Awakening Women's MMA Awards 2017
Welcome to the 5th annual Awakening Women's MMA Awards. Each year we refine and develop the categories, nominating and voting process. This year the number of categories has doubled due to our inclusion of the Awakening choice categories. If you have any questions or suggestions then we encourage you to join our community and have your say on our forum.
Female Fighter of the Year 2017
Crowning our fighter of the year was a difficult decision, with all three of our top picks claiming UFC gold this year. Rose's impressive wins included her composed upset victory over previously undefeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk, bringing in a new reign for the deeply talented strawweight division.
Featherweight (145lbs) of the Year
Cristiane Justino 'Cyborg'
One of the most fearsome MMA athletes in the world, Cyborg was triumphant in her long-anticipated UFC title opportunity, and again claimed her spot atop the division with a decisive victory to close out 2017.
Note: Holly moved weight classes, and it was down to human error that we failed to include her in the featherweight category during the voting stage. We apologize for that, however she does take joint third with Arlene.
Fan Favourite Featherweight (145lbs) of the Year
Cristiane Justino 'Cyborg'
Fan Favourite Bantamweight (135lbs) of the Year
Flyweight (125lbs) of the Year
Nicco Montano entered The Ultimate Fighter season 26 as a marked underdog, but rose to the challenge against more experienced fighters in order to earn her shot at the inaugural UFC Flyweight title. Nicco completed her Cinderella story with a victory at the TUF finale, and begins 2018 as champion of the UFC's newest division.
Fan Favourite Flyweight (125lbs) of the Year
22.61%% of votes for remaining nominees
Ariane Lipski, Emily Ducote, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, Jennifer Maia, Karina Rodriguez, Lauren Murphy, Mara Borella, Montana De La Rosa, Nicco Montano, Priscila Cachoeira, Vanessa Porto, Xiong Jingnan
Strawweight (115lbs) of the Year
Rose Namajunas earned an opportunity to fight for the inaugural UFC Strawweight World title in 2014, but fell short in her title aspirations. A little under 3 years later, Rose completed her comeback to the top of the division with a momentous upset win to complete her run to the title.
Fan Favourite Strawweight (115lbs) of the Year
26.17% of votes for remaining nominees
Alexa Grasso, Carla Esparza, Claudia Gadelha, Cortney Casey-Sanchez, Cynthia Arceo, Cynthia Calvillo, Jessica Andrade, Livia Renata Souza, Mackenzie Dern, Nina Ansaroff, Randa Markos-Thomas, Sunna Davidsdottir, Tecia Torres, Weili Zhang
Atomweight (105lbs) of the Year
Kanna Asakura boasts 5 victories at Atomweight in 2017, including winning the DEEP-JEWELS and RIZIN Grand Prix tournaments. Kanna ended the year with highlight finishes in her two fights on New Year's Eve in her home country of Japan.
Fan Favourite Atomweight (105lbs) of the Year
20.8% of votes for remaining nominees
Emi Tomimatsu, Kanna Asakura, Lizbeth López Silva, Mina Kurobe, Paulina Granados, Satomi Takano, Seo-Hee Ham, Shino VanHoose, Stephanie Alba, Tessa Simpson, Tomo Maesawa
Newcomer of the Year
Paulina deserved both Newcomer and Amateur of the year. To save repeating ourselves, we encourage you to read her achievements in the award below.
What does Newcomer mean in the Awakening Awards? It is a catch all term for anyone that arrives on the scene; either as an amateur or someone who has made their pro debut. For a pro to appear on this list they need to have made a significant wave of excitement as in the case of Shaianna and Heather. For an amateur to appear they need to have been undeniably outstanding - as in the case of Paulina.
Community's Newcomer of the Year 2017
20.65% of votes for remaining nominees
Byelka Soto, Camila Rivarola, Cornelia Holm, Crystal Vanessa Demopoulos, Eunice Ong, Fabiana Giampà, Gloria Hoong, Hannah Guy, Jillian DeCoursey, Kiara Ramos, Nicole Szepesvary, Shaianna Rincon
Amateur of the Year 2017
Paulina had an outstanding year, or half a year because all of her seven fights happened between May and November. Not only did she win the ALMMA tournament titles at Flyweight, Bantamweight and Featherweight, but six of her fights were stoppages - five of which in the first round!
Community's Amateur of the Year 2017
13.86% of votes for remaining nominees
Brittney Victoria Grizzelle, Danni Neilan, Eunice Ong, Fabiana Giampà, Gloria Hoong, Hannah Guy, Karolina Wojcik, Kiara Ramos, Michele Oliveira, Paulina Giemza, Reina Miura
KO/TKO of the Year 2017
Sabina Mazo vs Jamie Thornton
Sabina Mazo was featured in two nominations for knockout of the year, having impressively won by head kick KOs in not one, but two of her fights for Legacy Fighting Alliance. Her clean, perfectly placed kick towards the close of the first round at LFA 9 was our choice for KO of of the year.
