It feels like 2019 has so far, been a year of reshuffling for the UFC. In the Octagon, a changing on the guard is well underway. Household names like Anderson Silva, Alexander Gustaffson, and even Conor McGregor are seeming to make way for new faces.
On the business side, the UFC is in the midst of a drastic change in their distribution model. From a time when it seemed like the UFC could be found on any channel at virtually any night of the week, the MMA giant seems surprisingly difficult to find on our TVs nowadays. An exclusive PPV deal on the ESPN+ streaming service means more evens will be streamed online than ever before.
Yet for hardcore fans, if the fights are still exciting, we'll find them wherever they are. Here's the top moments of the UFC in 2019 so far.
Amanda Nunes Caps Off a Legendary Run at UFC 239
For anyone still doubting, Amanda Nunes made her closing arguments that she is the best female fighter alive with her head kick knockout of Holly Holmes at UFC 239.
The victory capped off historic run for the 31 year old fighter on a 9 fight win streak, with a trifecta of wins over the biggest names in female MMA: Ronda Rousey, Cris "Cyborg", and Holly Holm. And we haven't even mentioned that Nunes is one of the few UFC champions to hold two titles, and be actively defending both.
For now, Nunes is in that rare space where no other fighter on the MMA landscape seems to have a serious chance of dethroning her, but we all know how that tends to go. . .
Polyana Viana Beating Up a Street Mugger In Brazil
An out-of-cage event that garnered substantial mainstream attention from outlets like CNN and ABC News. Brazlian UFC Straw weight Polyana Viana was held up by a street thief with a fake handgun on the streets of Brazil. Sensing that his weapon was a farce, Viana rolled the dice and engaged the man at close range. What followed was a grade-A mauling of her attacker that left his face a bloody mess and Viana holding him in rear naked choke until police arrived. The UFC seized on the story and promoted Viana heavily leading up to her next UFC fight in March.
Cejudo TKO's Dillashaw in 15 Seconds at Fight Night 143
After a slow but steady rise in the flyweight division, a loss to Demetrious Johnson in 2016, and a razor thin victory in the rematch, Henry Cejudo still had his share of skeptics going into 2019.The former Olympic wrestler entered into his Bantamweight bout with TJ Dillashaw as a heavy underdog. Conventional wisdom was that Cejudo was overmatched and undersized, going against Dillashaw's world class striking and outstanding wrestling.
But as Dana White is found of saying "that's why we have the fights." Cejudo blitzed TJ in the opening seconds to score a dramatic TKO victory in a fight he was heavily favored to lose. As MMA fans quietly rethought their opinion of Cejudo, he would go on to become just the fourth UFC fighter to hold two titles at once in June with another victory of Marlon Morales. Today, he is #4 on the official UFC pound-for-pound rankings.
McGregor Arrested in Bizarre Altercation With Fan.
Although he has no announced bouts in 2019, the presence of Conor McGregor is still felt. Fans across the world speculate on the overall state of Conor in 2019. In March, he was arrested after a fan tried to take a photo with him, which prompted McGregor to take the phone and destroy it, before fleeing with it. This resulted in a brief manhunt and an actual robbery charge. Alone, this may have been written of as the pressures of fame getting the better of the Irish superstar in a heated moment.
But taken with the fact that McGregor is under suspension for a post fight brawl last year, and his wild storming of a bus months prior, all signs point to a man who is having a tough go of it at the moment.
The incident was reported on by sports outlets across the world as breaking news, even interrupting some live coverage on ESPN. It may not be the favorite reason the UFC likes to be in the news, but the story sent ripples across the sports landscape.
Tony Ferguson Just Won't Go Away
It sometimes seems like fate itself is conspiring against the 25-3 Tony Ferguson. Despite holding the longest win streak in UFC history against a whos-who of the lightweight division, a champion's belt eludes him. Much of this is due to bad timing and freak accidents. A now mythic matchup of Ferguson vs Khabib Nurmagomedov has been booked a record four times, and each time scrapped due to injury or other complications.
In a division with many would be contenders, Tony is always one loss away from undoing much of his hard work. And yet, he just won't lose. He defeated Donald Cerrone at UFC 238 in a frantic striking bout which saw both men have their moments.
With this win Ferguson stands as STILL the only logical choice for a FIFTH attempt at a fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov, one that we'll hopefully see this year.