Predictions, like resolutions, are an important a part of wanting forward towards a brand new yr. Additionally like resolutions, most predictions are doomed to fail. So why not take a swing at them as onerous as a Justin Gaethje proper cross?
With a giant UFC pay-per-view slate already set as much as begin the primary quarter, 2020 is shaping as much as be an enormous yr for MMA. What else do the following 12 months have in retailer? Listed here are some daring predictions for the primary yr of the brand new decade.
1. Floyd Mayweather will battle within the UFC — form of
Let’s get this out of the way in which shortly: Mayweather isn’t going to battle within the Octagon underneath combined martial arts guidelines towards a UFC fighter. Why would he? Mayweather continues to be the A-side towards any fight sports activities athlete on the earth, so he holds all of the leverage and might set all the foundations. At 42 years previous, why would he danger his well being in a real MMA battle? It will be preposterous. However that does not imply he will not be concerned with the UFC in a technique or one other.
In November, Mayweather got here to some sort of handshake settlement with UFC president Dana White once they met at an NBA recreation. Neither has gone into specifics, though White did say the plan is for Mayweather to compete, not simply be a accomplice. The blueprint for one thing unorthodox is already laid out, from when Mayweather fought younger kickboxing phenom Tenshin Nasukawa in a three-round exhibition boxing match for Rizin in 2018. The prediction is one thing comparable will occur with Mayweather and the UFC in 2020.
2. Conor McGregor will compete for a 3rd title
The UFC’s first card of the yr options its largest star squaring off towards its all-time chief in wins in the primary occasion. Conor McGregor, who hasn’t fought since October 2018, will shut the present at UFC 246 towards Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in a welterweight battle. Within the co-main occasion, former bantamweight champion Holly Holm will face Raquel Pennington.
UFC 246: McGregor vs. Cowboy
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OK, possibly this prediction is not so daring. White has already said that McGregor can be in line for a rematch towards light-weight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov if he beats Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 on Jan. 18 in Las Vegas. The prediction is that 155-pound title shot will not occur, although. The UFC and McGregor will push for it, however Nurmagomedov simply does not appear to be — he does not suppose McGregor is deserving.
If McGregor does not battle for the UFC light-weight belt, there may be one other titleholder who already mentioned he is all for a scrap with McGregor: Jorge Masvidal. That is proper, Masvidal vs. McGregor with the BMF title on the road will headline a UFC card in 2020. You heard it right here first.
three. Neither Diaz brother will battle in 2020, however GSP will
Regardless of how some will spin his sporadic MMA profession and the way a lot it’d annoy followers, Nate Diaz has been a savvy businessman over the previous three years. After staying out of the Octagon following his extraordinarily profitable two-fight sequence with McGregor in 2016, he lastly returned to the game in August — however solely when he thought the time and opponent had been proper for him. That scenario won’t current itself in 2020, with McGregor, Masvidal and others busy elsewhere and the UFC unwilling to fulfill Diaz’s calls for. Nick Diaz’s potential return after a five-year layoff may even be a nonstarter.
Nonetheless, the prediction is Georges St-Pierre will come out of retirement. There isn’t any doubt the Canadian legend has extra battle left in him; he has not fought since November 2017 however continues to be coaching repeatedly at Tristar Health club in Montreal. There’s one opponent he needs — Nurmagomedov — and the sensation is mutual. GSP will return to battle Nurmagomedov within the headliner of the UFC’s annual Madison Sq. Backyard card in November. It will be at a catchweight of 165 kilos.
If Israel Adesanya is seeking to unfold his wings in 2020, a superfight towards Jon Jones would do the trick. Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Photographs
four. Jon Jones and Israel Adesanya will flip a social media feud right into a superfight
There’s an excessive amount of smoke between these two for there to not be any fireplace. In fact, every has work to do in his personal division earlier than this battle can occur. Adesanya doubtless should beat Yoel Romero to retain the middleweight belt. Jones has to take out Dominick Reyes in the primary occasion of UFC 247 on Feb. eight in Houston to hold on to the sunshine heavyweight title. As soon as that’s all sorted, although, Jones and Adesanya will flip to one another. It is going to be a really massive moneymaker if the UFC strikes whereas the iron is sizzling.
Jones has appeared tired of the present crop of 205-pound contenders. Adesanya is the sort of opponent who will get him excited once more. Simply have a look at their quite a few social media back-and-forths. The meat is actual. It is only a matter of turning it into dollars.
5. Francis Ngannou will finish 2020 as heavyweight champ
Ngannou simply wasn’t prepared in 2018 when he fought Stipe Miocic for the belt. He’ll let you know that himself. Ngannou was comparatively inexperienced, solely 5 years into MMA coaching. Now, two years older and extra seasoned, he is able to seize his place on the high of the game. St-Pierre did not win in his first shot at a championship, both.
