Las Vegas may have taken a few hits in 2020, but this city doesn’t go down easy. We’re like that great fictional boxer, Ivan Drago, a superhuman warrior capable of withstanding capitalism’s heaviest blows while delivering devastating counterpunches to a soundtrack of John Cafferty and Survivor tunes.
So it’s only right that we end the year with a visit from Drago himself, GOAT action hero and real-life Karate champion Dolph Lundgren, who is back in town to host the 12th Annual Fighters Only MMA Awards. The show, which will air December 26 at 9 p.m. EST on CBS Sports Network, will see Lundgren preside over a celebration of MMA’s most popular, successful, and dangerous fighters in 20 categories that include “Breakthrough Fighter of the Year,” “Knockout of the Year,” “Submission of the Year,” “Upset of the Year,” and “Comeback of the Year.” Other non-competition categories include “Gym of the Year” and “Ringcard Girl of the Year.” The winners are chosen by the worldwide community of MMA fans, who voted online earlier this year.
Knockout of the Year Nominees @JDSports— Fighters Only (@FightersOnly) December 18, 2020
– Jorge Masvidal @GamebredFighter
– Douglas Lima @PhenomLima
– Sean O’Malley @SugaSeanMMA
– Cody Garbrandt @Cody_Nolove
– Anthony Pettis @Showtimepettis
Who are you backing to win the award?
#FightersOnly #worldmmaawards pic.twitter.com/D7tKQotYbH
This year’s ceremony also includes the “Fighting Spirit Award,” which honors fighters for their sportsmanship, charity work, and other good deeds. Those receiving the honor this year include Conor McGregor, Walt Harris, Robbie Lawler, Dustin Poirier, and Justin Wren.
There’s no award for “Greatest MMA Awards Host Past or Present” but the honor should fall to Lundgren, the original Punisher whose decades-long career includes iconic films such as Rocky IV to cult classics like Masters of the Universe and Johnny Mnemonic, and recent blockbusters Aquaman and Creed II.
He’s also a fashion icon, as this writer once witnessed the man wearing a fanny pack in public in Las Vegas. It’s not an easy thing to pull off, but Dolph Lundgren can do it, because he’s a badass.