MMA 2022 Year in Review: Fighter of the Year

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

On the men’s side of things, 2022 was a year that saw established champions fall again and again —  but one fighter not only held on to 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 changed hands this year that Alexander Volkanovski pretty much deserves a medal. It’s hard to argue against the Australian, who has all but cleaned out his featherweight division and is set to take a stab at double-champ status when he takes on Islam Makhachev at UFC 284. Bellator’s Vadim Nemkov was one of the only other names even in the running, along with Alex Pereira.

Gabriel Gonzalez: Alexander Volkanovski. He put on a masterclass against the Korean Zombie in April that may have been one of the best showcases by any champion in recent memory. But to top that off with a similar route of longtime champion Max Holloway makes him an easy choice for Fighter of the Year and sets him up to be next year’s favorite.

Eddie Law: Very few will agree with me on this and even more will ridicule the pick, but to me Nate Diaz is fighter of the year. With so much talk around fighter pay and treatment Diaz refused to let the promotion put a price on his worth. After the booking against Chimaev, and the ultimate switch to a bout with Tony Ferguson, Diaz managed to walk away from the UFC with something very few do. 

A win, the bag, and plenty of positive prospects for himself in the future. 209, WHAT?!

Alex Behunun: Alex Pereira. Well, who saw this coming? Alex Pereira started his year off by defeating a tough as hell Bruno Silva, proving that he is more than a knockout artist. He then knocked out Sean Strickland who was on a run in the middleweight division and then he knocks out the second best middleweight of all time in their combat sports trilogy.

Jamie Theodosi: Alexander Volkanovski. As much as his win over “The Korean Zombie” was expected, the way in which he made the veteran look, speaks volumes to just how good Volk is. Pair that with how comprehensively he beat Max Holloway, who if it wasn’t for Volk, would be by far the best fighter in the division, his year has made us speak about him as the P4P best. And then we factor in the fact he’s moving up to take the toughest test in the sport. 

Val Dewar: Alexander Volkanovski. The best fighter in the world turned his game up to eleven in 2022 as he put on two absolutely dominant virtuoso performances against Chan Sung Jung and Max Holloway, the latter in particular being notable as one of the best performances in the history of the sport. Even though Volkanovski had beaten a legitimate all-time great talent in Holloway twice – once dominantly and once controversially – the third fight was what convinced the public he is the best in the world even though a lack of finishes and a fanbase which has long been enamored with Max Holloway had long led fans to not respect the Aussie. Now, Alexander ‘The Great’ is the consensus pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, has already cemented himself as one of the best fighters of not this generation but of the sport’s history, and will look to improve upon his already prodigious legacy by challenging for a second belt against the UFC’s pound-for-pound second best fighter, Islam Makhachev.

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

End result: Alex Pereira garnered a couple of votes, but Alexander Volkanovski claims our Fighter of the Year (Male) award for 2022. He remains undefeated in the UFC, defended his featherweight title twice, against The Korean Zombie and Max Holloway, and has now earned himself a shot at lightweight gold.