Following his latest victory at this past Saturday night in New York City, a submission win over knockout artist Derrick Lewis in the main event of UFC 230, Daniel Cormier has already locked up the award for 2018 MMA Fighter of the Year. There’s still two months left in the year, but at this point no one can catch DC for that title. The double champ has had an amazing year, one that no other fighter in the sport can equal, and he deserves all the accolades and praise he gets for his amazing performance in 2018.
Back in January, DC defeated Volkan Oezdemir in the co-main event of UFC 220. Despite being labelled a knockout artist himself and going on a tear in his first three Octagon bouts, DC made easy work of Oezdemir — the No. 1 ranked light heavyweight at the time — as he used his vaunted wrestling game to get the fight to the ground and finish his foe via TKO from ground strikes. It was the third official defense of his light heavyweight title, and that was also the last time we saw DC fight at 205lbs, as he soon made the decision to move up to heavyweight.
Though most were counting him out against Stipe Miocic in the main event of July’s UFC 226 card, DC shocked the world when he brutally knocked the heavyweight champion out in just two minutes with short and hard strikes from the clinch. The win made DC a rare double champ in the UFC, joining a short list of elite fighters including Georges St-Pierre, BJ Penn, Randy Couture, and Conor McGregor. The win over Miocic showed the world that DC is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters who has ever played this game we call MMA, and winning a second belt in two different weight classes put him in legend territory when it comes to this sport’s history.
After beating Miocic, most figured DC would take some time off and wait for Brock Lesnar’s return in 2019, but always the company man, DC stepped up on short notice and fought Lewis at UFC 230 when the promotion desperately needed a headliner. Even though the fight played out like most figured it would, with DC using his takedowns to get Lewis to the ground and beat him up there, it’s not like it was a fight without risk. After all, Lewis is one of the most powerful punchers to ever compete in the Octagon and was coming off of a ridiculous comeback KO win over Alexander Volkov back at UFC 229 that made him the No. 2 ranked heavyweight contender. But DC did what he needed to do, and finished Lewis in devastating fashion for his first title defense as a heavyweight.
So in sum, DC’s 2018 year included a TKO win over Oezdemir to defend the UFC light heavyweight title, a KO win over Miocic to win the UFC heavyweight title, and a submission win over Lewis to defend the heavyweight title. That’s one amazing year, and one that no other fighter can top, even with two months left to go. Some have suggested fighters such as Israel Adesanya (four wins), Khabib Nurmagomedov (two wins in lightweight title fights), and Anthony Smith (three stoppage wins since moving up to light heavyweight) deserve to be in the conversation. All three of those men have had spectacular years, but considering the level of competition and the fact all the bouts were title fights against top-level opposition, it’s hard to go against DC on this one. The double champ has not only cemented himself as the MMA Fighter of the Year with his three victories in 2018, but he has thrown himself into the conversation of the greatest fighters to ever live.