State of the UFC’s heavyweight division

MMA, Stipe Miocic

The last month has been incredibly busy for the UFC‘s heavyweight division. In the month of February alone, three fight nights were headlined by heavyweight clashes that shook up the heavyweight division.

However, outside of fighting, we also saw some big news come in last night regarding the heavyweights. The UFC released former heavyweight champion, Junior Dos Santos (21-9) and former title challenger, Alistair Overeem (47-19, 1 NC).

Both men were ranked inside the top 12 at heavyweight so the news is shaking up the rankings a bit. The release of JDS wasn’t surprising, but Overeem had just headlined UFC Vegas 18 against Alexander Volkov (33-8).

Volkov looked better than ever and stopped Overeem in the second round. However, Overeem had won two in a row prior so the decision to release was rather interesting. Nevertheless, Overeem is no longer with the promotion.

After Volkov’s big win, we saw UFC Vegas 19 which was headlined by Derrick Lewis (25-7, 1 NC) and Curtis Blaydes (14-3, 1 NC). Both of these men were looking to stake their claim as a top contender and that’s exactly what Derrick Lewis did.

After Curtis Blaydes easily won the first round, Lewis put him to sleep in the second round. Lewis is now tied for the most knockouts in UFC history and he’s ranked second in the heavyweight division.

Last weekend at UFC Vegas 20, we saw the conclusion of the heavyweight main events. Ciryl Gane (8-0) took on Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-2). It was the only fight that went the distance and it lacked for action, but Ciryl Gane dominated his way into the top five at heavyweight.

State of the UFC’s heavyweight division

After all of these fight nights, there is a big more clarity in the heavyweight division. At the end of this month at UFC 260, Stipe Miocic (20-3) will take on Francis Ngannou (15-3) for the heavyweight championship in a rematch.

After this fight, we already know what is next. Regardless of the outcome, Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) is getting the next crack at the heavyweight title. Jones vacated his light heavyweight championship to pursue the heavyweight title and he’s getting an immediate title shot.

I would say that whoever loses the title fight in March will likely face Derrick Lewis next. Lewis would be the number one contender if Jon Jones wasn’t moving up. Given where Stipe and Francis both stand, the UFC will likely let Lewis fight the winner after UFC 260.

With that, I believe that Volkov will likely be fighting Ciryl Gane next. Both are now ranked inside the top five and a win for either man would probably put them just one more win away from a title shot.

By the process of elimination, we could also see Curtis Blaydes and Rozenstruik fight next. Both are coming off of a loss, but both are still ranked inside the top six. The top of the heavyweight division is looking very exciting and I can’t wait to see how 2021 plays out for the big boys in the UFC.

After big knockout at UFC Vegas 19, what’s next for Derrick Lewis?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 19, the heavyweights took center stage. In the main event, “The Black Beast” Derrick Lewis (25-7, 1 NC) took on Curtis “Razor” Blaydes (14-3, 1 NC). Both men carried winning streaks into the octagon on Saturday night.

Curtis Blaydes was the heavy betting favorite on Saturday night. Blaydes was the second ranked heavyweight in the UFC and outside of Francis Ngannou, nobody has been able to touch him inside the octagon. Most expected a heavy dose of wrestling from Blaydes on Saturday night.

Derrick Lewis is the heavyweight knockout king. He stands alone atop the UFC‘s heavyweights when it comes to knockouts. The Black Beast has freak power and for that reason, many expected Blaydes to focus on the wrestling and grappling. We’ve seen Lewis struggle there before.

However, early on in the fight, Blaydes was content with standing with Lewis. Curtis Blaydes seemed apprehensive and tentative to shoot with the power of Lewis. Derrick Lewis seemed to be trying to time an uppercut on a shot from Blaydes.

In the first round, Curtis Blaydes actually got the better of the standup. The range was really bothering Lewis and Blaydes seemed to find a rhythm on the feet. In the second round, Blaydes tried to transition to his wrestling. However, Lewis defended the first takedown and they stayed standing.

On the second takedown attempt, Lewis landed the uppercut that he was trying to time. A lifeless Blaydes flopped to the floor and ate a few follow up shots. Another knockout win for the UFC‘s heavyweight knockout king.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 19?

