2019 was a rollercoaster ride for the world of MMA, featuring plenty of ups and downs.
As the year draws to a close, BJPENN.com looks back on 10 of the biggest MMA stories of 2019, from the good to the bad to the downright ugly.
2019 wasnt the best year for some fighters, including the former bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw. In January 2019, he dropped down to 125 pounds to face flyweight champion Henry Cejudo. The decision didnt pay off for the 33-year old as Cejudo picked up a TKO win in less than a minute.
To add insult to injury, it was subsequently revealed that Dillashaw failed his drug test for their January bout. He tested positive for human erythropoietin (EPO), which is an injection-only performance-enhancing drug. As a result, he was stripped of his bantamweight belt, lost multiple sponsorship deals and was suspended from the UFC for two years.
2019 generated a string of anti-doping controversies including Nate Diaz allegedly beingflagged by USADA in the run-up to his UFC 244 fight, and Jon Jones testing positive for a banned substance metabolite for his UFC 235 bout against Anthony Smith.
In December 2019, USADA responded to this year-full of high-profile blunders by making major changes to their UFC anti-doping policies. They adjusted their leniency towards trace-level laboratory findings to attempt to separate intentional doping cases from contaminated supplements or accidental ingestion.
Another drop in the ocean that is MMAs never-ending anti-doping saga.
2019 served Weili Zhang well as she made history, becoming the UFCs first-ever Chinese champion.
At UFC Shenzhen in August, Zhang challenged the strawweight titleholder Jessica Andrade for the strawweight throne. The Chinese athlete had already accumulated 19 successive wins before fighting for the belt. In a shocking turn of events, the 30-year old unleashed a flurry of strikes on Andrade and sealed the TKO victory in 42 seconds of the first round.
Zhang received a herd of recognition from pros including Ronda Rousey and Dana White. Her dominant victory over Jessica Andrade reflected the rise of international fighting stars.
2019 has shown to be a great year for the sport on an international level. The UFC opened a new performance institute in Shanghai. Bellator has announced plans for rapid growth in the European market and is working closely with MMA coach, John Kavanagh to nurture European talent. Also ONE Championship conquered Japan with two blockbuster events in Tokyo.
The emergence of new competition for the UFC outside of the US borders is travelling full steam ahead into 2020 and should see more international events than ever before.
Arguably the most iconic MMA moment of 2019 was Jorge Masvidals infamous flying knee against Ben Askren during their UFC 239 bout.
The weeks leading up to the July bout were filled with insults and verbal exchanges from both fighters. Gamebred anticipated an early takedown attempt from the Olympic wrestler hed been matched up with. His predictions came true, as Askren went for an early takedown at the beginning of their fight.
Masvidal perfectly counteracted Askrens immediate takedown attempt with a flying knee. As soon as Masvidals leg connected with the face of Askren, his opponent crashed unconscious to the floor. The speedy exchange finished the fight as soon as it started and rewarded Masvidal a record-shattering 5-second first-round victory.
His show-stopping performance put an end to Askrens undefeated record. Not only did it destroy the unbeatable perception of the former welterweight champion, but it also changed the perception of Jorge Masvidal. After UFC 239, Gamebreds perception transformed from a streaking journeyman into one of the most deadly opponents in the welterweight division.
ONE Championships 100th show, which went down in Tokyo, Japan, featured Demetrious Johnson attempting to win the ONE Championship Flyweight World Grand Prix.
After beating Yuya Wakamatsu and Tatsumitsu Wada in the quarter and semifinals, Johnson positioned himself as a finalist in the Grand Prix final opposite Team Lakay stud Danny Kingad. Johnson delivered a masterful performance against his game opponent, utilizing his superior wrestling to accomplish a unanimous decision victory. In the process, he won the eight-man competition and broke Kingads six-fight win streak.
2019 was a busy year for Mighty Mouse as the Grand Prix format forced him to rack up three fights in a short period the first time hes done so since 2013.
By winning this ONE Championship Grand Prix, Johnson reaffirmed himself as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world perhaps the best outright and set himself up for a flyweight title fight with the champ Adriano Moraes.
For the first time in UFC history, a new belt was added that existed outside of traditional championships. The new belt was born out of a call out from Nate Diaz following his UFC 241 Antony Pettis victory, with which he targeted Jorge Masvidal. UFC President Dana White responded with the creation of the Baddest Motherf*cker Belt.
