2020 UFC Breakout Fighter of the Year

Kevin Holland

It’s been a great year despite the pandemic for the UFC. In a year that has seen many businesses struggle to keep their doors open, the promotion has thrived putting on tremendous fights since they returned in May after a brief hiatus.

In addition to putting on some great fight cards this year, the UFC has seen a number of fighters seemingly come out of no where. One of those fighters that came out of no where for the promotion was Khamzat Chimaev (9-0).

Chimaev made his UFC debut during the promotion’s first trip to Fight Island. He ended up fighting three times since July and he finished all three of his opponents inside the octagon.

However, it was the manner in which Chimaev finished his UFC fights that stood out. The guy took no damage whatsoever and did whatever he wanted to his opponents. In his last win over Gerald Meerschaert, he showed that he can knock opponents out on the feet.

Despite the rise to stardom for Chimaev, I can’t make him my Breakout Fighter of the Year. To me, the UFC had one fighter who was already on the roster entering 2020, but this year he came into his own and took his game to another level.

UFC’s Breakout Fighter of the Year

To me, the UFC‘s 2020 Breakout Fighter of the Year is Kevin Holland (21-5). Holland was also on my shortlist for Fighter of the Year after the year that he had in the UFC during 2020.

Kevin Holland was submitted in his final UFC fight of 2019. The fighter who was labeled as “Big Mouth” by Dana White was entertaining, but you wondered what his ceiling truly was. We got a glimpse of that in 2020.

Holland fought an astonishing five times since May and he went a perfect 5-0. What’s also impressive is the fact that Holland finished four of his five fights. The most impressive finish coming at UFC 256.

Holland took on legend, Jacare Souza, on the PPV main card. After getting taken down early, Holland was able to knock Jacare out from the bottom to cap off his perfect 2020 inside the octagon.

Holland has gone from an entertaining mid-card level fighter to a serious contender in 2020. Considering where he was to where he is now, Kevin Holland is the clear choice for the UFC‘s Breakout Fighter of the Year in 2020.

Is Jacare Souza at risk of being cut after UFC 256?

Last weekend at UFC 256, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (26-9, 1 NC) returned to the middleweight division after a brief stop at light heavyweight in 2019. Jacare was taking on the surging Kevin Holland (21-5).

Holland had won four fights in a row in 2020, but he was looking for that signature UFC victory over Jacare. When the fight got started, things were going well for Jacare. Souza was able to catch a low kick and take Holland to the ground.

I personally predicted Jacare to submit Holland in this fight. When the fight got to the ground so quickly with both fighters dry, I figured it was bad news for Holland. However, it was quite the opposite.

Holland did a fantastic job of attacking from his back. His jiu jitsu looked slick and Jacare couldn’t get anything going. About 90 seconds into the round, Jacare landed some big shots that caused Holland to smile.

Out of no where, Holland whipped a shot from his back that hit Jacare in the forehead. Jacare was damaged by the shot and Holland got up to finish Jacare against the cage. It was the third straight UFC loss for Souza.

What’s next after UFC 256?

This was a really tough loss for Jacare Souza. At 41 years old, Jacare needed this win badly to keep his roster spot secure within the UFC. Right now, the promotion is going through an evaluation period where they are planning to make some serious cuts.

Yoel Romero was just released by the UFC a couple of weeks ago after fighting for the title in February. As mentioned, Souza is 41 years old and he’s 1-4 in his last five trips inside the octagon.

Given the current landscape of things, there might be a strong chance that we’ve seen the last of Jacare inside the UFC. For the record, I don’t believe that Jacare is done fighting, but I think the promotion might seriously look at cutting ties.

Souza fought the current UFC light heavyweight champion to a split decision a year ago. He’s definitely got something left in the tank, but if you’re a high earning veteran with no path towards the title, the promotion might part ways. Jacare would seemingly fall into that category.

Did illness prevent a Figueiredo finish at UFC 256?

