The Best Moments in UFC During 2020
With 2020 in the can, now is the perfect time to look back on the best moments and UFC bouts of the year. Legends returned to the octagon and cage fighting greats retired after competing in Dana White’s premier MMA promotion one more time.
As with any sport, the eye is drawn to the star names and pay-per-view draws which have helped make UFC what it is today. Do you remember these moments from inside the octagon in 2020?
Return of The Notorious (UFC 246)
When former two-weight UFC champ Conor McGregor says he’s retiring, it is better not to take him at his word. The Notorious was back in the octagon for the first time in 15 months since he lost the lightweight championship to Khabib Nurmagomedov.
McGregor met “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone in a welterweight bout at UFC 246 on January 18 in Las Vegas and kicked off 2020 in style. The Irishman had previously enjoyed mixed results when stepping up into that class as he was defeated by Nate Diaz at UFC 196 back in 2016.
Although McGregor avenged that submission loss in his next fight, he was better known at flyweight and lightweight. He had seemingly walked away from MMA following the ill-tempered bout with Khabib and its ugly aftermath, so his comeback was much anticipated. Cerrone didn’t even last a round with The Notorious, with a TKO victory cementing his return. With the Cowboy downed, who knows if (read when) we will see McGregor compete again.
Bones ends Reyes run (UFC 247)
Two-time UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones has been a controversial figure throughout his MMA career, but he has also beaten cage fighters with big reputations. That is precisely what “Bones” did when he met the undefeated Dominick Reyes in Houston on February 8.
Californian fighter Reyes had quickly amassed a five-year and 12-fight unbeaten streak in MMA since turning pro. All that momentum was checked by the judges’ scores when his first-ever title opportunity and shot at Jones went all the way.
The unanimous decision verdict in favor of Jones from the judges courted yet more controversy. Reyes was ahead with most media outlets, but their cards weren’t the ones that mattered, and the bout went to Jones. Reyes has since had another chance to win the title when it became vacant, but lost at UFC 253 to Polish fighter Jan Blachowicz. After relinquishing the light heavyweight strap, Jones has said he wants to move up to heavyweight, probably because of our next major moment…
End of a Trilogy (UFC 252)
Trilogies are something you associate more with films than MMA, but we were blessed to see long-time rivals Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier clash one final time at UFC 252 on August 15 in Vegas. With both holding the UFC heavyweight championship before and each a previous victory over the other, everything was poised for the curtain to come down on their feud.
Cormier had dethroned Miocic at UFC 226 back in the summer of 2018 with an early KO. The title went back to Miocic in the return bout at UFC 241 13 months later, however, when Cormier got stopped early in the fourth round of the rematch.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) August 16, 2020
These two put on a real show for the pay-per-view audience in their final encounter. With a reported 500,000 buys worldwide, the rivalry certainly captured global attention with Miocic made a narrow favorite in the pre-fight odds and the veteran Cormier the underdog.
Miocic justified that position at the head of the betting on this historic UFC bout. White hailed the duo as the two greatest heavyweights to ever step into the cage fighting arena, and a complete expert guide to the sport of MMA for any region would agree with that analysis. With many turning to the bookmakers to see the latest odds, it’s important to understand that knowing the fighters is only half the battle, and having a betting strategy is equally as valid. Those eager to get further involved with the UFC community may look to see what the best UFC betting sites there are on offer, as there a variety of welcome bonuses to take advantage of.
Miocic vs. Cormier 3 went the distance with the judges just awarding a unanimous victory to the champ. This was to be Cormier’s final fight before calling time on his storied career and he bowed out with another classic.
Farewell to 29-0 legend? (UFC 254)
Khabib has been a great advert for MMA in Eastern Europe with the Dagestan native enjoying worldwide success and fame on account of his undefeated streak. The Russian returned to the octagon for just the second time since defeating McGregor at UFC 229 to confirm himself as the unified lightweight champ again when facing Justin Gaethje.
Their meeting at UFC 254 on Fight Island out in the UAE on October 24 came about after Gaethje stopped Tony Ferguson late on at UFC 249 and became the interim titleholder in May. Khabib had unified the lightweight division before and did so again.
His technical submission win over Gaethje extended his undefeated streak to 29-0 as a pro-MMA fighter. Khabib announced his retirement from the sport after his latest win, but the tantalizing prospect of making it 30 fights unbeaten could lure him back to the octagon one more time.
Arguably the greatest lightweight fighter in UFC or any combat sports promotion, the victory against Gaethje for now at least seems to have been an emotional farewell. That made this moment even more special with the win dedicated to Khabib’s late father.