When the UFC rankings come out tomorrow, I would fully expect Derrick Lewis to be ranked second. He’s now on a four-fight win streak and he also holds a victory over current top contender, Francis Ngannou.

While many focus on just his knockouts and his interviews, Lewis has put together quite the run in the UFC’s heavyweight division. If Jon Jones wasn’t moving to heavyweight, The Black Beast would be getting the winner of Miocic/Ngannou 2 which happens next month.

However, with Jones getting the next shot at the title, the UFC will have to do something else with Lewis. The perfect fight for Lewis is the winner of this weekend’s main event at UFC Vegas 20.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane are battling it out and whoever wins will be ranked in the top five. Lewis hasn’t fought either of those top contenders so a matchup between them would make perfect sense. Perhaps that would be the co-main event to the Jones heavyweight title fight later in the summer.

Francis Ngannou planning on redemption at UFC 260 after falling short the first time

Francis Ngannou

The most terrifying heavyweight in the UFC is not the heavyweight champion. That title belongs to the number one contender. I don’t think anyone doubts that the most terrifying heavyweight is Francis Ngannou (15-3).

The top contender has won four straight fights in under 71 seconds. Watching Ngannou makes me think of the Rocky 4 line, “Whatever he hits, he destroys.” When he’s on and focused, nobody in the UFC has had an answer for Ngannou.

Well, nobody but the heavyweight champion, Stipe Miocic (20-3). Miocic and Ngannou first fought in the headliner of UFC 220 back in January of 2018. Ngannou was coming off of a knockout over Alistair Overeem where he sent his head to the moon.

Despite the fact that Miocic was a dominant champion, Ngannou went into the fight as the betting favorite. Ngannou had destroyed everything that was put in front of him by the UFC. For that reason, the oddsmakers figured this fight would be the same.

However, Miocic had different plans. Miocic took some good shots in the first round. But, the champ proved to Ngannou that he wasn’t going to be easy to put away. As the minutes kept going, Stipe Miocic was still in front of Ngannou.

What resulted was a five-round humbling loss for Francis Ngannou at UFC 220. This 25 minute experience was incredibly important to Ngannou and he believes that will be key for his redemption at UFC 260.

Will Ngannou get redemption at UFC 260?

Ngannou was on the Joe Rogan Experience yesterday where he talked about his journey from Cameroon to being the top UFC heavyweight contender. When asked about the first fight with Miocic, Ngannou said the first fight is key to his redemption.

“The Redemption,” Ngannou said of the rematch. “I had two feelings from that fight. First, I was upset and disappointed. However, since that day, I look back at that fight and say, ‘This is good.’ I learned so much from that fight.”

Ngannou also talked about the fact that he spent more time in the cage at UFC 220 than he had previously in his entire career. That experience has changed the way he prepares and he believes that the world will see the difference on March 27th.

Of course, Ngannou has a tall mountain to climb to wrestle the title away from Stipe Miocic. Ngannou might be the betting favorite again at UFC 260, but if we’ve learned anything about the champion, it’s never doubt him. He has a habit of proving people wrong.

Dana White announces Stipe Miocic – Francis Ngannou 2 will headline UFC 260

MMA, Stipe Miocic

Yesterday it was reported that the UFC was looking to book two big title fights for their second PPV in March. This morning, the news broke that the promotion had finalized the co-main event with Alexander Volkanovski taking on Brian Ortega. 

At the UFC Fight Island 7 post-fight press conference, White announced that they had finalized the main event. White said that Stipe Miocic (20-3) will be defending his heavyweight title in a rematch against Francis Ngannou (15-3) on March 27th.

UFC 260 now has their two title fights officially booked and the main event is one that fans have been waiting for. The heavyweight division has been halted over the last few years with the trilogy between Miocic and Daniel Cormier.

Miocic has fought Cormier in all three of his last three fights. Their trilogy concluded at UFC 252 when Miocic was able to win by unanimous decision. Outside of the first fight where Miocic was knocked out by DC, Miocic hasn’t lost since 2014.

