Nigeria-born, New Zealand-based professional mixed martial artist, Israel Adesanya, has emerged International Fighter of the Year at the 12th World MMA Awards.
He brushed aside stiff challenge from top sports personalities, including his fellow countryman, Kamaru Usman, to win the award.
Others nominated for the award were Aung La N Sang, Valentina Shevchenko and Zhang Weili.
Adesanya, who hails from Odogbolu, Ogun State, also won the Charles “Mask” Lewis Fighter of the Year award, beating nominees like Henry Cejudo, Justin Gaethje, Douglas Lima and Jorge Masvidal.
Against the unprecedented backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the awards, produced by Fighters Only, had an extended voting period of January 2019 through July 2020. This year, the fight winners skewed exclusively to the UFC.
Israel Adesanya and Jorge Masvidal were multiple award winners among fighters, as was UFC analyst Joe Rogan. Conversely, Ben Askren saw two of his opponents win awards at his expense.
Charles “Mask” Lewis Fighter of the Year: Israel Adesanya
Nominees: Henry Cejudo, Justin Gaethje, Douglas Lima, Jorge Masvidal
Female Fighter of the Year: Amanda Nunes
Nominees: Cris Cyborg, Kayla Harrison, Valentina Shevchenko, Zhang Weili
Breakthrough Fighter of the Year: Jorge Masvidal
Nominees: Gilbert Burns, Alexander Volkanovski, Zhang Weili, Petr Yan
International Fighter of the Year: Israel Adesanya
Nominees: Aung La N Sang, Valentina Shevchenko, Kamaru Usman, Zhang Weili
Fight of the Year: Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 248)
Nominees: Israel Adesanya vs. Kelvin Gastelum (UFC 236), Josh Emmett vs. Shane Burgos (UFC on ESPN 11), Dustin Poirier vs.
Dan Hooker (UFC on ESPN 12), Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington (UFC 245)
Knockout of the Year: Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben Askren (UFC 239)
Nominees: Cody Garbrandt vs. Raphael Assuncao (UFC 250), Douglas Lima vs. Michael Page (Bellator 221), Sean O’Malley vs. Eddie Wineland (UFC 250), Anthony Pettis vs. Stephen Thompson (UFC on ESPN 6)
Submission of the Year: Demian Maia vs. Ben Askren (UFC on ESPN+ 20)
Nominees: Misha Cirkunov vs. Jimmy Crute (UFC on ESPN+ 16), Aviv Gozali vs. Eduard Muravitsky (Bellator 225), Bryce Mitchell vs. Matt Sayles (UFC on ESPN 7), Brent Primus vs. Tim Wilde (Bellator Europe 2).
Comeback of the Year:
Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier (UFC 241)
Nominees: Eddie Alvarez vs. Eduard Folayang (ONE Championship 99), Cody Garbrandt (career), Peter Queally vs. Ryan Scope (Bellator Europe 4), Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Alistair Overeem (UFC on ESPN 7)
Upset of the Year: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway (UFC 245)
Nominees: Kai Asakura vs. Kyoji Horiguchi (Rizin FF 18), Henry Corrales vs. Aaron Pico (Bellator 214), Timofey Nastyukhin vs. Eddie Alvarez (ONE Championship 92), Khama Worthy vs. Devonte Smith (UFC 241)