2016 was a great year of action in the world of MMA. With a full schedule from promotions such as the UFC, Bellator, ONE Fighting Championships and so on, there were fights all around the world nearly every weekend with many weekends seeing multiple shows --even on the same day.
With thousands of fights capturing a range of emotions, narrowing down a list of the top five fights was going to be a challenge because there were at least twenty fights deserving of recognition.
Despite all of the action around the world, when you look at the five best fights, they all took place in the leading promotion, the UFC, inside their famous Octagon.
Here's my top five fights of the year.
5) Steve Bosse vs. Sean O'Connell (UFC Fight Night 89 - June 18)
What was supposed to be just a light heavyweight fight to fill out a television main card in Canada turned into one of the best fights of the year. Bosse and O'Connell had a brawl in Ottawa with each man delivering big punch after big punch, and neither refusing to go down. O'Connell nearly had Bosse finished in the first round, knocking him stiff to the mat.
Bosse somehow not only survived, but got stronger as the fight went on. He nearly finished O'Connell in the second round, landing hammerfist after hammerfist. O'Connell somehow survived. Both men started swinging in the third, eating big punch after big punch, and the final seconds of the fight was one of the most action-packed sequences of the year.
In the end, Bosse took home a decision in a wild fight that will be remembered for some time.
4) Polo Reyes vs. Dong Hyun "Maestro" Kim (UFC 199 - June 4)
The opening fight of UFC 199 set the stage for what ended up being one of the best UFC events of 2016. Reyes and Kim went to war early with both men landing big shots. They were firing away and Kim nearly finished Reyes early before Reyes then dropped Kim.
This kept happening for the remainder of the fight, and whenever momentum started to shift, they just decided to stand and trade. After just over eleven minutes of continued brawling, Reyes cracked Kim with a right hand that dropped him to the mat, and a follow-up punch from Reyes sealed the victory.
There was no question it would end up being Fight Of The Night on June 4, and it remained as one of the best fights of the year.
3) Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor 2 (UFC 202 - August 20)
It was the biggest fight in UFC history as the biggest star in the sport was looking to right a wrong in his career. Diaz had submitted McGregor in March, and McGregor was seeking revenge. It was filled with drama both inside and outside the Octagon. When they stepped in, they delivered.
McGregor made Diaz look bad early, dropping him multiple times en route to what was looking like a decisive win. However, as McGregor started to fade, Diaz came on strong, nearly finishing McGregor at one point. They were bloodied and they were tired, but they went the full 25 minutes in a war of attrition.
In the end, it was the Irish superstar evening the score, taking a majority decision that left fans eager in anticipation of a rubber match.
2) Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi (UFC 206 - December 10)
This is the most recent bout on the list, but it was an instant classic. This was supposed to be Choi's big coming out party, and Swanson was there looking to spoil it. In the end, both men became bigger stars as they had one of the best fights in UFC history.
It was three full rounds of action with both men landing big shots that nearly finished the other. It was flurry after flurry, and it was amazing how both men were able to survive. It was also one of those fights that got better the longer it went, and the second round was a classic.
Swanson wasn't ready to let the hot prospect score that big win over him, and it showed in the way he fought as he took home an upset decision. This was a battle for the ages.
1) Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit (UFC 195 - January 2)
It was the first main event of 2016 with two of the most exciting fighters in the history of the sport battling for the UFC welterweight championship. They were expected to deliver a show which they did and more.
Lawler and Condit both knocked each other down early in the fight, and there were times that it looked like it could be stopped. However, both men just kept coming and getting stronger with a close first four rounds that set the stage for a fifth round to decide who would walk away as champion.
What happened in that fifth round is one for the ages, and one of the best rounds in the sport's history. Both men turned up the volume with Lawler hurting Condit early in the round. It knocked Condit to life as he began firing back with heavy punches of his own. They went on a wild flurry at the end of the round with both men doing their best to win that belt.
With the stakes at their highest, it was Lawler who earned a razor-thin split decision win.
It was the most electrifying fight of the year, an instant classic, and one fight fans should watch multiple times for pure enjoyment. It was the embodiment of the best fight of the year.