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2015 Half-Year Awards - The Newcomers

The highly unofficial half-year awards season begins today with the top newcomers of 2015 this far...
Through the first six months of 2015, several fresh faces made their names known in the Octagon, with their mix of performance and presence guaranteeing that the UFC will never be at a shortage of talent. We kick off the highly unofficial awards season for the first half of 2015 today with the top newcomers of the year thus far.

5 - Taylor Lapilus Taylor Lapilus of France at UFC Berlin weigh-in. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Last October, Taylor Lapilus was taken from a UFC Fight Night bout against Dennis Siver because the commission said he didn’t have enough experience to face someone like the veteran from Germany. Two UFC wins over Rocky Lee and Yuta Sasaki later, and the Frenchman won’t likely hear any rulings like that anytime soon. The TKO of the highly-regarded Sasaki was particularly impressive, as he picked his foe apart patiently until lowering the boom in the second round.

4 - Joe Duffy
Joseph Duffy stands on the scale during the UFC 185 weigh-ins, March 2015 in Dallas, TX. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)Poor Joe Duffy. All he’s heard since being signed to the UFC is that he’s the last fighter to beat Conor McGregor. You almost expect to see that as part of his name on his passport. But the talented Irishman has the talent and the determination to make is abundantly clear that he’s not the answer to a trivia question, but a legitimate lightweight prospect and soon to be contender. Duffy’s Octagon debut against Jake Lindsey could not have gone better, as he halted his foe in less than two minutes, and anticipation is high for his second Octagon bout on July 18 against Ivan Jorge.

3 - Maryna Moroz 
Maryna Moroz of Croatia interacts with the media during the UFC Fight Night Ultimate Media Day in Krakow, Poland. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
Sure, Maryna Moroz was unbeaten, with all her wins coming by way of submission or knockout, before facing Joanne Calderwood at UFC Fight Night in Poland on April 11, but if you expected the Ukrainian newcomer to beat “JoJo” you were in the minority. But the confident Moroz didn’t just beat Scotland’s finest, she ran through her, using her world-class striking attack (She is a Master of Sport in Boxing) to set up the armbar submission that ended the fight in 90 seconds. If that wasn’t enough, Moroz, just six fights into her pro career, climbed the Octagon fence and called out strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who was seated there for the event. The best compliment you can pay a fighter is that you would pay to watch them fight again. I can’t wait to see Moroz back in the Octagon.

2 - Marion Reneau Marion Reneau celebrates after defeating Jessica Andrade in their bout at UFC Fight Night on February 22, 2015 in Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC)
Told she was too old for The Ultimate Fighter, California’s Marion Reneau made it to the Octagon the old fashioned way, and at 38, she didn’t just prove that she belongs in the UFC, but that she can be a threat in the bantamweight division. In January, she debuted with a one-sided decision win over Alexis Dufresne that turned a lot of heads, but it was her submission of Jessica Andrade a little over a month later that really had the fight world wanting to know more about “The Belizean Bruiser,” who faces Holly Holm on July 15.

1 - Makwan Amirkhani Makwan Amirkhani of Finland celebrates after his knockout victory over Andy Ogle of England during the UFC Fight Night, January 24, 2015 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Makwan Amirkhani came into the UFC with plenty of confidence, and when you do that, you have to be able to back up those words or get blown out of the picture very quickly. Well, “Mr. Finland” hasn’t just gone two for two this year in the Octagon, but with an eight-second knockout of Andy Ogle and a submission of Masio Fullen that took less than two minutes, he’s become one of the most talked about fighters in the sport today. And he’s not shy about talking about himself either, giving him that rare mix of fighting talent and charisma that makes stars.

HONORABLE MENTION – Arnold Allen, Tom Breese, Holly Holm, Alex Oliveira, Darren Till

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