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Spousal trash talk and broken legs: MMAmania’s Top 10 most popular UFC/MMA articles of 2021

What storylines kept our readers engaged the most in 2021? Let’s recap the articles that drove massive amounts of traffic last year!

Another year of mixed martial arts (MMA) action is going into the books.

2021 perhaps did not represent the return to normality many were hoping for, but inside the Octagon, the UFC machine kept chugging along. Sure, there was frequent COVID-19 related fight cancelations, often just hours before the actual event, but even with that obstacle, UFC seldom missed a weekend.

Plus, the promotion expanded beyond the UFC Apex and “Fight Island,” hosting events in places like New York and Texas. Per usual, there were tremendous knockouts, stunning upsets, and some absolute wars, but what stories drove the most traffic through MMAmania amidst the chaos?

Let’s take a look!

Best Submissions 2021 | Best KOs 2021 | Best Fights 2021 | Best Fighters 2021 | Best Events 2021

Number One: Conor McGregor posts DM request from Dustin Poirier’s wife ahead of UFC 264

Writer: Shakiel Mahjouri
Summary: Conor McGregor makes some implications about Dustin Poirier’s wife.
Why It Blew Up: Well, first and foremost, it’s Conor McGregor. If there’s a theme to this Top 10, it is the Irish athlete. Winless (0-2) year or not, McGregor still draws far more eyes than anyone else. Beyond that, this was a turning point leading up to McGregor vs. Poirier 3, in which there was no more Mr. Nice Guy act. Ultimately, it led to the now-infamous “YOUR WOIFE IS IN ME DMs!” moment!

UFC 232 Press Conference Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Number Two: Dana White offers Jon Jones immediate heavyweight title shot, ‘Bones’ responds

Writer: Jesse Holland
Summary: Jones wants Heavyweight gold in 2022
Why It Blew Up: Jon Jones has been flirting with a Heavyweight move for the better part of a decade. Now that he’s fully abandoned the 205-pound crown, it’s a matter of when, rather than if Jones will finally step up to the plate. In short, Jones fighting for Heavyweight gold is a major story, even if it’s one that’s been theorized repeatedly.

UFC 264: Poirier v McGregor 3 Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Number Three: Broken leg! Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier 3 full fight highlights | UFC 264

Writer: Andrew Richardson
Summary: Conor McGregor’s leg is destroyed in the trilogy match vs. Poirier.
Why It Blew Up: Well, the most anticipated fight of the year ended in perhaps the most dramatic way possibly. This article is about Conor McGregor (a big plus), a UFC pay-per-view (PPV) main event highlight (generally popular posts), and the must-watch gross-out factor of a nasty broken leg — TRIPLE WHAMMY!

UFC 257: Poirier v McGregor Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Number Four: Knockout! Watch Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor 2 full fight video highlights - UFC 257

Writer: Dan Hiergesell
Summary: Conor McGregor is knocked out for the first time
Why It Blew Up: Unlike No. 3, the broken leg factor is gone, but McGregor getting knocked out for the first time in his professional MMA career was still a majorly shocking moment. This wasn’t like the Floyd Mayweather fight either — Dustin Poirier put that man to sleep.

Number Five: Video: Tiny guy with big belly tries MMA, laid to rest in just 49 seconds

Writer: Jesse Holland
Summary: Some ill-prepared “fighter” was promptly smashed by the real thing.
Why It Blew Up: Funny results and freak show fights are very hit-or-miss. Sometimes, the absurdity of it all blows up on social media, resulting in multiple days of good traffic. Other days, no one cares about some random nonsense across the globe. This one hit big, and I credit it to Jesse’s front page headline: MMA Debut Ends Poorly For Paunchy Debutant

UFC Fight Night: Dos Santos v Ivanov Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Number Six: These Sage Northcutt before and after UFC pics are not suspicious in any way

Writer: Jesse Holland
Summary: Sage Northcutt is looking really muscular.
Why It Blew Up: The MMAmania reader base loves body transformations. Whether an athlete got fat, jacked or died on the scale, people are going to read it, particularly if there’s a side-by-side shot! In this one, Northcutt looks outrageously big and pumped, and perhaps the article has the added benefit of allowing readers to speculate on One Championship’s drug testing ...

UFC 261: Usman v Masvidal 2 Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Number Seven: Knockout! Watch Kamaru Usman sleep Jorge Masvidal with one punch at UFC 261

Writer: Dan Hiergesell
Summary: Kamaru Usman defends his title vs. Jorge Masvidal in style.
Why It Blew Up: My god, what a punch. Of the two men, Masvidal has more star power, but that didn’t help him absorb one of the nastiest right hands in UFC history. Usman put every ounce of his power into that strike, and it sent Masvidal into a deep sleep unlike any strike in his previous 50-some fight career — one of the best finishes of the year!

Evander Holyfield v Vitor Belfort Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Number Eight: ‘Strong and fast’ Evander Holyfield ‘knocking out 22-year-olds’ ahead of Triller return

Writer: Jesse Holland
Summary: Some Evander Holyfield PR after his brutal loss to Vitor Belfort.
Why It Blew Up: When I first read this headline, I assumed it was prior to the Belfort beatdown. Nope, this is Triller boss Ryan Kavanaugh attempting to defend his decision to bring Holyfield back to the ring yet again after that disastrous performance and the associated health concerns. I can only assume so many people clicked on this story merely to learn who was attempting to deceive them ...

MMA: APR 24 UFC 261 Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Number Nine: NSFW video: Watch Chris Weidman’s brutal leg break against Uriah Hall at UFC 261

Writer: Dan Hiergesell
Summary: Chris Weidman’s shin exploded.
Why It Blew Up: The irony! The sheer irony of Chris Weidman’s leg snapping all these years after he checked Anderson Silva’s low kick to the same brutal result is outrageous. The odds on that shared trauma are astronomically low; it reads more like an MMA parable than actual event. Perhaps the only way to accept this reality is to click on the post and watch it happen through one’s fingers.

Triller Fight Club: Jake Paul v Ben Askren Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images for Triller

Number Ten: Ben Askren’s wife responds to Jake Paul calling her ‘Thicc:’ ‘I don’t know what that means’

Writer: Ryan Harkness
Summary: Another case of spousal trash talk, courtesy of “The Problem Child.”
Why It Blew Up: Though the rest of this list may not support the idea, 2021 was the year of Jake Paul. The YouTuber transitioned from fighting celebrities to combat sports athletes, ultimately winning all three of his matches and becoming a bigger deal in MMA circles in the process. That began with his Ben Askren knockout, which was preceded by a more light-hearted version of our most popular article of the year.

Honorable Mentions

No. 50: Video: Dan Henderson ruins daughter’s boyfriend with New Years leg kick

No. 100: Spotify quietly deletes Joe Rogan episodes amid latest controversy

No. 500: Dana White: Poirier turned down title fight for McGregor trilogy, Gaethje probably gets Chandler vs Oliveira winner

No. 1,000: UFC 269 ‘Fight Motion’ video: Watch Amanda Nunes self destruct in super slow motion

There were plenty of big stories in 2021 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!

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