In the world of mixed martial arts, one league stands tall above all others, and that’s the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Even people who don’t care about competitive MMA know about the UFC, and the star power of fighters like Conor McGregor and Jon Jones now extends far outside the Octagon. Online streaming services – in particular, ESPN+ – have also made it easy for UFC fans to enjoy all the action online, from live events and pay-per-views to replays, post-fight analysis, interviews, press conferences, and more.
Under normal circumstances, the UFC hosts events almost every Saturday and big pay-per-view shows monthly. However, while the promotion hit the ground running in the early part of 2020, the ongoing public health crisis lead to the postponement of UFC 249 as well as other scheduled events in April. With that announcement, UFC CEO Dana White promised that he was going to do all he could to get the fighters back in the Octagon as soon as possible, and even worked with the United Arab Emirates to develop of a private “fight island” in Abu Dhabi as a venue for future matches. The first major event to take place on Fight Island is UFC 251.
White has made good on that promise, and the bloody action of UFC is now officially back on. Below, we’ve put together a run-down of what to expect for the UFC 2020 schedule as well as a list of which fighters to keep your eyes on, plus a quick guide on how you can watch UFC with ESPN+. We’ll add new information as it becomes available — so be sure to keep checking back for the latest scheduling updates.
How To Watch UFC
You can watch most UFC events with any service (cable, satellite, or streaming) that includes ESPN channels, but ESPN+ is by far the best way to get access to everything – and it’s the only way to watch UFC pay-per-view events. These PPVs are the ones you don’t want to miss: So far for 2020, we’ve seen MMA legends Conor McGregor and Jon Jones step back into the Octagon, and more great stuff is coming down the pipe as the year progresses.
ESPN+ is a premium streaming service which the sports broadcaster launched in early 2018. Sports content tends to have stricter regional restrictions than other types of media, which is part of the reason why ESPN was slower than others to join the streaming revolution; now that ESPN+ is here, though, it has grown into a must-have for fans of MMA, boxing, and all kinds of other sports like Major League Soccer.
Your ESPN+ subscription gives you access to live games and matches, pre- and post-event on-demand content, exclusive shows like Dana White’s Contender Series, and more, which you can enjoy on your computer web browser or your mobile device via the ESPN app. It’s pretty cheap, too, at just $5 per month or $50 per year (a better deal), but if you’re looking for a bigger streaming package, the best value is easilyfor just $13 per month.
UFC 2020 Schedule and Results
UFC 246: Conor McGregor defeats Donald Cerrone
UFC started 2020 with a bang, with its first pay-per-view event of the year featuring MMA all-star Conor McGregor finally stepping back into the Octagon after a 15-month hiatus for UFC 246 on January 18. It was a performance worthy of McGregor’s pedigree, with “The Notorious” handily defeating Donald Cerrone via a first-round knockout in just 40 seconds.
UFC 247: Jon Jones defeats Dominick Reyes
February saw another iconic UFC star, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, claiming an impressive win. Jones successfully defended his title against undefeated challenger Dominick Reyes, issuing Reyes his first loss via unanimous decision.
UFC 248: Israel Adesanya defeats Yoel Romero
Israel Adesanya defended his middleweight title belt for the first time at UFC 248 in Las Vegas on March 7. As predicted, Adesanya remained undefeated, but he did so in a rather lackluster performance. The match against Yoel Romero went the distance without much excitement.
UFC 249: Justin Gaethje (replacing Khabib Nurmagomedov) defeats Tony Ferguson in TKO
Fans, starved of live sports for weeks, we’re looking for an action-packed fight, and that’s exactly what they got. Justin Gaethje, a step-in for Khabib Nurmagomedov, defeated Tony Ferguson with a TKO at the 3:39 mark of the fifth round. The UFC 249 win in Jacksonville, Florida on May 9 grants him the interim lightweight title. Gaethje is now hoping for a shot at the 28-0 Nurmagomedov. Henry Cejudo, originally slated for UFC 250, was also bumped to the UFC 249 main card and successfully defended his title against Dominick Cruz (replacing Jose Aldo).
UFC 250: Amanda Nunes defeats Felicia Spencer
MMA fans were spoiled again on June 6 with another title bout. Champion Amanda “Lioness” Nunes (20-4), who holds the belts in women’s bantamweight and featherweight divisions and is the UFC’s top-ranked female fighter, defeated Canadian Felicia “Feenom” Spencer (8-2) to defend her women’s featherweight belt. This victory made Nunes the first UFC fighter to successfully defend two titles at the same time.
UFC 251: Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns
UFC 251 will be the first major UFC event to (finally) take place in the mysterious “Fight Island” that Dana White has —until now — given little detail about. Fight Island is located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The main event is the welterweight title bout between champion Kamaru Usman (16-1) and Gilbert Burns (19-3). Alex Volkanovski and Max Holloway will also go toe-to-toe in a featherweight title rematch. The event is scheduled for July 11.
UFC 252: Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier
The next pay-per-view event after UFC 251 will take place on August 15, pitting two-time and current UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic against former champion Daniel Cormier. This will be the third time these two combatants have faced each other in the Octagon: Cormier first took the heavyweight title from Miocic in 2018 at UFC 226, but Miocic then reclaimed his belt with a rematch victory over Cormier at UFC 241 last year. UFC 252 will serve as their trilogy bout, deciding once and for all which of these fighters is the true heavyweight champ.