Masvidal and Diaz collided for the BMF title in the main event of UFC 244 in November. Due to a severe cut above Diazs eye, the fight was stopped somewhat anti-climatically after the third round. Gamebred was awarded the victory and the BMF title. Dana White revealed that the BMF belt was a one-off, but its greatness will go down in the UFC history books.
2019 was a great year for the current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya who made leaps and bounds in his MMA career. The undefeated star got off to a great start by defeating MMA royalty, Anderson Silva via unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 234 in February. He had the same success when he faced heavy hitter Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236. The Last Stylebender won his first five-round fight against Gastelum by unanimous decision, earning him the middleweight interim belt and placing him in prime position for a title shot against undisputed champ Robert Whittaker.
In the highly anticipated UFC 243 main event against Whittaker, the title challenger made his Octagon entrance in style. Accompanied by an entourage of dancers, Adesanya busted out moves worthy of a Michael Jackson music video. His Octagon performance also lived up to expectation, as Adesanya flattened Whittaker with a jaw-dropping knockout at 3:33 in the second round. This solidified the Nigerian-born Kiwis rise to the top of the UFC middleweight division.
The former UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta featherweight champion Cris Cyborg has had a career full of twists and turns. 2019 was no exception, as Cris Cyborg parted ways with the UFC and signed a new contract with Bellator.
After losing to Amanda Nunes by first-round TKO in their 2018 bout, tensions between the former champion and Dana White were at an all-time high. The UFC kingpin had taken aim at Cyborg for allegedly avoiding a Nunes rematch, a claim which Cyborg vehemently denies. Their media spats included Dana White mocking Cyborgs appearance and Cyborg posting tampered video footage of a conversation with White. Their disagreement culminated in Cyborg being released from the company after her last contractual fight against Felicia Spencer in July.
After considering her future as a free agent, the womens featherweight signed a lucrative new contract with Bellator. She is looking forward to a future full of new MMA opportunities, and first on the agenda is a 2020 bout against Bellator featherweight champion Julia Budd.
After announcing his retirement from MMA in March 2019, youd think it would be a quiet year for the Irish superstar Conor McGregor. Apparently not, as McGregor became embroiled in multiple media scandals. One of those stemmed from his punching an elderly man in a pub.
Footage surfaced of The Notorious sucker-punching a fellow patron after he allegedly refused to drink a shot of McGregors Proper No. 12 Irish Whiskey. The fighters other 2019 controversies include troubles include smashing a fans phone, an two accusations of sexual assault, reported by the New York Times.
More recently, McGregor has been in the headlines for a more favorable reason: a comeback fight with Donald Cerrone. Earlier this month, it was confirmed that he will be returning to the Octagon on January 18 to face Cerrone in a welterweight bout. Whether McGregor can defeat Cowboy remains to be seen, but McGregor remains undoubtedly one of the biggest stars in UFC history.
The widely renowned G.O.A.T hung up his MMA gloves once and for all in 2019. Georges St-Pierre announced his official retirement from the sport on the 21st February 2019 at a news conference in his native Montreal. The Canadian fighter exited the sport as the most dominant welterweight fighter of all time.
St-Pierre defended his 170-pound belt nine consecutive times between 2008 and 2013. He is tied with Michael Bisping for the second-most wins in UFC history (20), only a few behind hyper-active fighter Donald Cerrone (22). The Canadian superstar also became a dual division champion after submitting Michael Bisping in November, 2017 and claiming the middleweight belt.
The MMA legend managed to step away from the sport whilst remaining on top and solidifying his legacy as the welterweight G.O.A.T.
This article first appeared onBJPENN.comon 12/26/2019.
