It’s a new year, so Combat Press is taking a look back at the best of MMA in 2017. Throughout the next few weeks, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
The sport of MMA is filled with coaches who make a difference on many levels. Some of them come from high-level backgrounds in one martial art, like Henri Hooft and Duke Roufus. Some come from a life-long dedication to mixed martial arts, like Matt Hume and Mark Henry. The 42-year-old Mike Thomas Brown is another member of this latter category. Not only does Brown have a dedication to MMA, but he also has a truly special relationship with his fighters, which include the likes of UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, former titleholder Joanna Jędrzejczyk, top contenders Dustin Poirier and Colby Covington, and top-level fighters Kyoji Horiguchi, Jorge Masvidal and Valérie Létourneau.
The former World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion was an established fighter in the cage with 26 professional wins and 18 career stoppage victories. Brown defeated top fighters like Yves Edwards, Urijah Faber (twice), Mark Hominick, Jeff Curran, Leonard Garica and Nam Phan throughout his 35-fight career. The 14-fight UFC/WEC veteran earned his way to the top of the featherweight division in the late 2000s. He’s now earned his way to the top of the sport with his coaching ability of numerous well-respected fighters.
Brown’s top disciples accomplished plenty in 2017. Nunes conquered her greatest test at bantamweight against experienced striker Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 215. Horiguchi won five fights in 2017, including the Rizin bantamweight world grand prix title. Covington has been on a meteoric rise despite his controversial comments. Following an undefeated 2017, Poirier earned a big-time match-up against Justin Gaethje. Létourneau was successful in her Bellator debut. UFC strawweight Nina Ansaroff moved into contendership with victories over former Invicta FC champion Angela Hill and former Resurrection Fighting Alliance titleholder Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger.
The performances of his fighters have led Mike Thomas Brown to the title of Comabt Press 2017 “Coach of the Year.” It’s only fitting that Brown would earn the honor as the best coach of the year, since he’s the leader of the 2017 Combat Press “Gym of the Year.”
Other finalists: Matt Hume and Mark Henry
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2017 MMA Award winners.