With a record number of fights spread across 42 events in 17 states and 15 countries around the world, the Ultimate Fighting Championship went big in 2019. In this Fight Facts review, we chronicle the story of the UFC over the past 12 months, which included wild performances, major upsets, sure things and fewer tapouts than ever before.
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TOTAL NUMBER OF UFC FIGHTS IN 2019: 516
TOTAL NUMBER OF UFC EVENTS IN 2019: 42
TECHNICAL KNOCKOUTS: 96
UNANIMOUS DECISIONS: 219
SPLIT DECISIONS: 49
MAJORITY DECISIONS: 4
The End of a Decade
EVERY NIGHT’S ALRIGHT FOR FIGHTING: The UFC put on 516 fights during the calendar year, accounting for the most in company history. The only prior year in which the UFC eclipsed the 500-bout mark came in 2014, which saw a record number of events with 503 fights.
THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS: With 42 events going down this year, the promotion put on the most shows since 2014 (46) and the second-most of any year.
THE BIG 250: Joe Rogan served as the primary color commentator for his 250th event at UFC 239. Including events where he was relegated to post-fight duties and UFC 40, where he served in the play-by-play chair, Rogan has been involved in 262 events in UFC history. Only Mike Goldberg (267) and Bruce Buffer (445) have been involved with the broadcast of more fight cards to date.
HANDS ACROSS … AMERICA!: Prior to 2019, the UFC had never held an event in the Czech Republic, Uruguay or Denmark. In the United States, the organization had not hosted an event in the state of South Carolina or Kansas. Including these new locations, the UFC has now appeared in 28 different countries and 40 states across America.
VEGAS, BABY!: Unlike 2018, the UFC made multiple trips to more than just Las Vegas. UFC 234 and UFC 243 were both held in Melbourne, Australia, and were both headlined by Israel Adesanya. The Las Vegas-based promotion came home three times this year, for UFC 235, UFC 239 and UFC 245. Jon Jones competed on the first of those two cards.
BALONEY MANUFACTURED FRIVOLOUS TITLE: The organization opted to create a non-championship belt for the winner of the welterweight scrap between Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz at UFC 244. The strap was presented by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, with Masvidal winning the fight by doctor stoppage in Round 3.
HOORAY FOR HARDY, I GUESS: One fighter made five separate appearances inside the Octagon this year: Greg Hardy. The much-maligned heavyweight won two, dropped two more and had another victory overturned to a no-contest after he used an inhaler between rounds.
ROZENSTRUCK PAYDIRT: Six fighters each competed four times for the UFC in 2019, and of those six, only Jairzinho Rozenstruik won all four.
THE FATED EIGHT: Throughout the year, eight fighters fought on three separate occasions and failed to record a win, including James Vick, Jeremy Stephens and Sergio Moraes.
READ THE RULES: One fighter lost by disqualification this year: Hardy, who landed an illegal knee while Allen Crowder was downed. Crowder could not continue and was awarded the win by DQ.
AN UNSATISFYING ENDING: Five bouts ended via draw, tying 2017 for the second-most in a year in company history. Only 2016 (seven) featured more.
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It’s A Knockout!
DON’T COME KNOCKING LIKE YOU USED TO: Only 10.9 percent of bouts ended by knockout, the lowest such rate since 2010, when 6.7 percent of fights ended in that fashion. The 56 total KOs were the fewest since 2014, when 56 fighters were also knocked out.
OF COURSE WE ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT IT: In a mere five seconds, Masvidal ejected Ben Askren from the ranks of the unbeaten with a flying knee. The finish was the fastest in UFC history, beating the record of six seconds held for over 13 years by Duane Ludwig over Jonathan Goulet at UFC Fight Night 3 in 2003.
DUTCHMAN DOWN: With four seconds remaining in his five-round headliner against Alistair Overeem, Rozenstruik smashed “The Demolition Man” with punches to earn the second-latest knockout in organizational history.
GAVE JACARE SOME FLASHBACKS: Niko Price separated Vick from his senses with an upkick at UFC Fight Night 161 in October, earning just the second stoppage of its kind in UFC history.
JUST SLAM: In the only finish of its type this year, Jessica Andrade knocked Rose Namajunas out cold with a slam at UFC 237 to earn strawweight gold in May.
