As far as importance goes, the rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz at UFC 202 on Aug. 20 has to win out. The UFC had literally just sold for more than $4 billion and its biggest star, McGregor, fought (and won) the most important fight of his career against his biggest rival to date.
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All things considered, that was the most significant, historic fight of 2016 -- and it delivered some of the year"s best action.
It was not, however, the best action of the year. That distinction goes to a featherweight bout between Cub Swanson and Doo Ho Choi at UFC 206 on Dec. 10.
The final 10 seconds of that fight were pure magic. Swanson (24-7) toppled over due to his own momentum on a cartwheel kick aimed at Choi"s head. Swanson bounced to his feet and threw his whole body into a long-range left hand, followed by a spinning elbow that knocked Choi down.
Swanson followed him to the ground and finished the fight on top, dropping hammerfists. When it ended, Swanson froze in the knelt position and raised his arms and head to the rafters, soaking in one of the most iconic moments of his career.
Featherweights Cub Swanson, right, and Doo Ho Choi gave fans in Toronto at UFC 206 a night to remember, thanks to their epic three-round slugfest.Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty ImagesIt was an action fight that played well on broadcast, but was nearly indescribable in person. And although it didn"t have the same ramifications as McGregor-Diaz II (or several others), it wasn"t absent of a storyline.
Swanson, 33, is arguably one of the most underappreciated fighters of his era. With few exceptions, his only career losses have come to the best fighters of his weight class and from an entertainment standpoint, fight enthusiasts know few are better.2016 urbanbreathnyc.com MMA Awards
Tuesday: Fight of the yearWednesday: Fighter of the yearThursday: Submission of the yearFriday: Knockout of the year
This matchup against Choi (14-2), a 25-year-old South Korean with fan appeal, was something of a proving ground for Swanson. He was the underdog and potentially a stepping stone for the younger Choi to build his name.
No one likes to think of themselves as a potential stepping stone for someone else"s career. Cage fighters in particular.
So yeah, there were other fights that, years from now, we"ll remember better than this one. And there were fights we"ll probably discuss a whole lot more.
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But as far as the best, most back-and-forth, see-you-raise-you action of 2016? Watch Swanson versus Choi.