A new year is on the horizon, and that means it’s time for Combat Press to take a look back at the best of MMA in 2020. In the coming days, 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.
Fight of the Year
Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk (UFC 248)
There are always a multitude of great fights in a calendar year. However, in a year full of unorthodoxy and unexpected events, this award eventually came down to two fights: the clash between Weili Zhang and Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 248 and the UFC 256 title tilt featuring flyweight kingpin Deiveson Figueiredo and challenger Brandon Moreno.
Of course, there is the factor of recency bias. Keep in mind, Zhang and Jędrzejczyk fought in what was technically the “pre-COVID” era, which now seems ages ago. Their fight was the greatest 25 minutes of action we’ve ever witnessed. The two top strawweight ladies stood toe-to-toe and traded bombs. By the end of the fight, Poland’s Jędrzejczyk was left with a hematoma almost doubling the size of her forehead, while Zhang had very noticeable bruises all over her face.
Meanwhile, the incredible flyweight title bout between Figueiredo and Moreno happened just three weeks ago. It still holds a large part in our memories. In terms of action, it wasn’t far short of what Zhang and Jędrzejczyk were able to produce. Besides, there was a different meaning to this particular title fight and how it has turned out. Lest we forget, the flyweight division was on the verge of extinction from the promotion less than two years ago.
The flyweight division had possibly the greatest champion that the sport has ever seen in Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, but he was never able to attract much attention to the weight class, whether it was due to the competition or his dominance. When Johnson was “traded” to ONE Championship in exchange for Ben Askren, it seemed like the dismissal of the flyweights was just around the corner.
Then, an interesting chain of events occurred: Henry Cejudo beat T.J. Dillashaw to defend his flyweight throne. Cejudo then went on to become a two-weight world champion. He ended up defending his newly won bantamweight title against Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 before announcing his retirement, which brought us to the Figueiredo era at flyweight. Figueiredo took the flyweight title by definitively finishing Joseph Benavidez twice. His defense against Moreno was a huge statement on behalf of the weight class, shouting to the world that the 125-pounders can be exciting, too.
Despite the significance of that flyweight title affair, Combat Press ultimately leans toward the early favorite for its selection as the 2020 Fight of the Year. Not only did Zhang and Jędrzejczyk deliver action, but they did so to a degree that fans have rarely seen in a UFC women’s strawweight title fight.
Other Finalists: Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno (UFC 256)
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