In this three-part series, I will choose my top UFC men’s fighters of 2020, looking back over what they have achieved during the year. I will detail their fights and performances and explain why, in my opinion, they excelled during 2020.
1st: Kevin Holland
2020: 5-0 – four KO/TKOs, one split decision. Three Performance of the Night (POTN) bonuses. Now 8-2 in the UFC, 21-5 overall.
Age 28. American. Background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (black belt), kickboxing, and kung fu (second-degree black belt). #10 UFC Middleweight.
1: May – defeated Anthony Hernandez by TKO due to knees and punches 39 seconds into the first round on the prelims. The defeat was only the second of Hernandez’s career.
2: August – defeated UFC debutant Joaquin Buckley by TKO due to a punch that dropped Buckley, knocking his mouthpiece out in the process, 32 seconds into the final round on the prelims. This earned Holland his first POTN bonus of the year and was only the third loss of Buckley’s career.
Holland had originally been scheduled to face Trevin Giles the week before but Giles had fainted just before walking out so the fight with Buckley was quickly arranged.
3: September – defeated Darren Stewart by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) on the main card.
4: October – defeated UFC debutant, Charlie Ontiveros, by TKO due to a verbal submission after a slam, 2:39 into the first round on the main card, earning another POTN bonus. Ontiveros had taken the fight one week before the event as a replacement for Makhmud Muradov who had tested positive for COVID-19.
5: UFC 256 (December) – defeated Ronaldo Souza by KO due to punches from his back having been in the bottom position, 1:45 into the first round on the main card. This win against “Jacaré” earned Holland another POTN bonus and was a huge statement as Souza was returning to the middleweight division having last fought at light heavyweight against (now 205lbs champion) Jan Błachowicz in November 2019.
After Holland’s incredible year he now jointly holds the record for most UFC wins in a calendar year with five (along with Roger Huerta and Neil Magny) and is a top ten middleweight. “Trailblazer” already has a bout scheduled for this year and will be competing in his first UFC main event against #7 ranked Derek Brunson on March 20th.
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