Time flies while you’re having enjoyable, and as typical, there’s been lots to have for battle followers.

Just previous the halfway level of 2024, there’s no scarcity of speaking factors. The UFC machine continues to roll on within the face of accidents, a significant lawsuit, and Conor McGregor being Conor McGregor. PFLator is on its maiden voyage. And BKFC has emerged as one of the vital talked-about promotions in all of fight sports activities, carving out its personal path whereas the likes of KSW, ONE Championship, and RIZIN proceed to work for his or her items of the pie.

MMA Fighting’s Shaheen Al-Shatti, Mike Heck, Alexander Okay. Lee, and Jed Meshew have a look again at what went down over the previous six months and pick a few of 2024’s greatest, worst, and weirdest moments thus far.


Fight of the Half-Year: Max Holloway vs. Justin Gaethje — UFC 300

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Max Holloway and Justin Gaethje
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC through Getty Images

Meshew: Rewind the clock a number of months again to the start of this 12 months. Fans had been slowly working themselves right into a lather about UFC 300 and the way it wasn’t any good as a result of the UFC didn’t ebook any unbelievable fights for it. And despite the fact that these followers had been dumb on the time, nearly each one in all them shut up when UFC introduced Justin Gaethje would battle Max Holloway for the BMF title.

Is the BMF belt actual? No. Did anybody care? (Mike) Heck no. This was violence nirvana: The most fun fighter in MMA historical past (Gaethje) vs. a top-20 thrilling fighter who can be one of the vital beloved (Holloway). Before the battle even occurred, I declared with absolute certainty that it could be the Fight of the Year. I didn’t know the way proper I used to be.

For 24 minutes and 50 seconds, Gaethje and Holloway beat the bejesus out of one another. Gaethje was repeatedly damage and battled again. Holloway received dropped (unofficially) for the primary time in his profession. The two males mixed for practically 300 vital strikes and never one second of management time. And then, with 10 seconds left, it occurred.

I gained’t waste extra digital ink on the knockout as another person will talk about it momentarily, however within the waning seconds of an unbelievable battle, one which Max Holloway was going to win by choice after dominating the fifth spherical, Max etched himself into historical past with one of many best finishes to a battle any of us have ever seen. It was the exclamation level that turned an outstanding battle into an unforgettable one.

When we glance again on 2024, the Fight, the Moment, the Knockout, the Everything of this 12 months will all stand within the shadow of two of probably the most thrilling fighters to ever do it.

Honorable Mention: Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier — UFC 302

It will not be solely honest, however notion performs a giant function in how fights are acquired. Case in level, the runner-up this 12 months.

Heading into UFC 302, the temper was unusual. Poirier fairly clearly didn’t deserve this title shot, however he’s so beloved, nobody a lot cared. Plus, everybody was assured he would get run over, as Makhachev’s mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov had completed to him beforehand. Instead, “The Diamond” confirmed simply how good he’s.

After a troublesome opening body, Poirier gave Makhachev a hell of a time within the cage. He confirmed vastly improved takedown protection (all the time a weak point) and busted Makhachev open with a nasty elbow. Both actually and metaphorically, it was the primary time we’ve seen the champion bleed. And then, Makhachev responded how champions do: He completed the battle with brutal authority.

With the battle within the steadiness towards a surprisingly troublesome opponent, Makhachev elevated himself within the closing spherical, trapping Poirier right into a sequence that allowed him to transition right into a fight-ending D’Arce choke. It was an ideal conclusion to some terrific drama, with the champion asserting himself as the most effective fighter alive, whereas the beloved determine managed to impress in defeat.

Poll

What has been the most effective battle of 2024 thus far?

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    Max Holloway vs. Justin Gaethje

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    Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier

    (0 votes)

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    Dustin Poirier vs. Benoit Saint Denis

    (0 votes)

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    Brendan Allen vs. Chris Curtis 2

    (0 votes)

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    Other (depart remark under)

    (0 votes)



0 votes complete

Vote Now


Fighter of the Half-Year: Alex Pereira

UFC 303: Pereira v Prochazka 2

Alex Pereira
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC through Getty Images

Heck: At the mid-way level of 2024, it’s “Poatan” on the entrance of the pack.

There are lots of nice choices to this point, however Alex Pereira, the unicorn of a UFC mild heavyweight champion, takes the lead into the second half of the 12 months.

