MMA 2019 Year in Review: Event of the Year

Jon Jones and Thiago Santos UFC 239
Jon Jones and Thiago Santos Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

It was a close contest, but one event stood out above the rest in 2019.

A lot of good events, a lot of solid fight cards — but what show truly stood out in 2019? From Honolulu to Tel Aviv, Moscow to Vancouver, there were MMA events all over the map this year. Some stood out more than others, some built contenders and solidified legacies. Below is our pick for Event of the Year, which turned out to be a three-horse race.

Event of the Year

Heath Harshman: UFC 236 was great, given the importance of the top two fights on the card. Featuring Israel Adesanya, Kelvin Gastelum, Dustin Poirier, and Max Holloway, the April PPV was tough to beat. Then, Nate Diaz came back. The return of Nate, and his impressive victory, along with Stipe-DC 2, the brawl between Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa, and a host of other impressive performances and fun match-ups makes UFC 241 the event of the year. There was tons of hype, and it managed to live up to it.

Jay Anderson: UFC 239, UFC 244, UFC 245 — a lot of great cards. Bellator going to Japan is worth a mention as well. But what do we look for in a great event? Story lines? Great fights? Relevance to a divisional title picture? Less tangible factors? The DC card had plenty of finishes, and saw the emergence of Jair Rozenstruik as a heavyweight contender. It featured just the second twister submission in UFC history. One of the latest finishes in a main event. Two draws, when one is a rarity. 239, 244, and 245 were great but I’m going to go with UFC DC.

Michael Lynch: The best event of the year was UFC on ESPN 7 (DC). Everyone loves finishes, and this card had nine finishes plus two very close fights.

Ryan Fortune: UFC 244. My event of the year was headlined by the “BMF” title fight between fan favorites Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz. The winner of the “BMF” title (Masvidal) was presented with the belt by actor and former WWE wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Also on the card at Madison Square Garden was the middleweight debut of Darren Till, the return of Stephen Thompson and heavyweight brawler Derrick Lewis. Highlights of the event included Kevin Lee’s monster knockout over Gregor Gillespie, Corey Anderson’s one-sided destruction of Johnny Walker, Edmen Shabazyan’s first-round starching of Brad Tavares and the third UFC knockout win for Jairzinho Rosenstruik against former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski. A historic event which provided plenty of action in New York City.

Joe McDonagh: UFC 245. Amanda Nunes does what she does. A dethroning of one of the great champions on the roster. And a main event between two people filled with pure hatred of each other, and that was only three fights on the wholly great card.

Josh Evanoff: UFC 244 literally had a custom WWE-esque championship on the line in the main event, the current United States President in attendance, and the Rock playing the role of Dana White. It was such an absurd backdrop to an amazing nights of fights, including Corey Anderson making a statement with a KO of Johnny Walker, Kevin Lee’s comeback KO, and Jorge Masvidal dominating in the main event.

Gabriel Gonzalez: UFC 239. Just look at everything on this card: Masvidal’s knockout of Ben Askren, Jan Blachowicz’s knockout of Luke Rockhold, Amanda Nunes further establishing her dominance over Holly Holm, and a near upset of pound-for-pound number one Jon Jones all occurred in the span of a single PPV broadcast for one of the more memorable Fourth of July cards in UFC history.

Dan Doherty: We were spoiled this year with great events that lived up to expectations. One that stands out to me was UFC 239. Two title fights and a grudge match between Masvidal and Askren. We had the KO of the Year, Amanda Nunes cementing her legacy as the GOAT, and Jon Jones being truly tested for the first time in a while, maybe ever. Not to mention a great KO by Jan Blachowicz among other finishes on the card.

Mike McClory: UFC 239. From top to bottom this card had it all. Well, minus a Twister submission. But what it lacked in Twisters it made up for in KO’s with Yadong Song’s crushing right hand opening things up against Alejandro Perez on the prelims. Jan Błachowicz popped Luke Rockhold’s head back like a Rock ’em Sock ’em robot. Jorge Masvidal’s 5-second flying knee KO of Ben Askren followed and oh yeah, Amanda Nunes KO’d Holly Holm with an impressive head kick followed by punches. A very entertaining card with some great match-ups.

Keith Shillan: UFC 236. Both the main event (Dustin Poirier vs. Max Holloway) and co-main event (Israel Adesanya vs. Kelvin Gastelum) are fight of the year candidates.

End result: UFC DC and UFC 244 both took a couple of votes, but it was UFC 239 that takes home the prize.