Whilst 2020 hasn’t exactly been the smoothest year for MMA, the highlight reels have kept on rolling in with fighters spawning some incredible performances belonging straight up there amongst the best of all time!
From spectacular knockouts, to beautiful submissions, no matter what your preference, 2020 has given all martial arts enthusiasts their fix for combat entertainment, as well as a feast load of inspiration to a new generation of fight fans.
With the pandemic era of fighting showing no signs of drawing to a close any time soon, we all may as well appreciate the reasons we love mixed martial arts. So, let’s count down five of the most jaw-dropping finishes 2020 has had to offer us up to now, in MMA in 2020: Top 5 Finishes of the Year So Far…!
- Lito Adiwang vs. Pongsiri Mitsatit – ONE Championship: Fire & Fury (Jan. 31, 2020)
- Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa – UFC 253 (Sept. 27, 2020)
- Cody Garbrandt vs. Raphael Assunção – UFC 250 (June 6, 2020)
- Joaquin Buckley vs. Impa Kasanganay – UFC Fight Night 179 (Oct. 10, 2020)
- Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje – UFC 254 (Oct. 24, 2020)
To kick off our list, we head over to the Philippines for a true flyweight spectacle in Lito Adiwang’s first round submission victory against Pongsiri Mitsatit.
Chances are if you’re into MMA, you’ve seen a Kimura finish a bunch of times. However, this is one that the grapplers among you may appreciate more. Adiwang sets it up straight from a half guard position, controlling Mitsatit with one leg over the head and the other still hooked – It’s typically done in a side control position.
Furthermore, the control Adiwang had, as Mitsatit continuously attempted to defend the position was outstanding, and earned him the finish as Mitsatit had no choice but to succumb to the pain.
Still think “The Last Stylebender” is too skinny for the middleweight division? 20-0 says no!
Paulo “The Eraser” Costa was arguably the biggest threat to Adesanya’s middleweight throne on paper heading into their Fight Island title bout. He had the look, the power, the intensity and the youth to run through just about anybody that was placed in front of him, as he had previously demonstrated with his undefeated record.
In a very heated promotional build up, which involved a heap of trash talk on both sides, Adesanya was constantly mocked for his slim build and ‘run away’ antics that Costa believed he’d shown against Yoel Romero.
Nobody expected the cautious approach from Costa when it came to Fight Night, but the champ was sure ready for it, dominating the fight in spectacular fashion and knocking out his opponent in the second round, earning him his fifth Performance of the Night bonus.
Cody Garbrandt had a rough couple of years following his title loss to T.J. Dillashaw, suffering three brutal back-to-back losses.
2020 on the other hand saw the return of the knockout artist they call ‘No Love’, as he scored a violent last second finish on Raphael Assunção.
We’re used to seeing Garbrandt as the hunter, but in this instance, it was him who was pressured as he landed a gorgeous counter hook with his back against the fence. Assunção was knocked out cold, and the fight was stopped at the very last second of round 2.
Joaquin Buckley’s jump spinning back kick may go down as one of the craziest KO’s of all time, let alone in 2020.
Sometimes, on a free to watch preliminary fight, you see something more stunning than anything most pay-per-view main events can’t even touch. This is undisputedly one of those such cases.
Never before have we seen a fighter leap from his opponent in order to land a squarely solid, flush spinning back kick, which is precisely what Buckley did.
The silent atmosphere ensured that absolutely everyone heard the brutal connection Buckley’s foot made with Kasanganay’s jaw, dropping him flat out unconscious for the finish.
As fresh as our number one entry is, I don’t think anyone will deny that years from now, this moment will be talked about as one of the most incredible, and emotional in MMA history.
‘The Eagle’ walked out to the octagon for the first time since losing his closest and most important mentor, his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov to Covid-19. Justin Gaethje was determined to live up to his ‘Highlight Reel’ nickname and stun the world with a win against the undefeated Russian.
In the end, after enduring perhaps the toughest camp of his life, both physically and mentally, it was Khabib who stood tall. Doing what he does best, he put tremendous pressure on Gaethje from the beginning. It would be fair to say that many didn’t expect the champion to finish the fight off of his back, completing a triangle choke that put the challenger to sleep.
After the most perfect of careers, Nurmagomedov broke down in tears for his victory and his late father, before he emotionally announced his retirement from competition. At 29-0, and complete non-stop domination against the best 155 pound talents, he will be remembered as an undisputed pound-for-pound great in the MMA history books, and deserves the top spot on our list.