In most years, Pereira going 2-0 — with two completely vicious knockouts in lower than 9 minutes of mixed octagon time — in defenses of his second divisional title would put him in pole place, however take into account that he saved two of the UFC’s greatest playing cards of the 12 months within the course of and the feat turns into much more spectacular. Jamahal Hill seemed like an absolute world-beater in his win over Glover Teixeira in January 2023, and sure, whereas he was coming back from damage at UFC 300, Pereira obliterated him.

Jiri Prochazka is an absolute lunatic and one of many three greatest 205-pounders on the planet. Pereira, on two weeks’ discover and with a pair of damaged toes, arguably seemed higher than ever as he delivered a fully ridiculous knockout within the opening seconds of Round 2 in the principle occasion of UFC 303.

Question is, can he maintain on to the spot?

Honorable Mention: Max Holloway

If Pereira didn’t step up at UFC 303, Holloway can be the chief within the clubhouse with out query after transferring up in weight, dominating Justin Gaethje for twenty-four:59, after which delivering one of the vital memorable knockouts in UFC historical past to win the BMF title. With that win, “Blessed” possible has the chance subsequent to reclaim one other championship.

Despite the new begins out of the gate from Pereira and Holloway, 2024 might find yourself being one in all harder votes for this class.

If Holloway will get the featherweight title shot towards Ilia Topuria and delivers, “Blessed” will get A LOT of first-place votes. If Topuria beats Holloway and Volkanovski in the identical 12 months, that’s ridiculously spectacular. One title many could also be forgetting is Arman Tsarukyan. If the excellent light-weight can finish the 12 months with wins over Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev, whereas profitable probably the most troublesome title in MMA within the course of, he could have a factor or two to say about this dialog.

Poll

Who has been the most effective fighter of 2024 thus far?

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    Robert Whittaker

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    Other (depart remark under)

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0 votes complete

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Knockout of the Half-Year: Max Holloway def. Justin Gaethje — UFC 300

UFC 300: Gaethje v Holloway

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC through Getty Images

Al-Shatti: Ilia Topuria’s response said it all.

On the night time of UFC 300, I wrote that somebody is going to have to send a skull into orbit with a rolling thunder in the final milliseconds of a title fight to dislodge Max Holloway from this perch, and my pals, you don’t want me to inform you that hasn’t really occurred. And frankly, even when it had, we’d most likely nonetheless be giving Holloway his flowers right here. That’s how absurd the one most enduring picture from one in all MMA’s best ever playing cards is.

Once each few years, if we’re fortunate, the kind of second arrives in that immediately etches itself into the game’s all-time pantheon. The kind of second that stops time and turns into a benchmark for MMA fandom, that continues to be part of our lives from now into infinity. Stick round lengthy sufficient and you recognize precisely what I imply. Conor McGregor’s 13-second coronation. Anderson Silva’s fifth-round heroics. Fedor vs. Cro Cop in a duel of the almighties. The nights you both keep in mind precisely the place you had been after they occurred or hear wistful tales advert nauseam about the way you’d by no means perceive since you weren’t there. And make no mistake, Holloway’s point-down throwdown with Justin Gaethje is the most recent to hitch that sacred checklist, destined to endure lengthy after we’re all six toes within the floor.

Holloway was already a first-ballot Hall of Famer earlier than UFC 300. Afterward, he remodeled into one thing else solely: An icon. Sorry to the remaining, however this class is locked up till award season rolls round in full in December. Everyone else is competing for second place.

Honorable Mention: Ilia Topuria def. Alexander Volkanovski — UFC 298

All good issues ends badly, in any other case they wouldn’t finish in any respect.

That cliche could not apply to all sides of life, however most of the time it rings true within the battle recreation. Alexander Volkanovski can attest to that. At UFC 298, the fifth-longest consecutive title reign in UFC males’s historical past ended with one good proper hook to the jaw. Volkanovski is both the best or second-greatest featherweight champion of all-time (relying on the way you view Jose Aldo), however time is undefeated and Ilia Topuria arrived in Anaheim with the aura of a grim reaper. The charismatic Spaniard informed the world what was going to occur and even modified his Instagram bio to anoint himself as the brand new UFC 145-pound king effectively earlier than he ever stepped foot within the Honda Center and starched a legend.

Whether Topuria is a flash within the pan or can harness the identical endurance of lots of featherweight’s nice champions earlier than him stays to be seen, however there’s little question “El Matador” authored one hell of a primary chapter to wherever this story finally ends up main.

Poll

What has been the most effective KO of 2024 thus far?

