Updated: Jun 12
So who'd you vote for? We'll have to wait to tune in on July 10th at the 2021 ESPY Awards (short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award) to see what could be another stellar moment in women's mma history!
Why so stellar you ask?? A panel of experts from the ESPN select nominating committee have leveled off the gender playing fields with a historical nomination going to NOT ONE but TWO women in the category of Best MMA Fighter!
I have my fingers crossed that fight fans will vote and make one of the two women the Best MMA Fighter of the year...
Those in contention are Amanda Nunes vs Rose Namajunas (now that's two obvious choices right there....lol)! Both have left fight fans speechless and audiences in awe this year with spectacular wins. Their competition for this prestigious award are two of the best of the best male fighters... recently retired champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and Francis Ngannou! This could be an all out nail biter for fight fans and enthusiasts!
Check out the stats:
Bantam & Featherweight
Wins by TK / TKO
Wins by Submission
Successful Title Defenses
Performance of the Night
Performance of the Night
Performance of the Night
As for the award itself, this category was originally presented from 1993 till 2006 as the Best Boxer Award. It wasn't until 2007 when it evolved from being exclusively limited to boxers, to honoring the achievements of any individual regardless of gender (male or female) from the world of combat sports. Interestingly in 2008, former UFC Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm was the first female nominated for the award for her boxing accomplishments. It took another seven years before another female was nominated!
Enter Ronda Rousey....
It wasn't till 2015 when former UFC Star Ronda Rousey won the award as Best Fighter, toppling Floyd Mayweather's streak of 6 award wins. You may recall when accepting the award Rousey couldn't resist "taking Mayweather to task over his history of domestic violence against women by saying: "I wonder how he feels getting beaten by a woman for once."
Not only is Rousey the ONLY woman among a list of notables who won the award including boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, and MMA champs Conor McGregor, and Demetrious Johnson, she was/is the first winner of the award representing mixed martial arts! That's right folks! One might potentially say she helped pave the way for men and women in the sport by way of getting MMA recognition for being a legit sport in the eyes of mainstream media instead of it being seen as an all too violent and brutal blood sport. To date there are now two separate combat sports awards, one for Best Boxer and the other for Best MMA Fighter of which Daniel Cormier was the inaugural winner in 2019.
So lets swing back to the future and our current nominees and what that means. In a span of 28 years of handing out awards there has only been five women nominated by the ESPN select nominating committee since the evolution of the aka Best Boxer/Best Fighter/Best MMA Fighter/ Best Boxer awards were presented. Thus, making this years nominations super significant for women in a male dominated industry.
Notably, of the five women nominee's UFC Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas was nominated for the Best Fighter award in 2018 and is once again nominated for the Best MMA Fighter award 2021, alongside champion fighter Amanda Nunes who retains both UFC's Bantamweight & Featherweight belts. Duly noted, Nunes landed two nominations in this years ESPY Awards as well, the other being Best Athlete in Women's Sports award. Its also important to acknowledge that undefeated Boxing Champion Claressa Shields, who is the first undisputed champion (male or female) in two weight divisions in the four-belt era has also been nominated for the Best Boxer Award 2021. Shields also made a victorious MMA debut this year at PFL 4.
That's 3 women in 1 year for combat sports...Now that's something to celebrate!! Good luck fella's but I'm voting for the lady's! 😉
So what does winning such an accolade mean for MMA, especially if the Best MMA Fighter is a woman?
Another opportunity for woman to make history?
Breakdown barriers between what can be achieved regardless of sex.
Bring more career opportunities and higher pay for women
Spark the imagination of young girls and the next generation or female fighters
Inspire an All women nomination card for 2022 Best MMA Fighter Award
Did you VOTE?
You can cast your vote here until 8 p.m. EDT on Friday, July 9 : 2021 ESPY AWARDS
The ESPYs award ceremony will air live on ABC on Saturday, July 10, from 8 p.m.- 11 p.m. ET from The Rooftop at Pier 17 at the Seaport in New York City. Hosting this year's ceremony will be "The Falcon And The Winter Soldier" star, Anthony Mackie.
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