Bleacher Report 2018 MMA Awards: Best Fighter, Fight, Finishes and Story

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Bleacher Report 2018 MMA Awards: Best Fighter, Fight, Finishes and Story
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

If we've learned anything over the years as mixed martial arts fans (and we certainly haven't learned much), it's this: Be careful what you wish for.    

Last year in this very space, we were lamenting the absence of the original "champ, champ," Conor McGregor. Sure, he wowed the world with his ultimately unsuccessful foray into boxing. His presence in the Octagon, however, was sorely missed.

This year? The UFC and its fans may have gotten more McGregor than they bargained for.

Between his assault on a bus full of fellow fighters, his ill-fated attempt to make his bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov personal (hey, he succeeded) and his subsequent failure to make good on his trash talk, McGregor seemed to use up all of the goodwill he had remaining with fans. 

That is, until the next time he fights, when we'll all gobble up the drama all over again. Such is the nature of obsession.

But MMA is bigger than any one man, even when that man sets new box office records every time he fights. There were moments that captivated us all. Bodies hit the floor, and limbs were twisted to their breaking point. We soaked it all in and couldn't wait for more to come.

Inside the cage, a legacy was secured when Daniel Cormier knocked heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic on his keister to win a second title belt, and a legend was born when bantamweight Amanda Nunes did the same to the seemingly unbeatable featherweight queen, Cris Cyborg.

Nurmagomedov made his case as the sport's top fighter by controlling McGregor only to be usurped by Max Holloway less than two months later, perhaps presaging an eventual showdown between the featherweight and lightweight kingpins. There's an embarrassment of riches in both weight classes, making 2019 a promising year no matter what mad alchemy matchmakers come up with to entertain the masses. 

Whatever happens, we'll be following our favorite promotions to new stomping grounds in 2019. For UFC, the Fox era ends and coverage begins on ESPN. Bellator has joined the DAZN streaming service, and ONE Championship will be featured prominently on Turner Sports platforms (including Bleacher Report Live).

What follows are the best fighters, bouts and finishes of the year as well as the stories that moved us the most in 2018. Here's hoping 2019 has even better things in store.

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