SPINNING LIKE CROSSFIRE: Johnny Walker and Steven Peterson stopped Justin Ledet and Martin Bravo with spinning backfists this year, making 2019 the second year to see multiple knockouts of that kind. Paul Felder and James Moontasri each previously picked up spinning backfist knockouts in 2015.
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Tap For Me
BRING BACK JIU-JITSU: A mere 15.9 percent of bouts ended via submission (including to strikes) in 2019. This is the lowest rate in UFC history, with no other year falling below 17.7 percent.
CHARLES GRACIE: By tapping David Teymur with an anaconda choke in February, Charles Oliveira extended his record for the most submission wins in promotional history with 13. Oliveira also recorded two knockout victories in 2019, giving him 15 total finishes inside the Octagon, the second-most in UFC history. He trails only Donald Cerrone (18).
LET’S TWIST AGAIN: Bryce Mitchell pulled off the ultra-rare twister submission when he tapped Matt Sayles at UFC on ESPN 7, becoming the second fighter in UFC history to do so—Chan Sung Jung was the first—and just the fourth across all major promotions.
WHY IS IT PERUVIAN?: In the opening round of their light heavyweight bout, Misha Cirkunov landed a Peruvian necktie submission on Jim Crute to hand the Aussie his first career defeat. Only one other Peruvian necktie has been executed in the UFC, and it was performed by C.B. Dollaway against Jesse Taylor at UFC Fight Night 14 in 2008. This submission has also appeared once in World Extreme Cagefighting and three times in Bellator MMA.
MORE BULL THAN DOG: Although marred by controversy, Askren defeated Robbie Lawler with a bulldog choke via technical submission. It was the sixth submission of its type in promotional history and the first since Raquel Pennington put Ashlee Evans-Smith to sleep with one at UFC 181 in 2014.
SAY IT, DON’T SPRAY IT: Three different fighters were forced to submit verbally in 2019, more than any year in organizational history. Zak Ottow was the first to do so, when he called a stop to the fight against Alex Morono due to repeated elbow strikes. Danny Roberts and Manny Bermudez also vocalized their surrender this calendar year, due to armbars from Claudio Henrique da Silva and Charles Rosa.
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We’ll Keep on Fighting Until the End
AND IT’S ALREADY OVER: Flyweight champion Henry Cejudo defeated T.J. Dillashaw in 2019 to defend his throne, then moved up to vie for the vacant bantamweight strap against Marlon Moraes. In victory, Cejudo became the fourth simultaneous two-division champ in promotional history, although he later surrendered his 125-pound belt in December.
THE LAST OF A DYING BREED: Like the two men—Conor McGregor and Daniel Cormier—before him to achieve the same champion-champion feat, Cejudo was unable to defend both belts after winning them. The only current two-division champion remaining is Amanda Nunes, who has defended her bantamweight belt twice since capturing the 145-pound crown. She is currently seeking contenders for featherweight.
TERRIBLE TITLE TURNAROUND TIME: Unlike 2018, no title was on the line for any weight class more than twice. The flyweight, bantamweight and heavyweight championships were only on the line once each this year.
COMING TO AMERICA: Kamaru Usman became the first champion to hail from Africa when he steamrolled Tyron Woodley at UFC 235. One month later, Adesanya became the second, when he defeated Kelvin Gastelum in a thrilling bout to win the interim middleweight strap. Both men were born in Nigeria.
QUEEN FOR A DAY: In the span of May to August, Andrade won and lost the strawweight crown by knockout. Her reign of 112 days is the shortest of any fighter who did not vacate or were stripped of their belt since Holly Holm’s 111-day championship tenure from 2015 to 2016.
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CASHING IN COWBOY: Cerrone topped the year in post-fight bonuses with four, capturing three “Fight of the Night” bonuses, along with “Performance of the Night" honors for finishing Alexander Hernandez. Adesanya, Masvidal and Vicente Luque each pocketed three.
KEEP IT 100: Cerrone, Andrade and Masvidal each earned themselves double post-fight bonuses when they knocked out Hernandez, Namajunas and Darren Till. Their Round 2 knockout wins each earned them FOTN and POTN bonuses.
IT’S ALL IN WHO YOU KNOW: Twenty-eight bonuses were handed out to main event bouts, accounting for about 21 percent of all bonuses—slightly more than the previous year (20.5 percent) but far more than any other position on a fight card.
THE TRUE FIGHT OF THE NIGHT: Of the 42 main events in the calendar year, 10 were deemed FOTN. This total is substantially higher than any other bout placed on any given event and represents a large increase from the previous year’s total of six.