This past Saturday at UFC 256, we were treated to an incredible flyweight title fight between Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) and Brandon Moreno (18-5-2). The two men engaged in an absolute war where neither man would back down.

Going into UFC 256, many people thought Moreno didn’t have much of a chance to win. The general thought was that he would be tougher than Alex Perez was for the champion, but Figueiredo should have been able to win pretty easily.

It was evident in the first few rounds that wasn’t going to be the case. Figueiredo dominated the first round of the fight for the most part blasting Moreno with massive shots. However, nothing appeared to seriously damage the challenger.

The UFC champion seemed focused but almost perplexed at times that Moreno wouldn’t go down. Throughout the fight there were momentum swings, but in the end, I had it 3-2 for Figueiredo on my scorecard.

However, with Figueiredo being docked a point, I had the UFC 256 main event a draw. Ultimately that is how the fight was called when two of the three judges scored it a draw while one still gave it to Figueiredo.

Hospital trip’s impact at UFC 256

After the fight was over, Figueiredo said in his post-fight interview that he had to go to the hospital the night prior to UFC 256 with stomach issues. He said that he didn’t feel 100%, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him.

This week, the champion expanded on that again saying through his manager that he would have finished Moreno at UFC 256. Figueiredo said to ESPN, “If I’m not sick, I knock him out or submit him in the first round, that’s a promise.”

The UFC champion has looked like a destroyer in 2020. However, this fight really shined a light on the fact that he can dig down deep and pull out a fight in the championship rounds. An important fight for a champion to go through.

However, it’s clear that he’s not happy with the performance. In all reality, I thought Figueiredo looked great on Saturday night. I just believe that Moreno is that tough and was able to take his shots.

Now, Figueiredo’s hospital trip and sickness could have played down his cardio. However, his weight cut could have also hurt his cardio. Either way, something depleted his gas tank a little.

Would that have changed the outcome? Maybe not considering he looked pretty fresh in the first round of their fight. I just believe that Moreno is tough as hell and wasn’t going to budge on Saturday night.

UFC Match Maker: Tony Ferguson – Paul Felder

Tony Ferguson, UFC

This past Saturday at UFC 256, Tony Ferguson (25-5) was looking to bounce back after his loss to Justin Gaethje earlier this year. El Cucuy was taking on Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) who had been surging heading into UFC 256 with seven straight wins.

I thought Ferguson would get back on track, but it proved to be another rough night for the former UFC interim lightweight champion. Oliveira completely dominated Ferguson and almost broke his arm in the first round.

Ferguson’s loss to Justin Gaethje was hard, but he had his moments in that fight. He was able to drop Justin Gaethje in the second round. However, Ferguson had no real bright spots at UFC 256. It was an extremely one-sided fight.

El Cucuy has now lost two straight while being dominated for most of those two fights. So what is next for Ferguson? Tony Ferguson is still one of the best in the world and his ranking shows that as he’s ranked fourth in the lightweight division.

The two men he’s lost to are two of the best in the world. The UFC is going to give Ferguson a high quality opponent in his next fight. I think I have an idea that works for Ferguson and the promotion.

UFC: Ferguson – Felder

I think that the UFC should pair Tony Ferguson up with Paul Felder (17-6). Like Ferguson, The Irish Dragon is coming off of two straight losses to guys inside the top seven at lightweight.

After Felder lost to Dan Hooker earlier this year, it looked like he wouldn’t fight again. However, he stepped in last minute at UFC Vegas 14 and he found the love for fighting again. He went five hard rounds with Rafael Dos Anjos.

Both Felder and Ferguson are fan favorites. Both are currently ranked inside the UFC‘s top seven and they both need a fight. This would be a tremendous matchup that would be fun, but it would also make sense for the division.

After dominating Tony Ferguson at UFC 256, what’s next for Charles Oliveira?

