2020 has been a dramatic year in every sports, including MMA. From the COVID-19 disruption to the strict protocols, fighters all geared up to return inside the octagon to prove their worths. Belts exchanged hands, champions announced retirement, prodigies appeared in the limelight.
All that being said, there have been some mixed martial artists that have outshined the others in every aspect possible and can be dubbed as the five best fighters this year has seen. Given the pandemic this year, new fighters are being given an opportunity to fight on short notices and one can never say which fighters hit the lottery. With that being said, our readers can play lotteries online here.
Check them out below.
1. Deiveson Figueiredo
The year of 2020 has been amazing for UFC Flyweight Champion of the world Deiveson
Figueiredo. The “God of War” from Brazil has been dominant in all of his three fights this year, starting with his UFC Fight Night 169 clash against Joseph Benavidez for the Flyweight belt on 29th February. Although Figueiredo finished the fight within 2 rounds by technical knockout, he was deemed ineligible to win the belt for missing weight (127.5 lb).
On the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rematch was slated as the UFC Fight Night 172 main card on 19th July, where Figueiredo completely outperformed Benavidez and finished the fight in the first round with rear-naked choke, clinching the Flyweight belt.
Figueiredo defended his title at UFC 255 on 21st November against Alex Perez in a fight that lasted only two minutes. The champion defeated Perez with a guillotine choke submission, marking another remarkable first-round victory.
2. Israel Adesanya
The undefeated monarch of the middleweight division Israel Adesanya defended his belt twice this year, starting with UFC 248 on 7th March against Yoel Romero. The showdown at T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada marked his first middleweight title defense since he won it against Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 in October last year.
The match lasted all five rounds with Adesanya completely outperforming Romero as the judges declared “The Last Stylebender” winner via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47 and 49-46).
Adesanya’s second title defense came on 27th September at UFC 253. Once again, the champion displayed utter dominance over the contender, as the fight reached its conclusion via TKO at 2 minutes, 59 seconds of the second round with Adesanya upping his stellar record to 20-0.
3. Kamaru Usman
Kamaru Usman was seen in action only once this year, but the UFC Welterweight champion
made it one memorable contest. UFC 251 marked the Nigerian-American’s second title defense since UFC 245 last December, as Usman took on none other than Jorge Masvidal on 12th July at the Flash Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
Marking his return inside the octagon after almost seven months, expectations were split on both fighters. However, the bout proved otherwise. Usman was in complete control throughout the five rounds and went all out against Masvidal, be with his shoulders strikes, a barrage of punches to Masvidal’s body, as well as stomping his feet.
Winning the favour of all three judges, Usman came out as the winner via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46), retaining his welterweight title.
4. Stipe Miocic
After a year-long hiatus, Stipe Miocic stepped inside the octagon at UFC 252 against the
legendary Daniel Cormier, the highly anticipated fight which concluded the trilogy between the two heavyweight stalwarts.
Miocic, who won back the heavyweight championship from Cormier in 2019 August at UFC 241, was up against the former titleholder on 15th August at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The blockbuster card would answer the long-awaited question- who is the greatest heavyweight to ever step inside the octagon? and the answer was as clear as daylight.
In the full five-round clash, Miocic had already landed a vicious blow to Cormier’s left eye, staggering DC into the corner. However, the former champion powered back for the rest two rounds, but the judges had already picked their winner. Miocic defended his title via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46 and 48-47), with a superb conclusion to the trilogy.
5. Valentina Shevchenko
Two contenders came this year with an aim to dethrone Valentina Shevchenko from her
flyweight champion, both of them failed, as the Kyrgyzstani-Peruvian superstar continues her supremacy inside the octagon.
After two successful title defenses in 2019, Shevchenko was pitted to defend her belt for the third time at UFC 247 against Katlyn Chookagian on 8th February at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. From a destructive head kick to a vicious elbow, Chookagian was completely outdone by the champion, who won the fight via TKO in the third round.
Jennifer Maia, Shevchenko’s fourth title challenger faced her in UFC 255 on 21st November at the UFC Apex facility. While Maia managed to shock Shevchenko by winning the second round, the champion displayed absolute authority throughout the rest of the fight and was pitted the winner via unanimous decision (49–46, 49–46, 49–46).