We treated you to a review of the first six months of the UFC in 2020. In this edition, we look at July – December. These last six months of the year were like no other. All events happened behind closed doors. We got a host of brilliant title fights, late replacements, pull-outs and headline stories. We take you through some of the biggest stories from the final six months of the UFC in 2020.
July kicked off with UFC 251. Original headliner Gilbert Burns contracted COVID-19 and 2018’s star stepped up. ‘Gamebread’ Jorge Masvidal slotted in on just 11 days notice, making one of the stories of the year. Unfortunately for fans of Masvidal, Usman notched a one-sided unanimous decision victory.
The co-main event saw a featherweight title rematch between Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovski. Again, the Australian got the better of ‘blessed’, defending the title. Petr Yan also battered Jose Aldo in a bantamweight title fight which saw Aldo drop to 0-2 at 135lbs. At the same event, we saw what would turn out to be Paige Van Zant‘s final UFC fight. Jiří Procházka also made his promotional debut.
At UFC on ESPN 13, we saw Calvin Kattar defeat Dan Ige by unanimous decision. This in turn would see up a fight between Kattar and Holloway to welcome in 2021. On this card, one man stole the headlines…Khamzat Chimaev. ‘Borz’ made his debut and truly dominated John Phillips and finished him in the second round.
UFC on ESPN 14 saw Deiveson Figueiredo finally capture the flyweight title. In a rematch for the 125lbs belt, Figueiredo impressed even more than he did the first time. In truly dominate fashion, the Brazillian secured the belt with a first-round finish. Jack Hermansson also finished Kelvin Gastelum in the first round by heel hook in a great performance.
In the final appearance on Fight Island in the current series, UFC on ESPN 15 gave us a host of good fights. Tom Aspinall made his debut, knocking out Jake Collier in the first round with a brutal finish. Chimaev made yet another appearance (just 10 days after his first appearance). Again, in dominant fashion, of course. There was controversy in the Francisco Trinaldo fight with regards to a late stoppage and a shout by commentator, Dan Hardy. Alexander Gustaffson made his heavyweight debut, losing to Fabricio Werdum. This would turn out to be Werdum’s last promotional appearance. In the main event, we saw Robert Whittaker defeat Darren Till by unanimous decision. At this event, Antonio Rogerio Nogueria announced his retirement at the tender age of 44.
Kicking August off we return to the USA. Derek Brunson dominated the up and comer Edmen Shabazyan, handing him his first professional loss. This was the smallest event since UFC 177 with only eight bouts.
A week later we saw Derrick Lewis knockout Aleksei Oleinik in the main event slot. Former middleweight champion, Chris Weidman return to winning ways for the first time since 2017. In a far from impressive performance, it was nice to see one of the ‘good guys’ get back in the win column.
UFC 252 provided us with the rubber match we had all been waiting for. Challenger, Daniel Cormier squared off against Stipe Miocic for the third time in a heavyweight title clash. The champion retained the belt with a unanimous decision victory. This lead to the retirement of one of the most successful fighters in the sport as Cormier hung up the gloves. At the same event, Marlon Vera knocked out Sean O’Malley, handing him his first professional loss.
A week later, Frankie Edgar made his 135lbs divisional debut. Defeating Pedro Munhoz he began his quest for another title in a third division. On this card, Shana Dobson got the win in what turned out to be the biggest underdog ever to win in the UFC. She closed as a -800 underdog but notched the TKO victory in the second round.
Yair Rodriguez and Zabit Magomedsharipov were scheduled to headline the following event, however, an injury to the Mexican prevented this. Aleksandar Rakic dominated Anthony Smith in a three-round main event, handing Smith yet another unconvincing loss. Robbie Lawler suffered his fourth loss in a row at the hands of Neil Magny in the co-main.
COVID-19 played havoc with yet another card. UFC Vegas 9 had just seven bouts, making it the smallest card since 2005. Despite this, there was plenty of action. On the seven-fight main card, we got five finishes. Included in this, Alistar Overeem continued to roll back the clock and got the W, progressing to four wins in his last five fights.
COVID-19 yet again hit another main event when Glover Teixeira tested positive. It was arguably a blessing in disguise, however, as the new main event made history. Michelle Waterson faced Angela Hill over five rounds. This would mark the first time an African-American woman would headline a UFC event. Hill was on the wrong end of a split decision on this occasion but the history made was still of vital importance.
The following card is certainly one that is going under the radar for ‘Card of the year’. We got the highly anticipated main event between Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington. What played out was utter domination for ‘Chaos’, finishing in a rib injury for Woodley in the fifth round. Chimaev returned and proved that he isn’t just a wrestler, knocking out Gerald Meerschaert in just 17 seconds. Kevin Holland recorded his third win of the year, a narrow split decision over Darren Stewart. Jessica Rose-Clark returned in a phenomenal performance, gaining a TKO victory and setting up a big 2021.