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FAVORITE 64: In the 481 fights that featured odds from 5dimes with one favorite and one underdog, the favorite won 309 of those encounters (64.2 percent). Thirty-five bouts were declared pick-ems, more than each of the last two years.
HE IS MOST DEFINITELY WORTHY: Khama Worthy came in on short notice against Devonte Smith in their lightweight meeting at UFC 241, closing as a +650 underdog. Despite the odds, Worthy dispatched Smith in the opening round to earn the biggest betting upset of the year. His victory is also the most significant upset for the oddsmakers since a +725 Frankie Saenz defeated the massive -925 favorite Iuri Alcantara at UFC Fight Night 61 in 2015.
WHO BET ON THOSE?: Three fighters came into four fights as betting favorites over -1000, winning all four of them: Luque, Raoni Barcelos and Valentina Shevchenko (twice). The only -1000 fighter this year, Smith, suffered a first-round knockout loss.
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Really Throwing Their Weight Around
NOT SUCH A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE AFTER ALL: Twenty-six bouts this year featured one fighter who missed weight, and the heavier fighter won nine of them (.346). One bout between Marina Rodriguez and Cynthia Calvillo was scored a draw, and Calvillo came in 4.5 pounds over the strawweight limit.
THAT PROFESSIONALISM: Bermudez missed weight on two separate occasions this year, at UFC on ESPN 2 as a bantamweight and later at UFC on ESPN 6 as a featherweight. He also engaged in a 140-pound catchweight contest against Casey Kenney at UFC 241 after determining he could not reach the 135-pound limit safely. Upon two straight losses, Bermudez was released by the promotion.
THE HOOP WON’T SAVE YOU: Like 2018, four fighters came in over five pounds above their respective weight limits. Only Jessica Eye emerged victorious out of those four, weighing 131 pounds ahead of her flyweight battle with Viviane Araujo at UFC 245.
DERNWEIGHT CONTENDER: Of all the fighters to miss weight this year, Sarah Frota hit the scales at 123 for her strawweight bout, a full seven pounds over the 116-pound allowance and the most above the limit of any fighter. Frota lost.
FEARLESS IRENE: On two separate instances, Irene Aldana’s opponent missed weight by at least four pounds. Aldana won both fights, against Bethe Correia in May and Vanessa Melo in September.
THESE ARE NUMBERS, NOT JUDGMENTS: Across 424 men’s bouts this year, 15 fighters missed weight for a weight miss percentage of about 3.5 percent. In women’s divisions, 92 bouts took place and 10 fighters missed weight, tripling the men’s percentage for about 10.9 percent.
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WHICH DO YOU PREFER?: The most frequently used walkout song of 2019 was “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” However, it was split between two versions of the song. The original by the Eurythmics saw fighters go 3-1, while the Marilyn Manson cover was accompanied by a record of 1-2.
THE ANTHEM: “O Hino” by Brazilian Christian singer Fernandinho amassed six uses, with its fighters going 4-2 this year when using the track.
THE CITY OF CHAMPIONS: The winningest songs inside the Octagon this year of those with more than three uses were “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys (4-0-1) and “The Champion” by Carrie Underwood featuring Ludacris (4-0). Rosa used the former track in Boston and became the first fighter to ever tap Bermudez.
YOU OUGHTA KNOW BY NOW: Although “Gonna Fly Now” by Bill Conti can be attached to four defeats in 2019, “Cinderella Man” by Eminem saw three uses with zero wins for Court McGee or Joseph Duffy.
THE HOLOGRAM LIVES ON: Of all the artists used throughout the year, 2Pac was heard most often in arenas during UFC cards. Sixteen uses of the deceased rapper’s tracks were used over the last 12 months, although fighters went a paltry 5-11 (.313) in that span.
CAN’T STOP? MAYBE YOU SHOULD: Songs by the Red Hot Chili Peppers were used seven times throughout the year, and not a single fighter using one emerged victorious.
SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALRIGHT!: Dan Ige became the second fighter in UFC history to ever walk out to a song by Elton John and the first to choose the appropriately titled “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” Ige took a unanimous verdict over Kevin Aguilar.
PRETTY GOOFY: For the first time in UFC history, a fighter chose a song from the soundtrack of “A Goofy Movie.” Juan Adams made his walk to the cage accompanied by “I 2 I” by fictional artist Powerline and lost by knockout.