1. Kazuto Ioka: New Year’s Eve is traditionally a very, very big night for combat sports in Japan, and this New Year’s was no different, as the Ota-City Gymnasium in Tokyo hosted a card featuring three world title fights, with Ioka being the most notable one. He handed Jeyvier Cintron his first career loss in defending his WBO Junior Bantamweight title.
2. Kosei Tanaka: Defended his WBO Flyweight championship over Wulan Tuolehazi on New Year’s Eve in Tokyo.
3. Ray Cooper III: Made a Cinderella run to the finals exactly one year ago in their first season of PFL but came up short. This time, on New Year’s Eve again, he found himself in the finals and this time got it done, taking out David Michaud in the second round to finally earn that million.
4. Lance Palmer: Since WSOF turned over to PFL, Palmer has gone 11-0 and won two PFL championships. He’s had quite the reign in the PFL featherweight division. This round was incredibly strange, because he had to face, and defeat Alex Gilpin three times in the same tournament.
5. Natan Schulte: Speaking of two-time reigns, here’s Schulte, whom, just like Palmer, has cleaned out two tournaments, his in the toughest and deepest division in mixed martial arts.
6. Manel Kape: With Kyoji Horiguchi sidelined with a knee injury until well into 2020, his title was vacant with Kape and Kai Asakura battled for it in the main event of Rizin 20 on New Year’s Eve from Saitama, with Kape earning the win and the title with a second-round TKO.
7. Emiliano Sordi: Eliminated the favorite in the PFL light heavyweight tournament, Vinny Magalhaes, then cruised to the championship and million bucks, TKOing Jordan Johnson in the finals.
8. Jiri Prochazka: Made relatively short work of UFC mainstay CB Dollaway to retain his Rizin Light Heavyweight championship, then got called out by CB’s buddy and current Bellator kingpin Ryan Bader for a shot in the Bellator cage.
9. Ali Isayev: The big Dagestani brute kept his undefeated record in tact during the PFL season, and the wrestler capped it off with a TKO win over fellow big wrestling hoss Jared Rosholt in the finals, claiming the PFL season two heavyweight championship and some sweet spending cash.
10. Miyo Yoshida: The female world championship representative on the New Year’s Eve huge boxing card from Tokyo, Yoshida held serve with the other world champions by defending her junior bantamweight strap with a win over Li Ping Shi.
11. Seo Hee Ham: Went the distance with Ayaka Hamasaki, and in a controversial split-decision, won her Rizin Super Atomweight title.
12. Tofiq Musayev: The least-known of the Rizin Lightweight Grand Prix semifinalist turned out to be the winner, defeating Johnny Case and Patricky Freire at Rizin 20 on New Year’s Eve.
13. Tenshin Nasukawa: The poor execs at Rizin thought they were giving Tenshin a real challenge in Rui Ebata. Oh, you sweet innocent babies.
14. Kayla Harrison: It was never really in doubt, they created an entire division for the Olympic gold medalist, and to her credit, she held up her end of the bargain. Now she’s a million bucks richer and a PFL champion.
15. Jhunriel Ramonal: Won the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Junior Featherweight title with a win over Yusaku Kuga in a minor upset on the mega-card in Tokyo.