2018 has proved to be a successful year for Scottish MMA and with the start of 2019, MMA UK felt the time was right to look back and recognise the Scottish talent.
As ever with awards, there will be some people disappointed with the choices and you could make a case for several fighters in each category. To keep MMA UK on neutral ground, we called on a mix of people from the Scottish MMA scene, coaches, fighters and media to put forward their choice and the fighter with the most mentions from the panel would win.
In 2018, Scotland had 4 UFC fighters, each one recorded a win in the year. Scotland also saw a champion crowned on Cage Warriors in Ross Houston, add to this Scott Malone and Paull McBain recording wins and also a debut win late in the year from Aidan Stephen, it’s fair to say the year ahead is shaping up well for the Scots on Cage Warriors.
Calum Murrie valiantly fought for the EFC title, suffering a broken arm and continuing to fight right to the final bell. We will hopefully see Calum back competing this year.
On the local scene, On Top, Headhunters and Budo continued to offer an opportunity to both amateur and professional fighters.
Several fighters that have competed on the local shows in the past 12 months have signed for Bellator including Chris Bungard, Chris Duncan and Shaun Taylor. Proving how valuable these local events are for the development of Scottish MMA. Some of the top amateurs have faced fighters from Scandinavia, England, Wales and Ireland.
This year to add to the 3 promotions mentioned, The Art of Combat has announced a return, as well as Arena, which gives fighters even more chance to shine.
Moving on to the MMA UK Scottish Awards are as follows:
Pro Fighter of the year:
As mentioned previously, Ross won the Cage Warriors Welterweight title in a 5 round epic fight against champion Stefano Paterno. A fight of the year candidate highlighted not only Ross’ skill but his heart and determination after coming through a rocky patch in the fight to lift the title. A memorable night for Ross and Scotland. Ross was a unanimous decision amongst the voting panel.
Amateur of the year:
Mark started the year winning on his local show Headhunters, beating Nathan Hughes he would then be on his travels across England, fighting a further three times and winning all three fights. He ended the year knocking out Ross Mason in December.
Reece McEwan deserves a mention as he also had several votes for this category, Reece continued his fine form by defending his On Top bantamweight title twice, not content with that, he also competed in K1 and grappling bouts as well.
Knock out of the year:
Scott had a great year, he fought three times on Cage Warriors and won each time, starting with a unanimous decision win over Jason Jenkins and ending with an armbar submission against Josh Reed.
This award is for his finish in his second fight of the year when he stopped highly fancied Adam Amarsinghe. Scott showed his all-round game during this fight and dominated from start to finish. Big things are expected from Scott Malone for this year.
Other fighters who received a vote in this category were Jordan Stronge, Mark Ewen and Aaron Towns.
Sub of the year:
Paul Craig’s submission win over Magomed Ankalaev has won the best submission of the year.
Paul was facing a defeat against the highly fancied Russian when I’m the final seconds of the fight he produced a winning triangle choke. Not only winning the fight but being handed a new UFC contract. This submission has been mentioned in the running for best submission in awards globally never mind for a Scottish award.
Danny Henry, Aidan Stephen and Mark Ewen also had mentions in this category.
Performance of the year:
This was the closest category with Scott edging out Danny Henry to win. Malone was involved in two fights that could have been contenders for the performance of the year but again, like his knock out of the year award, the performance of the year goes to Scott’s fight against Adam Amarasinghe. Amarasinghe had won gold at the 2017 IMMAF European Championships and was 3-0 since turning pro.
Malone dominated with his wrestling in the open stages then went on to beat him standing up, all round great performance from the Dundonian.
Danny Henry just missed out on this award for his performance on UFC London in March when he nearly pulled the neck off of Canadian Hakeem Dawodu in the first round. It will be good to see Danny back in action this year after two great performances in his two UFC fights so far.
Looking back at the great Scottish MMA year just past has whetted our appetite for what is to come this year. Already we have got off to a flier with Joanne Calderwood winning by unanimous decision on the first UFC card of the year. With debuts, next month on Bellator of four Scottish fighters and rumours of other fighters joining the likes of Cage Warriors and EFC the year ahead could be even better.