ByAmy Kaplan, writer at
Lead Staff Writer // Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @PhotoAmy33

Champions staff members voted on our year-end awards last week, but settling on our favorite upset of the year wasn't an easy decision, as the nominees were all incredible (and surprising) upsets. Our nine picks included six championship fights--two involving Eddie Alvarez--and two for the women's bantamweight division. We nominated the moment that Nate Diaz submitted Conor McGregor, the KO heard around the world when Amanda Nunes defeated Ronda Rousey in just :48 and the KO of Rafael dos Anjos on a UFC Fight Pass exclusive fight.

Check out our full nominees here.

  • Michael Bisping KO's Luke Rockhold at UFC 199
  • Tyron Woodley KO's Robbie Lawler at UFC 201
  • Amanda Nunes KO's Ronda Rousey at UFC 207
  • Nate Diaz Submits Conor McGregor at UFC 196
  • Brandon Moreno Submits Louis Smolka at UFC Fight Night Portland
  • Cody Garbrandt defeats (UD) Dominick Cruz at UFC 207
  • Eddie Alvarez defeats (UD) Anthony Pettis at UFC Fight Night Boston
  • Eddie Alvarez KO's Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night Las Vegas
  • Miesha Tate Submits Holly Holm at UFC 200
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Michael Bisping KO's Luke Rockhold at UFC 199

Who could forget when Luke Rockhold defeated Chris Weidman to become the new UFC middleweight champion? The win thrust him into the spotlight and had critics wondering if we had just seen the birth of the new middleweight king. Those thoughts didn't last long — and neither did Rockhold's reign.

Rockhold was set to rematch the formerly undefeated Weidman until Chris announced that he would have to pull out of the bout due to injury, just two weeks before the rematch was meant to go down.

Michael Bisping, fresh off a movie, was set to fill in for the former champion. This would be the first title shot for Bisping inside the UFC Octagon.

The odds were against him, there was no way he could come in to beat Rockhold (to whom he'd lost to just two years back) without a training camp. To say that Bisping was the underdog would be an understatement. I don't think anyone (except me) thought he could win.

Not only did Bisping win — he knocked Rockhold out in the first round. The crowd went wild. Bisping was now the Middleweight champion, and he had defeated an incredibly powerful opponent on short notice.

I get chills thinking about it. The moment is something I know I will remember forever.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Runner Up: Cody Garbrandt defeats Dominick Cruz via unanimous decision at UFC 207

A close runner up for the upset of the year is Cody Garbrandt's unanimous decision victory over Dominick Cruz at UFC 207.

This fight, fresh in our minds, saw a relatively new bantamweight seemingly jumping rank to face the unbeatable champion, Dominick Cruz. The match-up, made mostly because of the beef between the pair, was thought to be an easy win for Cruz.

However, we know that in MMA, nothing is ever "easy."

Not only did Garbrandt defeat the reigning prince of the bantamweight division, but he kind of made him look like the inexperienced beginner, not the other way around.

Garbrandt would claim the bantamweight belt after a five-round war, which he controlled entirely, via unanimous decision.

Who would you have chosen for upset of the year? Did we miss someone in our nominations?


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