UFC champ Daniel Cormier wins ESPY for best MMA fighter

Former two-division titleholder and current UFC heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier is the inaugural ESPY award winner for best MMA fighter.

Cormier (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) beat out nominees Amanda Nunes, Henry Cejudo and Israel Adesanya for the award, which was determined by fan voting. The 2019 ESPYs took place Wednesday at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

This year’s ESPYs separated MMA and boxing for the first time, a nod to the network’s new broadcast partnership with UFC.

Cormier’s 2018 run consisted of three championship fights across two divisions, all of which he won by stoppage. He kicked off the year with a second-round TKO of Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220 in January to defend the light heavyweight belt, moved up to heavyweight to score a first-round knockout of Stipe Miocic to claim a second title at UFC 226 in July, then capped off the year with a short-notice submission of Derrick Lewis at UFC 230 in November to defend the heavyweight strap.

After being named the winner, Cormier took to social media to react to his triumph (via Instagram):

View this post on Instagram

Tonight I won the ESPY for the best mma fighter, this is insane. I never would have thought I would ever get nominated for something like this. I have a great support system and they’re the reason things like this happen. Salina, you’re the glue that keeps this family rolling. To @crazybobcook and @dewaynezinkin you guys have been the best managers I could ever ask for. @akajav the best Head Coach in the business, @rosendo_sanchez , @slikbxr ,@camacho100, @leandrovbteam there is no staff in mma that compares. To my partners each and every one of you have built me from the ground up, special shout out to @officialcainvelasquez and @lukerockhold my brothers who have been there every step of the way. Cassandra and Heidi, all you do is recognized and appreciated greatly, I promise. All my competitors, I appreciate every one of you. The Jones rivalry has stood out above em all and have helped me to gain popularity that many people can’t imagine. And you the fans, you’ve loved me, cheered me and boo’d me, but you cared. It takes a village, I’m just a kid from the Northside of Lafayette, Louisiana. Amazing. Thank you all. I love you DC

A post shared by Daniel "DC" Cormier (@dc_mma) on Jul 10, 2019 at 5:04pm PDT

Tonight I won the ESPY for the best mma fighter, this is insane. I never would have thought I would ever get nominated for something like this. I have a great support system and they’re the reason things like this happen. Salina, you’re the glue that keeps this family rolling. To @crazybobcook and @dewaynezinkin you guys have been the best managers I could ever ask for. @akajav the best Head Coach in the business, @rosendo_sanchez , @slikbxr ,@camacho100, @leandrovbteam there is no staff in mma that compares. To my partners each and every one of you have built me from the ground up, special shout out to @officialcainvelasquez and @lukerockhold my brothers who have been there every step of the way. Cassandra and Heidi, all you do is recognized and appreciated greatly, I promise. All my competitors, I appreciate every one of you. The Jones rivalry has stood out above em all and have helped me to gain popularity that many people can’t imagine. And you the fans, you’ve loved me, cheered me and boo’d me, but you cared. It takes a village, I’m just a kid from the Northside of Lafayette, Louisiana. Amazing. Thank you all. I love you DC

Previously, only three UFC fighters had won an ESPY award for “Best Fighter,” beginning with ex-champ Ronda Rousey, who took home the trophy in 2015. Former two-division champ Conor McGregor won it in 2016, followed by former flyweight king Demetrious Johnson in 2017.

Prior to the current run, several UFC fighters have been nominated for the Best Fighter award, including Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Lyoto Machida, Quinton Jackson and Randy Couture.

Founded in 1993, the ESPY Awards honors the best achievements, moments and leading athletes of the previous year. This year’s awards show was hosted by actor and comedian Tracy Morgan.

Cormier is currently scheduled to defend his heavyweight title in a rematch against ex-champ Miocic in a rematch at UFC 241, which takes place Aug. 17 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

For more on UFC 239, check out the UFC Schedule.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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