The MMA Fight of the Year might best be renamed after UFC lightweight Justin Gaethje

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist

Being involved in the type of battle it requires to even be considered in the Fight of the Year face means by definition it will be a grueling, violent affair that takes a long time to recover from.

Unless, that is, you’re Justin Gaethje.

The UFC lightweight contender was involved in two of the year’s best MMA fights, which were five months apart. They are among the four I’ve chosen as my finalists for the 2017 Yahoo Sports MMA Fight of the Year award.

It was a pleasurable task doing the research for this story, watching the many outstanding matches that took place in 2017. When it came down to it, I considered these four bouts as my contenders for the award:

• Darren Elkins TKO 3 Mirsad Bektic, UFC 209 in Las Vegas, March 4, 2017

• Justin Gaethje TKO2 Michael Johnson, TUF 25 Finale in Las Vegas, July 7, 2017

• Eddie Alvarez TKO3 Justin Gaethje, UFC 218 in Detroit, Dec. 2, 2017

• Yancy Medeiros TKO3 Alex Oliveira, UFC 218 in Detroit, Dec. 2, 2017

Each of them had plenty of jaw-dropping moments, as well as the inevitable shifts in momentum. Just as it looked as if one guy was about to win, the other would come storming back.

Any of the four could have been the winner, but there was one fight that stood out to me above the rest. Watch the video to see my pick and let me know which match you considered the best of 2017.

Justin Gaethje (R) lands a right uppercut on Michael Johnson during their bout on July 7, 2017. It is one of two bouts involving Gaethje that became finalists for the 2017 Yahoo Sports MMA Fight of the Year award. (Getty Images)