What constitutes a great year for a mixed martial artist? There’s no set schedule, no fixture list, so to an extent they’re left to themselves to plot their own path to glory.
In the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), we usually see the same competitor in the Octagon about three times a year, but often, up-and-coming contenders looking to make their mark on the sport may appear even more frequently.
So, what is the most amount of bouts a UFC fighter has competed in in a year?
NB: By ‘year’, we mean a calendar year starting in January and ending in December, not any 12-month period.
Who’s Had the Most UFC Fights in a Year?
As it happens, there are (at time of writing) nine different UFC fighters tied for the most bouts – five – in a calendar year:
Chris Leben (2006, middleweight, at age of 25-26)
- Beat Jorge Rivera via TKO in round one, UFC Fight Night 3, January 16, 2006
- Beat Luigi Fioravanti via unanimous decision, UFC Fight Night 4, April 6, 2006
- Lost to Anderson Silva via KO in round one, UFC Fight Night 5, June 28, 2006
- Beat Jorge Santiago via KO in round two, UFC Fight Night 6, August 27, 2006
- Lost to Jason MacDonald via submission in round two, UFC 66, December 30, 2006
Roger Huerta (2007, lightweight, at age of 23-24)
- Beat John Halverson via TKO in round one, UFC 67, February 3, 2007
- Beat Leonard Garcia via unanimous decision, UFC 69, April 7, 2007
- Beat Doug Evans via TK in round two, The Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale, June 23, 2007
- Beat Alberto Crane via TKO in round three, UFC 74, August 25, 2007
- Beat Clay Guida via submission in round three, The Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale, December 8, 2007
Donald Cerrone (2011, lightweight, at age of 27-28)
- Beat Paul Kelly via submission in round two, UFC 126, February 5, 2011
- Beat Vagner Rocha via unanimous decision, UFC 131, June 11, 2011
- Beat Charles Oliveira via TKO in round one, UFC Live: Hardy vs Lytle, August 14, 2011
- Beat Dennis Siver via submission in round one, UFC 137, October 29, 2011
- Lost to Nate Diaz via unanimous decision, UFC 141, December 30, 2011
Daron Cruickshank (2014, lightweight, at age of 28-29)
- Beat Mike Rio via TKO in round two, UFC on Fox: Henderson vs Thomson, January 25, 2014
- Beat Erik Koch via TKO in round one, UFC Fight Night: Brown vs Silva, May 10, 2014
- Lost to Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision, UFC on Fox: Lawler vs Brown, July 2016, 2014
- Beat Anthony Njokuani via unanimous decision, UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs Saffiedine, October 4, 2014
- No Contest vs K.J. Noons (accidental eye poke in round two), The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned Finale, December 12, 2014
Neil Magny (2014, welterweight, at age of 26-27)
- Beat Gasan Umalatov via unanimous decision, UFC 169, February 1, 2014
- Beat Tim Means via unanimous decision, UFC Fight Night: Brown vs Silva, May 10, 2014
- Beat Rodrigo de Lima via KO in round two, UFC Fight Night: Te Huna vs Marquardt, June 28, 2014
- Beat Alex Garcia via unanimous decision, UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs dos Anjos, August 23, 2014
- Beat William Macario via TKO in round three, UFC 179, October 25, 2014
Neil Magny (2015, welterweight, at age of 27-28)
- Beat Kiichi Kunimoto via submission in round three, UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs Thatch, February 14, 2015
- Beat Hyun Gyu Lim via TKO in round two, UFC Fight Night: Edgar vs Faber, May 16, 2015
- Lot to Demian Maia via submission in round two, UFC 190, August 1, 2015
- Beat Erick Silva via split decision, UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Oliveira, August 23, 2015
- Beat Kelvin Gastelum via split decision, The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale: Magny vs Gastelum, November 21, 2015
Uriah Hall (2015, middleweight, at age of 30-31)
- Beat Ron Stallings via TKO in round one, UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs Siver, January 18, 2015
- Lost to Rafael Natal via split decision, UFC 187, May 23, 2015
- Beat Oluwale Bamgbose via TKO in round one, UFC Fight Night: Teixiera vs Saint Preux, August 8, 2015
- Beat Gegard Mousasi via TKO in round two, UFC Fight Night: Barnett vs Nelson, September 27, 2015
- Lost to Robert Whittaker via unanimous decision, UFC 193, November 15, 2015
Ross Pearson (2016, lightweight / welterweight, at age of 31-32)
