It’s a new year, so Combat Press is taking a look back at the best of MMA in 2019. Throughout the the week, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
Three title fights. Seven knockouts over the course of 13 bouts. UFC 245 delivered in spades.
The huge December show includes title defenses for Amanda Nunes, who decisioned Germaine de Randamie, and Kamaru Usman, who silenced Colby Covington in the evening’s headliner. It also included the rise of Alexander Volkanovski, who claimed featherweight gold with a strong showing against Max Holloway. Even the non-title fights on the main card featured such highlights as Petr Yan’s head-kick finish of fan-favorite Urijah Faber and a very competitive fight for José Aldo in a losing effort against Marlon Moraes, who took home the split verdict.
Faber may have had the crowd on his side, but Yan is a rising star. His showing opened up the main card and gave the Russian yet another signature win. It also helped strengthen his argument for a crack at bantamweight gold.
Plenty of attention was paid to Aldo’s drained appearance in the weeks prior to the show, but the Brazilian great looked perfectly fine upon his entrance into the Octagon. Furthermore, he was able to hang with Moraes for three tough rounds and almost squeaked out the decision.
Nunes further cemented her standing with the victory over de Randamie. The champ overcame a brief scare in the second round and dominated much of the fight to take home the win.
Volkanovski proved he could hang with the best, edging out Hawaii’s Holloway to take a UFC title back to Australia.
Finally, Usman put to rest any chance of a loud-mouthed Covington taking home a championship belt. The welterweight was on his way to a decision nod, but a relentless amount of pressure in the fifth round allowed him to score the late finish and retain the throne.
The prelims were full of fireworks, too. Geoff Neal topped things off with a 90-second steamrolling of Mike Perry. It closed out a prelim slate that also featured a knockout win for Irene Aldana over Ketlen Vieira and a ground-and-pound stoppage for Matt Brown over Ben Saunders. Punahele Soriano and Chase Hooper also got in on the action with finishes of their own.
With the regularity of events in the UFC, fans aren’t often treated to a lineup with such high stakes. Faber was looking to continue his comeback. Aldo was making his first trip down to bantamweight. Three champions were out to defend their straps. It was a special night, and one deserving of the honor as our 2019 “Event of the Year.”
Other finalists: UFC 236, UFC 244
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2019 MMA Award winners.