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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
No MMA fighter has ever been handed the "Best Fighter" award at ESPN's "ESPY Awards," but that could change in 2012 as two UFC Champions are in the running.
UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva join boxers Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Andre Ward. Mayweather has previously won the award in 2007, 2008, and 2010.
Jones earns his first nomination after an incredible run in the MMA world over the last 15 months. After capturing the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship from Mauricio "Shogun" Rua last March, Jones has defeated three former champions in Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Lyoto Machida, and Rashad Evans consecutively to retain his title.
"It's an honor to not only be nominated for the ESPY for Best Fighter, but to also be included in a category with some of the greatest fighters in MMA and boxing history," Jones commented in a statement released by his management group.
Fans can vote on ESPY award categories online or by heading to ESPN.com/ESPYS on their mobile devices. The awards ceremony takes place on July 11 at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles, hosted by Rob Riggle.
Penick's Analysis: There's no earthly reason anyone but Jones should win the award this year. No MMA fighter has gotten the nod in past years, but what Jones has done inside the cage in the last calendar year is nothing short of spectacular. Regardless of anything else outside of the cage, his work inside has been unparalleled. Stopping three Champions in a row and becoming only the second person to defeat Evans, all in such a short time period, is an incredible feat, and he deserves to be recognized as the best fighter of the last year. Silva only fought once during the last calendar year, and though it was a fantastic knockout of Yushin Okami, it's not up to Jones' three fight stretch.
[Jon Jones art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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