MMA Ratings Podcast

January 7, 2020

MMA Year In Review: 2019's Top Performances

By Adam Martin

With 2019 over and done with, now is a good time to look back at some of the most memorable moments of the past year. Below are my picks for Fight of the Year, Knockout of the Year, Submission of the Year, Upset of the Year, and Comeback of the Year:

Fight of the Year: Israel Adesanya vs. Kelvin Gastelum, UFC 236

My pick for Fight of the Year goes to Adesanya and Gastelum's all-out war at UFC 236 for the interim UFC middleweight title. Adesanya was someone who had been viewed as a future champion ever since he got into the UFC, while Gastelum was a fighter who had always flown under the radar, but Gastelum wasn't taking any of that into consideration as he took the fight to Adesanya and gave him by far the toughest test of his career to date. The two went the full five rounds in a knock 'em down, drag 'em out war that left the audience applauding them. It was the kind of fight we needed to see Adesanya in to find out just how much heart he had, and it was the kind of fight that Gastelum shouldn't hang his head in shame about, as he did everything he could to win, but ultimately he just came up short.

Knockout of the Year: Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben Askren, UFC 239

In a year that saw him become a true superstar in MMA, Masvidal's flying knee over Askren at UFC 239 is an easy choice for Knockout of the Year. Not only did Masvidal break the record for fastest KO in UFC history at just five seconds, but he also became the first man to defeat Askren. Masvidal, along with Adesanya, became a bona-fide fighter of the year contender in 2019, and much of that has to do with this insane flying knee knockout that became a viral clip almost immediately. It was the kind of statement win that Masvidal really needed in his career, and now he's destined for even bigger things in 2020.

Submission of the Year: Ciryl Gane vs. Don'Tale Mayes, UFC Singapore

My pick for Submission of the Year is Ciryl Gane's heel hook over Don'Tale Mayes at UFC Singapore. It's extremely rare for heavyweight fights to end by submission, especially with a heel hook, a technique that just isn't that effective in modern mixed martial arts. Not only that, but Gane was able to get the submission late in the third round, which is also very rare. It was an incredible submission by an amazing prospect, as Gane looks like he will be a top heavyweight contender for years to come after going 3-0 in his rookie season inside the Octagon.

Upset of the Year: Tristan Connelly vs. Michel Pereira, UFC Vancouver

For the Upset of the Year, we go back to UFC Vancouver, where Tristan Connelly came out of nowhere to upset Michel Pereira. Not only did Connelly take this fight on super short notice, but he also did so up a weight class and against a fighter who missed weight on the scale. This fight was also in the running for Fight of the Year, as it was a back-and-forth brawl that featured a wide variety of wild and crazy techniques. Ultimately, though, Connelly was able to prevail, as he weathered the early storm of Pereira, took the fight to deep waters, and ground out a hard-fought decision.

Comeback of the Year: Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Alistair Overeem, UFC Washington, D.C.

The Comeback of the Year was undoubtedly Rozenstruik's last-second knockout over Overeem at UFC Washington D.C. Rozenstruik took the fight on short notice after filling for a grief-stricken Walt Harris in what was by far the biggest fight of his career to date. For the first four rounds it looked like Rozenstruik was going to lose a clear decision, but at 4:56 of the fifth and final round, he connected with a massive blow that knocked Overeem out and split his lip open. Rozenstruik set the record for the latest heavyweight knockout in UFC history, and he notched one of the latest finishes ever, regardless of weight class. It was an incredible win by Rozenstruik, who also sealed up the UFC Rookie of the Year award after going 4-0 inside the Octagon in his first year in the promotion.

2019 was a great year for MMA, and hopefully, 2020 will turn out to be even better. These fights and finishes represented above are just a few of the spectacular performances that the sport gave us, but there were many more worth highlighting. Whether these were your favorites or not, it's good to look back at the moments that gave fight fans something to talk about throughout the year.

For more 2019 Year In Review Analysis, click HERE.

UFC 236: Holloway vs. Poirier 2 took place April 13, 2019 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.

Click HERE for more UFC 236 Post-Fight Analysis

UFC 239: Jones vs. Santos took place July 6, 2019 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Click HERE for more UFC 239 Post-Fight Analysis

UFC on ESPN+ 16: Cowboy vs. Gaethje took place September 14, 2019 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Click HERE for more UFC on ESPN+ 16 Post-Fight Analysis

UFC on ESPN+ 20: Maia vs. Askren took place October 26, 2019 at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.

Click HERE for more UFC on ESPN+ 20 Post-Fight Analysis

UFC on ESPN 7: Overeem vs. Rozenstruik (formerly UFC on ESPN 7: Overeem vs. Harris) took place December 7, 2019 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

Click HERE for more UFC on ESPN 7 Post-Fight Analysis

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