We’ve Reached the Halfway Point of the Year… So it’s Time to Check Out Who Are the Biggest Winners and Losers in the MMA World So Far? 

The MMA world has never been so exciting. There are so many MMA promotions and fights going on around the world that you’ve always got something you can watch or follow. It’s impossible to keep track of everything because there is just so much happening.

However, some people at the top of the game have done better and worse than others. We’re going to look at the biggest winners and losers in 2019 so far. Obviously, with the UFC being the biggest promotion on the planet this article will be dominated by the US promotion.

There is some room for people from other organizations though. Check out the biggest winners and losers below and see if you agree!

Biggest Losers

August 4, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; TJ Dillashaw lands hits against Cody Garbrandt during UFC 227 at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports.

TJ Dillashaw

2019 looked like it was going to be the year TJ Dillashaw became a superstar. Instead, he lost to Henry Cejudo in their flyweight title fight and TJ’s hopes of becoming a two-weight champion were crushed. Then to add insult to injury, the former bantamweight champion tested positive for EPO.

EPO basically raises your endurance levels. Dillashaw was slammed with a two-year ban and stripped of his title. He openly admitted to cheating and has since said that he doesn’t regret it. This is one of the biggest falls from grace that the MMA world has ever seen. Figuratively anyway: he’s only 5″6.

Greg Hardy. Screenshot: Twitter.

Greg Hardy

Why is Greg Hardy being shoved in fan’s faces by the UFC? You’d almost feel sorry for him if it wasn’t for his background. Yes, we get it, he’s a former footballer and has relative mainstream name recognition because of that but sticking him into two co-main events?

The first was as bad as you can get as he gassed out and then illegally kneed Allan Crowder and was disqualified. He won the next one but was still booed to oblivion. Hardy might have a UFC contract but he doesn’t have the goodwill of the fans.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

Sage Northcutt and Eddie Alvarez

There are theories about why ONE decided to give former UFC fighters Northcutt and Alvarez the baptisms of fire they received. First: because they genuinely believed they’d win against tough opposition. The second: because it would show the world that ONE fighters are just as good as their UFC counterparts.

Well, Northcutt and Alvarez found out the latter the hard way. Both of them had their faces broken up by Cosmo Alexandre and Timothy Nastyukhin. The money might be good but the grass isn’t always greener outside of the UFC. For Northcutt, in particular, this was a devastating defeat as he suffered eight facial fractures.

August 4, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Henry Cejudo moves in against Demetrious Johnson during UFC 227 at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports.

UFC Flyweight Division

At the time of writing, there are 12 ranked fighters in the UFC flyweight division. In every other men’s division, there are 15. So that means there are literally just 12 fighters right now at 125lbs. Every day that passes by appears to be another day closer to the division being shut down for good. If you lose now in a flyweight fight you are out.

Henry Cejudo’s bantamweight title win over Marlon Moraes also makes it easier for the promotion to cut the rest of the flyweights. Their champion will still have a title and the legacy of being a double-weight class belt holder so it won’t really affect him negatively at all. The writing is on the wall for the little guys.

Aaron Pico. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

Aaron Pico

Aaron Pico is our final entry on the list of biggest losers. It might seem a little bit harsh to include him here but it’s been quite the fall for the young fighter. He joined Bellator with a massive reputation but that’s been punctured by two heavy defeats in his last two appearances, both coming this year.

A KO loss by a brutal punch in January, during a dumb exchange, saw his exciting four-fight winning streak end. Then in June, he fought much smarter after moving to Jackson-Wink. However, he still got smashed in the face by a flying knee. This prospect still has the chance to grow but his star power has definitely faded alongside his chin.

Biggest Winners

Ben Askren. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

Ben Askren

What a year it has been for Ben Askren. He became part of the first trade between two major promotions as he finally joined the UFC with Demetrious Johnson going the other way to ONE. While he was given a baptism of fire by Robbie Lawlor it hasn’t affected his marketability at all.

‘Funky’ has been a breath of fresh air for the UFC. He’s a superb trash talker without any of the cringe of a Colby Covington and has already got a legion of fans around him. Despite having a wrestling style he still attracts a lot of people and looks set to finish 2019 strongly.

Henry Cejudo. Screenshot: Twitter.

Henry Cejudo

While the rest of the flyweight division is in meltdown, Cejudo is having the time of his life. The King of Cringe might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but there’s no doubt that he’s one of the biggest winners of 2019 so far. He successfully defended his title against an EPO fuelled TJ Dillashaw and then claimed the 135lb belt.

Now he can relax knowing that even if the UFC does away with flyweight, he’ll still be a champion and have all the benefits that come with that honour. Oh, and did you know that he’s an Olympic gold medallist?

ONE Superstar Angela Lee. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

ONE Championship

The Singapore-based promotion has had a massive 2019 so far and looks set to continue their remarkable rise in a bid to challenge the UFC’s dominance over the sport of MMA. While the UFC remains indisputably the biggest promotion this side of the planet, the same can be said of ONE in Asia.

They’ve also made gains in America by signing a deal with Turner Sports. Also, the signings of the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Demetrious Johnson and Sage Northcutt have brought them new exposure. The defeats of the former and the latter have shown how good the rest of the ONE roster is. There’s a lot more to come from them.

Kyoji Horiguchi. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

Kyoji Horiguchi

The Japanese fighter started off the year by defending the RIZIN bantamweight title at RIZIN 14 against Bellator Champion Darrion Caldwell. Well, he’s gone one step forward by becoming the only fighter in the world right now to hold two MMA titles in major promotions.

He crossed over to Bellator and took Caldwell’s belt to become a rare unified MMA champion. Horiguchi can now claim to be one of the greatest bantamweight fighters in the world. He’s also helped to pave the way towards a new type of super fight. Could we see UFC/ONE or UFC/Bellator crossovers in the future?

Israel Adesanya. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

Israel Adesanya

The next UFC superstar? Nigerian-born New Zealander Israel Adesanya has become one of the biggest names in MMA after an epic 2018 launched him into title contention. He sealed his status as the UFC’s interim middleweight champion by showing a lot of heart and skill to come back and defeat Kelvin Gastelum. This was one of the fights of the year.

Now he’s set to take on Robert Whittaker for the undisputed title. That fight looks like it’s going to happen in Las Vegas because of the increased exposure it will get compared to in Australia, where it was initially intended to be. If he beats the Ozzie, ‘The Last Stylebender’ could be the UFC’s next genuine superstar.

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