This past Saturday evening in the co-main event of UFC 256, Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) took on Tony Ferguson (25-5). Ferguson was looking to bounce back after his last loss while Oliveira was looking to continue his winning streak.

Heading into UFC 256, Oliveira had won seven fights in a row. However, it was the way he won those seven fights which stood out. Oliveira had finished all seven of his opponents leading into UFC 256.

Saturday night was the biggest test in the career of Charles Oliveira. With Oliveira, the questions never surrounded his talent. However, there had been times in his career where he came up short in the big fights.

Granted, a majority of those opportunities happened at featherweight. Oliveira is no longer depleting himself to make 145 pounds. Fighting at lightweight has really allowed Charles Oliveira to reach his prime inside the octagon.

That really showed at UFC 256. Oliveira completely dominated the former interim lightweight champion and nearly finished him in the first round. With the dominant victory, Oliveira made a huge leap in the rankings. 

What’s next after UFC 256?

With his victory at UFC 256, Oliveira went from seventh to third in the lightweight division. The only contenders ranked ahead of him at the moment are Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.

Poirier is scheduled to face Conor McGregor at UFC 257. Justin Gaethje is being rumored to face Michael Chandler in the co-main event of that card. Conventional wisdom said the winners of those two fights would face off for the title if Khabib Nurmagomedov stays retired.

If that happens, what’s next for Charles Oliveira? This is a tough question to answer at the moment. On one hand, Oliveira definitely deserves to be in the conversation for the next UFC title shot.

However, if the promotion goes with this four man style tournament, that leaves Oliveira as the odd man out. For the sake of this article, let’s say that the promotion books those four men up at UFC 257.

If the winners come out unscathed, I could see the UFC giving Oliveira the loser of one of the fights. However, if one of the winners is going to be out for some time, the promotion could give Oliveira a title shot against the other winner.

There are a few options for the promotion and their third ranked lightweight. I think no matter what, Oliveira will either be fighting for the title in his next fight or he will be fighting in a title eliminator.

What’s next for Ciryl Gane after his UFC 256 victory?

Ciryl Gane UFC

This past Saturday at UFC 256, heavyweights Ciryl Gane (7-0) and Junior Dos Santos (21-9) kicked off the PPV main card. It was the first fight of 2020 for the French prospect, Gane. He had several cancellations leading to UFC 256.

Gane is being looked at as a future title contender. He’s a former Muay Thai world champion and he just has the looks of a guy who the UFC would love to have break through in the heavyweight division.

During the fight on Saturday, Gane did a really good job of keeping JDS at range with his kicks. Gane would throw powerful leg kicks and kicks to the body that never let the former heavyweight champion get comfortable.

Dos Santos was winging power punches, however, nothing really got close to landing. In the second round of the fight, Gane really started to take over. About halfway through the round, Gane stepped forward with a jab that rocked JDS.

He followed up with a couple of brutal elbows that sent the former heavyweight champion to the mat. The referee called a stop to the action and Gane improved to 4-0 inside the UFC with his biggest win to date.

What’s next after UFC 256

This was the biggest test for Gane and he passed with flying colors. When the new rankings come out later today, I’m expecting to see the Frenchman inside the top ten of the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

So, what should the promotion do with Gane next? I think there is a very logical next opponent for Gane. That opponent would be the UFC‘s eighth ranked heavyweight, Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-5).

The UFC has tried to make this fight twice in 2020. Back in April, Gane had to pull out of the fight then in October, Abdurakhimov had to pull out of the matchup. Maybe the third time will be the charm for the promotion.

Given the way the rankings look, this would be the most logical next fight. I don’t see the need to rush Gane just yet towards the top tier of the heavyweight division. Let him get one more top ten win before rushing him to the UFC‘s top five.

Is Kevin Holland the UFC’s next star?

Kevin Holland

This past weekend at UFC 256, Kevin Holland (21-5) took on Jacare Souza (26-9, 1 NC) on the PPV main card. It was a big step up for Holland who was looking to finish off 2020 having gone 5-0 inside the octagon.

