There have been many memorable moments that have captivated fight fans throughout the years. Special moments in the Octagon that truly resonate with fans and create an everlasting impression are often reminisced and discussed for years to come.
The year 2019 was filled with memorable performances. One of the most memorable of these fights doesn’t get mentioned very often, though.
To be clear, the fighter involved does not have a giant fan following, nor perhaps the most exciting style. However, all it takes is one performance to elevate an individual to potential stardom.
To truly illustrate what this man did in 2019, we must tell the story of the night of Nov. 2. The setting was the Madison Square Garden. It was approximately 9:15 p.m. on the East Coast, and a number of fights had already completed. As the lights dimmed, fans were treated to “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra as the final competitor of the UFC prelims made his walk to the Octagon. Johnny Walker strolled through the arena in his usual demeanor. He had his casual yet giddy strut and a smile that exuded confidence. As fans sang along, cheered and applauded for the fun and familiar walkout performance, Walker made his way to ringside and finally entered the Octagon to face his opponent, Corey Anderson.
Fans sat on the edge of their seats, barely able to contain their excitement at getting to see one of the most fun and impressive finishers in the light-heavyweight division perform live in the city that never sleeps. Viewers in the crowd and at home were probably thinking, “This is going to be over quick.” Well, they were right about that.
At 2:07 of first round, Anderson stunned and silenced the MSG crowd by finishing the “finisher” with an impressive TKO. It was the kind of mauling that Walker was used to dishing out to his opponents for the last couple of years.
As the fight ended, Walker’s face illustrated a sense of shock, awe and worry. Anderson rose to the occasion and used his secondary skill, which many consider is his striking, to finish one of the most dangerous men in the division in a highly impressive and efficient manner.
Many hardcore fans know who Anderson is and how his strength has always been his wrestling. Many of his bouts result in a convincing — albeit boring — unanimous decision that certainly elevates his contender status but does nothing for his standing with the fans. Everything changed on that November night.
An Anderson with improved striking and a solid ground game is a scary individual to watch in 2020 and beyond. He steps up to face Jan Blachowicz on Saturday when the UFC travels to Rio Rancho, N.M. The two men met way back in 2015, when Anderson dominated Blachowicz with a scorecard of 30-25. Fans can expect more of the same on Feb. 15.
Anderson currently sits at No. 5 in the UFC’s light-heavyweight rankings. If he continues to progress and build on his 2019 performance, a showdown for the light-heavyweight belt is almost guaranteed in 2020.
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