Tell Me No Lies: Stories to Watch in 2020

With 2019 fast receding into the mist (or is that smoke from Australia’s bushfires?), 2020 is already looking like it will be a big year for the sport of mixed martial arts in general and the Ultimate Fighting Championship in particular.

Newly-crowned middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and inaugural BMF titleholder Jorge Masvidal seem primed to carry the torch for the promotion into the new year, emerging as legitimate stars in 2019 and bringing to an end a period defined by a conspicuous absence of brand luminaries. The flyweight division — on life support since the shock departure of former champion Demetrious Johnson to Singapore — appears at last to be safe from the guillotine, with Henry Cejudo being unceremoniously stripped generously relinquishing his 125-pound title and paving the way for Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo to compete for the vacant strap in February. The orgy of “champ-champ” super fights, kickstarted in 2016 when Conor McGregor reigned (however briefly) as the 145-pound and 155-pound titleholder, seems finally to have come to an end — though signs point to it being supplanted by the even more problematic advent of boxing-versus-MMA crossover bouts.

With the 2020 season fast approaching, here are four stories to keep an eye on as we venture into the new year.

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