Yesterday, I went through the UFC’s flyweight – lightweight divisions and listed out who I believed would be standing as champion after 2021. Unlike 2020, I’m expecting some title to change hands inside the octagon in 2021.
2020 was the first time in the modern UFC era that not a single champion lost their title in a fight. Belts were vacated in 2020, however, if a champion made the walk with the belt, they walked out with the belt.
2021 is promising to be a very tough year for the UFC champions. Every one who is a current title holder is more than capable of holding on to their belts, however, it’s going to be far from easy.
The fights we already know about that are booked look tough on the champions. For example, the UFC is booking Petr Yan (15-1) against Aljamain Sterling (19-3) and Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) against Brian Ortega (15-1,1 NC).
The champions will likely enter the octagon as the betting favorite in both of those matchups. However, I personally see both challengers as the favorites when looking at the skillsets and attributes inside those matchups.
The champions in the heavier divisions are also in for some rough matchups in 2021. Lets go from the welterweight division through the UFC‘s heavyweight division and pick who will be standing as champion after this year.
UFC Champions after 2021 (Welterweight – Heavyweight)
Welterweight – Gilbert Burns
The first division up is the UFC’s welterweight division. Champion, Kamaru Usman (17-1), is booked to face Gilbert Burns (19-3) in the headliner of UFC 258. This fight has been booked a couple of times.
Originally, the two men were supposed to fight at UFC 251. However, Gilbert Burns tested positive for COVID-19 and didn’t end up getting the shot. The promotion then tried to book this fight for December, but Kamaru Usman needed a little time to heal from his last fight.
Now, these former teammates are finally going to battle. Kamaru Usman lives up to his nickname in that he’s a nightmare for virtually all of his opponents. His strong wrestling and smothering style are incredibly difficult to deal with.
It’s one of the reasons why he hasn’t lost since his second professional fight. Usman is sensational, however, if there’s one man who has the style to beat Usman, it’s Gilbert Burns.
Burns is world class on the ground as a BJJ world champion. Not only that, but in 2020, he showed just how dangerous his hands are. He’s incredibly fast and powerful on the feet. I believe he will have the striking advantage whenever these two fight.
For now, I think that Burns is going to get the job done next month. I just think he has the perfect style to become the UFC champion. In looking at welterweight right now, I’m not sure anyone will take the belt from Burns if he gets it. At least not in 2021.
Middleweight & Light Heavyweight – Israel Adesanya
I’m lumping these next two UFC divisions together because I think one man will hold both titles after 2021. The middleweight and light heavyweight champion after 2021 will be The Last Stylebender, Israel Adesanya (20-0).
After doubting him for a while, I’m completely sold on Adesanya. Every time you start to doubt this man or believe someone will give him problems, he puts on the best performance of his career to shut everyone up.
Very much reminds me of Anderson Silva in his prime in that sense. Adesanya is already the middleweight champion and I don’t see anyone posing a threat to him at 185. I believe he’s just head and shoulders ahead of the competition there.
Adesanya is moving up to challenge Jan Blachowicz (27-8) at UFC 259 for the light heavyweight championship. This is going to be a tough fight for stylebender and Blachowicz is the most powerful fighter that Adesanya has ever fought.
It’s not going to be an easy fight, however, I think when it’s over, Adesanya is getting his second title. I’m not sure what fights will come after that for Adesanya, but I believe he will defeat anyone at either division that’s not named Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC).
Heavyweight – Jon Jones
Last but not least, we have the UFC’s heavyweight division. Who will leave 2021 with the title of baddest man on the planet? Well, I believe that the baddest man on the plan will also have the title as The GOAT.
Jon Jones is currently working on his move to the heavyweight division. Jones vacated his light heavyweight title in 2020 to focus on capturing the heavyweight championship of the world.
Stipe Miocic (20-3) currently reigns at heavyweight. Miocic is the greatest heavyweight in UFC history with two title reigns and a combined four title defenses which is unheard of in the heavyweight division.
Stipe has a very tough test in front of him for his first title defense of 2021. Miocic is taking on Francis Ngannou (15-3) for the second time. This fight is expected to take place in either March or April.
In my heart of hearts, I don’t see Stipe Miocic winning the rematch. He dominated the first fight between the two, but I believe both men are heading in opposite directions. Francis Ngannou is going to become the champion.
However, regardless of who wins, the winner will fight Jon Jones in either the summer or the fall. I think that a motivated Jon Jones beats either one of those men. Yes, Francis has power, but Jones’ striking defense is sensational.
I think his style would keep Ngannou at range and he’d be able to beat him on the cards. At this stage in their careers, I don’t see Miocic being able to beat Jones really wherever the fight goes. With that in mind, Bones will leave 2021 with heavyweight gold.