Miocic first fought Francis Ngannou back at UFC 220 in January of 2018. Ngannou was riding a ton of momentum and I think he bought into his own hype. Miocic humbled the challenger and dominated him over five rounds.

UFC champion as the underdog?

That loss did a number on Francis Ngannou. He was being built up as this untouchable force in the UFC and Stipe Miocic just completely controlled him. The fight shook him so bad that in his next fight against Derrick Lewis, he hardly threw any strikes.

As a result, he lost his second straight fight. However, after that loss, Ngannou rededicated himself to the sport and he hasn’t looked back. The Predator will go into the rematch on a four-fight winning streak.

However, it’s not just the fact that he’s won four in a row. It’s the fact that none of those fights have gone more than 71 seconds. He last fought at UFC 249 where he knocked out the previously unbeaten, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, in just 20 seconds.

It’s a weird thing because I think Ngannou will actually be the favorite at UFC 260 despite losing to Miocic the first time around. I think Ngannou is the best he’s ever been and Stipe’s going to need his best effort on March 27th to retain his title.

UFC targeting two massive title fights for second March PPV

MMA, Stipe Miocic

Since the calendar turned over to 2021, the UFC has been busy working on building it’s biggest year yet. They are kicking off the new year with a bang with three fantastic cards on Fight Island that starts tomorrow with Max Holloway – Calvin Kattar.

Of course, the biggest star in the sport, Conor McGregor, is headlining the first PPV next weekend at UFC 257. Despite all of this excitement in the next week, it’s actually the month of March that’s getting the hype.

The UFC has already announced a massive PPV event to kick things off in March. UFC 259 is scheduled for March 6th and has three title fights booked for that card with the headliner being Israel Adesanya – Jan Blachowicz.

Tonight, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani is reporting that the promotion has plans for another massive PPV at the end of March. Per Helwani, UFC 260 is being targeted for March 27th and the card would feature Stipe Miocic – Francis Ngannou 2 and Alexander Volkanovski – Brian Ortega.

Two UFC title fights

To start things off, it should be known that neither one of these fights for UFC 260 are finalized. However, let’s move with assumption that they will get done and let’s start with the main event of the evening.

The rematch between Stipe Miocic (20-3) and Francis Ngannou (15-3) is a fight that UFC fans have been waiting for. Ngannou has knocked out four straight opponents in the first round while Miocic just concluded his trilogy with Daniel Cormier.

While Miocic dominated the first fight, the general consensus is that Ngannou will be the favorite at UFC 260. Ngannou is looking better than ever while Miocic isn’t quite as good as he was when they first fought. The winner will take on Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) later in the summer.

Then we have the co-main event of the evening. The UFC featherweight title will be on the line as Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) will be taking on Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC). Volkanovski will be making his second title defense.

In my opinion, Brian Ortega looked like the best featherweight in the world when he fought Chan Sung Jung back in October. Ortega has always been known for his ground skills, but his striking looked sensational.

Factoring both of those in with his cardio and size and you have a problem for the division. Despite being the champion, Alexander Volkanovski will have a lot to prove at UFC 260.

Most people believe that he lost to Max Holloway in their rematch in July. He will need to come out and make a statement to show the world that he truly is the best in the UFC’s featherweight division. This event is not official, but if it gets done, March is going to be insane.

Who will be the UFC champions after 2021? (Welterweight – Heavyweight)

UFC, Jon Jones

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.

Israel Adesanya could become the UFC’s first three-division champion

One of the biggest stars in the UFC today is the middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya (20-0). The undefeated Adesanya has exploded in popularity over the last couple of years due to his performances and his personality.

The Last Stylebender has an incredibly flashy style inside and outside the octagon. Even his ring walks are entertaining like the dancing routine he did prior to his fight with Robert Whittaker at UFC 243.

I will be the first to admit, I thought Adesanya was more hype than substance. While I thought he was good, I didn’t foresee him being nearly as good as he’s shown. Stylebender has shown me that as soon as you doubt him, he performs his best.

After he defeated Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236, he earned a lot of respect due to the heart that he showed. However, he also showed that he wasn’t invincible and many believed that Robert Whittaker would take him out at UFC 243.

