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The 2023 UFC FIGHT PASS Awards

Knockout Of The Year, Submission Of The Year, Folly Of The Year And Many More Are All Up For Grabs In The 2023 UFC FIGHT PASS Awards, And With More Awards And More Nominees Than Ever, Who Topped The Rankings In One Of The Biggest Years In MMA History?

The ballots have arrived and the winners are in! Who stood a cut above the rest in the 2023 FIGHT PASS Awards?!

Here are your winners!

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Podcast of the Year: UFC Unfiltered

Matt Serra and the boys pre-date the expanded FIGHT PASS Podcast Network but showed they still bring the biggest and best week in and week out. The show has completely separated itself from just the “comedian and former fighter talking fights” experiment it may have once been. Jim Norton and Serra are bona fide stars in the podcast game, and while Norton has always had a few irons in the fire, UFC Unfiltered has put them head and shoulders above most in the space. No brainer for Podcast of the Year.

Listen To Every Episode Of UFC Unfiltered Here

Poster of the Year: Cage Warriors 165

The Cage Warriors take on the Grand Theft Auto artwork was both incredibly topical as well as perfectly executed. LFA, UAE Warriors and many more brought the heat in terms of posters but Cage Warriors 165 lapped the competition when they stepped outside the box in a big way.

Journalist of the Year: Chase Hooper

Feel Good Moment of the Year: Brad Boulton vs Ben “The Bane” Davis – Fury Pro Grappling 7

When Ben “The Bane” Davis got word of Fury Pro Grappling 7, he just couldn’t help himself and took to social media. With his eyes set on Cage Fury’s top dog, Rob Haydak, Davis let his Twitter fingers get his leg in serious trouble. A member of the CFFC team would take Davis up on his offer but it wouldn’t be Haydak. Instead, Brad Boulton would make the walk to the mat and give Ben Davis a few seconds of boosted confidence before snapping a bone somewhere in the foot of “The Bane.” Social media personalities beware, if you’re looking for trouble, stay far away from the 2300 Arena.

Viral Moment of the Year: Battle at the Barn

A lot of moments caught fire for one reason or another this year on UFC FIGHT PASS, but it was CFFC Match Day: Battle at the Barn that ran away with the win. One of the most neglected sports out there racked up NFL numbers when Wyoming Head Coach Mark Branch’s vision of an NCAA wrestling dual in a barn caught the attention of Barstool Sports and seemingly every wrestling fan on earth.

Storyline of the Year: Robert Watley’s Return to MMA – CFFC 122

Whether you believe in ring rust or not, nobody can dispute that beating a serious drug addiction and winning a CFFC title after a four-year layoff is one of the tallest tasks imaginable. Everything about Robert Watley’s journey back to championship form was like something out of a movie.

Folly of the Year: Commentators not knowing each other’s names - Titan FC 83

Nobody could help but laugh when Kayla Harrison stepped away from the commentary table, leaving the rest of the team to meet their newest colleague live on the air. The head scratcher was made all the better when fight fans realized the mysterious voice was none other than kickboxing great Tyrone Spong.

Walkout of the Year: Dorian Ramos – UWC 43

One of the tightest categories in terms of votes was Walkout of the Year. UWC seemed to corner the market with three of the five nominees. With World Cup props and much more, it was Dorian Ramos’s decision to spend $800 on a Mariachi band to serenade him on the way to the cage that set him apart.

Nickname of the Year: Shawn “The Brutal Noodle” Johnson – Unified MMA/CES MMA/Cage Warriors

Steve O said it best when he told TJ De Santis that there wasn’t even a close second place. Shawn “The Brutal Noodle” Johnson turned a “down bad” point in his life of skate parks and Ramen and turned it into the most entertaining nickname on an entire platform.

FIGHT PASS Graduate of the Year: Stephen Erceg

Steve Erceg of Australia celebrates his victory over David Dvorak of the Czech Republic in their flyweight fight during the UFC 289 event at Rogers Arena on June 10, 2023 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Steve Erceg of Australia celebrates his victory over David Dvorak of the Czech Republic in their flyweight fight during the UFC 289 event at Rogers Arena on June 10, 2023 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Few people in the Eternal MMA fanbase were surprised to hear Stephen “Astro Boy” Erceg got the call to the UFC. First it was Casey O’Neill, then it was Jack Della Maddalena, now it’s “Astroboy.” From now on, no matter where on the card you’re at, if you hear somebody is making their UFC debut from Eternal MMA, skip the bathroom break.

