The Athletic’s 2020 MMA UFC Fight of the Year – The Athletic


It’d be easy to look back on March and call UFC 248 the last stand of MMA’s pre-pandemic world. One last night where the roar of a crowd still carried its old magic. One final celebration before arenas became cavernous husks and daily death tolls drew comparisons to the bloodiest battles ever fought on American soil. Really, one lingering memory where the world felt normal, truly normal, the type of normal that may never come fully back.

Doing that wouldn’t tell the whole story, though. UFC 248 may be a snapshot of a simpler era, but the virus that came to dominate our lives in 2020 had already stretched its malignant tendrils out to many within MMA by the time two women lit the sport afire. To ignore that fact would do a disservice to Zhang Weili, the UFC’s unbeaten strawweight champion and the victor of 2020’s Fight of the Year.

In many ways, Weili’s title defense against Joanna Jedrzejczyk was a harbinger of the chaos to come.


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