Instead, Adesanya destroyed Whittaker and knocked him out in the second round. Early in the year last year, Adesanya took on Yoel Romero at UFC 248. The fight was far from entertaining and some even believed that Romero won the fight.

With the lack of action in the fight, some cooled off Stylebender. I will be the first to admit that I actually picked him to lose to Paulo Costa at UFC 253. Instead, Adesanya dazzled again and won by second round knockout.

UFC’s first three-division world champion

News recently broke that Adesanya is going to be moving up in his next fight. He’s going to be moving up to light heavyweight at UFC 259 to challenge the light heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz (27-8).

It’ll be a big test for Adesanya. It’ll be interesting to see how he holds up against someone as powerful as Blachowicz. While Adesanya’s current plan is to win the title and ultimately return to middleweight, he could have the chance at history.

Adesanya has been very vocal about his future desire to fight Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC). Jones is considered by many to be the greatest fighter of all time. Jones is currently preparing for a heavyweight title fight later this year.

If Jones and Adesanya both were to win, a superfight could materialize. I could see the UFC attempting to pair the two against each other at heavyweight. If that were to happen, Adesanya would have the chance to hold three belts at the same time which has never been done before.

Even if Jones doesn’t win the title and let’s say Stipe Miocic (20-3) remains the champion, Adesanya’s coach has talked about fighting Stipe. The interest is there for Stylebender to potentially test himself at heavyweight as well.

The reality is that there is a roadmap for Adesanya to do something truly special in the UFC. Holding three titles simultaneously has never even been discussed before. However, Adesanya could become the first fighter in history to do it between this year and next.

UFC champions that are likely to lose in 2021

Corey Anderson

2020 was a great year if you were a UFC champion. Not a single champion lost their title in a title fight during 2020. There were some vacated title, however, nobody lost their title inside the octagon.

I don’t believe we are going to see the same thing for the UFC champions in 2021. There are some stacked divisions in the UFC and there are champions that have incredibly tough title defenses ahead of them.

There are a few champions who aren’t even going to be favored in their next title defense. Even if the champions get through their first difficult defense, many divisions have even tougher matchups awaiting the champions.

With that, I wanted to go through the divisions and pick out some UFC champions that I believe are at the highest risk in 2021. Some titles won’t change hands in 2021 while others are almost guarantees in my opinion.

Three UFC champions that will lose in 2021

Stipe Miocic

The first champion and in my opinion the most likely champion that I see losing his UFC title in 2021 is Stipe Miocic (20-3). The greatest heavyweight in the promotions history has a nightmare of a year in front of him in 2021.

Miocic’s first title defense will come against Francis Ngannou (15-3). The fight is a rematch from UFC 220. That night saw Miocic completely dominate Ngannou and overwhelm the dangerous challenger.

However, I believe that the rematch is going to go differently. Ngannou has rededicated himself to his career and I believe he’s going to enter their title fight better than ever. I can’t say the same thing for the UFC heavyweight champion.

I’m not sure we are going to see the best version of Stipe Miocic whenever they fight. Stipe is definitely capable of winning, but he’s going to need to be the best version of himself. Anything short of it and he’s getting put to sleep.

Let’s say that Stipe Miocic makes it through Ngannou. Well, then he has to face the greatest of all time in Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC). Jones is moving to heavyweight after dominating the UFC’s light heavyweight division for over a decade.

So if Miocic makes it through Ngannou, he has an even tougher task in front of him in defeating Jon Jones. With those two challenges in front of him, I don’t see Miocic making it out of 2021 with the UFC heavyweight title.

Jan Blachowicz

The next UFC champion that will fall in 2021 is the new light heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz (27-8). Blachowicz has completely turned his career around the last few years and it culminated at UFC 253.

That night, Blachowicz took on Dominick Reyes (12-2) for the light heavyweight title. Reyes was the favorite, however, Blachowicz used his famous Polish Power to dominate Reyes and capture the title.

Blachowicz has all of the makings to be a UFC champion that could reign for a while. However, he has a nightmare of a matchup in his first defense. He will be taking on the middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya (20-0), at UFC 259.