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    Max Holloway def. Justin Gaethje

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    Ilia Topuria def. Alexander Volkanovski

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    Alex Pereira def. Jiri Prochazka

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    Vinicius Oliveira def. Benardo Sopaj

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    Other (depart remark under)

    (0 votes)



0 votes complete

Vote Now


Submission of the Half-Year: Brian Ortega vs. Yair Rodriguez 2 — UFC Mexico City

Lee: Brian Ortega simply couldn’t catch a break.

When Ortega stepped into the octagon for a rematch with Yair Rodriguez this previous February, no person knew what to anticipate from the two-time UFC featherweight title challenger. His first battle with Rodriguez resulted in a disastrous shoulder damage for Ortega, lengthy bouts of inactivity left him winless since October 2020, after which in a darkly comical second, he appeared to tweak his ankle moments after getting into the cage.

Suffice to say, Ortega’s misfortune didn’t look like anyplace near coming to an finish.

Rodriguez blistered him along with his deadly standup within the first spherical, notching a 10-8 on one judges’ scorecard. However, Ortega’s famed resilience kicked in and he took Rodriguez to the mat in Round 2 and bludgeoned him for his personal 10-8 spherical. Then, within the third, Ortega grounded Rodriguez for good. The submission specialist tied Rodriguez up with an arm-triangle choke and compelled the faucet so as to add one other Round 3 end to his résumé.

Given that Ortega lately got here beneath hearth for a weight debacle that led to the cancellation of his UFC 303 bout with Diego Lopes, it’s onerous to recollect what a cathartic second this was, but it surely was inspiring to see Ortega again within the win column after dealing with a lot adversity.

Honorable Mention: Liz Carmouche vs. Kana Watanabe 2 — PFL 4

Our honorable point out goes to a different rematch with its fair proportion of drama, although beneath vastly completely different circumstances.

Liz Carmouche and Kana Watanabe’s rematch on this season’s PFL flyweight match occurred three years after their first encounter at Bellator 261, when Carmouche dealt with Watanabe en path to a 35-second TKO win. Carmouche went on to grow to be Bellator flyweight champion and finally run off 9 straight wins, with no marks in her loss column since dropping a regrettable choice to Valentina Shevchenko in 2019.

That unbeaten run — and simply as importantly qualification for the PFL’s $1 million postseason — was in jeopardy after two rounds with Watanabe, with the Japanese veteran stifling Carmouche’s greatest makes an attempt at offense. With time ticking away and Carmouche dealing with a loss on the playing cards, she went for broke with an armbar from backside place and was rewarded with a clutch tapout.

Officially, there was solely eight seconds remaining within the contest.

Carmouche doesn’t all the time get the respect she deserves, however with two league wins beneath her belt and pending matchups with Taila Santos and, probably, prized PFL prospect Dakota Ditcheva, she might quickly have a seven-figure bonus to remind everybody what she’s price.

Poll

What has been the most effective submission of 2024 thus far?

  • 0%
    Brian Ortega vs. Yair Rodriguez 2

    (0 votes)

  • 0%
    Liz Carmouche vs. Kana Watanabe 2

    (0 votes)

  • 0%
    Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier

    (0 votes)

  • 0%
    Kleber Koike vs. Juan Archuleta

    (0 votes)

  • 0%
    Other (depart remark under)

    (0 votes)



0 votes complete

Vote Now


Coolest Thing: Eddie Hall has the energy of two males

Meshew: Hey, I don’t know if y’all missed it, however again in June, former World’s Strongest Man Eddie Hall did this.

Yes, that’s Eddie Hall preventing two folks, and sure, that’s the world’s first powerbomb-into-right hand combo. (Not seen in that clip, after ending that one man, the battle was restarted with Hall towards simply the opposite man; it was over moments later.)

Circus fights are dope and circus fights with the World’s Strongest Man are doper. Plus, afterward, Hall known as for an MMA battle with former umpteen-time World’s Strongest Man Mariusz Pudzianowski. This is what MMA was alleged to be like when our Founding Fathers envisioned it.


Most Insane Thing: The Bite

UFC Fight Night: Severino v Lima

Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC through Getty Images

Al-Shatti: Here’s how weird issues have gotten in 2024: Igor Severino really violently bit a dude (Andre Lima) on a random APEX card, and that dude then went to a tattoo parlor and inked a same-night “Bite of the Night” memento on prime of an additional $100,000 he collected from the game’s most seen authority determine, and the entire saga was outdated information like three days later.

