Over the next few days, Bloody Elbow is going to ask for your opinion on some of the best things that have happened in the MMA world over the course of 2019. There will be a total of eight different categories you’ll be asked to vote on. For the sake of simplicity we’re going to stick with high-level and relevant MMA stuff in these posts. While I’m sure there was a ludicrous knockout in an unscheduled MMA event at The Lumberyard strip club in Des Moines, or an insane pancreas lock submission on an obscure ZST! card in Japan, let’s just stick to stuff a lot of us have seen, okay? (If that spiel looked familiar, it’s because I’ve used the same one for nine years in a row. Originality? What originality? Also, is ZST! even a thing any more?)
It’s pretty simple. I’ll post 5-10 options in a category, you vote for what you think was the best. If you think I left something really important off my list, post it in the comments and we can add it to the poll if it’s deemed worthy. I can almost guarantee you won’t like all my suggestions, but narrowing down these lists is tough.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get onto the second poll - the biggest upset of 2019. As usual in MMA, you can never tell who is going to win even if you think you have a good idea. Here are some of the most unlikely outcomes of the year.
Anthony Pettis KOs Stephen Thompson, UFC Nashville
Showtime was a career lightweight who had even dabbled at featherweight. Wonderboy is a big, rangy welterweight. They’re both great strikers, but Thompson clearly came in with some advantages. After almost three rounds where Thompson was mostly in control, he got dropped and finished by Pettis out of nowhere.
Henry Cejudo stops T.J. Dillashaw, UFC Brooklyn
Dillashaw came down to 125 to try to become a champ champ, but Cejudo iced him in 32 seconds. Then Dillshaw tested positive for EPO anyway.
Kharma Worthy stops Devonte Smith, UFC 241
Smith was seen as a very bright prospect coming into this bout against the largely unknown Worthy. He had already picked up two TKO wins and a performance bonus in the UFC, while Worthy was more of a journeyman. Worthy has just fought outside the UFC three weeks before, and took this bout on just a few days of notice. But wouldn’t you know it, the 8-1 underdog came through and stopped Smith in the first round.
Manny Muro takes decision over Nick Newell, Bellator 232
Muro was a relative unknown. Newell couldn’t latch on to the UFC dream he had, but he looked like he could do some big things in Bellator. Newell, a very big favorite, put up a good fight but ultimately lost a split decision.
Kamaru Usman takes title from Tyron Woodley, UFC 235
Woodley was as dominant a champ as there was in the UFC. And Usman completely dismantled him, winning every round and getting two 50-44 scores to take the welterweight title.
Weili Zhang finishes Jessica Andrade quick, UFC Shenzhen
Zhang wasn’t a huge betting underdog coming in, but Andrade was expected to maul her first title challenger. Nope. Zhang stopped Andrade in 42 seconds to win the strawweight belt in front of her home country fans.
Timofey Nastyukhin stuns Eddie Alvarez, ONE Championship: A New Era
Alvarez came to ONE around the same time as Demetrious Johnson and was a heavy favorite to win their lightweight grand prix. Instead, Nastyukhin stopped The Underground King in the first round.
Henry Corrales KO’s Aaron Pico, Bellator 214
After dropping his MMA debut, uber-prospect Pico picked up four straight first-round TKO victories and looked to be realizing his vast potential. Corrales was on a winning streak as well, but was a huge underdog to Pico from a betting perspective. That didn’t matter though, as he flattened Pico with a punch and won in just 67 seconds.
Alexander Volkanovski shuts down Max Holloway, UFC 245
Another one where the odds don’t tell the whole story. Holloway had won 14 straight fights at 145 pounds and defended his title three times. He’s a human buzzsaw, and many expected him to eventually overwhelm Volkanovski with his cardio and volume punching. But it never happened. Volkanovski used a masterful kicking game and great strategy to make the fight one-sided and claim the featherweight strap.
Kai Asakura shocks Kyoji Horiguchi, Rizin 18
Horiguchi had been ridiculously dominant since leaving the UFC, picking up Rizin and Bellator gold. But Asakura stopped him with punches in just 67 seconds.
What was the biggest upset in MMA in 2019?
This poll is closed
Pettis stops Thompson
Cejudo beats Dillashaw
Worthy bests Smith
Muro edges Newell
Usman dominates Woodley
Zhang dethrones Andrade
Nastyukhin stuns Alvarez
Corrales KO’s Pico
Volkanovski shuts down Holloway
Asakura shocks The Gooch