MMA year in review: The 5 fights that shaped 2020
No sport did more to bring some normalcy to the world in 2020 than the UFC. Whether it was finding an island to fight on, or organizing high-stakes clashes, the UFC consistently gave MMA fans a very welcome distraction during the pandemic.
Let’s take a look at the top five UFC fights that shaped 2020.
5. Rose Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade II
Dana White went to extreme means to ensure that the UFC would not be slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic, going as far as to lease an island off the coast of Abu Dhabi for a slew of shows over the summer. The best fight that happened on "Fight Island" was no doubt the barn burner that was Namajunas vs. Andrade II, won by Namajunas in a close affair. The heavily-hyped environment was validated with such an excellent fight.
4. Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno
Figueiredo is all but certain to be the fighter of the year, but he dodged a bullet in a brutal war against Brandon Moreno at UFC 256. While many pegged Moreno for another short night against the imposing Figueiredo, the two battled on even terms with neither fighter gaining a foothold. The sensational bout ended in a draw, all but assuring a rematch in 2021.
3. Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier III
Cormier’s announced plan to retire regardless of the outcome of this heavyweight title clash added some emotional weight to one of the best trilogies of the modern era. Miocic and Cormier didn’t disappoint, turning in another solid bout that saw both fighters survive rocky moments throughout their five-round affair. Miocic retained his title by decision, and even in defeat, Cormier was lauded as one of the greatest to ever step in the octagon after such a spirited performance.
2. Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
While there were plenty of great moments this year, the clear winner for the year’s best fight was this barbaric affair between Zhang and Jędrzejczyk. The sheer amount of damage these two put on the other was cringe inducing, and the violent bout is sure to stand the test of time as one of the best fights in the history of the UFC. It isn’t hard to believe that these two haven’t fought since, especially as the toll of their contest was sure to shave a few years off their respective careers, but it is the must-see fight of 2020.
1. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje
After the death of his father and multiple cancellations, Nurmagomedov had to carry all that emotional strain into the octagon against the formidable Justin Gaethje. Though many expected a close contest, Nurmagomedov proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was the better man in the octagon, dominating Gaethje and choking him out in the second round. Following the bout, Nurmagomedov announced that he could no longer compete without his father in his corner and retired, ending his career in top form.