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Things We're Thankful For

A Small Sample Of UFC Things That We're Thankful For:

We have plenty to be thankful this holiday season, especially in the world of MMA.

From jaw-dropping knockouts to unbelievable fights, 2021 has had a little bit of everything. Today we look at just a few of the things that we, as UFC fans, were thankful to witness thus far this year.

Thankful For The Newcomers

Michael Chandler

Michael Chandler reacts after his knockout victory over Dan Hooker of New Zealand in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Michael Chandler reacts after his knockout victory over Dan Hooker of New Zealand in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa

The highly anticipated UFC debut of Michael Chandler did not disappoint. Chandler proved he belonged in a big way, knocking out Dan Hooker in his debut and then going on to face Charles Oliveira for the UFC lightweight title. Although Chandler fell short against Oliveira, he remained focused on climbing to the top and put on an absolute display of fireworks at UFC 268 when he fought Justin Gaethje in a Fight of the Year contender.

View Chandler's Athlete Profile

No matter what’s in store for Michael Chandler in 2022, you can guarantee that I’ll be watching. He’s been a perfect addition to the mix of beasts at lightweight.

Paddy Pimblett

Highlight: Paddy Pimblett Gets A Debut TKO Win | UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Till
Highlight: Paddy Pimblett Gets A Debut TKO Win | UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Till
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Paddy Pimblett gets a TKO win in the first round at UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Till.


The Cage Warriors prodigy backed up the hype when he finally made his walk to the world-famous UFC Octagon. Paddy Pimblett knocked out Luigi Vendramini in a big way and proved that he is truly a prospect to keep an eye on for years to come.

View Pimblett's Athlete Profile Here

Ian Garry

Ian Garry Octagon Interview | UFC 268: Usman vs Covington 2
Ian Garry Octagon Interview | UFC 268: Usman vs Covington 2
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An Irishman who won a title in Cage Warriors, sound familiar? The footsteps of Conor McGregor don’t appear to feel too big to fit in for welterweight Ian Garry. He announced his presence with an amazing knockout of Jordan Williams at UFC 268 in Madison Square Garden. It truly was picture perfect and solidified Garry as a real player in the already stacked welterweight division.

View Garry's Athlete Profile Here

 

Thankful For Thrilling Fights

Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega

UFC 266 – September 25, 2021

Alexander Volkanovski of Australia (Bottom) defends against Brian Ortega (Top) during the UFC 266 event on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)
Alexander Volkanovski of Australia (Bottom) defends against Brian Ortega (Top) during the UFC 266 event on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

Whenever a belt is on the line, there are expectations that come with a fight of such magnitude. To say that Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega met those expectations would be an understatement.

View Volkanovski's Athlete Profile | View Ortega's Athlete Profile

Both featherweights showed everything you want to see out of two championship level competitors and, to top it off, the third round of the fight might be the craziest round out of any title fight I’ve ever seen.

In the end, Volkanovski’s endless gas tank, toughness and outstanding pressure were too much for Ortega, and he was able to defend his featherweight title. What a fight.

Justin Gaethje vs Michael Chandler

UFC 268 – November 6, 2021

thumb 268 gaethje vs chandler

Everyone knew that matching up Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler would be an all-action, must-watch fight. Sometimes a highly anticipated matchup can fall short, but from the first ten seconds of the fight you could tell that fight fans around the world were in for a treat.

RELATED: Gaethje's Octagon Interview After UFC 268

Gaethje and Chandler proceeded to leave everything in the Octagon, engaging in a slugfest that had the crowd in MSG losing their minds. Although Gaethje left New York City with the unanimous decision, it was the fans that really won that night.

Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez

UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Rodriguez - November 13, 2021

Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez of Mexico punch each other in their featherweight main event bout at UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Rodriguez on Saturday, November 13, 2021 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez of Mexico punch each other in their featherweight main event bout at UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Rodriguez on Saturday, November 13, 2021 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Another fight that was a can’t miss on paper, Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez followed a week after Gaethje-Chandler and the two featherweights met – and exceeded – those expectations, with Holloway, the former 145-pound champ, edging out the gutsy Rodriguez via decision.

View Their Athlete Profiles: Max Holloway | Yair Rodriguez

 

Thankful For Incredible Celebrations

Chris Barnett

UFC 268 – November 6, 2021

Highlight: Chris Barnett Gets Jaw-Dropping First Win Inside Octagon | UFC 268
Highlight: Chris Barnett Gets Jaw-Dropping First Win Inside Octagon | UFC 268
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A heavyweight cannon ball front-flip? There is no way that Chris Barnett couldn’t lead this category after a celebration like that. The big man’s wheel kick knockout win over Gian Villante at UFC 268 was incredible and to follow it up like that was one of the best moments of 2021.