Miocic will defend his title in a trilogy bout towards Daniel Cormier in some unspecified time in the future, presumably within the first half of 2020. It is going to be Cormier’s remaining battle. Then comes Ngannou, who’ll be a shoo-in for a possibility on the belt if he beats Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the primary occasion of UFC Columbus on March 28. That likelihood will come this yr, and Ngannou, the chiseled, 6-foot-5 mountain of a person, will make good on his world of potential, turning into champ and one of many largest stars within the UFC.
6. The UFC will add a girls’s atomweight division
The following 12 months are arrange for strawweight to be one of the vital fascinating divisions within the UFC. Zhang Weili, the promotion’s first Chinese language champion, will defend her title towards former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 on March 7 in Las Vegas. The winner may have a number of contenders gunning for the belt, together with former titleholder Rose Namajunas and unbeaten Tatiana Suarez.
With the rising recognition of that division and girls’s MMA usually, the prediction is the UFC will add one other weight class: 105-pound girls. The primary champion can be topped on the finish of the yr on the conclusion of a revamped season of “The Final Fighter.” A number of present strawweights, corresponding to Tecia Torres and Carla Esparza, will drop down in weight and be part of the match.
7. Usman vs. Covington 2 can be one of many largest fights of the yr
When the prospect of 2020 rematches comes up, the primary ones tossed round are Miocic vs. Cormier three, McGregor vs. Diaz three, McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov 2 and Diaz vs. Masvidal 2. Whereas all these could be nice and make a ton of cash for all events concerned, there’s one other on the market that individuals aren’t speaking about: Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington 2. Welterweight is stacked, and Usman may have loads of able-bodied contenders coming his means this yr. However don’t sleep on Covington’s capability to rebound.
By the top of the yr, Usman vs. Covington 2 will turn out to be an actual chance, and when it occurs it’s going to be one of many largest most important occasions of the yr. The primary battle, which Usman gained through fifth-round TKO, was among the finest bouts of 2019. The rematch won’t disappoint, both.
Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko have already shared the Octagon twice. How about as soon as extra in 2020 to finish the trilogy? Perry Nelson/USA Immediately Sports activities
eight. Nunes vs. Shevchenko three can be among the finest fights in girls’s MMA
It seems like Nunes, the best feminine MMA fighter to ever stay, has already cleaned out the bantamweight division. As for featherweight, there is not a lot to that division, so the prospect of her defending her title there appears comparatively pointless. What’s left? How a few third battle between Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko, the UFC girls’s flyweight champion? Nunes gained their first two conferences, however the latest one in 2017 led to a razor-close break up determination that actually may have gone both means. Even Nunes has acknowledged Shevchenko as her hardest foe.
Shevchenko nonetheless has some work to do keeping off contenders at 125 kilos, beginning with Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 247 on Feb. eight, however nobody in that division has appeared almost as spectacular as she has. The completion of a Nunes vs. Shevchenko trilogy appears inevitable, and this champ vs. champ superfight will occur in 2020 with main intrigue.
9. Kevin Lee can be this yr’s Jorge Masvidal
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This is not an actual comparability, as a result of Lee is already coming off a highlight-reel knockout of Gregor Gillespie at UFC 244 in November. Masvidal strolled into 2019 (his palms behind his again, little doubt) on a two-fight shedding streak, solely to complete Darren Until, Ben Askren and Nate Diaz in succession to turn out to be one of many largest stars on the UFC roster. The final of these fights was within the UFC 244 headliner at Madison Sq. Backyard in November.
Lee has all the time had all of the instruments to achieve success — the athleticism, the knockout energy, the power and the wrestling capability. He simply hasn’t been capable of put all of it collectively. In his prime at age 27, he’ll do it in 2020. And “The Motown Phenom” has the charisma and magnificence to get individuals’s consideration, too. Lee already has fought Tony Ferguson for an interim light-weight title, shedding a troublesome battle whereas fighting a staph an infection. He’ll transfer up the light-weight rankings shortly this yr, getting massive fights and making a reputation for himself amongst even informal followers who won’t know his historical past.
10. Promotions aside from the UFC will make waves
The PFL already has fired the primary salvo, stunningly signing Rory MacDonald for its 2020 welterweight season. With Kayla Harrison’s continued ascent as a budding star and extra acquisitions anticipated, that promotion may have a giant yr.
Bellator is in a great place with Douglas Lima now getting credit score for being among the finest welterweights on the earth, after beating MacDonald to win the promotion’s 170-pound grand prix and recapture his title belt. And now there is a featherweight grand prix underway. If blue-chipper A.J. McKee and double champion Patricio Freire meet within the remaining, it might be massive.
The One Championship is unquestionably not performed signing free brokers. Plus, Eddie Alvarez and Sage Northcutt will return from accidents in 2020, and Demetrious Johnson will battle for the flyweight belt.