If Draymond Green bit a random participant on the Minnesota Timberwolves on a random Tuesday night time, and that dude then went and tattooed it as much as the tune of a six-figure bonus from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, it’d be a narrative for the subsequent 4 months! Anytime you assume MMA has advanced previous its Wild West period, it solely takes a bizarre night time like March 23 to remind you that the lawless spirit of 1993 remains to be embedded deep into the material of this dumb, stunning sport. Nowhere else might this have been a factor. How are you able to not adore it?


Biggest story: UFC 300

Heck: I do know, I do know, the simple reply is Conor McGregor and the drama of UFC 303, however for the sake of optimistic vibes, I’m going with UFC 300 for quite a few causes.

First of all, internet hosting the vast majority of the programming on the community provides me a fairly strong concept of trending subjects and what folks wish to speak about. Throughout 2024, probably the most questions I used to be requested needed to do with UFC 300, from no matter the principle occasion was going to be, to if Dana White might attain the unimaginable expectations he placed on the cardboard, and numerous others.

Not solely did the cardboard ship in execution, UFC did one thing they not often ever do: They really had enjoyable with it, though it took a scorching minute to get us there.

Did the Pereira vs. Hill most important occasion announcement “blow everyone’s socks off?” No, actually, one way or the other I added extra layers of clothes even dwelling in South Carolina. But we sang the cardboard’s praises as soon as the lineup was finalized, calling it the most effective on-paper card in UFC historical past.

What I cherished most about it? This was not the informal MMA fan’s card. UFC usually books for the informal fan, the newbies who go to the native pub and faux they know concerning the sport as a result of they comply with Conor McGregor on Instagram. Those had been the parents in the entire chats doo-dooing on this card. But UFC 300 was for us! It was for the followers who drudge by the quicksand of endless playing cards at “The World’s Most Famous APEX” two to a few Saturdays a month, or the subpar street present Fight Night lineups, and even half of a pay-per-view calendar 12 months that has been, fairly frankly, underwhelming, and that is perhaps too form.

But on April 13, none of that mattered. UFC’s lack of effort in promotion, the corporate caring extra about Power Slap than the precise entity that made them the MMA chief by about 30 world revolutions and the fight sports activities GOAT, the terrible battle playing cards on the APEX, fighter pay, Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic — all forgotten. No, on that night time, the quicksand turned a conveyor belt, and the hardcore MMA followers floated by a time machine, of kinds, by easier instances, when Gladiator Man and Face the Pain set the desk for chaos. Alex Pereira’s star continued to rise. Max Holloway delivered an all-timer. Zhang Weili continued her dominance. And so many different optimistic moments.

On the flip facet, we additionally discovered {that a} seemingly humbling knockout loss in a most important occasion from a fighter who talked an unbelievable quantity of trash heading into it will probably really show months later that not a single lesson was discovered. UFC 300 had all of it.

On that night time at T-Mobile Arena, a number of generations of MMA followers got here collectively for a blockbuster filled with reminiscences, enjoyment, and nostalgia. An evening that reminded us that when UFC really provides a shit, it may be magical.


Most MMA MMA Promotion of 2024 So Far: UFC

Lee: For the umpteenth 12 months in a row, the MMA-iest of MMA promotions is — you guessed it — the UFC!

Through thick and skinny, Dana White and firm proceed to trudge alongside, posting report income, staying ubiquitous on social media (shout out to Power Slap!), and garnering huge mainstream curiosity with new broadcast offers on the horizon. At its coronary heart, UFC promotes fights, however as a enterprise entity, it has grow to be a lot greater than that.

It’s now not about giving followers the most effective particular person fights, however as a substitute about signing as a lot inexpensive expertise as attainable and trotting them out on the UFC APEX each week come hell or excessive water. When UFC goes on the street, occasions promote out earlier than lineups are even near being finalized, and the promotion is all the time working within the black with costly website charges now the norm (no extra off-beat Fight Night cities anymore, sorry Moncton!). What was as soon as an outlaw model within the skilled sports activities world is now a self-sustaining machine with no main obstacles in sight.

That final half is vital to say, as a result of keep in mind the antitrust lawsuit that has been hanging over UFC’s head for the previous few years? It’s all but settled, with a only a few Is to be dotted and Ts left to be crossed earlier than the nine-figure payout is resolved. An enormous hit for UFC, no query, till you do not forget that it’s successful it will probably afford to take, one which can be swept beneath the rug by the point we’ve hit the midpoint of 2025.

Add within the partnership with fellow sports activities leisure big WWE beneath the TKO banner, and you may see why UFC is in no hazard of trending downward anytime quickly.

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