2020 was a wild yr for MMA, that feels prefer it lasted a lifetime. With all of the motion that passed off over the yr, it’s exhausting to recollect what passed off. This sequence appears to assist out with that, offering an summary on what occurred in every weight class, and a have a look at what we will count on to come back in 2021.
I’m gonna shoot you straight right here, 2020 was not a superb yr for the ladies’s bantamweight division. There simply wasn’t a ton of exercise. UFC champion Amanda Nunes solely fought as soon as in 2020 and that was to defend her featherweight title. Bellator doesn’t have a girls’s bantamweight division in any respect. However there was one other group that did one thing superior: Invicta FC.
In 2019, Sarah Kaufman vacated the Invicta bantamweight title to signal with the PFL and so to crown a brand new champion in 2020, Invicta put collectively a battle between Julija Stoliarenko and Lisa Verzosa for the vacant belt at Invicta FC: Phoenix Collection 3. That battle ended up being one of the absolute best fights of the entire year however it wasn’t simply the stellar predominant occasion that made Phoenix Collection 3 so good, it was that Invicta introduced again the one-night event!
At Phoenix Collection 3, Invicta held a one-night bantamweight event that includes seven whole event bouts and two reserve bouts. To adapt to fee guidelines, the quarterfinal and semi-final event bouts had been restricted to at least one spherical, and the ultimate bout was a three-rounder. Whereas these restrictions took some shine off the occasion general as virtually each battle went to resolution, it additionally meant that each minute of each battle was severely vital and that added drama to the entire thing. Then if you add in that the occasion as an entire featured open scoring (for the non-tournament bouts that had been longer than one spherical), Invicta actually stole the present in 2020.
The Dangerous and The Ugly
As talked about above, on the entire 2020 was a horrible yr for the bantamweight division largely as a result of so few fights really passed off in it. Within the UFC there have been solely 16 girls’s bantamweight fights all yr lengthy, with the highest ten of the division solely competing seven occasions whole. To make issues worse, not a type of 16 fights yielded any Efficiency of Struggle of the Night time awards. To place that in context, the boys’s bantamweight division had almost that many fights happen earlier than COVID-19 hit and totaled 36 Struggle Night time bonuses on the yr. These are tough, tough numbers to contemplate.
Realistically, not each division goes to be nearly as good as males’s bantamweight, however we aren’t far faraway from when the ladies’s 135-pound division was the marquee girls’s division within the sport! The highest of the division nonetheless has huge names and there are some younger prospects arising at 135, however the UFC appears to have let the division fall by the wayside, regardless of it being championed by the best feminine fighter of all-time.
For a division to have any sort of curiosity, it’s important to preserve placing on fights at a constant clip. Not each division goes to be thrilling on a regular basis, however should you don’t give them an opportunity then they are going to by no means be thrilling. The UFC has dropped the ball with 135 for a while now and in 2020, these chickens got here house to roost.
The MVP of a division isn’t just a query of “Who’s the most effective fighter within the division?” As an alternative, it appears at who offered probably the most leisure within the division over the course of the yr, win or lose.
As you may need a guess, a yr which solely featured 16 divisional bouts contained in the UFC and never that many extra exterior of it didn’t supply many wonderful MVP candidates. There was nonetheless one fighter who bucked the pattern of not competing in 2020 and that was Sijara Eubanks. Although her report in 2020 was middling, the one-time would-be title challenger competed 4 occasions, making her chargeable for actually 1 / 4 of all girls’s bantamweight fights within the UFC final yr.
Eubanks began the yr out robust, profitable good selections over Sarah Moras and Julia Avila however she then faltered in back-to-back fights towards Ketlen Vieira and Pannie Kianzad. Nonetheless, altogether Eubanks offered followers with one hour of high quality battle time in 2020 and although there’s a first rate argument that Julija Stoliarenko deserves to win this award for her Struggle of the 12 months contender alone, finally Eubanks ought to be rewarded for competing as typically as she did in a yr the place few did so in any respect.
Julija Stoliarenko and Lisa Verzosa put on a Fight of the Year contender, Invicta FC: Phoenix Collection 3
Sadly for the bantamweights, 2021 may not be an ideal yr both.
Lately we’ve seen bantamweight expertise abandon the division to maneuver right down to flyweight and the UFC has not executed a superb job of bringing in new expertise to bolster the division. Positive, there are some contenders gaining floor like Pannie Kianzad and Macy Chiasson however presently the division appears to have a clearly outlined pecking order, with champion Amanda Nunes firmly entrenched on the prime. Issues will most likely enhance considerably in 2021 as Nunes will defend her featherweight title in March after which doubtless come again to bantamweight for later within the yr and the UFC does not less than presently have a half-dozen fights already scheduled for the division, however general they’re actually in want of some new blood on the prime.
Add in the truth that neither Bellator nor the PFL appear intent on including a girls’s 135-pound division within the close to future and issues are wanting grim for what at one time was probably the most notable girls’s division within the sport.