Top 5 standout performances in the UFC in 2021

Max Holloway (left) and Dustin Poirier (right)
Max Holloway (left) and Dustin Poirier (right)
Anil Sharma

Week after week, MMA fans get to see spectacular performances in the UFC. Some are flashy knockouts, some slick submissions and then there are also some complete dominations. For harcore fans, all three are equally exciting.

Following is a list of 5 performances that stood apart in the first half of 2021:

#5 Rose Namajunas

UFC 217: Jedrzejczyk v Namajunas
UFC 217: Jedrzejczyk v Namajunas

Rose Namajunas had a huge mountain to climb walking into her fight against strawweight champion Weili Zhang at UFC 261. Zhang was thought to be resilient as she was coming off an impressive performance against former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in arguably the best fight of 2020.

The atmosphere in the building was electrifying as this was the first time the UFC was hosting fans in the US since the pandemic started.

The whole arena erupted when 'Thug Rose' knocked out the Chinese fighter with a beautiful head kick in the opening minutes of the fight. With this, Namajunas became the first female fighter in the UFC to win a title for the second time.

Here is the commentary team's reaction to the knockout:

Emotions were running so high that even Joe Rogan got teary-eyed while interviewing the newly crowned strawweight queen after the fight.

#4 Kamaru Usman

In the main event of UFC 261, Kamaru Usman did something that many thought was impossible - he knocked Jorge Masvidal unconscious.

After facing criticism for his lack-luster performance against Masvidal in their first fight, 'The Nigerian Nightmare' walked into the rematch with a chip on his shoulder. Usman had also been called a 'boring' fighter in the past. But with this performance, Usman shut all his critics up.

The welterweight champion's highlight reel KO also propelled him to the number one spot in the UFC's pound-for-pound rankings.

#3 Jiri Prochazka

UFC Fight Night: Reyes v Prochazka
UFC Fight Night: Reyes v Prochazka

Not many fighters are thrown to the top contenders right at the start of their UFC careers. But there are also not many fighters who fight like Jiri Prochazka.

Prochazka made a strong statement in his debut fight as he knocked out former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir in the second round. But it was his spinning back elbow knockout of Dominick Reyes that made everyone pay attention to the 28-year-old.

Prochazka has all the elements needed to be a UFC superstar - the hair, the look and the fighting style. After just two fights, the Czech fighter is being considered the next challenger to the light heavyweight throne.

#2 Dustin Poirier

Dustin Poirier gave one of the best performances of his career when he knocked out former lightweight champion Conor McGregor at UFC 257.

A lot of people had predicted the rematch to be the same as the first fight where the Irishman knocked out 'The Diamond' in the first round.

But Poirier came in with a brilliant gameplan and started attacking McGregor's legs. The repeated blows eventually took their toll and Poirier stood victorious as 'The Notorious' was left lying in the corner of the octagon.

'The Diamond' will be looking to recreate the magic as the two fighters are scheduled to meet again in a trilogy bout that has been announced for July 10th.

#1 Max Holloway

Max Holloway v Alexander Volkanovski
Max Holloway v Alexander Volkanovski

Nobody knows how to put on a show better than Max Holloway. The Hawaiian did exactly that in his 5-round fight with Calvin Kattar.

'Blessed' put on a striking clinic and reminded everyone that he is levels above the rest of the featherweight fighters in the UFC. There was clearly a significant skill gap between the two fighters.

Holloway landed a mind-boggling 445 significant strikes on Kattar, the most in UFC history. The previous record was 290 strikes, also held by the Hawaiian.

At one moment in the fight, 'The Blessed' started shouting at the commentators:

"I'm the best boxer in the UFC!"

Here is a clip of that moment:

With that performance, Max Holloway has made it clear that there is nothing else left for him except a shot at the UFC featherweight title.

Edited by Jack Cunningham
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