MMA 2022 Review: Fighter of the Year

Alexander Volkanovsky UFC
Alexander Volkanovski, UFC 266 post-fight Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

On the men’s side of things, 2022 was a year where established champions fell time and time again – but one fighter not only retained the gold, but entered the conversation as the best ever in his weight class. Who took our Fighter of the Year award? Read on!

Fighter of the Year 2022: Male

Jay Anderson: So many belts have changed hands this year that Alexander Volkanovsky almost deserves a medal. It’s hard to argue against the Aussie, who has nearly cleared his featherweight division and is poised to hit dual champion status when he faces Islam Makhachev at UFC 284. Bellator’s Vadim Nemkov was one of the few other names even in the running, along with Alex Pereira.

Gabriel Gonzalez: Alexander Volkanovsky. He put on a masterclass against the Korean Zombie in April, which was perhaps one of the best displays of champions in recent memory. But adding to that with a similar route to longtime champion Max Holloway makes him an easy choice for Fighter of the Year and sets him up as the favorite for next year.

Eddie Lowe: Very few will agree with me on this, and even more will scoff at the choice, but to me, Nate Diaz is the fighter of the year. With so much talk surrounding a fighter’s pay and treatment, Diaz refused to let the promotion put a price on his value. After the card against Chimaev and the final move to a fight with Tony Ferguson, Diaz was able to leave the UFC with something few do.

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A win, a bag and a lot of positive prospects for yourself in the future. 209 WHAT?!

Alex Behunun: Alex Pereira. Well, who saw that coming? Alex Pereira started his year by defeating a hell of a tough Bruno Silva, proving he’s more than just a knockout. He then knocked out middleweight Sean Strickland and then knocked out the second best middleweight of all time in their fight trilogy.

Jamie Theodosi: Alexander Volkanovsky. As much as his win over “The Korean Zombie” was expected, the way he made the veteran look speaks volumes for how good Volk is. Couple that with how comprehensively he beat Max Holloway, who if not for Volk, would have been the best fighter in the division, his year has us talking about him as the best P4P. And then we factor in the fact that he’s stepping up to take the toughest test in the sport.

Val Dewar: Alexander Volkanovsky. The best fighter in the world upped his game to eleven in 2022 by delivering two absolutely dominant virtuoso performances against Chan Sung Yung and Max Holloway, the latter in particular being notable as one of the best performances in the history of sports. Although Volkanovsky defeated a legitimate all-time great talent in Holloway twice – once dominantly and once controversially – it was the third fight that convinced the public that he was the best in the world, despite his lack of finishes and a fanbase he’s long been enamored with in Max Holloway has long caused fans to disrespect the Aussie. Alexander “The Great” is now the consensus best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, has already established himself as one of the best fighters not of this generation, but in the history of the sport, and will be looking to improve his already incredible legacy by fighting for a second belt against the second best fighter in the UFC, Islam Makhachev.

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Michael Lynch: Alex Pereira. 3-0 on the year with three huge wins — Bruno Silva, Sean Strickland, then a title comeback win against Izzy.

Final Score: Alex Pereira got a few votes, but Alexander Volkanovski won our Fighter of the Year (Men) award for 2022. He remains undefeated in the UFC, defended his featherweight title twice, against The Korean Zombie and Max Holloway, and has now you’ve earned yourself a shot at light gold.

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