View Barnett's Athlete Profile

Sean O'Malley

UFC 260 - March 27, 2021

 Sean O'Malley reacts after his knockout victory over Thomas Almeida of Brazil in their bantamweight fight during the UFC 260 event at UFC APEX on March 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Sean O'Malley reacts after his knockout victory over Thomas Almeida of Brazil in their bantamweight fight during the UFC 260 event at UFC APEX on March 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Every fighter has a different way of celebrating a highlight reel type victory. Not many fighters have as much swagger as Sean O’Malley, who celebrated his emphatic knockout of Thomas Almeida with a fade away jump shot. The guy is pure entertainment.

View O'Malley's Athlete Profile

Charles Oliveira

UFC 262 - May 15, 2021

Charles Oliveira of Brazil reacts after defeating Michael Chandler in their UFC lightweight championship bout at Toyota Center on May 15, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Charles Oliveira of Brazil reacts after defeating Michael Chandler in their UFC lightweight championship bout at Toyota Center on May 15, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Watching Charles Oliveira sprint around the Toyota Center celebrating with the crowd was unforgettable. “Do Bronx” fought tooth and nail to earn the UFC lightweight title and seeing him overcome with emotion was truly one of the coolest things to ever happen in the UFC.

PRE-ORDER OLIVEIRA'S NEXT FIGHT AGAINST DUSTIN POIRIER HERE

 

Thankful For Perseverance

Charles Oliveira

Charles Oliveira Octagon Interview | UFC 262: Oliveira vs Chandler
Charles Oliveira Octagon Interview | UFC 262: Oliveira vs Chandler
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It took Charles Oliveira 28 UFC fights and over a decade to become a UFC champion, and if you ask him, he’ll tell you it was all worth it. The pure emotion displayed by Oliveira following his knockout victory over Michael Chandler at UFC 262 was one of the feel-good moments of the year and showed the value of never quitting on your dreams.

View Oliveira's Athlete Profile

Brandon Moreno

UFC 263 - June 12, 2021

Brandon Moreno of Mexico reacts after submitting Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil to win the UFC flyweight championship fight during the UFC 263

In 2018, Brandon Moreno was cut from the UFC, but the setback only made for a bigger comeback. “The Assassin Baby” vowed to become the UFC flyweight champion and he followed through on that promise at UFC 263 when he dominated Deivesion Figueiredo in their rematch. Moreno became the first Mexican-born champion in UFC history and captured the hearts of fans worldwide.

MORE MORENO: Leveling Up With Brandon Moreno | Brandon Moreno Discusses His Legacy

Glover Teixeira

UFC 267 - October 30, 2021

Glover Teixeira of Brazil celebrates after his victory over Jan Blachowicz of Poland in the UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 267 event at Etihad Arena on October 30 2021 in Yas Island Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Glover Teixeira of Brazil celebrates after his victory over Jan Blachowicz of Poland in the UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 267 event at Etihad Arena on October 30 2021 in Yas Island Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris

In 2014, Glover Teixeira fell short of claiming the light heavyweight strap to then champion Jon Jones. It took him seven years of ups and downs, but at UFC 267 he had his second chance at sitting alone at the top of mountain and he wouldn’t be denied. Teixeira dominated Blachowicz from start to finish on his way to becoming a UFC champion after fighting professionally for almost 20 years.

MORE TEXEIRA: Age Ain't Nothin' But A Number | Teixeira Reacts To Becoming The Champ

 

Thankful For Sportsmanship

UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Rodriguez – November 13, 2021

At the end of the day, mixed martial arts is built on respect and while there are many instances in 2021 that we could point to in order to illustrate this, it was beautiful to see the brotherhood between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez after their amazing fight.

The two featherweight warriors were both transported to a local hospital due to injuries sustained in their bout, but before the ambulance left, they were able to embrace one last time.

Sportsmanship like this shows why this sport is so great and why the athletes that step inside that Octagon are so special.

 

Thankful For The Fans

UFC 261 – April 25, 2021

After a full year of empty arenas, the UFC sold out VyStar Veterans Arena in Jacksonville, FL for UFC 261. The result was an epic night of amazing fights, knockouts, submissions, and support from the fans.

The fans brought an energy that made that night in Jacksonville magic. The UFC would be nothing without the fans and no event is quite the same without hearing every chant, woo, and scream.

 

Happy holidays and we can’t wait to see the amazing moments we’ll be thankful for in 2022.