2020 was an extraordinary year for mixed martial arts competition. Aside from a momentary hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sport continued its winning ways, producing firefight after firefight.
Over 100 hours of entertainment from multiple organizations makes it hard to whittle things down to what we like to call a ‘Fight of the Year’ – the greatest display of MMA within a calendar year. When assessing a wide range of fights and ultimately voting for a winner, the team here at The Scrap were well aware that it would come down to subjective opinions; some prefer a slugfest, while others lean towards high-level, technical affairs. As a team, though, the decision proved to be entirely unanimous.
Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is The Scrap’s 2020 Fight of the Year.
Honorable mentions: Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker, Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno and Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway 2.
At UFC 248 on March 8, Chinese Star Zhang Weili (21-1) was set to defend her title for the very first time against former champion and perennial contender Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4). Despite the division being less than a decade old, Jedrzejczyk was clearly the most dominant champion in its history, racking up five defenses in less than two years.
The oddsmakers had Zhang as a slight favorite, sitting at around the -145 mark while her counterpart came in as a +115 underdog. Though the fight was expected to be a highly-skilled, close contest, the majority of the hype was focused on the pay-per-view headliner, a middleweight title clash between undefeated champ Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero. Ultimately, however, the women would eclipse every other name on the card.
Both athletes began by staying on the outside, exchanging kicks and establishing their range, with Joanna landing the first significant strike of the fight. Within two minutes it was clear each participant wasn’t there to play around, as all exchanges in the pocket were quick, precise and ferocious. This would be the story of the fight, as the champion’s power would clash with the challengers precision for five entertaining rounds.
In the end, Zhang Weili prevailed as the victor, winning by way of split decision. Some applauded the decision, others opposed to it, yet despite differing opinions, all were aware of what they just witnessed.
The fight was so special that you, the reader, likely remember at least one defining moment. Whether that be the pairs insane level of output, the roar of the crowd, or Jedrzejczyk’s supernatural-like hematoma, the co-main event of UFC 248 was, in no other words, outstanding. And since that night 10 months ago, a new bar has been set in women’s mixed martial arts.
While admiration was already at a high for both ladies prior to their war, the ceiling was shattered; even those at home were on their feet by the final bell. Blood was spilt, punches traded, and respect earned. For all these reasons and more, Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is The Scrap’s 2020 Fight of the Year.