- Workers fear humans implanted with microchips will steal their jobs - CNN - September 18th, 2020
- 'I choose to be a cyborg': Why I implanted computer chips in my hands - The Conversation CA - September 18th, 2020
- Ray Fisher Reportedly Furious At WBs Low Offer To Return As Cyborg In The Flash - We Got This Covered - September 18th, 2020
- Workers Fear Cyborgs Will Steal Their Jobs By 2035 - CBS Sacramento - September 18th, 2020
- Mind over Matter: The man who turned himself into a cyborg to overcome ALS - CTech - September 18th, 2020
- Your thoughts can be displayed on this cyborg garment - ZDNet - September 18th, 2020
- Superman: Top 10 Villains Who Have Yet To Appear On The Big Screen - CBR - Comic Book Resources - September 18th, 2020
- Sleepy Cyborg Galley kicks off semester with virtual exhibit, Quaranzine - The Rice Thresher - September 18th, 2020
- The Flash movie could reunite the Justice League with Cyborg actor Ray Fisher in talks to join the cast - GamesRadar+ - September 8th, 2020
- Ray Fishers Cyborg May Appear in The Flash Despite Warner Bros. Drama - Screen Rant - September 8th, 2020
- Customised powerchair helps 'human-cyborg' on his inspiring journey to overcome MND - AT Today - September 8th, 2020
- New Wasteland 3 patch resolves issues with co-op and "beefs up" Polly and the Cyborg Chickens - GamesRadar+ - September 8th, 2020
- Justice League: The Biggest Unanswered Questions in the Snyder Cut Trailer - Screen Rant - September 8th, 2020
- As John Boyega And Ray Fisher Show, Actors Of Color Have Largely Not Been Given Their Due In Hollywoods Big Franchises - Forbes - September 8th, 2020
- Wasteland 3- Where to Find all Cyborg Chickens - Attack of the Fanboy - September 8th, 2020
- DCeased: Will An Army of [SPOILER] Save or Doom DC's Universe? - Screen Rant - September 8th, 2020
- Manga 'Ghost in the Shell,' Noh merged through VR technology - The Jakarta Post - Jakarta Post - September 8th, 2020
- The week in TV: I Hate Suzie; Peter: The Human Cyborg; A Suitable Boy and more review - The Guardian - September 4th, 2020
- Cable Almost Wiped Out an Alien Race - But He Didn't Finish the Job - CBR - Comic Book Resources - September 4th, 2020
- Alita: Battle Angel 2 Rodriguez spills the beans about the upcoming sci-fi! - The TeCake - September 4th, 2020
- MCU Fans Think 'Captain Marvel 2' Could be One of the Best Marvel Movies - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - September 4th, 2020
- UFC Sensation Sean O'Malley Just Made More Money Selling His Own Clothes Than He Did in 2 Years With Reebok - Sportscasting - August 10th, 2020
- DCeased Ignites a New Justice League Romance Between Batman and Wonder Woman - CBR - Comic Book Resources - August 10th, 2020
- Teen Titans Go!: 10 Hilariously Raunchy Jokes That Flew Over Our Heads - Screen Rant - August 10th, 2020
- Stargirl: How the DC TV Star Joined the New 52 Justice League - CBR - Comic Book Resources - August 10th, 2020
- DCeased Is Calling the Justice League's Biggest Bluff | CBR - CBR - Comic Book Resources - August 10th, 2020
- #ZackSnydersJL Is Trending on Twitter, and Ray Fisher Approves - CBR - Comic Book Resources - August 10th, 2020
- Teen Titans Go!: 10 Jokes That Only DC Comics Fans Will Understand - Screen Rant - August 10th, 2020
- This is how WWII, G.I. Joe and a decorated U.S. Marine shaped Transformers - We Are The Mighty - August 10th, 2020
- The Reverse-Flash WON Flashpoint in DC's Dark Multiverse - Screen Rant - August 10th, 2020
- Opinion: The Most Biased Commentary in UFC History - Sherdog.com - August 10th, 2020
- All the premieres of the week on HBO: Robot Chicken and A Perfect Plan | Entertainment - Explica - August 10th, 2020
- Star Trek: Lower Decks Defies Current Trek with Laughs and Fun - 25YearsLaterSite.com - August 10th, 2020
- The Top 10 Superman Suits In Film & TV - Heroic Hollywood - August 10th, 2020
- Ryan Reynolds eviscerates 'Green Lantern' and teases the Snyder Cut in the viral Reynolds Cut of his superhero bomb - Yahoo Sports - August 10th, 2020
- You've beaten Half-Life: Alyx, now what? More great VR games to try - GameCrate - August 10th, 2020
- Star Wars: A Tech Version of the Force Exists - But It Sucks - CBR - Comic Book Resources - August 10th, 2020
- Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies (That Aren't About Aliens), According To IMDb - Screen Rant - August 10th, 2020
