2020 has been quite a memorable year for many reasons, but especially for UFC. With so many great fights lined up there was a lot of anticipation for fans this year; and the fights, at least so far, have done that anticipation justice.
But what have been the top fights of 2020? Here are five of the best from the past year.
Zhang Weili vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk
The March 7th card in Las Vegas hosted probably one of the top fights of the year — perhaps one of the greatest of all time. There was a lot of build up between both the fans and the fighters for the Zhang vs Jedrzejczyk fight, which began with both fighters busy at the start but Jedrzejczyk landing a hard right hand at the lead. But Zhang held strong and what ensued was a bell-to-bell action with an incredible amount of kicks, punches, elbows and knees and a great deal of damage to both women including cuts and swelling by the end. With a standing ovation at the beginning of the fifth round, Zhang earned a split-decisions victory to retain the UFC women’s strawweight title.
“I was pretty sure I got [the victory],” Zhang said through a translator in her post fight interview. “It was a great performance. We are all martial artists here. We don’t want trash talking. We want mutual respect.”
Dustin Poirier vs Dan Hooker
The UFC Vegas 4 main event between Poirier and Hooker was already set up to be an instant classic.
Fighting tooth and nail for a total of 25 minutes, Hooker took an early lead working his kicks to Poirier’s body and legs. Round two saw Hooker scoring with kicks and Poirier getting back at him with punches until a stay against the fence saw them trading bombs. By the fifth round it seemed like the fight could be up for grabs but it was Poirier who ended up victorious at the end with 48-47 twice. Now ranked number 3 with 26-6 with 1 NC, it looks like Poirier has a lot ahead of him, with favourable odds being registered among Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks listed here.
Dan Hooker vs Paul Felder
Held at the Spark Arena, there was build-up to the UFC Auckland main event between lightweight contenders Dan Hooker and Paul Felder. And they certainly delivered. A five-round war saw Hooker emerge triumphant with a split decision victory. He’ll now go further up the list of elite 155-pounders in the sport. Scores were set at 48-47 on two occasions for Hooker, who is now ranked 21-8 at No. 7 place.
As a result of the match, Felder falls to 17-5. Following the fight Felder said in an emotional interview, “This might be it for me”. There’s talk about him leaning towards retirement to be closer to his four-year old daughter. For Hooker though, it looks he’s not going anywhere fast.
Shane Burgos vs Josh Emmett
Hosted at the Apex, the co-main event between featherweight contenders Shane Burgos and Josh Emmett started off with Emmett swinging his right hand with abandon from the start. Burgos took the punches well from the beginning but soon began to show signs of faltering. During the opening minute of the final round, Emmett used a short left hand on Burgos. A low kick by Burgos meant that there was a brief stop to the fight; later Burgos hit the ground again but kept getting back up. Unfortunately for him, Emmett continued to hit hard. Scores were 29-28 twice and 29-27 for Emmett, now ranked No. 8 and 16-2. Burgos falls to 13-2. It was certainly a showdown to remember.
Justin Gaethje vs Tony Ferguson
It was a big one from lightweight fighter Gaethje, who gave “El Cucuy” 23:39 minutes of pure hell and stopped Ferguson in the fifth round. From the beginning, Ferguson’s movement and kicks kept Gaethje in check and made it hard for the fighter to get a read on him. Two minutes in however, Gaethje had landed several hard lefts at a very close range. While Ferguson took them well and continued to try out strikes from a variety of different angle, Gaethje stuc to his guns with several accurate shots to his opponent’s head.
By the fourth round, Gaethje was still keeping in control. Midway through fans saw Ferguson stagger after getting caught by Gaethje’s hard right; he came back with a low kick which came with it a brief halt to the action.
Gaethje kept the compact power shots coming with just five minutes left, and while Ferguson kept at it with furor he couldn’t get his offense going. Referee stopped the bout at 3:39 of the final round, with Gaethje the victor.