3. Jorge Masvidal
It is a testament to his star power that Jorge Masvidal fought only once, lost, and yet still established that he was a bonafide pay-per-view attraction in 2020. The BMF champ was already the top contender going into 2020, and welterweight champion Kamaru Usman’s return in July had everyone penciling in a match-up with Masvidal for one of the most anticipated fights of the year. However, negotiations would fall apart and the UFC went on to book Gilbert Burns against Usman.
Disaster would strike a week out from the fight with Burns testing positive for COVID-19 and being forced out of the headliner. The turn of events became the unlikeliest of scenarios in Masvidal’s favor where he was now seen as the hero stepping in on short notice to save the day.
The mystique of the UFC’s arrival on “Fight Island” captured the imagination of the entire MMA world and the general public. The UFC lucked out in some ways: For example, the UFC video game that was already planned to feature Masvidal and Israel Adesanya on the cover was unveiled during Fight Week. The promotion also called in favors such as having A-List superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson speak with UFC reporter Megan Olivi about Masvidal to help promote the fight
Masvidal would fall short in his bid to win the title, but his numbers on social media left no question that he was the people’s champion and could carry a pay-per-view without a UFC title holder opposite him.