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The year of 2018 was huge for the UFC, as the company created moments to remember for years to come. Here are the top 5 UFC moments in 2018:
5. The Rise of Brian Ortega
After finishing off 2017 with a submission victory over Cub Swanson, Brian Ortega went into his next fight as a heavy underdog against former champion Frankie Edgar. After facing Ortega at UFC 222, Edgar suffered his first career loss by finish.
The victory earned Ortega the #1 rank in the Featherweight division, which was previously held by Jose Aldo. The hype to fight Max Holloway was built once Ortega defeated Edgar, but it was delivered perfectly when both fighters went 4 rounds in potentially the Fight of the Year. Although Ortega lost for the first time in his career, his ability to put everything on the line for a title was worthwhile.
4. Ben Askren Traded For Demetrious Johnson
After being dethroned by Henry Cejudo for the Flyweight championship, long-time UFC fighter Demetrious Johnson made even more news when the UFC and ONE Championship agreed to a deal to trade Johnson for undefeated Welterweight Ben Askren.
Both men are scheduled to fight in 2019, as Johnson will be making his ONE Championship debut facing Yuya Wakamatsu on March 31st. As for Askren, he will be making his UFC debut on March 2nd against former champion Robbie Lawler. With this being the first headline trade in MMA history, both fighters will begin the next chapter of their careers in the near future.
3. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Conor McGregor Becomes a Reality
This past year was full of rivalries, but none match the magnitude between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor. After months of speculation, we received the long-awaited bout, and it did not disappoint.
McGregor did more than enough to ignite motivation in Nurmagomedov after the Russian defeated Al Iaquinta for the Lightweight championship. Days prior to the bout, McGregor and company ambushed a nearby bus in which Nurmagomedov was present. This was in retaliation to Nurmagomedov verbally confronting McGregor’s friend and training partner, Artem Lobov.
The fight itself was unbalanced, as Khabib Nurmagomedov used his ground skills to dominate Conor McGregor. Immediately following the conclusion of the bout, Nurmagomedov hopped over the octagon to cause further drama within the crowd. This ignited Nurmagomev’s partners to enter the octagon in hopes of hurting McGregor to a further extent.
It is unclear whether it’s even safe enough to put on a rematch between these two fighters. Regardless, it was one of the most memorable moments in 2018, as well as in UFC history.
2. Cormier Becomes a Two-Divison Champion
After successfully defending their titles at UFC 220, Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic was picked to defend his title against Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier. This proved to be an opportunity that both fighters simply could not pass up.
It was at UFC 226 where Cormier shocked the world when he knocked out Miocic seconds before the end of the first round. In result, he became a two-time champion within the UFC.
Cormier became the second individual in UFC history to become a two-division champion, as Conor McGregor did so against Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205. Cormier made his first title defense at UFC 230 on November 3rd, where he dominated and submitted Derrick Lewis in the second round.
The veteran has stated that he is aiming to retire on his 40th birthday, on March 20th, but is looking to fight Brock Lesner prior. Also in the mix, the trash talk has heated up once again between Cormier and Jon Jones.
1. Jon Jones Reclaims Light Heavyweight Title
A year full of epic moments had culminated with the comeback of Jon Jones, who was suspended for 15 months before returning to the UFC. In result, he was scheduled to face Alexander Gustafson for the vacant Light Heavyweight title.
After a one-sided affair for over 3 rounds, Jones landed a takedown and continued to take advantage until the fight was called. The title is currently Jones’ to lose, and the chip on his shoulder was evident.
Featured Image: ESPN