UFC champions Jon Jones, Leon Edwards each receive pair of ESPY nominations

Jon Jones and Leon Edwards have more gold in their sights.

On Wednesday, ESPN announced the nominees for its annual ESPY awards show, which takes place July 12 in Los Angeles. UFC champions Jon Jones, Leon Edwards, Islam Makhachev have all received nominations, along with the recently retired Amanda Nunes.

Jones and Edwards received two nominations apiece. In addition to being nominated for Best MMA Fighter, Jones made the list for Best Comeback Athlete and Edwards for Best Championship Performance.

At UFC 285 this past March, Jones returned from a three-year layoff and handily defeated Ciryl Gane via first-round submission to capture a vacant UFC heavyweight title. The achievement made him a two-division champion following a historically dominant reign as the UFC’s light heavyweight king for the majority of the 2010s.

ESPY nods are nothing new for Jones, who had four consecutive previous nominations under the Best Fighter category from 2011-2014. He fell short to boxers Manny Pacquiao (2011) and Floyd Mayweather (2012-1014). This is Jones’ first nomination in the Best MMA Fighter category, which was established in 2019 when Best Fighter was split into Best Boxer and Best MMA Fighter.

These are the first two nominations for Edwards, the reigning UFC welterweight champion. His star power exploded in 2022 with a shocking fifth-round knockout of Kamaru Usman at UFC 278, who was undefeated in his first 15 UFC appearances. Edwards successfully defended his title in an immediate rematch against Usman at UFC 286.

Makhachev won the UFC lightweight title from Charles Oliveira this past October and then successfully defended it against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284. He has won 12 straight fights dating back to September 2016.

Nunes capped off a glorious 15-year career at UFC 289 on June 10 with a lopsided bantamweight title defense against Irene Aldana at UFC 289. “The Lioness” subsequently retired, leaving the octagon with numerous records under her belt, including the most wins by a female fighter (16) and the most title defense wins by a female fighter (11), which also puts her into a tie for fourth-place on the overall all-time list with the legendary Anderson Silva.

The ESPYs were established in 1993 to reward athletes across the sporting spectrum, with MMA fighters first being recognized in the newly-formed Best Fighter (which also included boxers) category in 2007. In 2015, Ronda Rousey became the first UFC fighter to win the Best Fighter award, followed by Conor McGregor in 2016 and Demetrious Johnson in 2017.

Following the split into Best Boxer and Best MMA Fighter, Daniel Cormier, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Charles Oliveira have won the latter award.