UFC Fight of the Year 2020 candidates
When scrolling through Twitter in real time yields a non-stop barrage of "Fight of the Year!" and "FOTY!" exhuberances, then yeah, we've got ourselves a wild and exciting UFC fight unfolding before our eyes and fingertips.
But as a calendar year unfolds, especially the one that says 2020, it can be easy to forget which fights stand out.
That's where you may find this running list of legitimate fight of the year candidates in the UFC, listed in chronological order, handy.
Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
UFC 248, March 7
In the immediate aftermath, they called it the greatest fight in women's MMA history, a step up from Joanna Jedrzejczyk's pre-fight proclamation that it would be the greatest strawweight title fight in UFC history. It was clear from the opening round that recency bias would not play a part in either assessment. And a combined 783 strikes thrown later, all superlatives remained intact. Zhang and Jedrzejczyk punched and kicked each other non-stop for five rounds. Zhang left with her strawweight title still around her waist, Jedrzejczyk with a hemotoma nearly the size of a championship belt spread across her forehead. Jedrzejczyk landed more total strikes, 196-170, but Zhang won by split decision, 48-47, 47-48, 48-47.
Josh Emmett vs. Shane Burgos
UFC Fight Night Las Vegas 3, June 20
Emmett hammered Burgos, who still kept moving forward. Burgos hammered Emmet, who still kept moving forward. The two featherweights fought for 15 minutes, with zero of those minutes being what you might call "restful." Emmett connected on one less significant strike than Burgos (127 to 128), but did register two knockdowns (and one torn ACL) en route to the unanimous decision win. The judges scored it 29-28, 29-28, 29-27.
Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker
UFC Fight Night Las Vegas 4, June 27
Here's one where you really wish fans were allowed in the seats. Imagine the wildness that would have crescendoed throughout the back-and-forth striking display between Poirier and Hooker if 10,000 fans screamed with each of the UFC lightweight single-fight record 390 strikes landed. Throw in four takedowns by Hooker and four submission attempts by Poirier for good measure. Poirier landed 153 significant strikes (208 total), while Hooker landed 155 significant strikes (182 total). Both fighters withstood each other's combinations and flurries, only to return a set of their own, with Poirier coming on late in the fight to win the final three rounds on all the judges' cards for the unanimous-decision victory. The rare fight that lived up to its pre-fight hype.
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno
UFC 256, Dec. 12
How exciting and back-and-forth was this flyweight title fight between the champion Figueiredo and the challenger Moreno? There was no winner, as the judges' scorecards returned a decision of 48-46, 47-47, 47-47, for a majority draw. A one-point penalty for a low blow in the third round prevented Figueiredo from earning the win. Still, the five-round title fight was filled with exciting exchanges, hard-hitting combinations and head kicks. The champion landed 147 strikes (137 significant), with Moreno keeping pace with 139 strikes (132 significant). Moreno had four takedowns compared with Figueiredo's two.