Interview of the Year: Jimmy Wallhead & Rhys McKee – Cage Warriors 153



 

After a seemingly improbable run to a title, Jimmy Wallhead was making one final walk to the cage and putting up his Cage Warriors title against UFC veteran Rhys McKee. 11 years Wallhead’s junior, McKee would get the better of the UK MMA fan-favorite and the two would share one final moment in the cage during a dual post-fight interview that would give everybody in attendance something to remember with one of the most emotional moments in promotional history.

Upset of the Year: Chris Earnest over Nate Lukez – Battle at Liberty

Chris Earnest made quite the splash at the Battle at Liberty. He surrendered the first three-point takedown in NCAA history, won the first match in the 2023-2024 season, knocked off a nationally ranked opponent and won UFC FIGHT PASS Upset of the Year, all in the first match of his NCAA wrestling career. Earnest has since gone on to continue upsetting heavy favorites and even take home a CFFC Matchday Outstanding Wrestler belt. Have yourself a freshman year, kid.

Submission of the Year: Taylor Mauldin: Gogoplata – A1 Combat 12

MMA is truly a sport where anything can happen, but it’s likely to be a very, very long time before you see a title fight gogoplata again. At 4-0 with two submissions in MMA and a strong showing at Medusa 5, Mauldin is quickly becoming the worst kept secret in MMA. It’s hard to imagine it’ll be long before we see Mauldin on the radar of UFC matchmakers, if she’s not there already.

Knockout of the Year: Baris Adiguzel – Cage Warriors 162

The sheer power of Baris Adiguzel won him the vote by the most narrow of margins. Adiguzel bit down on his mouthpiece, survived the onslaught and channeled his inner Robbie Lawler at Cage Warriors 162. The result, a knockout that wasn’t just perfectly placed, landed with enough force to send opponent Alex Bertinazzi flying a couple knots in the opposite direction. It was a knockout that hit the button but also hit with the force of a tidal wave. He’s got one of the most exciting fight styles out there, and we’re all excited to see what Adiguzel brings to UFC FIGHT PASS in 2024.

Male Fighter of the Year: Callum Walsh

Callum Walsh is officially on the radar of boxers everywhere. Whether they like it or not, champion-level boxers are witnessing the rise of their future challenger. Few pure boxers have had the earliest stages of their careers covered with the intensity “King” Callum Walsh has, and the Irish slugger has made the most of it. Now 9-0 with seven knockouts, Callum Walsh promises to have something truly special up his sleeve for 2024.

Female Fighter of the Year: Natasha Kuziutina

With a UFC FIGHT PASS record of 4-0 on the year, Natasha Kuziutina had one of the most active years of anybody in the sport and undeniably one of the most successful. After going 3-0 for Titan FC, Kuziutina made the leap to LFA to challenge GiGi Canuto for the strawweight strap. Kuziutina not only won, but played right into the BJJ ace’s game and beat her primarily on the ground. At 36 years old, Kuziutina is going to need to stay active if she’s going to do enough to punch her ticket to the UFC, but winning Female Fighter of the Year is a great start for the Judo bronze medalist.

Event of the Year: FIGHT PASS Invitational 4

With everybody from two-time NCAA National Champion Roman Bravo-Young to Glover Teixeira to Craig Jones and many more, FPI 4 was one of the most exciting and well-rounded cards in submission grappling, with a gigantic night for one of the biggest breakout stars in the history of the sport when Nicky Rod climbed to the top of the absolute tournament and gave one of the most quotable post-match interviews of the year.

Match of the Year: Nicky Rod vs Dan Manasoiu – FPI 4

While we’re talking about Nicky Rod and the FIGHT PASS Invitational 4, was there any doubt what Match of the Year was going to be? Meeting in the finals of the one-night absolute tournament, Nicky Rod took on the personification of size and skill in Big Dan Manasoiu. The two found themselves in one of the most exciting overtime periods that can be drawn up in which Nicky Rod only survived thanks to the Tony Ferguson arm he must’ve slapped on. Rodriguez would take home the win and seal it by popping off the tarp and giving Gordon Ryan yet another headache on the microphone.

Fight of the Year: Andreas Gustafsson vs Toni Lampinen – FCR 16

If only it were possible to find a still or a tweet of the fight without double crimson masks. Andreas Gustafsson and Toni Lampinen put on one of the bloodiest, high-paced wars across all of MMA at FCR 16, and not just on UFC FIGHT PASS. If you’re unfamiliar with Sweden’s premier fight organization, you’re truly doing yourself a disservice. Gustafsson and Lampinen may have dug the deepest, but the entire roster brings unforgettable wars to the table night in and night out. It won’t be the last time you see FCR nominated for FIGHT PASS awards and if we’re all lucky, it won’t be the last time we see the two men who gave us the most unforgettable blood and guts war of the year.



To all the fans and subscribers, thank you all beyond words and somehow, some way, 2024 will be even bigger!



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