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The 10 Best Upsets Of 2020

See which fighters pulled off the biggest upsets of the year.

The highly unofficial UFC.com best-of season continues with the biggest upsets of 2020 and how we called them on fight night…

10 – Brandon Royval-Timothy Elliott

Brandon Royval punches Tim Elliott in their flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 30, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Brandon Royval punches Tim Elliott in their flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 30, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Watch Royval defeat Elliott on UFC Fight Pass

Octagon newcomer Brandon Royval promised action in his UFC debut against flyweight contender Tim Elliott, and the two delivered up until Royval scored the upset via second-round submission.

Elliott got the fight to the mat to kick the bout off, and as he scrambled for position, he landed several hard strikes. Royval responded well and fought his way back to his feet, but Elliott remained locked on. Royval eventually got free, but Elliott wasn’t interested in a standup battle, as he continued to work his grappling attack. Royval had his moments on the feet, but whenever he got too aggressive, Elliott moved in for the takedown.

The frantic pace continued in round two, with Royval getting more scoring opportunities as Elliott’s attacks slowed in their intensity. And when the Coloradan was able to get top position on Elliott and sink in an arm triangle, it was game over, as Elliott tapped out at 3:18 of the second round.

9 – Daniel Pineda-Herbert Burns

Daniel Pineda reacts after his TKO victory over Herbert Burns in their featherweight bout during the UFC 252 event at UFC APEX on August 15, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Daniel Pineda reacts after his TKO victory over Herbert Burns in their featherweight bout during the UFC 252 event at UFC APEX on August 15, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Watch Pineda defeat Burns on UFC Fight Pass

Returning to the UFC for the first time in over six years, featherweight veteran Daniel Pineda scored an impressive second round TKO of Herbert Burns, handing the Brazilian his first Octagon loss.

Pineda tagged Burns with a pair of right hands in the opening minute, leading Burns to seek a takedown. Pineda fought the attempt, and after a brief trip to the mat, he wound up getting his own takedown. Firing off ground strikes and keeping Burns grounded, Pineda was impressing in his first UFC bout since 2014, wrapping up a dominant round.

Using a right hand to set up a takedown, Burns had a good start to the second round, eventually shaking off some elbows to the high to get into the mount position. Pineda scrambled out of trouble and got into the top position, and he went back to landing ground strikes. After locking Burns in the crucifix position, Pineda unleashed strike after strike, and with Burns unable to get free, referee Mark Smith stopped the fight at 4:37 of round two.

8 – Jan Blachowicz-Dominick Reyes

Jan Blachowicz of Poland reacts after defeating Dominick Reyes in their light heavyweight championship bout during UFC 253 inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on September 27, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Jan Blachowicz of Poland reacts after defeating Dominick Reyes in their light heavyweight championship bout during UFC 253 inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on September 27, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Watch Blachowicz defeat Reyes on UFC Fight Pass

For the first time in nearly a decade, the UFC’s light heavyweight division has a champion not named Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier, and that champion is Poland’s Jan Blachowicz, who stopped Dominick Reyes in the second round to win the title vacated by Jones earlier this year.

The tension was thick in the arena throughout the first round, with neither fighter taking any unnecessary chances. Blachowicz was the busier of the two, though, with a kick to the body leaving a visible mark on Reyes’ side.

Reyes picked up his work rate in the second round, but when he opened up late in the round, Blachowicz responded with power and volume, first hurting Reyes with a 1-2 to the nose before dropping him moments later with a left hand. A couple follow-up shots ended the bout, with referee Kevin Sataki stepping in at the 4:36 mark of round two.

Related: The Best Newcomers of 2020 | 2020 By The Numbers

7 – Daniel Rodriguez-Tim Means

Tim Means takes down Daniel Rodriguez in their welterweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Santa Ana Star Center on February 15, 2020 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Tim Means takes down Daniel Rodriguez in their welterweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Santa Ana Star Center on February 15, 2020 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Watch Rodriguez defeat Means on UFC Fight Pass

Welterweight newcomer Daniel Rodriguez made an immediate impact in his bout against veteran Tim Means, winning his debut via second-round submission.

Means opened the fight with a series of strikes followed by a takedown, but Rodriguez got to his feet quickly and then tried to get his own offense in gear. The fight settled into a competitive groove with both fighters having their moments, but at the horn, Rodriguez dropped Means with a left to the head and as the local favorite stood, he was on shaky legs.

Rodriguez kept the momentum going into round two as he landed several hard blows, but Means took the shots and kept throwing back. The striking battle was being won by Rodriguez, though, and after rocking Means again, he locked up a guillotine choke that forced the New Mexico product to tap out at 3:37 of the second stanza.

6 – Marlon Vera-Sean O’Malley

The Biggest UFC Upsets Of 2020
The Biggest UFC Upsets Of 2020
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Watch Vera defeat O'Malley on UFC Fight Pass

Ecuador’s Marlon Vera made the most of his co-main event spotlight, with an injury to Sean O’Malley, coupled with a ferocious ground-and-pound attack, allowing “Chito” to upset his foe and hand him his first pro loss via first-round TKO.

O’Malley focused on kicks to the legs in the early going, throwing in the occasional body kick for good measure. With under two minutes left, O’Malley appeared to injure his right leg, and Vera became the aggressor. O’Malley fell to the mat in the final minute, Vera following, and after a few hard elbows, referee Herb Dean stepped in, with the end coming at 4:40 of round one.

5 – Justin Jaynes-Frank Camacho

Justin Jaynes punches Frank Camacho in their lightweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 20, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Justin Jaynes punches Frank Camacho in their lightweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 20, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Watch Jaynes defeat Camacho on UFC Fight Pass 

Making his UFC debut on less than a week’s notice, Justin Jaynes wasted no time making an impression in lightweight action, as he halted veteran Frank Camacho in less than a minute.

