Make your pick for the 2017 newcomer of the year in Bloody Elbow’s Year-End Awards.
Over the next few days, Bloody Elbow is going to ask for your opinion on some of the best things that have happened in the MMA world over the course of 2017. There will be a total of eight different categories you’ll be asked to vote on. For the sake of simplicity we’re going to stick with high-level and relevant MMA stuff in these posts. While I’m sure there was a ludicrous knockout in an unscheduled MMA event at The Lumberyard strip club in Des Moines, or an insane pancreas lock submission on an obscure ZST! card in Japan, let’s just stick to stuff a lot of us have seen, okay? (If that spiel looked familiar, it’s because I’ve used the same one for seven years in a row. Originality? What originality?)
It’s pretty simple. I’ll post 5-10 options in a category, you vote for what you think was the best. If you think I left something really important off my list, post it in the comments and we can add it to the poll if it’s deemed worthy. I can almost guarantee you won’t like all my suggestions, but narrowing down these lists is tough.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get onto the fourth poll – the best newcomer of 2017. The rule for this is simple – a fighter has to enter a major organization for the first time in 2017 and do well. That’s it. While guys like Justin Gaethje and Marlon Moraes made a big mark in the UFC this year, they were already in a major organization before – WSOF – so they don’t qualify.
Before that though, if you haven’t yet, go back and vote on the first two categories – Best Submission, Biggest Robbery, and Biggest Upset.
Paulo Costa – This dude is just scary. He has three TKO finishes in 2017, including one over former champion Johny Hendricks.
Cody Stamann – He flew under the radar a bit, but his win over mega-prospect Tom Duquesnoy and and additional UFC win over Terrion Ware earns him a spot on this list.
Zabit Magomedsharipov – Two UFC wins via submission, two performance bonuses. A very good start to his UFC career.
Rafael Lovato Jr. – The BJJ legend entered Bellator in May and has picked up three straight wins, including a 13-second TKO and a submission finish in under two minutes.
Eryk Anders – I’m giving him a pass on one undercard fight in Bellator in 2016 that no one saw. He broke out in the UFC this year, destroying Rafael Natal in his debut and winning a decision over a tough Markus Perez in December. He’s going to headline for the first time against Lyoto Machida in February.
Cynthia Calvillo – She burst onto the UFC scene in 2017, picking up three nice wins in three months. That included a W over Joanne Calderwood. She recently came up short fighting a former champion in Carla Esparza, but that doesn’t take away from her great year.
Volkan Oezdemir – Another one that I’m gonna give a break to despite a couple of undercard Bellator fights. After a close win over Ovince Saint Preux, he knocked out Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa in no time to earn a UFC light heavyweight title shot later this month.
Ricardo Ramos – He’s only 22, but picked up two wins in the UFC this year. And that includes a ridiculous spinning elbow finish of Aiemann Zahabi.