This year, the UFC raised the bar with nominations for ESPY awards, getting four nods for three fighters after a pair of nominations in 2013.
Women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is up in two categories – “Best Female Athlete” and “Best Fighter.” Light heavyweight champ Jon Jones also is nominated in the “Best Fighter” category. And middleweight titleholder Chris Weidman is up for an award in the “Best Upset” category.
Fans can vote for “Best Fighter,” “Best Female Athlete,” and “Best Upset,” along with other categories, at the 2014 ESPY Awards’ official website.
It’s the fourth straight year Jones has been nominated in the “Best Fighter” category. It’s the first nomination for Rousey in either category, and the first nomination for Weidman, whose upset of Anderson Silva at UFC 162 got him the nod. Silva actually was nominated in the “Best Fighter” category in 2009, 2012 and 2013. That award has been claimed five times by Floyd Mayweather Jr. and twice by fellow boxer Manny Pacquaio. Both of them, along with fellow boxer Andre Ward, are nominated alongside Rousey and Jones this year.
Nominated alongside Rousey for “Best Female Athlete” are Maya Moore from the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, Olympic skier Mikaela Shiffrin, and University of Connecticut basketball standout Breanna Stewart.
Weidman’s win over Silva nearly a year ago will be contested by No. 14 Mercer’s win over No. 3 Duke in the 2014 NCAA Tournament and the University of Connecticut’s win in that tournament as a No. 7 seed.
To date, the lone MMA fighter to take home an ESPY award has been congenital amputee Kyle Maynard, who was named “Best Male Athlete with a Disability” at the 2012 awards. Maynard also won the same award in 2004 after posting a 35-16 record in high school wrestling and narrowly missing All-American status at the NHSCA National Wrestling Championships.
Other past MMA ESPY nominees include Georges St-Pierre, Lyoto Machida, Quinton Jackson, Randy Couture and Edson Barboza.
The ESPY Awards, founded in 1993, honor the best achievements, moments and leading athletes of the previous year. Fan voting is open now at the ESPY Awards’ official website, and the awards ceremony takes place July 16 at Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. The show airs live on ESPN and will be hosted by rapper Drake.
Rousey and Weidman each defend their titles next week at UFC 175 in Las Vegas against Alexis Davis and Machida, respectively. Jones is set to defend his belt against Alexander Gustafsson this fall at UFC 178.
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Ronda Rousey)