From the best dressed and the most mic-drop-worthy moments, to some of the most heartfelt and awe-inspiring interactions, 2021 was filled with countless moments outside of the Octagon that remind us why this sport reigns supreme.
The UFC Punchies breaks down some of the most memorable moments of 2021 into five different categories, and opens the floor for UFC fans to vote on social media to pick their winner.
Best Mic Moments
What's any UFC event without an epic moment on the mic? The Best Mic Moments of 2021 were voted on, and UFC fans chose their king in lightweight newcomer Paddy Pimblett following his first-round finish during his promotional debut in September. No surprise to us as interest in "The Baddy" has exploded since his debut.
Other memorable moments on the mic include Michael Chandler's epic (perhaps rehearsed?) callout of just about everyone in the lightweight division following his TKO over Dan Hooker in his UFC debut at UFC 257, Valentina Shevchenko shocking all of us (but not really to anyone who knows her) by delivering a post-fight interview in four different languages at UFC 266, and of course Rafael Fiziev's call out of Hasbulla following his three-round war with Bobby Green at UFC 265.
Most Bad A** Moments
Some things you just have to see to believe, and 2021 wasn't short on moments that had us questioning reality. UFC fans voted former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway's standout moment at UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Kattar in January of 2021 in Abu Dhabi, where "Blessed" turned to the commentary team mid-fight to let them know he's the best boxer in the UFC — all well no-look dodging strikes from Kattar, and throwing a few of his own.
Other moments nominated included UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski's survival of some of the tightest guillotine and triangle chokes Brian Ortega had to offer at UFC 266, the full 15 minutes of the lightweight war between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler at UFC 268 and Khamzat Chimaev's brief but bold performance in his return at UFC 267 in Abu Dhabi.
Most Heartfelt Moments
Some of the best showings of sportsmanlike behavior and awe-inspiring moments happen right inside the Octagon, immediately after the final bell. UFC fans voted Brandon Moreno's reaction to claiming the UFC flyweight belt at UFC 262, marking a moment in which his career came full circle as the Most Heartfelt Moment of 2021.
Other moments nominated were UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas' self-affirming beliefs coming to fruition at UFC 261, José Aldo and Pedro Munhoz's post-fight interaction after a three-round war in the UFC 265 co-main event, and a heartwarming post-fight interaction between veteran rivals Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler at UFC 266.
2021 was a record-breaking year across the board, but the UFC record book will need some updating after these milestones were surpassed. In the first event of 2021, former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway did Max Holloway things, breaking a total of eight UFC records in a single fight during his five-round war against Calvin Kattar at UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Kattar — and that's what fans voted to be the best Record-Breaking Moment of 2021.
Other moments included Sean O'Malley setting the bantamweight significant strike record with 230 significant strikes in a single fight against Kris Moutinho at UFC 266, UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira breaking the record for most finishes in UFC history, — regardless of weight class — after notching both a knockout win and submission victory in 2021 to bring his total to 18, and Amanda Nunes setting the record for most UFC wins by any woman with 14.
It's no secret that outside of the Octagon, UFC fighters like to put their fashion sense on display. Former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway reigned supreme after the fan vote pinned him as the Best Dressed fighter of 2021.
UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman was a close second, with Sean O'Malley and UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya splitting the remaining votes. Honorable mentions highlighted Marvin Vettori, Jorge Masvidal and Giga Chikadze for their fight week fashion.