ESPY Awards to feature MMA-specific 'Best Fighter' category for first time

For the first time in ESPYS history, mixed martial arts will have its own category.

On Wednesday, ESPN announced the awards show will no longer lump boxing and MMA into one “ESPY Best Fighter” category. Instead, the two sports will be split into “ESPY Best Boxer” and “ESPY Best MMA Fighter.”

The 2019 ESPYS take place at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 10, airing live on ABC beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

Four fighters have been nominated for this year’s award:

Israel Adesanya (UFC interim middleweight champion) Daniel Cormier (UFC heavyweight champion) Henry Cejudo (UFC flyweight and bantamweight champion) Amanda Nunes (UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion)

Adesanya, 29, earned the UFC interim middleweight strap in April, defeating Kelvin Gastelum by unanimous decision in the co-main event of UFC 236. The Nigeria-born fighter has gone undefeated through six outings since joining the UFC in early 2018.

Last summer, Cormier earned the heavyweight title by knocking out Stipe Miocic at UFC 226. At the time, Cormier became the only man not named Conor McGregor to hold two UFC belts simultaneously. In his first heavyweight title defense, Cormier defeated Derrick Lewis by second-round submission last November at UFC 230.

Cejudo, the UFC’s newest double champion, currently holds both the 125-pound and 135-pound championships. After knocking out bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw in January, Cejudo earned the vacant bantamweight title when he defeated Marlon Moares at UFC 238 earlier this month.

The only women’s double champion in UFC history, Nunes has fought a who’s who of notable female competitors. After defending her bantamweight title against Raquel Pennington in May 2018, Nunes finished Cris Cyborg in 51 seconds at UFC 232 to earn the women’s featherweight title.

Only three MMA fighters have ever won an ESPY award. Ronda Rousey was the first to take home the “Best Fighter ESPY Award” in 2015. Rousey’s win kicked off a three-fight run by MMA fighters in the category. Then-double champ Conor McGregor took home the award in 2016, before former UFC flyweight king Demetrious Johnson earned the award in 2017.

This year’s ESPYS are hosted by comedian/actor Tracy Morgan. The show is set to feature some of the world’s most notable athletes, including Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Alexander Ovechkin, and more.

For more on the upcoming UFC schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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