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From Mike Tyson to Joe Rogan: MMAmania’s Top 10 most popular UFC/MMA articles of 2020

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What storylines kept our readers engaged the most in 2020? Let’s recap the articles that drove massive amounts of traffic last year!

The reader base is an unpredictable beast.

As host of Midnight Mania, part of my job is to find the most clickable story on the web. Pop quiz! Between a Conor McGregor tweet, Darren Till looking extra large, or middle-of-the-main-card fight announcement, which headline will garner the most attention? Safe bet is always on the Irishman, but one can never really know for sure.

Appropriately, the Top 10 most popular articles of the year (metric = total page views) are varied and feature several of the sport’s biggest stars as subject. For clarification, we omitted play-by-play/results posts, simply because those are more indications of how popular an event is rather than the topic itself.

Let’s dig in:

Triller Presents Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr. Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Triller

Number One: Mike Tyson’s drug test results are in ...

Writer: Jesse Holland
Summary: Both Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. passed their fight night drug tests.
Why It Blew Up: Now, this part of the analysis is obviously a bit subjective and features some guess work, but to my mind, there are two reasons this post gained so much traffic. First and foremost, it’s Mike Tyson! Even all these years later, he’s still among the biggest names in combat sports. Second, Holland wisely kept the headline mysterious, which surely drew in readers. Of course, had Tyson actually failed his drug test, the headline would have been far more descriptive ... I think?

UFC 248 Adesanya v Romero Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Number Two: Shocking face pics of Joanna Jedrzejczyk surface nearly one week after UFC 248

Writer: Jesse Holland
Summary: Weili Zhang smashed Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s face.
Why It Blew Up: readers love physical transformations. Any time a fighter packs on some extra muscle, endures an extreme weight cut, or simply gets a new haircut, our audience responds. Jedrzejczyk’s swollen face was reminiscent of Mark Hominick's beefsteak tomato at UFC 129 and marked the first severe hematoma in a women’s UFC fight. This aftermath post performed even better than the original, but Joanna’s face will return to this column again soon.

McGregor v Cerrone Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Number Three: Knockout! Watch Conor McGregor vs Cowboy Cerrone full fight video highlights - UFC 246

Writer: Dan Hiergesell
Summary: Watch Conor McGregor pulverize Donald Cerrone in less than one minute.
Why It Blew Up: Yeah, this is an easy one. The sport’s biggest star returned after roughly 1.5 years away and dominated a well-known name in 40 seconds — people (including casuals) want to watch that type of action repeatedly!

UFC 252: O’Malley v Vera Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Number Four: UFC 252, The Morning After: Sean O’Malley and the danger of power kicks

Writer: Andrew Richardson
Summary: Sean O’Malley puts his own body at risk by kicking recklessly.
Why It Blew Up: Even though I wrote it, this is something of a mystery. O’Malley is a star, and people like to watch stars lose, but why did my recap do better than the highlights post featuring the actual video? For whatever reasons, my “Morning After” recaps occasionally blow up on Facebook, which can translate to multiple days of traffic.

UFC 248 Adesanya v Romero Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Number Five: Joanna Jedrzejczyk provides video update one week after Zhang Weili brawl: ‘So many bruises’

Writer: Dan Hiergesell
Summary: Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s face is destroyed, part two.
Why It Blew Up: Here’s a second bite of Jedrzejczyk’s mangled face apple. The first one did so well let’s double dip, ride the traffic wave and hope it hits similar to the first. And despite Holland’s same busted up face video airing the day before, Hiergesell’s version of the article still made the Top 5 — that’s striking while the iron is hot!

UFC 251: Usman v Masvidal Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Number Six: ‘Disrespected’ Jorge Masvidal aligns with Jon Jones, asks for UFC release — ‘Stop playing the fans’

Writer: Jesse Holland
Summary: Jorge Masvidal is not pleased with UFC negotiating tactics
Why It Blew Up: Remember that brief, couple week period where it seemed like Jorge Masvidal and Jon Jones might team up and unite UFC fighters? It was exciting! Of course, it all fell apart quickly when “Gamebred” got the offer he wanted, but for a small moment, it seemed like actual change was possible.

UFC 184: Rousey v Zingano Photo by Frazer Harrison/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Number Seven: UFC 246 payouts, final salaries: Holly Holm ties Donald Cerrone, Ode Osbourne joins $10k club

Writer: Jesse Holland
Summary: The full payouts for UFC 246
Why It Blew Up: I have no idea. Obviously, UFC 246 being the Conor McGregor event can attribute to some of the popularity, but otherwise, some posts just explode for no real good reason. Someone influential possibly shares it on social media and all of a sudden, the traffic snowball starts rolling downhill. That’s the game!

UFC 229: Weigh-ins Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Number Eight: Joe Rogan sends warning to Dana White: Cancel Khabib plans because ‘scary’ Tony Ferguson can win that fight

Writer: Jesse Holland
Summary: Joe Rogan speculates on Tony vs. Khabib.
Why It Blew Up: This article includes three of the most popular names in UFC: Conor McGregor, Joe Rogan and Khabib Nurmagomedov. The only thing better, in MMA SEO theory, would be Rogan delivering the offspring of Ronda Rousey and McGregor (or Brock Lesnar for that matter). In other words, it was a perfect storm of sorts, but it’s also a solid quote from Rogan, one that exemplifies just how scary “El Cucuy” was previous to his two-fight skid.

UFC 253 Adesanya v Costa Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Number Nine: ‘Savage’ Paulo Costa won’t shake hands after knocking out Israel Adesanya

Writer: Jesse Holland
Summary: Paulo Costa talks trash.
Why It Blew Up: While we can obviously file this one under the “Didn’t Age Well” category, there was a pretty lengthy period where any and every Paulo Costa post did well. Costa hits mitts? Looks big? Says something crude? All of it would do numbers! Had “Borrachinha” lived up to his pre-fight promises, there’s a real chance the Brazilian would have emerged as a huge star. Also: readers love colorful adjectives.

UFC 249 Spann v Alvey Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Number Ten: Report: Employees threaten to strike if Spotify refuses to censor Joe Rogan

Writer: Jesse Holland
Summary: Joe Rogan faces criticism from Spotify employees over past guests and comments.
Why It Blew Up: This is a real powder keg. Not only does it feature Joe Rogan — who, again, our readers and the world as a whole go nuts for — but it covers controversial topics like his move to Spotify, censorship and accidental fake news, There was lots of debate to be had, and that results in a successful post!

There were plenty of big stories in 2020 that went unmentioned in this post, as well as great write-ups that didn’t garner more than a handful of views. If you have a favorite article from the last 12 months, drop it below in the comments!