2020 changed into a wild 300 and sixty five days for MMA, that appears to find it irresistible lasted a lifetime. With the total action that took position over the 300 and sixty five days, it’s laborious to be wide awake what took position. This series looks to serve out with that, providing an define on what took place in every weight class, and a comprise a examine what we are able to expect to arrive in 2021.
2020 changed into a 300 and sixty five days of transition for the bantamweight division because the UFC, Bellator, and Rizin all saw the crowning of unusual 135-pound champions. The UFC critically felt in flux because the champion before the entirety of the 300 and sixty five days, Henry Cejudo vacated his title and retired from the game. Within the aftermath, Petr Yan claimed the vacated title with a take over Jose Aldo at UFC 251 to restore some hierarchy, even supposing many if truth be told feel that Aljamain Superior is the right kind uncrowned champion of the division.
Meanwhile, over in Bellator, the realm’s No. 2 MMA organization at last bought around to crowning a champion after stripping Kyoji Horiguchi of that title last 300 and sixty five days due to the inactiveness. Juan Archuleta won the title after a vivid 5-spherical battle with Patchy Combine at Bellator 246. And in Rizin, Kai Asakura claimed the title Manel Kape vacated when he signed with the UFC, on the opposite hand, Asakura’s reign changed into short-lived as he lost the belt on Contemporary Year’s Eve to none rather than Horiguchi.
It wasn’t simply unusual champions for the bantamweight division though. All along the rankings, contenders rose and announced themselves, whereas aging veterans appear to comprise at last worn out. Pedro Munhoz, Seize Font, Merab Dvalishvili, Marlon Vera, and Sean O’Malley all began making noise within the UFC’s loaded 135-pound division, and pick to be key gamers transferring forward.
Admire Joseph Benavidez at flyweight, 2020 changed into a 300 and sixty five days to neglect for Marlon Moraes. The aged bantamweight title challenger went 0-2 within the UFC, getting knocked out by Cory Sandhagen and Seize Font. Moraes’ chin looks to comprise abandoned him, and no matter being handiest 32 years frail, at this point it’s sophisticated to mediate he rights the ship. Bantamweight is handiest getting younger and further hostile, and it appears that evidently the “Magic” could maybe also simply be long previous.
Colby Covington could maybe call himself “Chaos” but that title extra aptly describes Henry Cejudo. First, no matter being champion of 1 of the deepest divisions within the game, Cejudo changed into actively disinterested in defending his title towards the tip contenders. In its place, Cejudo attempted to protect towards Jose Aldo, and when that battle had to be scratched, he then fought Dominick Cruz. Both Aldo and Cruz are legends of the game, but neither were prime-contenders within the division. Then, after walking thru Cruz, Cejudo retired, leaving a whole fustercluck on the serve of him.
In Cejudo’s absence, the UFC booked Petr Yan vs. Aldo for causes that composed boggle the mind and as an alternate made Aljamain Superior face Cory Sandhagen, ostensibly for the next title shot. Nonetheless, after Superior obliterated Sandhagen, the UFC composed spent months dragging their toes reserving Superior vs. Yan, no matter each and each parties and the total fans clearly attempting it. Sooner or later, they did space it up but because it took goodbye, visa complications steer clear off Yan from making the bout. All in all, the UFC royally mismanaged one of their finest divisions in 2020, but so righteous is bantamweight that nobody even remembers.
The MVP of a division is now not totally a ask of “Who’s the finest fighter within the division?” In its place, it looks at who equipped the most entertainment within the division over the route of the 300 and sixty five days, take or lose.
Opponents changed into steep within the bantamweight division this 300 and sixty five days. Kyler Philips handiest fought twice in 2020 but each and each times earned Performance of the Evening honors. Sean O’Malley fought thrice this previous 300 and sixty five days, turning in two Performance of the Evening bonuses and then getting knocked out in his third battle, all whereas stirring issues up with prime bantamweights. Then there’s Naoki Inoue over in Rizin who bought three pleasing wins, two by first-spherical submission. Nonetheless if truth be told, it is a two horse lunge between Kai Asakura and Brian Kelleher.
Kelleher fought four times in 2020 (though one changed into at featherweight) and earned performance bonuses in three of them. Meanwhile, Asakura fought four times in 2020 (including an exhibition bout) and delivered two first-spherical soccer kick knockouts and a 24-second submission in his three wins, and then a short KO loss to Horiguchi. The incompatibility between the two if truth be told boils all the manner down to the loss, with Kelleher’s battle towards Merab Dvalishvili providing much less entertainment price than Asakura’s rematch with Horguchi. Within the tip, no fighter equipped extra bang to your buck this 300 and sixty five days than Kai Asakura.
Obliging Mentions: Merab Dvalishvili, Juan Archuleta, Nate Maness, Casey Kenney
Kyoji Horiguchi KOs Kai Asakura with punches, Rizin 26
Juan Archuleta wins unanimous resolution over Patchy Combine, Bellator 246
Brian Kelleher submits Ode Osbourne with a guillotine choke, UFC 246
Kai Asakura KOs Hiromasa Ougikubo with a knee and soccer kicks, Rizin 23
Kai Asakura KOs Shoji Maruyama with punches and soccer kicks, Rizin 24
Aljamain Superior submits Cory Sandhagen with a rear-naked choke, UFC 250
Victor Henry KOs Masanori Kanehara with punches, Rizin 21
Kenji Kato KOs Erson Yamamoto with punches, Rizin 22
Naoki Inoue submits Yuki Motoya with a rear-naked choked, Rizin 26
Sean O’Malley KOs Jose Alberto Quinonez, UFC 248
Sean O’Malley KOs Eddie Wineland with a punch, UFC 250
Davey Grant KOs Martin Day with a punch, UFC 251
Randy Costa KOs Crawl Newson with a head kick, UFC Vegas 11
Miles Johns KOs Kevin Natividad with a punch, UFC Vegas 12
Adrian Yanez KOs Victor Rodriguez with a head kick, UFC Vegas 12
As 2020 changed into a 300 and sixty five days of transition for the bantamweight division, 2021 figures to be a showcase 300 and sixty five days for 135-pounders internationally. On the UFC front, Petr Yan has a possible Fight of the Year with Aljamain Superior within the offing, and following that, the winner can seemingly expect to face the winner of Cory Sandhagen vs. Frankie Edgar, with so a lot of different rising contenders ready within the wings. Start air the UFC, Bellator has a ready-made challenger for newly crowned champion Juan Archuleta in Sergio Pettis, or maybe one other co-promotion with Rizin and Kyoji Horiguchi. If now not that for Horiguchi, there might be all the time a trilogy match with Asakura or, extra seemingly, a battle with Naoki Inoue.
In immediate, the darling division of hardcore MMA fans is coming into 2021 with a preference of marquee matchups already space in motion and, with handiest extra replace coming, is at chance of live one of the significant crucial most neatly-liked divisions within the game.