2020 is gone and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we’re very happy to be done with all the bullshit, but who says it won’t happen in 2021. Watching fights with no fans was different at first but personally, I liked it because you can hear the corners, the kicks were loud and it became much more intimate and primal. Dana White put his balls on the table and showed us why he’s still the best promoter in combat sports. Here is my breakdown of the year that was MMA. I have ranked the Best Submission, Best Fights, Female and Male Fighters of the year, Best KO/TKO, Best New Star and Fighter of the year.
This is the only category where the final three had two women being at the top of most people’s rankings. It’s hard to ignore submissions like Mackenzie Dern’s Kneebar on Hannah Cifers, Charles Oliveira’s nasty guillotine on Kevin Lee or even more recently Jimmy Flick’s flying triangle on Cory Durden. Aljamain Sterling landing a beautiful RNC vs title contender Cory Sandhagen was pretty epic as well. My Pick is for Ariane Lipski’s kneebar, she was stuck in a knee slicer and with the best technique, she sits on Luana Carolina’s chest and hyper extends her knee. It was so nice to see pure BJJ being showcased like that, that has my vote for sub of the year.
We can’t ignore O’malley straight right to the chin of Eddie Wineland. The sound of that smack and the accuracy it took, and the walk off! So sick. In the same night at UFC 250 Cody Garbrandt straight shot to the chin Raphael Assuncao was masterful, back against the cage head movement and counter for the walk off KO. Kevin Holland off his back, throwing his leg up using the torque to crack legend Jacare Souza for the KO while on his heels. UNREAL! But my vote goes to Joaquin Buckley’s spinning heel kick to the head while Impa Kasanganay had the other leg was something out of a video game or a John Wick movie.
Joaquin Buckley is up there based on the KO that I just mentioned, but he lost to Kevin Holland, another nominee for KO of the year who should also be mentioned for Newcomer of the year. Chito Vera beating Sean O’Malley put his name on the map. Dominick Reyes losing a very close decision to Jon Jones was slowed down by Jan Blachowitz. How can we forget about the new beast on the block Khamzat Chimaev defeating three guys in spectacular fashion. My vote goes for Kevin “Big Mouth” Holland, the new star of the UFC. Holland had 5 wins this year and ties the record for most wins in a calendar year and adds three Performance of the Night bonuses to his bank account.
Female Fighter of the YeaR
I would love to add Amanda Nunes here having destroyed Montreal native Felicia Spencer, but the reality is she only defended her belt once where Valentina Shevchenko has defended the Flyweight title twice in 2020. I would be an idiot if I didn’t mention Wei Li Zhang. Her performance in March vs former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk was epic and nominated for Fight of the year, maybe best fight of all time. My vote goes to Valentina just because she defended twice and both fights weren’t even close.
Male Fighter of the Year
Israel Adesanya defended his belt twice, once against Yoel Romero (boring fight) and then finishing Paolo Costa and taking him for a ride after the fight. Kevin Holland fighting and winning five times in a calendar year is tough to ignore because he won 4 of them by KO. We also can’t ignore Deiveson Figuereido and Jan Blachowicz. The polish Gangster fought twice this year, and KO’d both Corey Sanderson and Dominick Reyes where he won the vacated Light Heavyweight belt. Figgy put himself on the map this year winning the Flyweight belt when he KO’d Joe Benavidez, but was summoned for an immediate rematch because he didn’t make weight. He follows that up by choking out Benazidez with one of the most epic Rear Naked Chokes I have ever seen. Figgy isn’t done there, he runs right through Alex Perez as he should’ve, wining by guillotine in the first round. Let’s not forget Fight of the year nomination vs Brandon Moreno that ended in a Draw. He missed weight and drew his last fight. That takes his name out of the fighter of the year contention, it does for me. Kevin Holland takes it , five wins four finishes all in his first year in the UFC.
Fight of the Year
Deiveson Figuereido vs Brandon Moreno ends in a draw and nobody argued. It was that close. Ended the year on a high! Moreno and Figgy both fought three weeks prior on the same card and called each other out, abd they didn’t disappoint. Zhang vs Jedrzejczyk was so good, I put it up there for one of the best fights of all time. These woman showed us what a brawl is. They stood toe to toe and smashed so hard that they would make Khabib proud. We can’t forget another recent brawl between Dan Hooker and Dustin Poirier. Hooker showed us that he belonged with the top dogs and earned a fight vs newly signed legend Michael Chandler. My vote goes to the ladies! The Zhang and JJ fight is something I will never forget especially with the way JJ looked during and after the fight. Enjoy! >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
I want to give a special Performance of the year shoutout to Paul Felder! Even though he lost his fight to Rafael Dos Anjos for a potential contender position, he took the fight on five days notice after being a commentator the week before for the UFC. Cutting weight and brawling for five straight rounds. I can’t say enough good things about Felder. He’s a legend and a beauty.
This week I had the pleasure of interviewing a future champ and great guy, Emmanueli Maximo Adzoh. Emmanueli is a native of Togo fighting out of Costa Mesa, California. At 2-1 Maximo already has the mindset of a champ and we wish him the best in his future fights. He’s an extremely intense and focused individual. I love his YouTube page where he talks about his training, mindset and career. Take a listen and check out his YouTube Page.