and Volkanovski would be great choices as well, but I’m blown away with Charles Oliveira and what he’s done. I truly don’t think there’s a wrong answer here (outside of Kayla Harrison), but for my money, the ESPY goes to Brazil’s Charles Oliveira.

You can cast your vote here.