The UFC has officially completed all of their business in this crazy 2020. Despite a global pandemic, the promotion had an incredible year that saw tremendous growth and new fans coming to the sport of MMA.
The UFC hosted many successful events and saw a number of fighters burst onto the scene in 2020. One of those fighters being the rising superstar, Khamzat Chimaev (9-0). Chimaev made his debut with the UFC back in July.
He rose to fame with his incredible dominance through his first three fights. In his first three fights with the UFC, Chimaev has scored finishes in all three while absorbing just a few strikes total.
He’s been catapulted into a main event on January 20th in a fight that could be a title eliminator. While Chimaev’s UFC rise has been remarkable, he’s not quite the fighter of the year in my opinion.
Another fighter who broke through this year was Kevin Holland (21-5). After losing his last fight in 2019, Holland completely transformed himself in 2020. Holland had arguably the best year out of anybody with the promotion.
He went an astonishing 5-0 with four finishes in 2020. Even more remarkable was the fact that he didn’t fight for the first time until May. However, despite his incredible year, Holland was not ESM’s UFC Fighter of the Year.
2020 UFC Fighter of the Year
Looking at everything for 2020, the UFC‘s Fighter of the Year was a clear choice for me. That clear choice is the flyweight champion of the world, Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1). Figueiredo started out 2020 as the top contender at flyweight.
Back in February, he took on Joseph Benavidez for the vacant UFC flyweight title. However, Figueiredo missed weight for the fight which caused him to lose his opportunity to capture the belt. Yet, the fight still went on.
Figueiredo was completely dominant and he won the fight by second round knockout. In July, Figueiredo had a rematch for Benavidez for the UFC title. This time Figueiredo made weight and he stopped Benavidez in the first round to capture the title.
Looking to close out the year strong, Figueiredo was booked to defend his title against Alex Perez at UFC 255. Figueiredo submitted Perez in less than two minutes to successfully defend his title.
Because of his quick work, the UFC turned him around quickly to headline UFC 256 against Brandon Moreno. The two had an absolute war that was a fight of the year candidate. In the end, the two men fought to a draw.
Granted, Figueiredo would have won had he not been docked a point at UFC 256. It was later revealed that Figueiredo had spent time in the hospital the night before his title fight against Moreno.
Yes, his record was not technically perfect, but Deiveson Figueiredo is the clear Fighter of the Year. Four sensational performances in essentially four title fights. Figueiredo emerged as the superstar flyweight needed in 2020 for the UFC.