2020 hasn’t exactly been the best year for sports fans, or anyone for that matter. Many lives have been lost, the strongest of economies across the globe have been hit hard, and no one really knows when we’ll return to good ole normality as we once knew it (pre-December 2019). It’s likely that some major changes will be here to stay…
The UFC was amongst the first sporting organisations to get going during the pandemic, primarily hosting all events at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, and the “Fight Island” site on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. Of course all events so far have been produced with no crowd in attendance, creating a new sort of Ultimate Fighter-esque feel to watching MMA.
We all miss the crowd and classic atmosphere, as well as the many cultures embraced by the UFC when they operated their events all over the globe. However, it’s not all bad. For some, actually quite the contrary…
Since the organisation began operating under the pandemic, there are fighters like Bobby Green and of course, the biggest MMA prospect right now in Khamzat Chimaev, who have achieved in a few months what most only achieve after a few years.
Even without the same volume of press and fight promotion, Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal still brought in 1,300,000 PPV buys for their bout in July, and the UFC in particular, while not enjoying the same success as before COVID-19, is far from struggling.
Let’s take a further take a look at some MMA moments that have shone through the corona shadow cast over 2020, which still continue to give fans their perfect fight fix. Continue on for MMA in 2020: The COVID Effect!
Khamzat Chimaev – The Next Big Thing?
This 26 year-old Russian-Swedish monster had his first UFC bout in July and is already on a tear…in two weight divisions!
After defeating John Phillips in his debut fight, Chimaev wasn’t in the least bit content with taking any time off, opting to stay on Fight Island in hopes of a quick turnover fight.
That hope was made possible when 10 days later (yes, in just 10 days), he cut down to welterweight and dominated Rhys “Skeletor” McKee, finishing him by TKO in the first round in the same octagon where he made John Phillips submit. It unsurprisingly broke the record for the quickest turnaround win in the promotion’s history, and earned him a Performance of the Night bonus, but it doesn’t stop there.
The UFC, so confident in Chimaev’s determination to stay extremely active, double-booked him in a bout with Demian Maia when he still had yet to fight Gerald Meerschaert. Chimaev knocked Meerschaert out in 17 seconds and is currently ready to mow down whoever is put in his path.
Bobby Green – Better than Ever?
Staying active has not only benefited young, hungry prospects like Chimaev. Veterans like “King” Bobby Green have enjoyed hot win streaks in short turnaround performances.
For obvious reasons such as recovery and training, it’s always recommended that fighters take at least a couple of months off between fights. For a warrior like Bobby Green, staying ‘self-pressured’ and as active as possible is what produces the most success.
Since the pandemic began, Green has fought three times in the space of four months at the UFC Apex, dominating Lando Vannata, Clay Guida and Alan Patrick. That’s quite an impressive hit list for a four month job, especially on the back of a two-fight losing streak.
An Historic Moment for British MMA
Saturday, October 12th 2020 proved that despite a global pandemic, nothing was going to stop MMA further evolving as an internationally recognised sport, as for the first time ever, an MMA event was broadcast live on the BBC.
British welterweight superstar and KFK Hall of Famer, Michael “Venom” Page, defeated Ross “The Hitman” Houston at Bellator 248 in Paris via unanimous decision, and now looks forward to avenge his loss against Douglas Lima sometime in the future.
Bellator President Scott Coker, commenting on Bellator’s new BBC deal, called it a “milestone for Bellator and MMA in general”, and it was hard to miss the massive amount of coverage that the outlet provided in the lead up to the fight.
The BBC is of course the UK’s flagship public service broadcaster, and one of the most significant broadcasters in the world, so to see MMA embraced and aired live on iPlayer is truly groundbreaking when we analyze how fast the sport has developed.
This was also tremendous for French MMA, with the card being the first MMA event hosted in France since the sport was legalized in the country back in January.
The Kick that was Heard Around the World
Fight Island has produced some spectacular fights and performances for the few months it’s hosted UFC events. However, October 10th, saw a finish that can only be compared to as far back as Anthony Pettis’ famous cage jump kick.
Middleweight contender, Joaquin Buckley, hit a jaw-dropping jump spinning back kick on Impa Kasanganay, after having his left leg caught when attempting a body kick.
The preliminary card finish ended up stealing the show, and potentially the whole year when it comes to incredible highlight reel knockouts.
The Baddest Man on the Planet
In the eyes of many fight enthusiasts, UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic cemented his place as the best heavyweight to ever compete in MMA, when he defeated fellow all-time great, Daniel Cormier in their trilogy battle behind closed doors at UFC 252.
The contest began very competitively early on, but after a determined Miocic dropped D.C, who had also suffered a trialsome accidental eye poke, he regained control for the remainder of the fight, getting the nod in a unanimous decision victory.
Cormier valiantly retired from the sport, and continues to grace the UFC with his knowledge as an analyst and commentator.