Rounding off September we got a title fight doubleheader at UFC 253. Headlined (in dominant fashion) by Israel Adesanya and Paolo Costa. Adesanya finished the previously undefeated Costa in the second round. Jan Blachowicz brutally finished Dominick Reyes to gain the 205lbs belt, following Jon Jones‘ vacation of the belt. Brandon Royval and Kai Kara-France gave us one of the fights of the year, proving just how exciting flyweights can be.
October kicked off with domination from Holly Holm. Winning all five rounds, Holm showed Irene Aldana that there are levels to MMA. The only other thing of note on this card was that Carlos Condit returned to winning ways for the first time since 2015. He notched a decision victory over Court McGee.
The following week we got one of the greatest knockouts in MMA, combat sports and overall history. Joaquin Buckley landed a spinning back-kick which instantly went viral. The only bad thing was that it came against one of the good guys of the sport, Impa Kasanganay. Brit, Tom Aspinall made his second successful UFC appearance, again by first-round stoppage. In the main event, Cory Sandhagen bounced back from his first UFC loss, knocking out Marlon Moraes in the second round with a spinning wheel kick. This sets up Sandhagen for a big 2021.
UFC Fight Night 180 brought us two major talking points. Firstly, in the main event, Brian Ortega returned and looked better than ever. Defeating Chan Sung Jung by unanimous decision, Ortega cemented himself at the top of the division. In the co-main, Jessica Andrade announced herself as a contender at 125lbs. Finishing the ever game, Katlyn Chookagian, Andrade potentially sets up a fight with the champ in the new year.
The highlight of October featured ‘The Highlight’ as Justin Gaethje faced Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254. In typical Khabib fashion, he dominated Gaethje to a second-round submission victory. Following his victory, he announced his retirement (although this may not be the case on reflection). Robert Whittaker dominated Jared Cannonier setting up a future rematch with the middleweight champ in the co-main event. ‘Lucky’ Lauren Murphy notched her fourth straight win, putting herself firmly in the title picture at flyweight.
The end of October brought with it the end of an era. Anderson Silva officially called time on his UFC career following his main event loss. In an emotional performance, Silva looked all of his 45 years in his loss to Uriah Hall. Kevin Holland made his fourth appearance of the year, this time finishing Charlie Ontiveros via slam.
November kicked off with a fight we’d all been waiting for. Twice previously scheduled, Glover Teixeira faced off against Thiago Santos. In a truly dominant performance, Teixeira submitted Santos in the second round after a first-round shut out.
A week later, Paul Felder filled in on just six days notice. Originally scheduled to face Islam Makhachev, Rafael dos Anjos defeated the ‘Irish Dragon’ by unanimous decision. Dropping back down to 155lbs, RDA has put himself right in the mix for the vacant title. In the co-main, Khaos Williams brutally knocked out Abdul Razak Alhassan in just 30 seconds.
UFC 255 featured two flyweight title bouts where both champions retained their belts. Devieson Figueiredo submitted Alex Perez in the first round and Valentina Shevchenko defeated Jennifer Maia over five rounds. Further down the card, Brandon Moreno got the W over Brandon Royval, setting up a title fight… just three weeks later. Joaquin Buckley returned with yet another big knockout, this time against Jordan Wright.
A day before the main event of UFC on ESPN 18 the main event was scrapped. Curtis Blaydes had tested positive, however, leading to the main event being scrapped. Anthony Smith and Devin Clark filled in, with Smith getting an easy first-round submission.
Darren Till and Jack Hermansson were supposed to headline the December fifth card, however, Till had to withdraw with an injury. It was then scheduled to be Hermansson vs. Holland, however, Holland tested positive for COVID-19, leading to a third opponent for Hermansson. Marvin Vettori stepped up and boy did he take his chance. Getting the nod over 25 minutes, Vettori has positioned himself very well in the 185lbs division.
The following event, UFC 256 provided a phenomenal card. Headlined by Figueiredo and Moreno, just three after both men had competed, we were treated to an instant classic. A majority draw saw both men with their hands raised after a fight of the year contender. We saw solid performances from both Mackenzie Dern, Charles Oliveira and (yet again), Kevin Holland. This was Holland’s fifth win since May. Chase Hooper also gave us one of the comebacks of the year for sure.
The final card of the year, typically, was hit by COVID-19. Originally set to feature Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev in the main event, this one had to be rescheduled for January (although it has since had another hit). The headliner materialised to be Stephen Thompson and Geoff Neal. Thompson battered Neal to a unanimous decision victory, proving that he is still one of the best at 170lbs. On this card, Anthony Pettis made his last UFC appearance before singing for the PFL later that month.
Keep it locked to MMASucka for more 2020 reviews and 2021 previews!