| Last updated
Israel Adesanya's rapid rise to the top continues.
The UFC middleweight champion has been named Fighter of the Year for the second successive year at the World MMA Awards.
Top-level fighters such as Jorge Masvidal, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje all missed out as the Kiwi sensation clinched the prestigious accolade.
"He done did it again... like I said last year," Adesanya said on social media after the ceremony.
He done did it again...like I said last year.- Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) December 28, 2020
As far as impressive years go, Adesanya's is certainly up their with the very best in mixed martial arts history.
Not only did he defend his belt on two occasions in 2020, but he also successfully saw off two of the scariest fighters on the UFC roster in the process.
On top of that, he managed to keep his unblemished, undefeated 20-0 record intact.
After capturing the middleweight title off Australian Robert Whittaker at UFC 243, Adesanya's first task as champion was to defend his belt against one of the toughest fighters in the division.
Yoel Romero had fallen agonisingly short of capturing gold during Whittaker's reign at the top, but after Adesanya publicly called him out via social media the Cuban looked like he was ready to take his head clean off - or at least that's what we all thought judging by his pre-fight trash talk ahead of UFC 248.
And while their title fight wasn't exactly the most exciting, Adesanya did what champions do and dug deep to secure the victory.
His next task as middleweight champ came in the form of Brazilian powerhouse Paulo Costa.
A physical specimen to say the least, Costa had walked through some of the biggest names in the 185-pound division with ease.
His form inside the octagon was so impressive that many critics had tipped him to dethrone Adesanya in their title bout at UFC 253 in September.
But as we all quickly learned, that didn't even come close to happening.
The Last Style Bender dismantled and picked apart Costa with ease before finally deciding to end the fight with a TKO late in the second round.
Months on and it's still widely regarded as one of the most dominant displays by a UFC champion we've ever seen.
With Jon Jones only fighting once in 2020 and Khabib retiring from the sport altogether, the UFC was looking for their next megastar to join Amanda Nunes.
And it seems they found him in Adesanya.
As for his next opponent, UFC president Dana White has openly talked about trying to arrange a mega-fight between Adesanya and former light heavyweight king Jones for 2021.
With both men boasting impressive records, Adesanya surely knows what's at stake if he can take out Jones.
Teeing up a third successive Fighter of the Year award would be great, but the prospect of beating one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all-time will be what makes this victory taste even sweeter for Adesanya.
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@stylebender
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read