5 fighters who have made the biggest splash since COVID-19 restart
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The coronavirus pandemic put much of the sports world on pause in March.

Less than two months later, the UFC became one of the first major leagues to resume operations. The promotion has held events nearly every weekend since May 9, when Justin Gaethje beat Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title at UFC 249.

Some fighters have stood out from the rest during these last four months of action. Below, theScore highlights five UFC athletes who have made the biggest splash since the COVID-19 restart.

Bobby Green

Green entered 2020 riding a two-fight skid and holding a 1-5-1 record in his past seven bouts.

That wasn't promising for someone who came so close to becoming a lightweight contender after beating Josh Thomson in 2014. The biggest question was no longer if Green would ever reach that status, it was how long he had left in the UFC.

Incredibly, "King" has turned his career around in a matter of months. He returned to the Octagon in June and beat fellow veteran Clay Guida. Then he bested Lando Vannata in a "Fight of the Night" rematch before dominating Alan Patrick this past weekend.

Green is the only fighter to go 3-0 in the UFC since the COVID-19 restart. He's suddenly being talked about as a future contender at 155 pounds, and fans want to see him get a step up in competition, perhaps against a ranked opponent.

For someone who had only one win over the past six years until this past summer, hammering off three straight victories in three months is pretty darn impressive.

Brian Kelleher

Chris Unger / UFC / Getty

Many people consider Kelleher the king of the pandemic, and rightfully so.

Kelleher is seemingly stepping into the Octagon every weekend. He recently spoke to theScore and said he believes he's been able to take advantage of this year's unique situation by staying more active than usual. The UFC doesn't have access to its full roster due to travel restrictions, so there's a higher demand for fighters like Kelleher to make quick turnarounds. That means more money in his pocket and a bigger opportunity for Kelleher to make a name for himself.

He's certainly done that over the past few months, going 2-1 since the UFC resumed operations. A third-round knockout of top prospect Hunter Azure and a 39-second submission of newcomer Ray Rodriguez have fans wanting to see more of "Boom," while also wondering if he can truly make a run to the top.

Kelleher will apparently keep the train rolling, as the 34-year-old wants to fight again in November and possibly December. If that comes to fruition, he'll have quite the end to 2020.

Khamzat Chimaev


Chimaev's rise was one of the biggest storylines coming out of the UFC's Fight Island events in July.

The prospect took out John Phillips via second-round submission during his short-notice promotional debut July 15 after an incredibly dominant first round.

Chimaev then beat Rhys McKee via first-round TKO on July 25 while making the quickest turnaround in UFC history. "The Wolf" bested his two opponents in both total strikes and significant strikes by combined margins of 192-2 and 83-1, respectively, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Many people were in awe over Chimaev's performances. The comparisons to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov - who's also the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC - were plentiful, and Chimaev is already being considered a future champion or title contender.

He's scheduled to take on Gerald Meerschaert in a middleweight bout this weekend at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. Chimaev is probably already a lock for newcomer of the year, but a win over a respected veteran in Meerschaert would only strengthen his case. It's mind-boggling to think that everything the Sweden resident has done in the Octagon has taken place since the UFC came back a mere four months ago.

Neil Magny

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Magny has used the COVID-19 restart to remind everyone that he's a legitimate dark-horse contender in the welterweight division.

Entering this year, the 33-year-old hadn't competed since a devastating TKO loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio in November 2018. But Magny returned to the winning column in March and has rattled off two more victories in the past three months.

Magny dominated former champion Robbie Lawler in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night on Aug. 29. The No. 11-ranked welterweight is due for another big fight and might be finally climbing his way up to a title shot. No one expected Magny to be in this position after his recent 16-month layoff.

Calvin Kattar

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Kattar has established himself as a top featherweight contender since the pandemic hit.

He brutally knocked out Jeremy Stephens at the promotion's first event following the hiatus. Kattar then outpointed Dan Ige, one of the division's rising stars, in a gritty main event on Fight Island earlier this summer.

Those performances came after a unanimous decision loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov last November. Now, with Kattar riding a lot of momentum, the Massachusetts native wants to coach "The Ultimate Fighter" opposite Max Holloway before squaring off with the former champ.

Regardless of whether he gets that opportunity, Kattar has undoubtedly been one of the best at 145 pounds since the COVID-19 restart. It's quite possible he'll get a crack at Alexander Volkanovski's belt sooner rather than later.

Honorable mentions: Marlon Vera, Alistair Overeem, Kevin Holland, Youssef Zalal, Merab Dvalishvili

5 fighters who have made the biggest splash since COVID-19 restart
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