5 Of The Best MMA Fights From 2020

Published 12/17/2020, 12:51 AM EST
JACKSONVILLE, FL – MAY 09: Tony Ferguson (L) of the United States looks to punch Justin Gaethje (R) of the United States in their Interim lightweight title fight during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 9, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)


There’s no doubt that 2020 will be remembered as a year like no other. It’s a period in history that most would like to forget. But despite the pandemic causing havoc in the MMA world, it was somehow an incredible year for epic fights.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Here are just five of the best MMA fights of 2020.

Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk 

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

SHENZHEN, CHINA – AUGUST 31: Zhang Weili of China celebrates after her knockout victory over Jessica Andrade of Brazil in their UFC strawweight championship bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre on August 31, 2019 in Shenzhen, China. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)

There is a strong argument for this one being not just the greatest women’s MMA fight ever, but also one of the best MMA fights of all-time. Going down at UFC 248 in March, this one always had the potential to be a banger, but the all-out war that transpired somehow managed to surpass even our wildest expectations.

Zhang came into the contest looking to defend her strawweight title for the first time. Meanwhile, Jedrzejczyk arrived with the hopes of reclaiming her crown, as she previously reigned over the division for a record-setting 966 days between 2015-2017.

The back-and-forth exchanges, the sheer volume of strikes thrown by both women, and the immense physical punishment endured by each fighter made this a clash for the ages.

Zhang battled her way to a split-decision victory to solidify her increasing superstar status while Jedrzejczyk, sporting a massive hematoma, proved that she’s still a major threat to the UFC Women’s Strawweight Title.

John Lineker vs. Kevin Belingon

Image Credits: ONE

Ever since Lineker overcame Muin Gafurov in his ONE debut in October 2019, the man they call “Hands of Stone” seemed destined for a match-up with Belingon. “The Silencer” is a former ONE Bantamweight Champion who’s been with the promotion for years. He’s also a knockout machine with an endearing penchant for spinning back kicks.

The pair finally met at ONE: Inside the Matrix III in November, and it was the Brazilian who won the day. Arguably the best UFC bantamweight never to get a title shot, Lineker boasts wins over the likes of John Dodson and Marlon Vera. Judging by his performance against Belingon, he’s arrived at ONE with a point to prove and gold in mind.

Belingon showed flashes of brilliance in the first round and looked to find joy with his signature spinning back kick, but Lineker’s explosive counter right hands and devastating uppercuts would be pivotal.

Lineker’s second-round pressure was overwhelming as he used the jab to set up another uppercut that sent the Filipino wobbling. He then put a stamp on the victory with four more left hands to make a massive statement, one which was swiftly followed up by a call-out of the champion, Bibiano Fernandes.

Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker 

ATLANTA, GA – APRIL 13: (L-R) UFC President Dana White places the interim lightweight championship belt on Dustin Poirier after defeating Max Holloway in their interim lightweight championship bout during the UFC 236 event at State Farm Arena on April 13, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

There aren’t many fighters in the world with such a raw, visceral ability to produce fireworks as the two gentlemen mentioned above. In each of his last six wins – including this one – Poirier has earned himself either performance or fight of the night bonus. In terms of dance partners, Hooker is no stranger to a barn burner himself and is as game as they come.

In what turned out to be a slugfest that was action-packed from start to finish, both fighters landed volume. Hooker connected with some savage calf kicks and brutal shots to the body. But with wins over studs like Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez, and Justin Gaethje, Poirier is exceptionally durable and seemed to only grow stronger as the fight wore on.

Poirier let his hands go, showing slick and powerful combinations as well as maintaining an unrelenting pace. Ultimately, he walked away with the unanimous decision, but the performance of both men only enhanced their reputations as two of the toughest warriors in the game.

Thanh Le vs. Martin Nguyen

Image Credits: ONE

In many ways, these two men have a lot in common. They both come from Vietnamese heritage, they’re both fan favorites, and they both boast an exciting collection of emphatic knockouts. The pair met at ONE: Inside the Matrix in October in what was the most important clash in the history of Vietnamese MMA.

Nguyen had held the featherweight strap since knocking out Marat Gafurov in August 2017 and a remarkable 92 percent of his professional wins have come by way of stoppage. As the challenger, Le had put away all three of his ONE Championship opponents inside of two rounds and none of his previous fights had gone the distance.

With both fighters enjoying some lively exchanges in the opening two, they went on to produce one of the most high-octane third rounds in the history of the promotion. The champion came out swinging, looking to push the pace, and he landed some beautiful, stinging combinations that rocked Le.

But as the champion continued to look for a finish, he got dropped with a right hook, and despite his attempts to scramble, the challenger could smell blood in the water. Le finished the fight with several giant shots to Nguyen’s chin as the referee called a stop to what was an absolute classic.

Justin Gaethje vs. Tony Ferguson

For years, fans around the world had pleaded to see Tony Ferguson versus Khabib Nurmagomedov. But with the COVID-19 pandemic leaving the Dagestani home-bound, the MMA gods had something else in mind.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

As it turned out, UFC 249 in May would bring together two athletes who truly embody what it means to be a “fighter’s fighter.” There’s a reason they call Justin Gaethje “The Highlight” – every single one of his UFC performances has garnered a bonus. Conversely, there’s a very good reason why they call Tony Ferguson “El Cucuy” (“The Boogeyman”) – the man just keeps coming.

Gaethje earned his shot at the interim UFC Lightweight Title with a hat trick of first-round finishes. Ferguson, meanwhile, was riding a crazy 12-fight winning streak. But as much as Ferguson is undoubtedly the “Boogeyman” of MMA, there was no stopping Gaethje as he produced a career-best performance.

Under the tutelage of Trevor Wittman, Gaethje took his game to a new level, as he tore apart his opponent with deadly power and precision. The pace never slowed, and as Ferguson began to run out of answers, Gaethje continued to unleash flurries of savage leg kicks and brutal combinations upstairs.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The staying power of Ferguson was as impressive as ever, and it took until the depths of the fifth round for the referee to call a stop to the contest in a fight that will live long in the memory.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Varun Khanna

1310 articles

Starting off as a tennis author in 2018, Varun Khanna has gone on to contribute to EssentiallySports in various capacities. After setting up interviews with the likes of Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, Alizé Cornet, and Noah Rubin, Varun is now part of all major ATP and WTA press conferences and has gone on to pen more than 1300 articles for EssentiallySports. He now heads the tennis and NBA division of the organization.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT