The Ultimate Fighting Championship has already had a strong year – but we’ve got a few title fights that can help take them to the next level.
The world leader in mixed martial arts does a good job of giving the fans what they want to see. From champions defending against top contenders to rising prospects landing devastating knockout blows, it’s hard not to appreciate the kind of action we’re given on an almost-weekly basis.
Alas, the UFC can always go further, and there’s always more violence to be had.
Across this handful of title fights alone, the promotion has a few potential Fight of the Year candidates on its hands.
Aljamain Sterling vs Henry Cejudo
Aljamain Sterling defied the odds in a big way when he managed to edge past Petr Yan in their rematch earlier this year. While TJ Dillashaw could very well be the next man in line for a shot at the crown, the return of ‘Triple C’ sounds a whole lot more appealing.
Henry Cejudo is a former two-weight UFC champion and even though his ‘cringe’ persona isn’t to everyone’s taste, it’s impossible to imagine the build-up to this fight being boring.
Charles Oliveira vs Islam Makhachev
No, Charles Oliveira isn’t officially recognised as the UFC lightweight champion anymore, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still the best 155-pounder on the planet in the eyes of MMA fans across the globe.
‘Do Bronx’ needs a top challenger to collide with and he’s going to get that if he meets Islam Makhachev. The man dubbed the next Khabib is waiting to break out of his shadow, and this is the perfect match-up to help him do that.
Julianna Pena/Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko
Valentina Shevchenko has gone through the flyweight division like a hot knife through butter and even though Taila Santos will serve as a tough opponent for her, ‘Bullet’ is still the overwhelming favourite.
At bantamweight, though, the equation shifts ever so slightly. A trilogy showdown with Amanda Nunes is what we’d all love to see but equally, a rematch against Julianna Pena would be fascinating.
Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards
This fight is the closest to becoming reality with the UFC waiting on Kamaru Usman to recover from his hand surgery. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t include it, especially given just how elite both men are considered to be.
‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ is the pound-for-pound king but Leon Edwards is no joke. If Usman isn’t on his A-game, the focus and grit of ‘Rocky’ could easily see him claim the strap.
Jon Jones vs Stipe Miocic
An interim title fight isn’t something we all tend to clamour for but just look at the two names at the top of the bill here.
Jon Jones has teased a move to heavyweight for years now and Stipe Miocic is the greatest heavyweight in UFC history. Those two facts add up to this being an absolute barnburner with the victor receiving the greatest, or worst, gift of all – a collision with Francis Ngannou for the undisputed belt next year.