As 2020 comes to a close, the UFC rounded out their lineup of events with one final Fight Night card. The final UFC event of 2020 noticed Stephen Thompson beat Geoff Neal in a five-round war that served as the main event of UFC Vegas 17.
As the promotions’ staff take a well-deserved break to enjoy the holiday season with their loved ones, perhaps it’s time now for retrospection.
The UFC led the way and showed how to safely host events amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, on the core, it was the fighters who were willing to risk all of it for the followers that made all of it potential. Each single UFC fighter who stepped inside the octagon, even without reside crowds in attendance, need to be thanked for his or her commitment to the game and fans.
As is the case yearly within the UFC, some stars shined brighter than the others.
A choose group of UFC fighters made 2020 their very own year and will probably be expected to ship greater and higher things in 2021.
UFC’s top 5 breakout stars of 2020
#5 Joaquin Buckley
Joaquin Buckley did not even begin 2020 in the UFC. That’s why his inclusion on this listing speaks volumes about his performances inside the octagon.
Buckley kicked off 2020 with a win in opposition to Jackie Gosh at LFA 87 in July. UFC President Dana White then signed the younger St. Louis, Missouri native to a contract. He suffered a knockout loss by the hands of Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 6 to begin his stint with the promotion.
In his second UFC appearance, however, Buckley became an overnight sensation when he knocked out Impa Kasanganay with a reverse spinning kick at UFC Fight Island 5. His efforts earned him a nomination in UFC’s listing of Knockout of The Year candidates for 2020.
Buckley would show that his performance was not a fluke, as he delivered one other spectacular knockout, flattening Jordan Wright at UFC 255. Each of his wins has earned him Efficiency of The Night bonuses.
He hopes to continue with this streak in 2021 and already has an opponent in thoughts in the type of veteran James Krause.
#4 Marvin Vettori
Luck might simply be defined as the intersection where opportunity meets expertise.
Marvin Vettori was by no means brief on expertise, having given Israel Adesanya his hardest fight earlier than the middleweight champion fought Kelvin Gastelum.
The Italian was already on a two-fight win streak heading into 2020 and was slowly climbing up the ladder of the middleweight division. In July, he was referred to as on to face Karl Roberson. He completed ‘Child Okay’ within the first round via submission, and was already looking for his subsequent sufferer.
In a strange flip of events, Jack Hermansson, who was scheduled to tackle Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 16, discovered himself without an opponent after the latter tested positive for COVID-19.
Vettori stepped in on shot discover and dominated Hermansson in a war of attrition to earn a unanimous decision victory. In the process, the Italian made it into the top-5 of the UFC middleweight rankings.
From simply one other prospect to a legit title challenger, 2020 was indeed ‘Lucky’ for ‘The Italian Dream’.
#3 Khamzat Chimaev
The phrase ‘Anybody, Anytime, Wherever’ is often thrown around by various UFC fighters, but seldom acted upon.
Khamzat Chimaev lives by it.
The Swedish prospect was signed by the UFC on the back of an impressive 6-0 start to his MMA career, all by finishes.
Chimaev got his want when the promotion supplied him a fight simply ten days later against Rhys McKee. Chimaev went on to TKO McKee within the first spherical. Within the process, he grew to become the fighter with the least turnaround time between two UFC wins.
Khamzat Chimaev had arrived.
Nevertheless, there was extra in retailer for the followers. Chimaev was supplied a fight at middleweight in opposition to veteran Gerald Meerschaert at UFC Vegas 11.
Chimaev wanted simply 17 seconds to eliminate Meerschaert by KO and preserve his hype practice going.
His spectacular performances landed him a main occasion slot against Leon Edwards at UFC Fight Night 185. In an unlucky flip of events, however, it was announced that Chimaev has been pressured to withdraw from the bout.
#2 Deiveson Figueiredo
The exit of Demetrious Johnson from the UFC left a void on the prime of the flyweight division.‘Mighty Mouse’s’ usurper Henry Cejudo left the 125-pound division as properly, to focus on his 135-pound title run.
The flyweights wanted a shot within the arm to disprove Dana White’s idea of the 125-pound division being ‘stale’.
The Brazilian entered the pandemic-hit year on the again of wins against Alexander Pantoja and Tim Elliott.
He wasted no time in setting the division on fire and disposing of veteran flyweight Joseph Benavidez. Many believed that Benavidez was the best flyweight on this planet not named Demetrious Johnson. In violent vogue, Figueiredo put a cease to that dialog.
Nevertheless, the Brazilian couldn’t win the vacant strap in his first attempt due to lacking weight.
Figueiredo made good on his second opportunity to seize the flyweight title, as he stopped Benavidez once more, this time by the first-round submission in the main event of UFC Fight Island 2.
He then defended the title in opposition to Alex Perez at UFC 255, ending the contender within the first spherical via a guillotine choke. Before leaving the UFC Apex that night time, he had already agreed to defend his belt once more at UFC 256, simply two weeks later.
The champion confronted off against prime contender Brandon Moreno in what’s now a record for the least turnaround time between title defenses in UFC history. While the fight led to a draw, it might have been a hard-fought win for the champ, had he not been deducted a point for a low blow.
Whereas many fighters win belts, not each champion will get to reinvigorate a division the best way Figueiredo did.
‘Deus Da Guerra’ is surely one of many few issues to be thankful for in 2020.
#1 Kevin Holland
If there may be one factor that UFC followers heard greater than COVID-19 or Coronavirus in 2020, it needed to be the title Kevin Holland.
The middleweight fought 5 times within the year, winning all of his octagon outings. This has put Holland in the elite firm as one of many few fighters with 5 wins in a calendar year.
What’s much more impressive is that there might have been extra fights for the Californian, had he not contracted the COVID-19 and subsequently get pulled from his bout against Jack Hermansson at UFC Vegas 16.
Holland came into 2020 on the again of a loss in opposition to Brendan Allen, but he began the 12 months in style, knocking out Alexander Hernandez within the first spherical in Might.
Subsequent wins over Joaquin Buckley, Darren Stewart, and Charlie Ontiveros earned him the main event slot against Jack Hermansson when Darren Till pulled out of the fight. However, Holland had to pull out of the fight as well after also testing positive for COVID-19.
He was instead booked to face Jacare Souza at UFC 256 – the last PPV of the year. In a performance that earned him a nomination for Knockout of The Year, Holland caught Jacare with a punch on the jaw as he was scrambling to get back on his toes. The punch stunned Jacare, and Holland went in for the end.
From middleweight wilderness to top-10 within the 185-pound division, 2020 has indeed been the year of Kevin Holland.