MMA Squared Awards: Breakout Fighters of 2018 and Train Wreck of the Year – Bloody Elbow

Welcome to MMA Squared, with part 2 of our 2018 Awards. The most exciting part of 2018 was a crop of prospects who appear ready for a title shot in 2019. Most recently Alex Volanovski went to war and stopped Chad Mendes via strikes, retiring the former title challenger.

Going 3-0 in 2018 against increasingly difficult competition, it’s hard to imagine anything (other than Frankie Edgar getting a title shot) could stop us from seeing the former rugby player squaring off against Max Holloway in the coming year.

In the bantamweight division, Aspen Ladd put on an absolute unit of a beating on Tonya Evinger. While overwhelming the former Invicta champion with ground and pound, the fans were in awe of her barrage of primal screams.

While only 23 years old and just seven pro fights, Ladd might seem too green for a title shot, but the bantamweight division division is thin on contenders and she is set to fight Holly Holm at UFC 235. Big things await The Absolute Unit (can she walk out to Katy Perry’s Roar?)

The most compelling woman to enter the strawweight rankings emerged when Tatiana Suarez beat the cookies right out of Carla Esparza at UFC 228.

She seems to have it all: family wrestling pedigree with Olympic aspirations (derailed by injury and thyroid cancer), BJJ submission skills, and overwhelming ground and pound. A fight with Nina Ansaroff would set either woman up perfectly for a late 2019 title fight.

And finally, the man at the top of everyone’s list: Israel Adesanya. After pissing all over the Octagon in his debut, The Last Stylebender backed up every boast with violent panache.

While knockouts are what we crave, pay attention to how a high level striker avoids the offense of his UFC peers. That’s where Adesanya’s unshakable confidence really shines.

And finally, the Dada 5000 Trainwreck of the Year: the comeback of Chuck Liddell. The less said about this, the better.

Take care of yourself and I’ll be back tomorrow with the Friday Caption Contest. Chris.

Hey all, thanks for your time. I wanted to include some variations of the drawings so I could write more, would you like to see the black and white inks along with the finished pieces?

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