We are less than two months away from finally surpassing the train wreck that’s been 2020. The UFC hardly missed a step throughout all the madness though, delivering many memorable moments. These are the 2020 UFC awards so far.
It should be noted that a few of the award winners might be different by the end of the year, considering there are still six events slated to take place in the meantime.
2020 Male Fighter of the Year
This is one of the awards that could be different come year’s end. Deiveson Figueiredo can make a strong case if he finishes Alex Perez on Nov. 21st. That would give the Brazilian flyweight three wins, all via finish, and all technically in title fights.
For now, I give the nod to Jan Blachowicz because ‘Polish Power’ has owned 2020. First, he avenges his loss to Corey Anderson by knocking him out cold in the opening round. Then, by all accounts, he dominates Dominick Reyes en route to securing the vacant LHW title.
Blachowicz gets extra points for being considered a sizeable underdog in both bouts.
Other considered were Petr Yan, Aljamain Sterling, and Israel Adesanya. Jan stands out above the rest however, as he brought Poland its second UFC championship.
2020 Female Fighter of the Year
Similar to the award above, 2020’s female fighter of the year is subject to change if Valentina Shevchenko defeats Jennifer Maia on Nov. 21st. That would be ‘The Bullet’s’ second title defense of the year.
Even still, it will be difficult to dethrone Weili Zhang due to her legendary performance against Joanna Jedrzejzcyk back in March. It’s uncommon to give this award to someone who only fought once, but when the performance was that memorable it’s hard to vote against. There aren’t many other women who can make a strong case either.
2020 Breakthrough Fighter of the Year
This one couldn’t have been any easier to select. Three wins in a 65 day span to kick of his UFC career, Chimaev is more deserving for this award than anyone has ever been.
Three performance bonuses, three flawless finishes, in two different weight classes (welterweight/middleweight). It took a mere nine minutes and thirty-eight seconds for ‘Borz’ to bulldoze his first three UFC foes.
Chimaev has made waves with his performances as well as his trash talking; claiming he will “smash” everybody.
He is scheduled to compete for a fourth time this year when he faces Leon Edwards on Dec. 19th. Heck, a win over Edwards and we’ll have to consider him as the male fighter of the year also.
2020 Fight of the Year
Weili Zhang received her praise earlier and rightfully so, but Jedrzejczyk deserves an equal amount of applause for her part in that fight. These two ladies took part in the greatest fight in women’s MMA history. Many will consider it one of the best fights ever, period.
I didn’t even consider any other fight for this award because it was just that good. Sure some will mention Poirier/Hooker, Felder/Hooker, and a couple other, but Zhang/Jedrzejczyk reigns supreme over all of them.
For 25 minutes, these two slugged it out on the feet, inflicting an absurd amount of damage upon each other. Joanna suffered swelling unlike anybody has ever seen before. Meanwhile, Weili absorbed nearly 200 strikes, never taking her foot off the gas.
This fight was a display of talent, heart, determination, and toughness to the highest of levels. It’s easily the best fight of 2020, and it will likely remain just that.
2020 Knockout of the Year
We return to a category that’s up for debate. 2020 delivered several incredible knockouts. For knockout of the year, I focused in on one-strike KO’s. A handful came to mind, but Joaquin Buckley’s mortal combat-like jaw dropper stood out the most.
It was a viral knockout to the most extreme. Immediately, people began pondering whether or not it was the greatest knockout in the history of the UFC. I wouldn’t go that far, but I would go as far to say it’s the greatest of 2020.
Others that came to mind were Cody Garbrandt vs Raphael Assuncao, Sean O’Malley vs Eddie Wineland, and Khamzat Chimaev vs Gerald Meerschaert. I didn’t consider Ngannou’s KO over Rozenstruik because it lacked precision compared to the others mentioned above.
Here it is again in case y’all forgot.
2020 Submission of the Year
Some call him ‘The Human Backpack’ and boy did he live up to that name against Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250. A number one contender fight heading into it, Sterling got ahold of Sandhagen in the first 30 seconds and he never let go.
A body triangle kept Sandhagen in place so ‘The Funkmaster’ could lock in the rear naked choke. The choke left Sandhagen laying unconscious and halted his seven fight wins streak. The win awarded Sterling his long-awaited title opportunity.
Two other submissions that were considered were Jack Hermansson’s heel hook versus Kelvin Gastelum and Thiago Moises’s ankle lock against Michael Johnson.
Sterling was selected over them for the weight of implications surrounding the bout, as well as the way in which he secured the submission.
2020 Upset of the Year
Erosa returned to the UFC octagon under tough circumstances. In his third stint in the UFC, Erosa found himself fighting hot-prospect Sean Woodson on just a few days notice. Most betting outlets pegged Woodson as a (-500) favorite minimum.
Early on you could see why oddsmakers were setting the lines the way they were. Woodson kept on the outside and was able to pick apart the much smaller Erosa. The toughness of Erosa really stood out as he worked his way towards securing a D’arce choke in the third round. It was Woodson’s first defeat, and it came by the hands of a big underdog.
Other upsets that were considered were Justin Jaynes vs Frank Camacho. Jaynes found himself in a similar position as Erosa, but fell short because the opponent wasn’t as highly-touted. Moreover, Jan Blachowicz’s victory over Dominick Reyes was deliberated over also. Lets be honest, how many people had him pulling that upset off? Not many.
Some of the award winners may change by year’s end, but a few are impossible to argue. 2020 has been a whirlwind of a year, but the UFC has stayed consistent throughout.
Leave your award winners in the comments!
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