Fight Of The Night honors is the type of recognition that fighters look to associate with their name.
Earning FOTN indicates that the bout produces adrenaline, excitement and fireworks in way that stood out from the rest of the card. That stand-out fight could come in the form of a back and forth brawl, a fast-paced slugfest or an incredible display of high-level martial arts.
After each event UFC.com will list out and update the power rankings of each 2020 FOTN ending the calendar year with a complete picture of the year’s best fights.
The criteria applied to each ranking includes: Entertainment value, watchability, competitiveness (back and forth), the type of fight (technical vs brawl vs well-rounded), intensity (crazy moments) and the quality of the finish (if there is one).
Each fight is viewed as if they are in a vacuum, meaning the context surrounding a fight does not factor into the rankings. For example: A title fight could definitely have more implications that the opening fight on the prelims, but the best fight based off the given criteria will receive the highest ranking.
Let's get to the rankings.
Note: These rankings only represent FOTN awards confirmed by the UFC.
Lightweight contenders Dan Hooker and Paul Felder were expected to deliver the goods in the UFC Auckland main event at Spark Arena, and that’s exactly what they did in a memorable five-round war that saw Hooker emerge with a split decision victory that propels him further up the list of elite 155-pounders.
As for Hooker’s rival for five rounds, he may have made his last walk to the Octagon.
“This might be it for me,” said an emotional Felder, who cited being away from his four-year-old daughter for his leaning towards retirement. That’s a final decision for another day, though. For today, fans will celebrate a fight to remember between two of the best in a stacked division.
Scores were 48-47 twice and 47-48 for the No. 7-ranked Hooker, now 21-8. The No. 6-ranked Felder falls to 17-5.
After refusing Felder’s offer to touch gloves, Auckland’s own Hooker got right down to business with a series of kicks to the calf as he used movement and range to keep his foe at bay. With two minutes left, Felder landed a hard left hook, putting him on the board, but Hooker took it well and kept using lateral movement to his advantage. As the round wound down, Hooker locked Felder up against the fence briefly, and then it was back to sticking and moving as Felder marched forward.
Felder was showing damage to his right eye after the opening frame, prompting him to show even more urgency to get inside on Hooker, who calmly stuck to his game plan in response. In the second minute, Felder did well in exchanges, only to have Hooker lock him up for a spell until the two separated. Felder proceeded to work his kicking game in the closing stages of the round, but Hooker upped his work rate, leading to some more heated exchanges.
The already compelling action heated up in the third round, with Felder beginning to land more and more shots to the head and legs while Hooker was now marked up on his face but still throwing and landing as the fight began to approach the championship rounds.
Felder was throwing bombs to start the fourth frame, and he landed several on Hooker, rocking him briefly in the second minute. Hooker responded with a takedown attempt, but when that came up short, he settled for a brief clinch against the fence. The two broke briefly, then locked up again, Hooker in control until they separated. Felder went on to land a pair of hard right hands, but Hooker wasn’t budging. Hooker went back to his clinch game in the final minute, but Felder wouldn’t give him the takedown, sending the fight to a fifth round.
Starting off strong, Felder continued to tag Hooker in the fifth, prompting another grappling sequence from Hooker, but after they broke, “The Hangman” went back to his striking attack, with every blow pivotal for each man. A takedown by Hooker with a minute left caused the crowd to erupt for their fighter, and as the two scrambled for position, there were more roars from the packed house, and they lasted through the final horn, when the two rivals shared a hug that could only be earned by 25 minutes of battle.
Welterweight James Krause made headlines around the MMA world on Friday when he stepped up on a day’s notice to face Trevin Giles at middleweight, and rightfully so, but it was Houston’s Giles who took the victory by way of an exciting three-round split decision.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Giles, now 12-2. Krause, who replaced Antonio Arroyo, falls to 27-9.
Krause got a takedown in the opening minute, but Giles was up to his feet immediately. Krause stayed locked on and took Giles’ back as they went back to the mat, and while the veteran threatened with a choke, in the final minute it was Giles getting free, rising and scoring with some hard shots before the end of the frame.
Giles kept it standing for the first three minutes of round two and that allowed him to land several hard blows on Krause. As the bout went to the mat with under two to go, Giles took the top position and landed a barrage of hard shots on the tiring Krause, drawing a hard look from referee Jacob Montalvo before nearly sinking in a choke with seconds to go in the round.
Krause got off to a good start in the third, as he was landing good shots from all angles. Midway through the round, Giles rattled the bloodied Krause but wasn’t able to put him away, but his surge was enough to take the nod on the scorecards and snap a two-fight losing streak.
Fighting for the first time since August 2018, bantamweight up and comer Brett Johns snapped a two-fight losing streak with a third-round submission of Tony Gravely.
Johns dominated the first round behind a slick grappling attack that nearly produced a finish in the closing seconds of the frame. Gravely came out fast for the second, though, landing a couple hard shots on the feet before slamming Johns to the mat twice. Johns soon broke out of his slow start to the round, but neither fighter could pull ahead decisively before round’s end.
Gravely got a takedown to start the third frame, but Johns responded well and took his foe’s back. A barrage of ground strikes followed and, this time, when the Welshman sunk in the rear naked choke, Gravely was forced to tap out at 2:53 of round three.
With the win, Johns moved to 16-2. Gravely fell to 19-6.
Scott Holtzman won the most important fight of his career, taking a unanimous decision over veteran lightweight star Jim Miller in a grueling three-round battle.
The fight stayed on the feet for the first five minutes, each fighter having his moments before the horn sounded. For Miller, the left hand was the weapon of choice, but in the second half of the round, Holtzman found his timing with his right upstairs, making sure he got the veteran’s attention.
In the second minute of round two, Miller used a missed spin by Holtzman to wrap up his foe, but “Hot Sauce” got free quickly. The two then let loose with their strikes at close range, both emerging bloody before a clinch at the two-minute mark. Holtzman used the position to get a takedown, and he finished the round with a series of ground strikes.
The third was a war of attrition in the pocket, with Holtzman and Miller both digging deep in the high altitude to get the win, but it was Knoxville’s Holtzman who took the nod via scores of 30-27 and 29-28 twice,
With the win, Holtzman moves to 14-3. Sparta, New Jersey’s Miller falls to 31-14 with 1 NC.