UFC champ Israel Adesanya named Fighter of the Year ahead of Masvidal and Gaethje at World MMA Awards

UFC champ Israel Adesanya named Fighter of the Year ahead of Masvidal and Gaethje at World MMA Awards

December 28, 2020

ISRAEL ADESANYA was named Fighter of the Year for the second successive year at the World MMA Awards on Sunday night.

The UFC Middleweight champion beat out the likes of Jorge Masvidal and Justin Gaethje to scoop the 2020 gong.

The Last Stylebender, who now boasts a 20-0 career record, successfully defended his title twice over the past year.

Adesanya took to celebrate and tweeted: "He done did it again… like I said last year."

Here, SunSport breaks down the 31-year-old's historic year – with the voting period from January 2019 to July 2020 – and the four contenders he beat out for the coveted prize.


UFC's middleweight champion was named Fighter of the Year after dominating his biggest division rivals in 2020.

Adesanya, who also picked up the Breakthrough Fighter prize in back in 2018, claimed a unanimous decision victory over Yoel Romero in March.

The Nigerian-New Zealand star then claimed a dominant second-round KO win over Paulo Costa in September.

As well as picking up the Charles 'Mask' Lewis Fighter of the Year Award, Adesanya also picked up the prize for International Fighter.


The American fighter was the only other multiple award winner in Sunday's virtual ceremony but missed out on the main prize.

Masvidal collected the Breakthrough Fighter as well as the Knockout of the Year for his stunning five-second UFC 239 win over Ben Askren.

Gamebred followed up his success by beating Nate Diaz but saw his momentum halted with a unanimous points loss to Karamu Usman for the Welterweight title.


The Highlight's coach Trevor Wittman was presented with the Shawn Tompkins Coach of the Year honour.

And Gaethje himself came to close to winning Fighter of the Year after cementing his status as one of the best lightweights around.

The American's submission defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October was outside the voting period with the 32-year-old on a four-fight win streak beforehand.

Gaethje had secured three successive knockout wins over Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone and Tony Ferguson.


The Phenom only fought twice in 2019, but both bouts were dominant victories that sent waves through the MMA world.

Lima handed Brit Michael “Venom” Page his first loss at Bellator 221 while he later avenged his 2018 defeat to Rory MacDonald at Bellator 232.

The Brazilian is the only three-time Bellator champion in history – and the winner of the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix.

Yet he has since suffered lost via unanimous decision to Gegard Mousasi in October 2020 but as with Gaethje, it came outside the voting period.


The Messenger cemented his place as undisputed king of the bantamweights after beating all-time great Dominick Cruz in May.

Yet Cejudo shocked the UFC by announcing plans to retire and walk away from the sport – leading Dana White to strip him of the 135lb belt.

The two-division champion only moved up to Bantamweight last year, and beat Marlon Moraes before knocking out Cruz in two rounds.

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