As an eventful 2018 comes to a close, the WMMA Rankings panel reflects on some of this year’s top moments.
Panelists wrote in on several categories to highlight outstanding moments and achievements throughout the year.
CHAMPION OF THE YEAR
JILL: It was difficult to whittle down the contenders in this category. Every Invicta FC champion deserves a nod, for instance, and who can forget Ilima-Lei MacFarlane’s recent triumph in her native Hawaii? The bottom line is that One Championship’s atomweight queen Angela Lee has spent 2018 overcoming challenges in and out of the cage. She rallied after surviving a serious automobile accident, and defended her title in May. Lee is likely to demonstrate similar fortitude as she recovers from a back injury in anticipation of a superfight.
JAY: Champion of the Year hands down: Rose Namajunas. After losing the Ultimate Fighter in 2014 she fought her way back up the ranks and earned a title shot against the then undefeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The epitome of David vs Goliath took place late 2017 at UFC 217. She knocked out Joanna in the first round. Joanna claimed weight cuts had to do with the quick knockout and Rose found herself defending her belt five months later at UFC 223. This time the match went all 5 rounds and Rose had her hand raised once again.
NICK: 2018 was a
great really good year for MMA as the sport continues to evolve. New champions were crowned, current champions defended, and some belts were even vacated! With that being said, my pick for Champ of the Year is Ilima-Lei Macfarlane. Macfarlane finished two worthy challengers (both via third round submissions; including one of my favorites in Letourneau), played a huge role in bringing mainstream MMA to Hawaii, and showed that every time out she is improving. Ilima-Lei is a great representative for the sport, a gracious champion, and a legitimate competitor.
*Note: Entries were submitted prior to UFC 232 on 12/29/2018.
Who is your pick for Champ of the Year?
Here is to a wonderful New Year!