Community's KO/TKO of the Year 2017
Rose Namajunas def.
UFC 217, UFC Strawweight title
1st. Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk 59.4%
2nd. Holly Holm def. Bethe Correia 22.77%
3rd. Seo Hee Ham def. Jinh Yu Frey 4.95%
Submission of the Year 2017
Mackenzie Dern over Kaline Medeiros
Mackenzie Dern announced her arrival at Invicta FC with an armbar victory. The skill and clean technique by the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt helped her remain undefeated in MMA. When deciding on a winner we chose clean and precise over something unusual.
Community's Submission of the Year 2017
Rose Namajunas def. Michelle Waterson
Rear-Naked Choke at 2:47 of round 2.
UFC on FOX 24
Fight of the Year 2017
Jessica Andrade vs Claudia Gadelha
Three rounds of intense action, highlighted by multiple throws and slams through the air as well as many exciting exchanges, brought to a close one of the pivotal fights of the year for the strawweight division. While Jessica Andrade would go on to earn the win, together Andrade and Claudia Gadelha take home our Fight of the Year for their performance.
Community's Fight of the Year 2017
Cristiane Justino 'Cyborg' (W) vs Holly Holm
1st. Cristiane Justino 'Cyborg' vs Holly Holm 58.56%
2nd. Jessica Andrade vs Claudia Gadelha 15.86%
UFC Fight Night 117
3rd. Sunna Davidsdottir vs Mallory Martin 10.98%
Invicta FC 24
Inspirational Female Fighter of the Year 2017
Starting off 2017 with a loss, Nicco Montano had the comeback story of the year with her rise through the newly created UFC Flyweight division. Representing Navajo nation, Nicco was victorious over seasoned competitors throughout her journey to becoming World Champion.
Community's Inspirational Female Fighter of the Year 2017
Personality of the Year 2017
Newly crowned Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas kept her composure throughout the tense lead-up and fight versus Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Following her victory, an emotional Rose delivered a powerful post-fight speech of encouragement and kindness, qualities that she continues to embody as a martial artist and champion.
Community's Personality of the Year 2017
Gym of the Year 2017
American Top Team, FL
American Top Team coached Amanda Nunes and Joanna Jedrzejczyk successfully for one title defense each. ATT is also responsible for the training of other notable female fighters such as Valerie Letourneau, Mara Borella, and Nina Ansaroff, all of whom went undefeated at a high level in 2017.
Community's Gym of the Year 2017
American Top Team, FL
1st. American Top Team, FL, USA 30.78%
2nd. Syndicate MMA, NV, USA / SBG, Ireland 14.58%
3rd. Jackson's MMA Association, NM, USA 8.1%
31.96% of votes for remaining nominees
303 Gym (CO, USA), Busan Team MAD (South Korea), Lobo Gym MMA (MEX), Nova União (BRA), RVCA Gym (Costa Mesa, USA), Team Alpha Male (CA, USA)
Media Source of the Year 2017
If you don't use MMA Rising as part of your news digest then you should. Robert Sargent does a great job with news from around the world. The above sources are part of our reference material as well as many other websites that arguably have larger visitor numbers. These three listed here however deserve commendation for their highly informed support of the female fight industry.
Journalist of the Year 2017
2nd. Robert Sargeant / MMA Rising
3rd. Tim Peterson / WMMA Today
Marq Piocos of Wombat Sports has been one of the best sources of up to date information within the female fight community for a long time. He may not find as much time away from his daily commitments to write the volume of articles that Rob Sargent does, however his twitter account is an endless stream of useful content and expert knowledge. We would go as far as saying that most people reading this are already following him - if you're not, why not?
Community's Journalist of the Year 2017
1st. Ariel Helwani 30.21%
2nd. Megan Olivi 19.08%
3rd. MarQ Piocos 17.49%
4th. Tim Peterson 14.31%
5th. Helen Yee 9.54%
9.37% of votes for remaining nominees
Amy Kaplan, Nolan Kings, Rober Sargent, Robin Black
Best Promotion of the Year 2017
2nd. Invicta FC
3rd. Bellator MMA
As women's MMA continues to grow and be recognized, promotions at the highest level continue to include more fights and divisions for female competitors. We strongly support all promotions who continue to bring opportunities for the athletes, of which there were several worthy contenders this year. We chose to recognize the UFC for 2017 with their introduction of not only one, but two new championships for female athletes with the addition of their Featherweight and Flyweight World titles.
Community's Best Promotion of the Year 2017
1st. UFC 44.8%
2nd. Invicta FC 34.72%
3rd. Bellator MMA 13.44%
7.04% of votes for remaining nominees
Road FC, ONE FC, Legacy Fighting Alliance, IMMAF
Note: Arranging these awards each year is a huge process for such a small team. Inevitably someone always falls through the cracks and gets missed, this year sadly it was RIZIN who deserved to be listed in the nominations. This was pointed out to us on twitter by charlie @cjsreport. We sincerely apologize for this oversight.