Full UFC 2020 schedule for upcoming fights
|July 11||10 p.m. ET||UFC 251||Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns|
|July 15||10 p.m. ET||UFC Fight Night||Calvin Kattar vs. Dan Ige|
|July 18||9 p.m. ET||UFC Fight Night||Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Benavidez|
|July 25||11 p.m. ET||UFC Fight Night||Robert Whittaker vs. Darren Till|
UFC Fighters to Watch out for in 2020
Khabib Nurmagomedov — Lightweight Champion
Khabib Nurmagomedov is one of a very few combatants in the UFC who boast an undefeated record, and a very impressive one at that with 28 professional wins. The Dagestani grappler is the current UFC Lightweight champion, having won the vacant title at UFC 223 when he defeated Al Iaquinta via unanimous decision. Khabib then scored a dominant victory in his title defense against Conor McGregor at UFC 229 where he forced “The Notorious” into submission with a fourth-round neck crank. His next fight was UFC 249 against Tony Ferguson on April 18, but he had to back out due to ongoing travel restrictions. Justin Gaethje took his place and defeated Ferguson on May 9 in a TKO win.
Conor McGregor — Lightweight/Welterweight
Conor McGregor should need no introduction among UFC fans, and even if you’re not that into MMA, chances are good you’ve heard of him. The boisterous Irish fighter, a lightweight-turned-welterweight with a record of 22 wins and four losses, most recently defeated Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 after a 15-month hiatus following his loss to Khabib at UFC 229. Fans were looking forward to seeing how he’d fare at this heavier weight class against a talent like Kamaru Usman, but on June 6, “The Notorious” announced that he was retiring from fighting altogether. McGregor had made a similar announcement in 2019 before returning to the ring, so it has yet to be seen whether his second retirement will be permanent.
Jon Jones — Light Heavyweight Champion
Jon Jones is one of the few fighters who is considered to be truly undefeated, even though his official record counts one loss along with his 26 wins. That “loss” came via disqualification due to an illegal move, and Jones’ run has not been without other controversies as well: He was stripped of his light heavyweight title after testing positive for an illegal performance-enhancing substance in 2017, but he reclaimed the belt at UFC 232 and has defended it since – most recently against the formerly undefeated Dominick Reyes at UFC 247.
Daniel Cormier – Heavyweight
Cormier is one of the UFC’s top heavyweights with a record of 22 wins and two losses, although he fought at light heavyweight from 2014 to 2018. For a time, the American held both the light heavyweight and heavyweight championships simultaneously, being the second of four fighters in UFC history to do so. The former champ relinquished the light heavyweight belt before moving back to heavyweight, where he won the title only to lose it in his most recent bout at UFC 241 against Stipe Miocic. Cormier has since stated that his next fight will be his last and that he is hoping for it to be a rematch with Miocic.
Israel Adesanya — Middleweight Champion
Israel Adesanya is a rising star in the world of MMA. The Nigerian-born kickboxer (now fighting out of New Zealand) boasts an undefeated professional record of 19 wins, and with 14 of those being KOs, it’s safe to say that Adesanya is one of the UFC’s premier knockout artists. Adesanya most recently won his March 7 bout defending his title against UFC star Yoel Romero at UFC 248.
Amanda Nunes — Double Bantamweight/Flyweight Champion
Hailing from Brazil, Amanda Nunes is a reigning double champion who currently holds both the women’s bantamweight and featherweight title belts – something that should suit the fighter who sits at the number one spot on the UFC woman’s pound-for-pound rankings. She has a professional record of 20 wins and four losses, although she hasn’t lost a single fight since 2014 and has enjoyed three years of successful title defenses so far. Upon defeating Felicia Spencer at UFC 250, Nunes became the first fighter to successfully hold and defend two title belts simultaneously.
Stipe Miocic — Heavyweight Champion
Currently the reigning UFC heavyweight champion, Stipe Miocic is one of only two fighters to have the distinction of beating Daniel Cormier, a victory he won at UFC 241 in 2019 which earned him the title belt (although he lost their first bout at UFC 226 a year earlier). Unfortunately, during his second fight against Cormier, Miocic suffered retinal damage due to multiple eye pokes and is out of action until some time later this year.
Francis Ngannou — Heavyweight
Sitting at number two in the UFC’s heavyweight rankings, Cameroonian-French fighter Francis Ngannou is a talent that has flown somewhat under the radar. His record of 14 wins (10 by knockout) and three losses is impressive, and he’s scored some notable victories including his most recent win against Junior dos Santos last June where he was awarded Performance of the Night. Ngannou was next slated to face Jairzinho Rozenstruik on March 28, until the UFC cancellations put that match on ice. It was thankfully moved to the UFC 249 main card, however, and will now take place on May 9.
Tony Ferguson — Lightweight
Tony Ferguson has been fighting professionally since 2008 and has since enjoyed one of the most successful MMA careers. The American formerly held the interim lightweight championship which he won at UFC 216 in 2017 but was stripped of the title due to an injury that kept him out of the Octagon for a while. However, Ferguson almost had another shot at the title very soon, as he was going to be challenging Khabib Nurmagomedov for the belt at UFC 249 on April 18. Khabib had to withdraw from the event, however. Justin Gaethje took his place and defeated Ferguson on May 9 in a TKO win.
Jorge Masvidal — Welterweight
Despite being only 35 years old, American welterweight Jorge Masvidal could be said to have had one of the longest and most impressive runs in MMA history – without having ever held a championship belt. Not an official belt, anyway; last year, UFC President Dana White held a special match for a “BMF” belt, which Masvidal won via decision against Nate Diaz. Nonetheless, we expect that we’ll see him get a proper title shot soon.