- The Flash movie: know details here - TheNationRoar - TheNationRoar - August 10th, 2020
- Katie Taylor open to fight with former UFC champion Cris Cyborg - Pundit Arena - August 9th, 2020
- Nelson Cruz has the mask needed to help us take down all the robot cyborgs (Video) - FanSided - August 9th, 2020
- Canadian Julia (The Jewel) Budd to fight Jessy Miele in Bellator 244 co-main event - Vancouver Courier - August 9th, 2020
- Teen Titans Go!: The 5 Best (& 5 Worst) Episodes, According To IMDb - Screen Rant - August 9th, 2020
- Cyborg Actor Ray Fisher 'Will Not Relent' When Speaking Out About Joss Whedon and Producers - Epicstream - August 9th, 2020
- Heart of America Library News - ThePierceCountyTribune.com | Rugby, Pierce County and North Dakota news, sports and information - Pierce County... - August 9th, 2020
- To give myself a vacation, I sent my phone on a trip - The Boston Globe - August 9th, 2020
- 10 New Things You Need To Know About The Flash Movie - Animated Times - August 9th, 2020
- According to Hofmann: Sage against the machine | According To Hofmann - Uniontown Herald Standard - August 9th, 2020
- Ghost In The Shell: 10 Quotes From The Show That Will Stay With Us Forever - Screen Rant - August 8th, 2020
- This Day in Horror History: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE was released in 1987 - Dread Central - August 8th, 2020
- 10 Quotes From The Show That Will Stay With Us Forever - KYR News - August 8th, 2020
- Hellpoint is a jerk to the player, and that's the point - Polygon - August 7th, 2020
- Suicide Squad for PS5 and PC: Everything you need to know - Up News Info - August 7th, 2020
- Exclusive Teen Titans Go! To Camp: Review and Interview with Sholly Fisch - GeekDad - August 7th, 2020
- Doom Patrol Recap: The Living Years - Vulture - August 6th, 2020
- Justice League: Ray Fisher 'Will Not Relent' Against Joss Whedon, Geoff Johns and Jon Berg - CBR - Comic Book Resources - August 6th, 2020
- In MMA Theres Just More Exposure Than In Womens Boxing- Claressa Shields Speaks Out On Womens Boxing - Essentially Sports - August 6th, 2020
- Jiro Kuwata, the Creator of 8 Man and the Batman Manga, Has Died - CBR - Comic Book Resources - August 6th, 2020
- A Doom Patrol Hero Brings Another Piece of Watchmen Into the DC Universe - CBR - Comic Book Resources - August 6th, 2020
- 10 Sith Lords That Undoubtedly Took From Darth Vader | ScreenRant - Screen Rant - August 6th, 2020
- Where to start watching Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Season 2's Samson and Delilah. - Slate - August 6th, 2020
- To the Moon and Back with Sheyene Gerardi, kicks off its first season with space, rockets and cyborgs. - Press Release - Digital Journal - August 6th, 2020
- Enjin Partners with SwissBorg and 8 Game Studios to Usher in the Era of Blockchain-Powered Cross-Game Events - BTCMANAGER - August 6th, 2020
- Jiro Kuwata, Batmanga and 8 Man Creator, Dead at 85 - Multiversity Comics - August 6th, 2020
- Intense and Addictive Hit Amazon Chrome The Series in the Pipeline with Episode 2 for August 30 Release - Press Release - Digital Journal - August 3rd, 2020
- Holly Holm Defends Her Many Chances to Earn a UFC Title: 'There's a Reason' - Sportscasting - August 3rd, 2020
- John Kavanagh and fiancee Orlagh Hunter welcome first child as Conor McGregors coach declares the champ is h - The Irish Sun - August 3rd, 2020
- Augusts Filmmaker of the Month: Park Chan-wook - The Spool - August 3rd, 2020
- The Terminator Is a Subtly Subversive Slasher - The Escapist - August 3rd, 2020
- Injustice's Most Heartbreaking Death Is... Jim Gordon | CBR - CBR - Comic Book Resources - August 3rd, 2020
- Cyborg - Wikipedia - August 2nd, 2020
- Cyborg (1989) - IMDb - August 2nd, 2020
- Cyborg | DC - August 2nd, 2020
- Cyborg (comics) - Wikipedia - August 2nd, 2020
- Victor Stone (New Earth) | DC Database | Fandom - August 2nd, 2020
- 'A Late Chrysanthemum': A short story collection full of pathos and maturity - The Japan Times - August 2nd, 2020
- DCEU Cyborg Wants TV Crossover Better Than The Flash In Crisis - Screen Rant - August 1st, 2020
- 'Teen Titans Go!' Hits Shelves With a Camp-y Adventure - TVInsider - August 1st, 2020
- Ray Fisher May Be Written Out Of The Flash Now - We Got This Covered - August 1st, 2020
- Cable Just Became the Most Wanted Man in the Marvel Universe - CBR - Comic Book Resources - August 1st, 2020