Okay, this one right here means so much more to me than any other award. Fight of the Year is cool and all but that is just one fight.
Kevin Holland went 5-0. He beat some tough guys too.
Deiveson Figueredo was 3-0-1 with 3 championship finishes and boy did he come close to putting Brandon Moreno away but the Assassin Baby proved he belongs firmly in the top five of the UFC Flyweight Division.
Neil Magny wasn’t able to get any finishes in 2020 but that isn’t really his game either. Neil doesn’t have a lot of power in his hands or feet so he does his best Haitian Dhalsim and go go gadgets his legs are arms to poke his opponents.
Lately, he has been employing a grinding wrestling style where he uses his long limbs to trap and tie up those of his opponents and he chips away. He strikes just enough to stay in this awkward position with his opponent’s leg trapped in between his own.
It is more frustrating than it is damaging but even more effective than that.
Merab Dvalishvili, well, according to @numbersmma Instagram page, scored nearly 5% of all the takedowns completed in the UFC in 2020.
To put this into some kind of perspective, Curtis Blaydes ranked second in takedowns completed inside the Octagon in 2020 with 14. Merab had 27.
Several of those came against a guy I would have probably had on this list but he came up short against the Georgian. Casey Kenney is an outstanding fighter on the rise in the UFC who would have been 4-0 this year with a win over Merab.
And last but certainly not the least powerful, Polish superstar Jan Blachowicz just keeps winning fights and nobody’s respect. Versus Anderson, Reyes, and Rockhold, he was at least a (+220) underdog and he smoked them all.
He is like a modern day Rodney Dangerfield, this guy.
I think it is safe to say that Kevin Holland is the favorite heading into this little awards competition. The only thing that would be holding Kev back is his level of competition but his last performance of 2020 against Jacare, though…
Have you ever seen anything like that in your life?! I guess Nike Price did it with a hammer fist but Holland did this to Ronaldo Jacare Souza, from Manaus, Brazil. The ten time world champion in BJJ who specialized in top game pressure and submissions didn’t look like he wanted to advance position.
It didn’t look like he was even comfortable sitting in Kevin’s open guard. I picked Jacare in that fight because I thought he would take Kevin down and he was 2 for 2 in the first round before Holland pops him from his butt then his knee then he stands and finishes the job.
Unbelievable stuff from The Trailblazer. Just 3-2 inside the Octagon heading into 2020, Kevin Holland is the only fighter to win 5 times this year.
Let’s break down each win and assign it some worth.
Knee to the body KO of Anthony “Fluffy” Hernandez
- Fluffy is just that. He is soft to the body and Kevin took full advantage of that early on. You have to give him credit for seeing the weakness and attacking it early and often.
- Hernandez is 1-2 in the UFC and possibly a fringe talent who can win 50% of the time at this level
TKO over Joaquin Buckley.
- Yes, that Joaquin Buckley who threw the jump spinning back kick to the face of Impa Kasanganay ending his night and elating fans around the world. Kev was in control for most of this fight and always in danger considering Buckley’s power but you would never know it.
- Holland remained relaxed in there even against a much stronger and more powerful opponent and it showed when he dropped him with a straight right in the 3rd round.
Split Decision over Darren Stewart
- This was Kevin Holland’s most underwhelming performance of 2020. I guess he had to have one bad fight out of 5. It was the only time he went to the judges’ scorecards all year.
- Stewart took him down and controlled him for the entire 3rd round but I believe Holland knew he was up 2-0 going into the final stanza.
TKO slam over Charlie Ontiveros
- Charlie who? The slam was wicked, man, Ontiveros is not UFC level but Holland did what he was supposed to do and got him out of there in 1.
KO over Jacare Souza
- I described this one already. My goodness what a man Kevin Holland is. He is dangerous from any and everywhere.
The hairdresser from Brazil still has just one loss but it was the draw he just got on his record that may keep Deiveson from winning the Fighter of the Year. I told you that Kevin Holland was the favorite and I guess he should be but he hasn’t been winning title fights like this guy.
Deiveson Figueredo has brought new life to the UFC’s Flyweight Division. Once thought of as a lost division in the UFC, the Flyweights are back and the show that Figgy and Moreno put on just a couple of weeks ago undoubtedly created some Flyweight fans for life.
I remember my dad telling me when I was a kid that the heavyweight boxers can be really boring. They hug and slug but the little guys, then go hard for the entire fight.