Holland was originally supposed to face Jack Hermansson a couple of weeks ago. However, he tested positive for COVID and the UFC moved him back to face Jacare. I personally thought that Jacare would be able to get him down and give him problems in their fight.

At UFC 256, the opening moments looked like I was going to be right. Jacare was able to catch a low kick from Holland in the opening seconds and take him down. Once on the ground, Jacare was supposed to have a massive advantage.

One of the things that makes Holland so marketable is his talking inside the octagon. Jacare had him down and blasted him with a couple of massive shots. To those shots, Holland said to Jacare, “Those are great Jacare. I had a dream about this!”

To that, Jacare smiled back at Holland. However, he wasn’t smiling for very long. From his back, Holland whipped a right hand that hit Jacare on the forehead. The shot dazed Jacare and Holland got up and blasted him with a few additional shots to close the show.

The UFC’s next star?

Kevin Holland has put himself on the map here in 2020. The great thing for the UFC is the guy is extremely marketable. He has an incredibly fun fighting style and the guy knows how to sell himself.

Not only is he entertaining while inside the octagon, he puts on a complete show from the walkout to the fight. At UFC 256 he was rapping to the security guard as they walked to the cage. Then proceeded to dance with Jacare before the fight started.

Kevin Holland is knocking on the door of stardom at the moment. The guy just has that it factor about him. He has everything you want in a fighter that you want to market and he’s down to fight anyone at anytime.

After he defeated Jacare, he called out Khamzat Chimaev for a fight this Saturday night. Of course that fight won’t happen, but you have to love the energy from Kevin Holland. I’m very excited to see what 2021 has in store for the UFC middleweight.

Brandon Moreno’s incredible journey culminated at UFC 256

This past Saturday at UFC 256, we got to witness the arguably greatest flyweight title fight in the history of the division. Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) and Brandon Moreno (18-5-2) went to war over five rounds.

Many people, including myself, believed that Moreno was a little out of his league entering UFC 256. I figured that Moreno would be more competitive than Alex Perez, but I didn’t think he would seriously challenge the champion, Figueiredo.

Boy was I wrong about that one. It was evident from the opening bell that Moreno was going to push the champion like no one has before. Figueiredo threw everything he had at Brandon Moreno at UFC 256.

Moreno ate power shots from the champion and just kept coming forward. He even took a massive shot to the groin which saw Figueiredo be docked a point which proved to be vital in the outcome of the fight.

Despite all of this, Moreno wouldn’t stop fighting at UFC 256. He kept pushing forward and throwing his own combinations. There were a couple of times throughout the fight where Figueiredo looked hurt and dejected because Moreno wouldn’t go away.

Moreno was searching to become the first Mexican born UFC champion on Saturday night. He fought with the Mexican warrior spirit on Saturday. In the end, the fight ended in a draw, but Moreno proved that he belonged.

Moreno’s UFC Journey

It’s been quite the journey for the UFC’s top flyweight contender. Back in 2016, Moreno was the lowest seed on The Ultimate Fighter’s 24th season. He was finished by Alexandre Pantoja in his first fight on the show.

He made his way into the UFC but was cut after he lost two consecutive fights. Moreno then went to LFA where he finished Maikel Perez which earned him a shot back into the big show.

After fighting Askar Askarov to a draw in his first fight back, Moreno went on to win three straight to earn himself the shot at UFC 256. Despite not getting his hand raised on Saturday, it was a shining moment for the flyweight that hails from Tijuana.

Dana White said after UFC 256 that Moreno would get a rematch with Figueiredo in 2021. Moreno has some work to do if he’s going to beat the champion. Had Figueiredo not been deducted a point, he would have won on Saturday.

Moreno is going to have to go back to the drawing board to figure out a game plan on how he can dethrone the flyweight king. It’s not going to be an easy thing to do, but if anyone’s capable of pulling it off, it’s Brandon Moreno.

