The year 2020 is now officially in the books for the UFC, as the Dana White-led promotion held 41 fight cards this past year, with odds available for all 456 bouts that took place in the Octagon. In a sport like MMA where anything can happen, it should be no surprise that there were a number of huge upsets this year, including the biggest coming courtesy of women’s flyweight Shana Dobson. Below are the top-10 UFC upsets of 2020. (Note: The MMA betting lines mentioned in the article below are based on the closing odds via MMAOddsbreaker.com‘s Nick Kalikas of Circa Sports.)
No. 1: Shana Dobson (+1150) def. Mariya Agapova (-1900), UFC Vegas 7 (08/22/20)
The biggest upset of all-time in the UFC saw Shana Dobson defeat Mariya Agapova via second-round TKO at UFC Vegas 7. Bettors overvalued Agapova following her stoppage win over Hannah Cifers, resulting in this crazy line. This was a classic case of the big favorite gassing out in the first round without getting a finish and then getting steamrolled by an underdog with superior cardio.
No. 2: Roxanne Modafferi (+650) def. Maycee Barber (-1000), UFC 246 (01/18/20)
The second-biggest upset saw Roxanne Modafferi win a dominant unanimous decision over Maycee Barber at UFC 246. Barber tore her ACL early in the fight and was not able to defend the takedowns from there on out, as Modafferi was dominant on the mat en route to a lopsided decision. It was another case of bettors fading the aging vet only to get burned by the young prospect instead. Modafferi’s victory is tied for the ninth-biggest upset in UFC history.
No. 3: Trevin Jones (+460) def. Timur Valiev (-595), UFC Vegas 7 (08/22/20)
The Trevin Jones vs. Timur Valiev fight featured one of the most improbable comebacks of the year. Jones took this fight at UFC Vegas 7 on just a few days’ notice and Valiev took it to him early on, unloading on Jones with body shots in the first round. Referee Chris Tognoni didn’t stop the fight, though, and after Valiev gassed out in the second, Jones came back and finished him with strikes. Jones later tested positive for marijuana, but bettors still cashed out their bets that night.
No. 4 Kevin Croom (+450) def. Roosevelt Roberts (-580), UFC Vegas 10 (09/12/20)
Kevin Croom stepped up on one day’s notice to fight Roosevelt Roberts at UFC Vegas 10 and he didn’t need much time to finish the fight, tapping out Roberts in the first minute with a guillotine choke. Croom’s win was overturned to a No Contest due to marijuana, but bettors still cashed out.
No. 5: Sasha Palatnikov (+425) def. Louis Cosce (-540), UFC 255 (11/21/20)
There were many unknowns about Sasha Palatnikov heading into his promotional debut at UFC 255 against top prospect Louise Cosce. But the first UFC fighter born in Hong Kong showed that the hype on Cosce was unwarranted, taking out the Contender Series prospect via third-round TKO.
No. 6: Julian Erosa (+385) def. Sean Woodson (-485), UFC Vegas 4 (06/27/20)
This fight at UFC Vegas 4 was pretty wild as Sean Woodson was controlling Julian Erosa through the first two rounds of the fight before he gassed out late. Erosa recognized this and started hurting Woodson to the body before sinking in a D’arce choke in the third round for an incredible upset win.
No. 7: Andrei Arlovski (+335) def. Tanner Boser (-410), UFC Vegas 13 (11/07/20)
Few saw this one coming as Andrei Arlovski turned back the clock and defeated the much younger Tanner Boser via unanimous decision at UFC Vegas 13. It was a low-volume, low-output type of fight, and the judges deemed Arlovski the winner after 15 minutes, cashing as a big underdog.
No. 8: Khaos Williams (+315) def. Alex Morono (-410), UFC 247 (02/08/20)
We didn’t know how good Khaos Williams was before he made his debut against Alex Morono at UFC 247, but after needing less than a minute to knock Morono out, we found out Williams is legit. Williams also scored an upset win later in the year when he defeated Abdul Razak Alhassan via knockout in just 30 seconds.
No. 9: Damon Jackson (+300) def. Mirsad Bektic (-365), UFC Vegas 11 (09/19/20)
This crazy comeback saw Damon Jackson submit Mirsad Bektic in the third round of their UFC Vegas 11 bout. Like many of Bektic’s fights, he started off strong only to tire late, which allowed the veteran Jackson to take advantage and secure the late submission finish via guillotine choke.
No. 10: Derek Brunson (+295) def. Edmen Shahbazyan (-355), UFC Vegas 5 (08/01/20)
Another big upset saw Derek Brunson finish top prospect Edmen Shahbazyan in the third round of their UFC Vegas 5 main event. As with many of the upsets on this list, Shahbazyan started strong but began to tire late and Brunson took over, finishing Shahbaznyan in the third round via TKO.
Five Honorable Mentions: Nicolas Dalby (+290) def. Daniel Rodriguez (-310), UFC 255 (11/21/20); Daniel Rodriguez (+275) def. Tim Means (-345), UFC Rio Rancho (15/02/20); Justin Jaynes (+270) def. Frank Camacho (-325), UFC Vegas 3 (06/20/20); Drew Dober (+270) def. Nasrat Haqparast (-340), UFC 246 (01/18/20); and Mounir Lazzez (+270) def. Abdul Razak Alhassan (-325), UFC Fight Island 1 (07/15/20).
What I took away from the list is that many of the upsets happened to mostly unproven UFC fighters who didn’t have the cardio to go the full 15 minutes, oftentimes against veterans. There were also a couple of quick first-round finishes on the list. Incredibly, the judges didn’t really come into play for the top-10 upsets except for the Andrei Arlovski vs. Tanner Boser fight, which was a controversial decision loss for Boser. Otherwise, nine of the top 10 upsets on the list resulted from finishes.
So there you have it, the top 10 biggest upsets of the year in the UFC during 2020, with Shana Dobson and her insane comeback win over Mariya Agapova at the top of the list. With over 40 cards expected once again in 2021, there will be plenty more opportunities for more big upsets.