For the first time, the some of the world’s top mixed martial artists will vie for an ESPY in a category all their own.
ESPN on Wednesday announced that Daniel Cormier, Henry Cejudo, Amanda Nunes and Israel Adesanya are the nominees for the new Best MMA Fighter ESPY. In past years, MMA fighters would go head-to-head with boxers for the Best Fighter ESPY, but that category has been eliminated in favor of two separate awards for the different sports.
The 2019 ESPY awards ceremony takes place on July 10 in Los Angeles. Voting in all categories takes place here.
Cormier became a two-division champion with a first-round knockout of Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 last July. He has since relinquished the light heavyweight crown but did successfully defend the heavyweight strap with a submission of Derrick Lewis at UFC 230 in November.
Cejudo became a “champ champ” at UFC 238, when he stopped Marlon Moraes to claim the vacant bantamweight crown. The Olympic gold medalist upset longtime flyweight king Demetrious Johnson last August to become 125-pound champ and defended that title with a first-round TKO of T.J. Dillashaw at UFC Brooklyn in January.
Nunes knocked out Cristiane Justino at UFC 232 this past December, giving her possession of both the featherweight and bantamweight belts. “Lioness” has successfully defended the 135-pound strap on three occasions since winning the title with a submission of Miesha Tate at UFC 200.
Adesanya is the least established of the nominees, but the Nigerian-born Kiwi is regarded as one of the UFC’s top rising stars. “The Last Stylebender” improved to 17-0 at UFC 236, where he became the interim middleweight champion with a five-round verdict over Kelvin Gastelum in April.