What’s next for Junior Dos Santos after UFC 256?

This past Saturday at UFC 256, Junior Dos Santos (21-9) took on Ciryl Gane (7-0). The former champion entered Saturday on a three-fight losing streak, but more concerning, he had been finished in all three fights.

As the fight got started, Cigano was having a tough time getting inside on Gane. Gane kept the former UFC heavyweight champion at range with a steady kick attack. Whenever JDS would get close, he was throwing everything he had into shots.

It appeared that Dos Santos was just looking for one big knockout blow at UFC 256. He wasn’t putting together crisp boxing combinations, he was head hunting for a knockout. Granted, I figured that’s how he’d need to win, however, he wasn’t sharp in doing so.

After clearly losing the first round, things went really down hill for Dos Santos in the second round. Gane started picking up the pace a little and staggered Cigano with a stiff jab. Dos Santos turned away and Gane followed the former champion to the cage.

Once the fighters were along the fence, Gane landed some massive elbows that floored the former UFC champion. Follow up shots caused the fight to get stopped and Dos Santos had suffered his fourth straight loss all by KO or TKO.

What’s next after UFC 256?

Dos Santos protested after the fight at UFC 256 was over. JDS was angry telling the referee that the shot landed to the back of his head. The shot did catch a lot of the backside of his head, however, that was because of the way JDS was turning.

The shot was not intentional and had Dos Santos not been moving, it would’ve landed on the ear. Thus, the shot was legal and the former champion suffered another defeat. I think we’ve seen the last of JDS inside the octagon.

That pains me to say as someone who’s always been a massive fan of Junior Dos Santos. I’ve always been a fan and he’s arguably the nicest guy in the UFC. However, four straight KO or TKO losses doesn’t spell well for the former champion.

Dana White said in the post-fight press conference that JDS might be done with the UFC. Considering the roster cuts that are also occurring, I think JDS will be looking for a new home after this loss.

I don’t think Dos Santos will retire. He will likely move on to another promotion, but it’ll be interesting to see where he goes. If I had to take a guess, I would say that PFL would be the favorite to land the former champion.

Dana White says there will be an immediate rematch after UFC 256

UFC, Dana White

We got to witness arguably the greatest flyweight fight in the history of the division at UFC 256. Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) and Brandon Moreno (18-5-2) fought to a draw in what was an absolute war.

The champion, Figueiredo, was looked at as unstoppable heading into UFC 256. Figueiredo had looked like a destroyer and it was hard to imagine anyone giving him a tough fight at 125 pounds.

However, that didn’t intimidate Brandon Moreno at all. Moreno was willing to accept the challenge and he wasn’t going to back away no matter what the champion threw at him. The UFC champion threw everything he had at Moreno and Moreno wouldn’t back down.

The fight between the two men was an instant classic and might be the UFC‘s fight of the year. The fight saw Figueiredo land some incredibly big power shots, but Moreno kept coming despite them.

Moreno came on really strong in the middle rounds of the fight. In the middle of all of this, Figueiredo landed an accidental groin shot which put Moreno down for a few minutes. The referee took a point from the UFC champion and the two fought on.

I had the fight 2-2 going into the final round. Figueiredo really came on strong in the fifth round and I had it 3-2. However, the point made it a draw and that is how the judges ended up scoring the fight.

UFC President wants the rematch

After the fight was over, Dana White took to the podium at the post-fight press conference to give his thoughts. He said that there will definitely be a rematch between Figueiredo and Moreno after UFC 256.

It makes complete sense for the promotion given the way the fight went down and the result. Not only was the fight a classic, but we got no clarity because of the draw. Granted, most believe Figueiredo won three of the five rounds.

Nevertheless, Moreno had an incredible performance. There were not many out there that believed he could hang with the UFC champion. He proved tonight he can and it looks like were going to get an immediate rematch to see if he can do it again.