Several underdogs emerged victorious in 2018 stunning audiences and shaking up the landscape of divisions.
At UFC 232 on December 29, bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes went up a division and knocked out featherweight champion Cris Cyborg shocking those in attendance and watching worldwide. In 51 seconds, “The Lioness” took out the long-standing baddest female on the planet. Heading into the fight, Cyborg hadn’t lost in 13 years.
Nunes became the first woman to hold two UFC titles at the same time and the first fighter to knockout Cyborg. With the win, Nunes shot up the pound-for-pound rankings and became the greatest female fighter in MMA history. While Nunes’s win was one of the biggest upsets in 2018, another fighter edged her out for Upset of the Year.
Heading into UFC 227 on August 4, flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson sat atop the pound-for-pound rankings. He holds the record for the most consecutive UFC title defenses with 11. “Mighty Mouse” was the most dominant champion the organization had seen. Johnson hadn’t tasted defeat since 2011 and was unbeaten as a flyweight.
He faced Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo in the UFC 227 main event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Johnson had already soundly beaten Cejudo at UFC 197 by first-round TKO. Johnson simply didn’t lose fights and rarely even lost a round. He had held the 125-pound title since September 2012. That was all about to change.
Johnson came out in the first frame looking like he typically does. He was quick on his feet and was beating Cejudo to the punch while moving out or range to avoid counter attacks. In the second round, Cejudo moved forward and secured a takedown. He took Johnson down twice in the third round but was unable to keep him grounded.
In the fourth round, Johnson was landing shot but Cejudo put him on his back midway through the frame. He kept Johnson on the ground for the remainder of the round. Heading into the final frame, the fight was even.
Johnson had his moments in the early going of the fifth round landing leg kicks and right hands. Late in the frame, Cejudo closed the distance and powered Johnson to the canvas. Johnson quickly got back to his feet. In the final seconds, Cejudo poured on the offense. After being finished by Johnson in their first fight, Cejudo got the nod from the judges in the rematch. He earned a split decision victory, the flyweight belt and the Upset of the Year.