Adesanya is moving up to try and become a two-division UFC champion. I believe this is an awful matchup for Blachowicz. The light heavyweight champion is going to go have to either grapple Adesanya or catch him with one big shot.

He’s definitely got the power to put Adesanya out, but in a pure striking matchup, I think he’s going to get lit up. While it’s been a great story, I think the reign of the Polish Power ends at UFC 259 at the hands of Israel Adesanya.

Alexander Volkanovski

The final UFC champion that I will touch on is the featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski (22-1). Volkanovski has been on an incredible run inside the octagon and he’s going to be defending his featherweight title for the second time in early 2021.

Volkanovski’s first title defense came at UFC 251 against former champion, Max Holloway (21-6). In the eyes of most, Holloway won that fight, but two of the judges gave the fight to Volkanovski.

It marked the second straight win for Volkanovski over Holloway. Had it not been the second straight win, we’d likely have seen an immediate rematch. Nevertheless, the division is moving forward to start the year.

First up for Volkanovski will be Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC). Ortega is fresh off of his victory over The Korean Zombie back in October. In my opinion, the Brian Ortega we saw that night was the best featherweight in the UFC.

His striking had gotten so much better since the last time we saw him. He’s big, he’s elite on the ground and now his striking is developed. He’s going to be an extremely tough out for the UFC champion.

However, should Volkanovski get by Ortega, there’s a number of difficult fights. I could see him having to fight Holloway again and after the second fight, I might lean towards Max Holloway in the trilogy.

Another tough fight for Volkanovski could be Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1). Zabit didn’t fight in 2020, however, he’s looked at as one of the best contenders in the division. Zabit could cause a lot of problems for Volkanovski.

Out of the three champions I’ve listed, Volkanovski would be the one I’m the least surprised by keeping his UFC title. However, with the guys lined up behind him, I would bet on him falling in 2021.

Two UFC bold predictions for 2021

Francis Ngannou

Thankfully for the world, 2020 is officially behind us. While it was a pretty terrible year across the board, the UFC accomplished some major things last year. The biggest MMA promotion in the world was the first major sport to return after the pandemic hit.

Dana White and the crew at the UFC deserve a lot of credit for what they pulled off. In addition, the promotion also delivered card after card of incredible fights. We saw new champions crowned and fights that made us stand up and applaud from home.

2021 is promising to be a very exciting year for the UFC. The promotion already is kicking off the year in Fight Island with some incredible fights. Most notably the rematch between Conor McGregor (22-4) and Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC).

There are so many compelling matchups in the UFC this year. There are so many interesting storylines as well. With that, I wanted to get bold with a few predictions for the UFC in 2021.

Now, I’m not saying these are official picks or guaranteeing this will happen. However, my gut is telling me that these two predictions will come to fruition and when they do, some UFC fans are going to be shocked.

2021 UFC bold predictions

Stipe Miocic doesn’t last one round with Francis Ngannou

For my first bold prediction, I’m looking at the UFC’s heavyweight division. The current plan is for Stipe Miocic (20-3) to defend his title against Francis Ngannou (15-3) in March. However, the fight is not finalized at this time.

This fight is a rematch from UFC 220. The narrative going into this fight is going to be a lot like the first one. Whenever they first were paired together, many believed that Ngannou’s power would be too much for Stipe Miocic.

However, Stipe completely dominated Ngannou and won a shutout decision. Since then, Miocic has only fought in a trilogy with Daniel Cormier where he’s gone 2-1. Ngannou lost his next fight to Derrick Lewis, but after that, he’s looked inhuman.

The Predator has knocked out four straight opponents with none of them getting past 71 seconds. He’s training like a mad man and he is desperate to become the UFC’s heavyweight champion of the world.

Ngannou went into the first fight completely overconfident. He didn’t think Miocic could handle him, and he was wrong. His training is different now and I think he’s going to be better than ever when they fight.

On the other hand, I personally don’t believe Stipe is as good as he was when they fought the first time. I think when they rematch in March, Stipe is going to fall in the first round and Francis Ngannou will be the new UFC heavyweight champion.