Much like the boxers, MMA fighters of 125, 135, and 145 can go all night and many times do.
One thing about Deiveson Figueredo is that he is probably the biggest 125er on the UFC roster and it’s almost impossible for him to have 5 round endurance. He sure does try, though.
Let’s look at his fights from 2020.
TKO win over Joe Benavidez
- This was for the belt or at least it should have been for the belt because Figgy didn’t make weight. That has to count against him for the Fighter of the Year “Voting”.
- Either way, easy win for Deiveson
Rear naked choke victory over Joe Benavidez
- The second fight didn’t do very differently. I think Joseph is compromised in there with his chin and it showed both times against Figueredo.
- Deiveson just finished him with a choke this time instead of more punching.
Alex Perez Guillotine win
- First round, he snatched up that neck. Perez has the wrestling so he thought he would use it but instead he fell victim to a horizontal hanging from the champ
- We picked Fig by finish here
Draw with Brandon Moreno
- Figueredo was a large favorite coming into this fight and we took the over 2.5 rounds as well as Fig to win by decision for a 5 to 1 payout.
- The ref kinda screwed everything up for us and Figueredo’s quest for 4-0 when he deducted a point for an errant foot to the cajones of the Mexican.
I couldn’t find very many Neil Magny highlights on Youtube. I guess he just doesn’t have that many. His style now, though, is scary. Not in the slightest way of concussive scary or even strangulation scary but even worse than that!
What could be worse than being beat or choked unconscious in a fight? Well, if you’re a fighter who loves nothing more than to do just that and someone is simply holding you down actively avoiding the fight within the fight and you can’t stop him?!
That is infuriating! That is one of the biggest reasons I was turned off to fighting in MMA. I had a couple smokers. I didn’t have much BJJ or any wrestling at that point but I won the fights that stayed standing and when we hit the mat, I tried to stay alive but got subbed.
That was fine by me. What I saw happen to a lot of others whether it be my teammates or they were the perpetrators, I was seeing some real lay and pray action that led to some easy wins. We had 3 minute rounds in Virginia ammy rules most of the time.
Vegas, though, or actually all of Nevada only has 2 minute rounds for ammy mixed martial arts competitions. That just isn’t enough. The better wrestler circles for 20-30 seconds and clinches for another 20. Then, gets the takedown and has 20 seconds of top control.
Wow, he dominated…Ugh. There is nothing worse than a guy who doesn’t care about finishes. He just wants to hold you there and he doesn’t even really want to hit you, only just enough so that the referee won’t stand you guys up.
Ranting because it sucks to fight these types of fighters because not only do you most likely lose, you don’t even get to fight! With that being said, as a bettor, these are the type of fighters that you love, adore, and cherish.
He has won 16 of his previous 20 fights inside of the Octagon. There aren’t too many guys or gals on the roster that can say that. Magny usually has trouble with the fast athletic power strikers.
This is mostly because he is a slow twitch grinder whose limbs are so incredibly long, it’s almost impossible for him to be fast. When Neil has those powerful guys in front of him who have a stronger center of gravity being shorter and stockier, he gets pushed back and when he is close to the fence, they unload.
That is when he is at his weakest because he can’t use his range, his takedowns, or his dominant clinch. What Neil has been able to do in 2020 was switch up his game to be less passive.
He isn’t aggressive in that he is always hunting for the knockout. It is more like he is aggressively searching for the position dominant in the clinch with his opponent’s back up against the cage and from there, getting the trip takedown with his advantageous levers.
His competition level hasn’t been top notch this year but Neil has been entirely dominant.
Unanimous decision win over Li Jingliang
- The Chinese star hit Neil just 16 times in this fight
- Magny cruised to victory
Unanimous decision win over Rocco Martin
- Tough opponent Rocco is although he hasn’t been able to get over the hump himself but not an easy guy to fight for any style
- Neil was only hit 37 times in this fight to get the win
Unanimous decision win over Robbie Lawler
- This one was cake for Magny. Takedown to ultimate control trapping limbs Dagestani style and that was a wrap!
- He was only hit 26 times in this fight.
- 79 times in his 3 fights this year.
Georgia…Georgia…Merab Dvalishvili is leading the way for Team Georgia in the UFC and boy did this guy have a solid year.
