UFC champions Anderson Silva and Jon Jones have been nominated for “Fighter of the Year” at ESPN's 2012 ESPY Awards.
“The Spider” and “Bones” join boxers Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Andre Ward on the bill of nominees. ESPN created the “Fighter of the Year” award in 2007 to replace the “Boxer of the Year” category. The 20th annual installment of the awards show takes place July 11 at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles and will be hosted by comedian Rob Riggle. The winner will be decided by a fan poll on ESPN.com/ESPYS, which wraps on July 9.
Though several mixed martial artists have previously been nominated for the award in its five-year history, no MMA fighter has won the award to date. Jones and Silva have each been nominated once before, Silva in 2009 and Jones last year.
Regarded by many as the sport's top pound-for-pound talent, Silva has not lost since 2006 and has emerged victorious in each of his 14 Octagon outings. Last year, Silva earned a pair of knockouts in his two in-cage appearances, turning out Vitor Belfort's lights with a front kick to the jaw before battering Yushin Okami en route to a second-round technical knockout this past August at UFC 134. The 37-year-old will next compete on July 7, when he locks horns with Chael Sonnen at UFC 148 in a rematch nearly two years in the making.
Just 24 years old, Jones has dominated the UFC's light heavyweight division in recent times, beating four ex-champions in his last four bouts. “Bones” captured the 205-pound championship from Mauricio Rua in March of last year and defended it twice to close out 2011, submitting Quinton Jackson and Lyoto Machida before cruising to a unanimous decision over former training partner Rashad Evans at UFC 145 in April. The Jackson's MMA representative will next defend his belt next against former Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson on Sept. 1 at UFC 151.