On the attack from the start, Las Vegas’ Jaynes went right after Camacho, and 30 seconds in, he scored a knockdown with a left hand. Camacho tried to recover, but the relentless attack of Jaynes was too much, with a final right hand bringing in referee Herb Dean to stop the fight 41 seconds into round one.

4 – Khaos Williams-Alex Morono

Khaos Williams punches Alex Morono in their welterweight bout during the UFC 247 event at Toyota Center on February 08, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Khaos Williams punches Alex Morono in their welterweight bout during the UFC 247 event at Toyota Center on February 08, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Watch Williams defeat Morono on UFC Fight Pass

Late notice replacement Khaos Williams made quite the impression in his UFC debut, as he knocked out Houston’s own Alex Morono in the first round.

The exchanges got underway immediately, and Morono got the worst of it as he ate a left hand that staggered him. Moments later, a right uppercut dropped the local favorite to the mat, with a final series of shots bringing in referee Kerry Hatley to stop the fight 27 seconds into the opening stanza.

3 – Julian Erosa-Sean Woodson

Julian Erosa secures a d'arce choke against Sean Woodson in their fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 27, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Julian Erosa secures a d'arce choke against Sean Woodson in their fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 27, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Watch Erosa defeat Woodson on UFC Fight Pass

A week ago, Julian Erosa didn’t have a fight scheduled or a UFC roster spot. Tonight, he scored his first UFC win since 2015, as he submitted previously unbeaten Sean Woodson in the third round of a bout held at a catchweight of 150 pounds.

Not surprisingly, Woodson’s height and reach advantages were a tough puzzle to deal with in the first round, as the St. Louis native fired and landed effectively. At close range, Erosa was able to get in a few scoring shots, but not enough to deter Woodson. That changed in the second, as he pressured Woodson and had him on the defensive for large stretches. Woodson still landed the more effective blows as he tagged Erosa and marked his face up.

As the fight got closer, though, Woodson dropped Erosa early in the third, allowing him to get some breathing room. Erosa recovered quickly, though, and once standing, he marched after his foe, took a few more shots, but when he got Woodson’s neck, he had the upset secured, as Woodson tapped out to the D’Arce choke at 2:44 of the final frame.

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2 – Shana Dobson-Mariya Agapova

Shana Dobson: Post-Fight Interview
Shana Dobson: Post-Fight Interview
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Watch Dobson defeat Agapova on UFC Fight Pass

As the biggest underdog on Saturday’s card, Shana Dobson entered her bout against hot prospect Mariya Agapova with something to prove, and she did just that, halting her foe in the second round of their flyweight matchup

Agapova blitzed Dobson at the start of the bout and landed a couple shots before Dobson took her down. Agapova’s energy level didn’t dip in the slightest on the mat and she quickly got to her feet in order to pick up her own takedown. Dobson got loose and rose, and the frenetic action continued, Dobson scoring her second takedown with a little over three minutes left. Agapova reversed position and took Dobson’s back in the final 90 seconds, but “Danger” was able to get out of trouble and make it to the end of the round.

The fight went to the mat early in round two, Agapova in the top position. Dobson smoothly reversed position and went on the attack, and after a barrage of unanswered strikes, referee Mark Smith stepped in and stopped the fight at 1:38 of the second stanza.

1 – Roxanne Modafferi-Maycee Barber

Roxanne Modafferi has her hand raised over Maycee Barber in their flyweight fight during the UFC 246 event at T-Mobile Arena on January 18, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Roxanne Modafferi has her hand raised over Maycee Barber in their flyweight fight during the UFC 246 event at T-Mobile Arena on January 18, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Watch Modafferi defeat Barber on UFC Fight Pass

Veteran flyweight Roxanne Modafferi stunned previously unbeaten Maycee Barber as she scored a three-round unanimous decision victory over the highly touted up and comer.

Scores were 30-27 twice and 30-26 for the No. 7-ranked Modafferi, who ups her record to 24-17. The No. 9-ranked Barber falls to 8-1.

Modafferi landed a couple good right hands in the opening minute that led to a takedown, and the veteran went to work, keeping Barber grounded and doing just enough to keep the fight on the mat. Barber nearly caught her foe with a choke, but Modafferi escaped and got into the mount just before the end of the frame.

Modafferi put Barber on the deck with a jab early in round two and the fight was back on the mat, where the Colorado native grabbed her knee in pain. Ninety seconds in, Modafferi got into the mount and then cut Barber with an elbow, but “The Future” was able to scramble her way into the top position. Modafferi stayed busy from the bottom and reversed position, nearly locking in an arm triangle. Barber was poised under pressure as she looked for daylight, but it was another round in the books for “The Happy Warrior.”

Between rounds, the Octagonside physician examined Barber and told referee Jason Herzog that she had a partial ACL tear, but he cleared her to continue. It was evident, though, that each shot Modafferi landed was staggering her because Barber’s leg was compromised. In the second minute, the two were back on the mat. With three minutes left, Barber reversed position and assumed control, firing off elbows until Modafferi got free and was able to take over for the rest of the bout.

 

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES - Brunson-Shahbazyan, Palatnikov-Cosce, Jackson-Bektic, Dober-Haqparast, Minner-Laramie, Rencountre-Naurdiev, Cosce-Palatnikov, Magny-Li, Murphy-Lee

VOTERS – Thomas Gerbasi, Christoph Goessing, Cory Kamerschak, E. Spencer Kyte, Steve Latrell, Zac Pacleb, Gavin Porter