KEY POINTS

  • Tony Ferguson suffered a broken orbital after the Justin Gaethje fight
  • Deiveson Figueiredo insisted he won against Brandon Moreno
  • Joanna Jedrzejczyk was almost unrecognizable after her Weili Zhang fight

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is one of the sports drastically affected by the pandemic. Nevertheless, some of the biggest promotions in the world still managed to pull off epic fights which made 2020 a year to remember in combat sports.

Below are five of the best matches that happened this year.

5. Rose Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade

Apart from the interesting fact that Rose Namajunas is looking to avenge her devastating title fight loss to Jessica Andrade in UFC 237, both fighters also didn’t fail to deliver.

The pair engaged in a slugfest for three full rounds with Namajunas even attempting a flying knee in the second round. It was a close fight, but “Thug Rose” managed to connect more significant strikes than Andrade, who became more aggressive in the final round.

In the end, Namajunas was hailed the winner via split decision in a rematch of two of the best women athletes in the world.

4. Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje

UFC 249 is one of the most notable fights that happened on Fight Island. Two of the promotion's top lightweight contenders Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje clashed to become the division’s interim champion.

Interestingly, Ferguson and Gaethje’s fighting styles were quite identical, but both fighters were eager to prove that one is deadlier than the other.

The pair exchanged blows for almost the entire 25 minutes, but Gaethje landed more precise and vicious strikes that took a toll on Ferguson in the closing minutes of the fifth and final round.

Referee Herb Dean decided that he had seen enough and stopped the fight at 1:23 despite “El Cucuy” still standing up. After the fight, the battered Ferguson reportedly suffered a broken orbital.

Justin Gaethje (L) of the United States punches Tony Ferguson (R) of the United States in their Interim lightweight title fight during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena Justin Gaethje (L) of the United States punches Tony Ferguson (R) of the United States in their Interim lightweight title fight during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena Photo: Getty Images | Douglas P. DeFelice

3. Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker

Fresh off a submission loss to then-UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, Dustin Poirier knew he had to bounce back with a decisive win. However, “The Diamond” faced another tough opponent in Dan Hooker.

Both fighters have been known for their exceptional striking and they managed to show it off early in the fight. Poirier landed a crunchy right hand straight to the left side of Hooker’s head, but the latter came back with a sensational knee to his opponent’s face.

The beautiful exchanges went on until the fifth and final round, but Poirier got the nod from all three judges in a one-of-a-kind lightweight bout.

2. Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno

After becoming the UFC flyweight champion earlier this year and one successful title defense, Deiveson Figueiredo took on the toughest competition of his active career when he faced Brandon Moreno at UFC 256.

It was a back-and-forth striking showdown between the two flyweights with Moreno testing Figueiredo’s chin with a flurry of punches. However, the champ took it like a real warrior and the pair went at it until the final bell rang.

The fight ended in a majority draw, but Figueiredo insisted that he won every round, calling for a quick rematch.

1. Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk will go down in history as one of the most gruesome fights that ever happened inside the famed UFC Octagon. ESPN even tagged it as “certainly the best women's fight” of all time.

Both strawweights went toe-to-toe, dismantling and battering each other for five rounds.

In the end, Zhang was named winner via split decision, but both fighters were badly bruised. However, Jedrzejczyk was almost unrecognizable after sustaining a brutal hematoma to the head, making it looked like it’s about to pop at any given time.