After losing his first two UFC bouts to Frankie Saenz and Ricky Simon, Merab Dvalishvili has won 5 straight including 3 fights in 2020. Dvalishvili is a guy who is going to take you down over and over again until you get frustrated.
I say that because he isn’t a submission or ground and pound kind of guy. He likes the cardio, the grind, putting a pace on his opponents, and grappling them to the point of exhaustion and/or quitting on themselves.
I don’t think Merab is quite top five level but he can surely beat anyone in the top five on any given day because of his skill set. Here’s a guy who you know is going to fight for your money. He comes forward, comes forward some more, and comes forward again only to take you down, again.
Let’s look at his fights this year.
Unanimous decision over Casey Kenney
- Kenney is a great fighter with a strong wrestling base. Merab took him down 12 times
Unanimous decision over Gustavo Lopez
- Lopez was a last minute replacement and not on the UFC roster before he got the call for this fight. The reason he got the call is because everyone else turned down the fight.
- Gustavo fought well but was taken down 13 times in defeat.
Unanimous decision over John Dodson
- I know some people that were betting Dodson in this fight thinking that the ninja turtle was going to catch the Georgian rushing in.
- Merab only got him down twice but his pressure was more than enough to get him the win on the judges’ scorecards
Everyone still feels like Jon Jones is the champ and he kinda is. I hate it too. Jon can “vacate” the belt as he has before but even when DC had it, was it really his?
Jon beat him before and has never lost. He likes to chime in and remind everyone that he could just go back down to 205 and take the belt whenever he wants it.
I’m not buying that at all. I think JJ was a little worried about the speed/power combination from a lot of light heavyweights that he wouldn’t have to deal with north of the 205 border.
The Pole, Blachowicz, has won 8 of his last 9 UFC fights including 4 straight.
He only has a TKO loss to Thiago Santos sandwiched in there but doesn’t everybody nowadays. Thiago has fought in a couple of different weight classes.
Jan did win the world title like Figueredo but Blacho only fought two times. They were both outstanding and quite surprising performances, though.
1st Round KO over Corey Anderson
- Starched em early. Anderson is kind of overrated.
2nd Round TKO over Dominick Reyes
- People were already crowning the former college football player as the new champion before Jan made him look silly
- Blachowicz is for real and he showed it against the faster and more athletic Dom Reyes
Here is every submission in the UFC for Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira.
The man is awesome, no? I just wish he would have fought more than he did and even though he made Tony Ferguson look that bad, I think it was already over for Fergy. He will never be the same after his fight with Justin Gaethje and I think the MMA world is starting to realize that.
After going 3-0 in both 2018 and again in 2019, Charles took just two fights in 2020.
3rd Round Guillotine over Kevin Lee
- Charles was dominating this fight from start to finish on the feet and on the mat. He is on another level than Kevin Lee
Unanimous decision win over Tony Ferguson
- This is the fight where most MMA fans finally started to realize that Charles Oliveira is a threat to the world title.
- He dominated Tony Ferguson everywhere and made the 10th Planet Black Belt look completely inferior on the mat
Fighter of the Year
Compiling everything, it has to be Kevin The Trailblazer Holland. He won more fights than anyone this year and he didn’t lose at all.
Yes, the Charlie Ontiveros fight was eh because of a weak opponent but the finish was filthy and not one you will forget anytime soon.
His knocking out of Ronaldo Jacare Souza from his back a couple of weeks ago just sealed it for me.
Kevin Holland is now going to be fighting some of the best guys in the world in 2021. The sky is truly the limit for this kid.
He says he wants Derek Brunson next and even though we have been hugging all up on Holland for a while now, I might have to take Derek in this one. His takedowns, his blast double leg, are second to none in the UFC.
Brunson has also been fighting better than ever lately and will be bringing just as much heat from top position as Kev can dish from his butt, or at least I think so. Brunson isn’t Jacare, though, aging and slow. He is still very fast and explosive at the age of 36. He will be 37 on the 4th of January, though, so the age differential is something to take into account for this fight. Kev will be more than 10 years younger. In a 3 round fight in a small Octagon, I think Derek Brunson can take Holland to the cards for a points win.
He is (+145) right now. Brave callout by Kevin Holland but Derek Brunson is fighting like the best version of himself. I’m going with the dog here.
But not to leave on a negative note for Holland who earned his Fighter of the Year status by being the true definition of a fighter-anytime, anyone, any place.
PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!