Kamaru Usman (Mike Sloan/Sherdog)

Combat Press 2021 MMA Awards: Male Fighter of the Year – Kamaru Usman

A new year is here, and that means it’s time for Combat Press to take a look back at the best of MMA in 2021. In the coming days, 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 UFC realized somewhat of a “return to normalcy” in 2021, introducing live crowds back to the sport as COVID-19 regulations lightened in some parts of the United States. With a full slate of events, there was no shortage of contenders for 2021’s Male Fighter of the Year.

Only three men entered 2021 with a UFC title and successfully held onto the belt as the calendar turned to 2022. Of those three, only one man had multiple title defenses. That man is welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. He successfully defended his title three times, stopping Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal and picking up a unanimous decision victory over archrival Colby Covington.


2021 brought Usman’s total welterweight title defenses to five and brought his overall winning streak to 19 straight. He is yet to lose inside the UFC and continues to look more and more impressive. He shed the “Snoozeman” moniker and has become can’t-miss television as he rounded out his skills by moving to Denver under the tutelage of Trevor Wittman.

For those reasons, Kamaru Usman gets the nod as Combat Press’s 2021 Male Fighter of the Year and with no signs of slowing down sits comfortably in the poll position heading into 2022.