The Korean Zombie’s Retirement
Emotion is what helps us remember certain instances in life. We watch sports, TV and listen to music to make us feel something. Because of this, memories get tied to emotions, and one of the best memories we got from the UFC this year was The Korean Zombie’s last fight against Max Holloway. Though Zombie would lose in his retirement match, it was still memorable due to the fantastic efforts of the Singapore crowd.
Zombie is known to walk out to the song “Zombie” by the Cranberries. The crowd singing the song on both his walkout to the cage and his leaving the cage brought so many emotions to UFC fans watching around the world, from seeing the emotion on Zombie and his wife’s face from the rollercoaster of emotions that the crowd was put through watching his fight against Max Holloway. It was something beautiful we all got to witness.
The love and respect the crowd showed to that man is unforgettable, and these types of moments only come a handful of times in sports. It is something we should all cherish and look back upon fondly.
Israel Adesanya Finally Gets One Against Alex Pereira
Izzy had held on to the middleweight belt since 2019. He defended it five times and lost it in his first loss at middleweight, against his long-time rival, Alex Pereira. A rivalry that has not only spanned years, but across different combat sports organizations. Alex had Izzy’s number, 3-0 across all of their fights in kickboxing and MMA, and in their second fight in the UFC, it looked like, for a moment, Alex was going to do to Izzy what he did in their first MMA fight.
Alex had Izzy up against the cage. Izzy was taking heavy shots, looking hurt, and Alex smelt blood in the water. Looking for the finish, he got in closer for the kill shot. And that’s when Izzy strikes; Izzy hits Alex with the quickest left-right combo, knocking Alex back, and lands the overhand right to knock out Alex cold.
An unbelievable sequence was followed by a memorable, yet controversial celebration, which was then followed by a post-fight speech about overcoming adversity. Whether you love Izzy, or hate him, you will always remember where you were when Izzy finally beat Alex Pereira.
Strickland Shocks the World
While Izzy was celebrating his top-of-the-world moment, you had Sean Strickland working in the background. Both Izzy and Sean had something in common: they both lost their first fight at middleweight against Alex Pereira in 2022. Sean would lose his 2nd fight by split decision at the end of 2022. If you told someone that Sean would be the middleweight champion by the end of 2023, they would call you delusional; that is where Sean Strickland was at at the beginning of 2023.
Sean climb his way back to an opportunity to fight for the middleweight title, and he went into the Izzy fight as a +650 underdog. It is fair to say, many did not have Sean winning that fight, and not only did he win, but he walked Izzy down and outmatched him for 4 out of 5 rounds. It was the type of win that does not require an instant rematch because it was such a deceive win.
Sean shocked the world and surprised himself by winning, saying, “Never in a million years I thought I’d be here.” His story resonates with many, the underdog story that so many of us relate to, and it is the main reason why his fight with Izzy was such an unforgettable moment.
Jon Jones Becomes The Heavyweight King, Easily
Jon Jones is no stranger to taking time away from the ring, but this time, he was returning to a new division against the biggest foe he had ever fought.
Facing Ciryl Gane was no joke; Gane is a great and precise striker, moving very lightly on his feet for a heavyweight fighter.
But, not only did Jones beat Gane, he made it look easy. Jones came out immediately, putting on pressure, and getting the takedown in the first minute, and a minute later, Jones put Gane in a guillotine choke. and won the fight. This fight is just another one for the Jones championship legacy, which has lasted over 12 years. Adding to the list of reasons why Jon Jones is one of the greatest ever to do it.
Islam Cements Himself, as Pound For Pound King
Islam and Volkanovski had a classic fight at the beginning of the year, with many people ranking them tied second in the Pound for Pound rankings, behind Jon Jones. Then, when Charles Oliveira had to pull out of the Islam fight, Volk gladly stepped in on short notice, seemingly ready to avenge the loss he got earlier in the year against Islam. But, Islam had a different idea. Instead, he would land a clean head kick on Volk that would be seen around the world, dropping Volk hard. Handing Volk his first TKO/KO loss in the UFC.
Islam showed that there are levels in this game, and he is a tier above everyone else. We will never forget the day Islam cemented himself as the clear Pound for Pound King.