- Lost to Francisco Trinaldo via unanimous decision, UFC Fight Night: Dillashaw vs Cruz, January 17, 2016
- Beat Chad Laprise via split decision, UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs Mir, March 20, 2016
- Lost to Will Brooks via unanimous decision, The Ultimate Fighter: Team Joanna vs Team Claudia Finale, July 8, 2016
- Lost to Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision, UFC 201, July 30, 2016
- Lost to Stevie Ray via split decision, UFC Fight Night: Mousasi vs Hall 2, November 19, 2016
Thiago Santos (2018, middleweight / light heavyweight, at age of 34)
- Beat Anthony Smith via TKO in round two, UFC Fight Night: Machida vs Anders, February 3, 2018
- Lost to David Branch via KO in round one, UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs Lee, April 21, 2018
- Beat Kevin Holland via unanimous decision, UFC 227, August 4, 2018
- Beat Eryk Anders via TKO, UFC Fight Night: Santos vs Anders, September 22, 2018
- Beat Jimi Manuwa via KO in round two, UFC 231, December 8, 2018
Greg Hardy (2019, heavyweight, at age of 30-31)
- Lost to Allen Crowder via disqualification in round two (illegal knee), UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs Dillashaw, January 19, 2019
- Beat Dmitry Smolyakov via TKO in round one, UFC Fight Night: Jacaré vs Hermansson, April 27, 2019
- Beat Juan Adams via TKO in round one, UFC on ESPN: dos Anjos vs Edwards, July 20, 2019
- No Contest vs Ben Sosoli (overturned), UFC on ESPN: Reyes vs Weidman, October 18, 2019
- Lost to Alexander Volkov via unanimous decision, UFC Fight Night: Magomedsharipov vs Kattar, November 9, 2019
Most UFC Wins in a Year
As you may have figured out from the last section, two of those fighters are also tied on five for the most UFC wins in a single calendar year, in Roger Huerta and Neil Magny.
Huerta was first to set the record on 2007, winning all five of his lightweight bouts that year, including a TKO against newcomer John Halverson after just 19 seconds, a fight with Leonard Garcia which went the full three rounds at UFC 69 and a rear near naked choke to see of Clay Guida in the Fight of the Year.
Indeed, it was his clashes with Halverson and Guida which perhaps proved the most memorable of the five. Against a floored Halverson, Huerta landed a knee to his shoulder, before finishing him off with punches. It appeared initially that Huerta had thrown his knee into the grounded Halverson’s head – an illegal move – but replays showed it was, in fact his shoulder.
Against Guida, Huerta had become increasingly riled by his opponent’s ‘ground and pound’ approach before being punched in the face while trying to get back up. Eventually, having seen it through the third round, Huerta landed to a knee to Guida’s face while trying to kick him, before submitting him via a rear naked choke in the final moments of the fight.
Welterweight Magny managed to equal this feat in 2014, three of which were via a unanimous decision.
The other two – bouts against Rodrigo de Lima and William Macario – came through KO and TKO respectively. Newcomer de Lima spent much of the first round striking and attempting to submit Magny, but to no avail, and in the second, Magny threw enough punches of his own to win via KO.
Magny sealed his fifth win of the year against Macario in October 2014 after forcing him on the floor and pummelling him with punches. And he almost equalled the record again the following year, but defeat to Demian Maia via submission forced him to settle for just the four wins from five in 2015.
Could Anyone Have Six Fights in a Year?
Perhaps the most likely current contender to break the record is Swedish welterweight/middleweight Khamzat Chimaev who, at time of writing, has a perfect record of nine wins from his nine professional bouts in MMA.
The 26-year-old won three fights in the space of nine weeks between mid-July and mid-September in 2020. First, he saw off John Phillips via submission in Abu Dhabi, then Rhys McKee via TKO just ten days later, and in two different weight classes. He then made it a hat-trick by defeating Gerald Meerschaert by KO after a mere 17 seconds in Las Vegas eight weeks on.
He’s already smashed one record in 2020 for the quickest turnaround between UFC wins in that ten-day period in July. If ‘Borz’ can manage that workload in that short space of time, don’t be surprised if he goes after Huerta and Magny’s crown in 2021.