Gilbert Burns dethrones Kamaru Usman

For my second and final bold prediction, I’m taking a look at the UFC’s welterweight title. Champion, Kamaru Usman (17-1), is tentatively booked to defend his title against Gilbert Burns (19-3) in February at UFC 258.

To this point, nobody has been able to solve Kamaru Usman. Colby Covington pushed him to the absolute limit, but Usman was ultimately able to finish Covington in that fight. It’s extremely difficult to deal with the style of Usman.

He’s incredibly strong, he’s got tremendous power, and he has phenomenal wrestling which he uses to control his opponents. Whether on the ground or against the fence, Usman’s control is something that fighters struggle to deal with.

However, if there’s anyone in the UFC who has the style to beat Usman it’s his former teammate, Gilbert Burns. As Burns was on the rise, it was his BJJ skills that everyone was incredibly impressed with. Burns is one of the best Jiu Jitsu practitioners in the sport.

However, it’s his striking that’s blown me away this year. Burns is incredibly fast and extremely powerful with his hands. He knocked out Demian Maia on the feet and dropped Tyron Woodley when they fought earlier this year.

On the feet, I believe that Burns is going to have a big advantage at UFC 258. He’s got the speed to give Usman fits. His skills as a grappler are also going to cause problems for Usman in my opinion.

Now, would I be shocked if Usman is able to use his strengths to grind out a decision? No, I mean he’s the UFC champion for a reason. However, I truly believe that Gilbert Burns is a nightmare matchup for him. For that reason, we will see a new welterweight champion next month.

UFC: Jon Jones says he’s never returning to light heavyweight

UFC, Jon Jones

Earlier this year, Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) vacated his UFC light heavyweight championship. Jones decided to vacate the title to pursue a new challenge in the heavyweight division. He first captured the light heavyweight title in 2011.

Jon Jones might be the greatest fighter the UFC has ever seen. Jones has never truly lost inside the octagon. His lone loss is a disqualification loss to Matt Hamill in a fight that he was completely dominating.

Outside of that, he’s rarely been challenged over the last 12 years in the UFC. In reality, Jon Jones has been the only opponent that has been detrimental to Jon Jones. Jones’ issues outside the cage have cost him time in his career and his title a couple of times.

Nevertheless, Jones has overcome those issues and had a great stretch over the last two years in the octagon. All starting at UFC 232 when he finished Alexander Gustafsson to regain the light heavyweight title.

After that he defeated Anthony Smith, Thiago Santos, and Dominick Reyes by decision. Not the most dominant performances, but in the end, they show up as successful UFC title defenses for Jones.

Jones has been so dominant that he appeared bored at times when fighting. In my opinion, this boredom or lack of fear caused for some bad performances. Still, he’s come through all of his fights with his hand raised.

UFC Future for Jones

Jon Jones is in the process of building up his body for his next chapter in the UFC‘s heavyweight division. In an exclusive interview with Bleacher Report, Jones discussed the decision to move to heavyweight and vacate the light heavyweight title.

“The reason why I decided to vacate the light heavyweight belt and not hang onto it is that I knew my move to heavyweight was going to take a really long time. I have no intentions of ever going back to light heavyweight,” Jones said.

Jones also said that the current plan is for him to face the winner of the UFC heavyweight title fight between Stipe Miocic (20-3) and Francis Ngannou (15-3). Those two are expected to fight in March with Jones fighting the winner in the summer or fall.

Jones also talked about the challenge of both saying, “I’ll be ready for either of them. Both fights are extremely challenging. Stipe, he’s the greatest heavyweight of all time. And then Francis is just a freak when it comes to his knockout power, and he’s improving constantly.”

He then added, “Both fights are gigantic challenges, but that’s what I’m here for in this stage of my career. Go big and see what I’ve got.” Jon Jones understands that capturing the UFC heavyweight title would cement him as the greatest to ever do it.

He said he wants to capture the title then defend it two or three times before retiring from the UFC. Outside of the heavyweight title is of course the potential matchup with rival Israel Adesanya (20-0).

Adesanya is moving up to fight Jan Blachowicz (27-8) for the light heavyweight title at UFC 259. If Adesanya wins and Jones wins, the UFC might try to make a superfight. It would be the first time a two-division champion would take on another champion.