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By: Daniel Rebain – NHL/UFC Staff Writer
2020 was almost most certain to be a shit show for the UFC and their fighters but they showed some resolve though out. The year started off strong but was put on pause when Covid-19 struck, but thanks to Dana White and everyone at the UFC, they came back and outperformed what they did in when the year began. So, with another year of thrilling fights in the past, here is the Morning Blitz “Fight” of the Year.
Dustin Poirier vs Dan Hooker (UFC Vegas 4)
Despite Poirier’s massive power, Hooker got the better of their heavy exchanges in the first and second rounds, visibly hurting Poirier. Hooker was successfully able to walk through all of Poirier’s early shots without any issues. Hooker landed a lot of volume, including punches to the body and hard, low calf kicks to Poirier. Poirier landed hard combinations, but Hooker put pace on him. The second round would go down as the best round of 2020. Hooker had all the momentum heading into the third round, but that’s when Poirier started to take over as he would take the rest of the rounds in this fight. In the fourth round, Poirier got Hooker down, and landed the most significant damage of the fight. The fifth was much of the same. Poirier landed hard punching combinations while Hooker clearly was sucking wind. Poirier outlasted him in the end. The 390 total strikes landed were the most in a lightweight fight in UFC history, and the fifth-most overall, with Poirier landing 208 to Hooker’s 182. Hooker out landed Poirier in significant strikes 155-153. All five rounds saw each fighter land very damaging blows. That damage showed at the end of the fight, both men could be seen as bloody messes.
Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo (UFC 251)
Early in the fight, Yan hurt Aldo with a body kick, and then, after Aldo tried to turn the tide with a takedown attempt, Yan nearly finished with a devastating blow to Aldo’s midsection on the ground. That shot seemed to have damaged Aldo’s ribs but he seemed to shake it off. Aldo did answer with an excellent second round. Using hard leg kicks and body punches Aldo took over the next two rounds and that when Yan took back control of the fight. With just under two minutes left in the third, Yan started switching back and forth from orthodox to southpaw. With that he was able to land a spinning elbow, multiple combinations, and a bunch of hard body kicks dealing massive damage. When the fourth round came around the writing was being set as Yan broke Aldo’s nose. Evading and backpedaling from a pressing Yan, Aldo would be pressed up against the cage and was subsequently dropped by a barrage of shots including two big uppercuts. The fight was a contest for about three rounds, but Yan smelled blood and went on to win the Bantamweight strap. Yan landed 194 significant strikes, the most in a single fight in the history of the UFC bantamweight division, 62 of which were in the fifth. This Bantamweight title fight was one of the better fights we saw in 2020 and it made for an interesting start to the new version of the division.
Deiveson Figueredo vs Brandon Moreno (UFC 256)
Recency bias is a real thing and it almost happened in this situation The fight between Figueredo vs Moreno came together on three weeks’ notice after both fighters won in their previous fights in the octagon as both scored first-round finishes at UFC 255. Figueredo did what got him the strap, he came out swinging for the fence from the jump. Moreno though, gladly met him with heavy combinations of his own, and took Figueiredo’s shots with his diamond of a chin. Figueiredo’s blows proved the more telling in the early going as he consistently denied Moreno’s attempts to impose his top-notch ground game. With the fighting wearing on Moreno refused to be put away and began to find increasing success. Figueredo did have a point taken away when he viciously poked Moreno in the eye and kicked him with a brutal groin shot. Moreno still got up and secured the fourth round with a long stretch of top control and seemed the fresher fighter going into the fifth. But Figueiredo was not going to give up that easily as he stopped the momentum in the fifth round, securing the fifth round and ultimately with the loss of the point in the third, the fight would go to a majority draw and keep the Flyweight belt. Dana White said this would go down as the best fight in the Men’s Flyweight division history but it wasn’t the best fight in any division. Still the sheer chaos in this fight still makes it one of the best fights in all of 2020.
Morning Blitz “Fight” of the Year
Zhang Weili vs Joanna Jedzejczyk (UFC 248)
When the Strawweight division’s scariest power puncher in Weili Zhang met the most decorated fighter in the division’s history, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, what did you think was going to happen? You would be in for a treat as things got soooo crazy between these two fighters. Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk would spend the whole of the 25 minutes going back and forth, inflicting pain on the other. Zhang and JJ would combine to throw over 750 significant strikes and land 351 of them. Jedrzejczyk did wear one of the nastiest hematomas of all-time; she gave China’s finest everything she could handle. So much so that everyone wants to see a rematch as the result went to a split decision. With no breaks, no time to catch your breath from bell to bell, Jedrzejczyk and Zhang put everything on the line and both were willing to be KO’d to get that finish and become UFC Strawweight Champion. This will go down in the history books as not just the greatest strawweight fight of all time, but the BEST women’s fight ever to take place in the sport. It also so happened that it took place in a title fight. That is why Weili vs Jedrzejczyk is the Morning Blitz “Fight” of the Year.
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