2014 was a perplexing year for several of the world’s top promotions and fans alike.

In May, Renan Barao’s nine year unbeaten streak came crashing down when TJ Dillashaw dethroned the former kingping after dominating from the opening bell to the final blow. Months later, former and current fighters of the UFC filed a lawsuit claiming violations of anti-trust laws. To add to the strange year, former WWE superstar CM Punk joined forces with the UFC despite never actually having competed professionally.

Like any year, we as spectators saw prospects develop into stars, legends slowly die, and our fair share of surprises.

As we recap a memorable year, The MMA Corner presents its own 2014 MMA Awards as we seek to honor those who made an impression in the ever-growing sport.

 

Fighter of the Year: Donald Cerrone

It’s laborious to find someone more game than “Cowboy”Cerrone after fighting four times during 2014. Cerrone’s 4-0 record was complimented by finishes over Edson Barboza, Jim Miller, and Adriano Martins. Cerrone capped off the year by welcoming Eddie Alvarez to the octagon and defeating the former Bellator champ via unanimous decision. After three bonus awards, it’s clear “Cowboy” earns the green light in this one.

 

Female Fighter of the Year: Ronda Rousey

The MMA-sphere saw Rousey strap on the gloves just twice in 2014. Nonetheless, Rousey left her impression on women’s MMA in an intriguing way. After finishing her first nine opponents by way of armbar, Rousey’s improved striking allowed her to finish former Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann and Alexis Davis by knockout. Rousey’s two finishes were transformed into two ‘Performance of the Night’ bonuses.

 

Fight of the Year: José Aldo vs. Chad Mendes II

Hendricks vs. Lawler, Brown vs. Silva, or many others brought joy to fans across the globe this year. But none stood the test of Aldo vs. Mendes’ rematch in the heart of Brazil. After a 5-round war, the judges favored Aldo as he successfully defended his title for the seventh consecutive time. Despite the outcome, Mendes stood and exchanged with the world class striker, evening dropping his opponent and nearly finishing the fight. Some will go as far to say that Aldo vs. Mendes II goes down as the greatest featherweight scrap in the sport’s history.

 

Knockout of the Year: Mark Hunt vs. Roy Nelson

Filling in for the vacant Cain Velasquez and a chance at the interim UFC heavyweight title was more than Hunt could ever ask for. And while the fan favorite came up short when the lights grew dim in Mexico, Hunt has reason to reflect on the year that was as he finished “Big Country” Nelson in devastating fashion in Saitama, Japan. His second round KO was heard around the world and earned him ‘Performance of the Night’.

 

Submission of the Year: Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch

Leading up to his collision with Rockhold at UFC 172, Boetsch had been finished by submission just once in 23-fight career. It took Rockhold a whoopin’ 2 minutes and change to level Boetsch to the floor before locking in an inverted triangle kimura. Rockhold ran through Boetsch with ease, earning this year’s top submission award.

 

Upset of the Year: TJ Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao

Barao entered UFC 173 in some places a 10-1 favorite to defeat Dillashaw. The Team Alpha Male bantamweight proved numbers are just that as he completely and utterly dominated Barao for five consecutive rounds. Dillashaw threw everything and the kitchen sink at the former UFC 135-pound champ before finishing him via head kick and punches midway through the final round. What a year it was for Dillashaw.

 

Coach of the Year: Ray Longo

Not only did Longo coach Chris Weidman into a champion, but he’s kept him a champion. Weidman has developed into one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. New York appears to be a hotbed for growing talent as Al Iaquinta is also in the fast lane following a dominating performance over Ross Pearson earlier this year. Longo is also due for the success of a rising star in Aljamain Sterling. Doesn’t get much more clear-cut than this.

 

Gym of the Year: American Top Team

Robbie Lawler isn’t the sole reason ATT takes the top slot, but he sure was the engine behind the driving force. What a year it was for the Florida based gym as they homed Hector Lombard, Will Brooks, Yoel Romero, Ben Saunders, Jessica Aguilar, among others who rippled the MMA waters this year. As we progress into the new year, it’s likely ATT will only continue to sprout and hold steady amongst the world’s top gyms.

 

Journalist of the Year: Duane Finley, Brent Brookhouse

In the sometimes thankless world we live in, much effort goes unnoticed. Behind the politics and the mirages, you’ll find sedulous workhorses that make the industry go. Looking back on 2014, few names come to mind more than Finley of Bleacher Report and Brookhouse of Bloody Elbow. Finley took fans behind the scenes and painted an astounding picture as to what a fighter’s life looks like outside the octagon in his edition of ‘MMA Road Trip‘. Brookhouse broke open many spotlighted stories in 2014 including the news revolving around the lawsuit that current and former fighters are seeking in their belief that the UFC violated anti-trust laws. Well deserved.

 

Follow @GarrettDerr on Twitter.