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Alexander Volkanovski, Kayla Harrison, Julianna Pena among 2022 ESPY nominees

UFC 269: Nunes v Pena
Julianna Peña
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Alexander Volkanovski could soon be celebrating another title defense — and his first ESPY win.

The UFC’s featherweight champion is one of four fighters nominated for the Best MMA Fighter ESPY, an annual award presented by ESPN that is voted on by fans. Volkanovski is joined by uncrowned lightweight king Charles Oliveira, dominant UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, and two-time PFL lightweight champion Kayla Harrison.

Volkanovski defends his title against Max Holloway in a trilogy bout this Saturday at UFC 276 in Las Vegas.

The 2022 ESPY nominations were announced Tuesday, with a ceremony to take place on July 20 in Los Angeles.

The Best MMA Fighter ESPY award was introduced in 2019. Previous winners include Daniel Cormier and two-time winner Khabib Nurmagomedov. Prior to 2019, MMA fighters and boxers competed in the same Best Fighter category, but it has since been split into two different awards. Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, and Demetrious Johnson are past recipients of the Best Fighter award.

UFC bantamweight champion Julianna Peña also received a nomination for Best Championship Performance. “The Venezuelan Vixen” scored a massive upset over long-reining champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 269 this past December, ending Nunes’ six-year, 12-fight unbeaten streak. The two rematch at UFC 277 on July 30, 10 days after the ESPY awards ceremony.

Peña’s competition includes Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, F1 driver Max Verstappen, and recent Stanley Cup winner Cale Makar.

In the Best Boxer category, 2021 winner Tyson Fury goes up against Shakur Stevenson, Katie Taylor, and Mikaela Mayer.

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