In most sports, the end of the year marks the time that awards are handed out, to mark the achievements of the competitors for the previous 12 months. It is always fun to look for betting odds at these award ceremonies, as people try to bet on who they think will walk away with the top prizes.
The world of MMA is no different, as recently sportsbooks were offering odds on the 2021 World MMA Awards. Fans who usually search for UFC odds on the actual fights, would instead be betting on who they think would be crowned fighter of the year. Held at the Worre Studios in Las Vegas, UFC fans would have been eagerly watching so see if their pre-award bets would have come off.
Let’s recap the big winners from the World MMA awards below.
The big award that all the fighters nominated will have wanted to win is the fighter of the year. As with any year, there were many strong contenders for the award, but in the end, most observers seemed to be in agreement that the prize went to the right man.
Kamaru Usman was the favorite in the betting odds to be named as Fighter of the Year, so it was no surprise when his name was announced. Also known as the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’, Usman had a superb 2021. Already the welterweight champion, he defended his title at UFC 258 against Gilbert Burns. There was some indecision in the pre-fight odds, as despite Usman’s prestige, he had been recovering from some undisclosed injury issues. However, those who bet on him to win will have been very happy to see him win via technical knockout in the 3rd round.
His next challenger was Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261, in what was a rematch of their fight from UFC 251 back in July 2020. As he did in their first meeting, Usman won again here, winning by a points decision after the fight went to the full 5 rounds.
His final fight of 2021 was another rematch, this time versus Colby Covington, who he had previously taken on at UFC 245. While he didn’t secure a total knockout in this one, it was a unanimous decision to award Usman the win, putting his all-time record to 20-1. With stats like this, it is no surprise to see him named as the fighter of the year.
While it isn’t yet clear who his next challenger will be, it is almost certain that Usman will have the better odds in the matchup. The ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ doesn’t look like being stopped anytime soon.
Of course, many people enjoy watching women’s MMA just as much as the men’s, so it is important that these incredible fighters are also recognized at the awards. There were a number of strong candidates in the female fighter of the year category, such as Mackenzie Dern, Kayla Harrison and Manon Fiorot. However, in the end it was Rose Namajunas of Milwaukee Wisconsin who picked up the top prize.
Namajunas competes in the strawweight division, and was previously the champion following her win against Johanna Jedrzejcyk at UFC 217. She kept the title for a few years, but lost to Jessia Andrade at UFC 237 back in 2019. It took a while for her to get back to her best, not helped by the sport being interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was at UFC 261 where she took the title back, beating Zhang Welil by knockout in the first round.
The two fighters had a rematch a few months later, with the betting odds being fairly evenly split between the 2. In the end, Namajunas was named the winner, winning via a split decision. It was a very closely fought bout, but Namajunas will be looking to defend her title again in the coming months, where hopefully for her she’ll have much higher odds than at UFC 268.
The UFC awards are not all about the present, but also about the future. That is why the award of breakthrough fighter of the year is always so hotly contested, as all the young stars are hoping for recognition by their peers Kevin Holland and Yaroslav Amosov were gunning for the prize, but in the end it was awarded to Brandon Moreno.
Nicknamed the assassin baby, Moreno’s big win in 2021 came at UFC 263, where he was competing for the flyweight championship against Deiveson Figueiredo. The fight went to 3 rounds, before Moreno won, successfully putting Figueiredo in a choke hold.
Moreno is certainly one to watch in any upcoming events he appears at, so bettors should certainly closely monitor his odds before each of his fights.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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