2021 UFC Fight of the Year

2021 is coming to a close and there were so many incredible UFC fights this year. There were massive title fights, stunning upsets, incredible comebacks, and so much more. 2021 was an incredible year for UFC fans.

A fight that stands out immediately is the featherweight title fight at UFC 267. Alexander Volkanovski was defending his title against Brian Ortega. This was a fight that many in the community were torn on entering 2021.

Given the way Ortega looked in his 2020 return, many including myself thought he was the guy to beat Volkanovski. However, the champion held strong. Volkanovksi and Ortega had a battle to remember at UFC 267 and Volkanovski won a decision.

Another fight that stands out to me is the battle between Jiri Prochazka and Dominick Reyes. A likely title eliminator which took place back in May. Both of these powerful light heavyweights hurt each other in a wild slugfest.

The pace was insane for two guys so big and powerful. In the end, Prochazka landed a perfect spinning back elbow which knocked Reyes out cold. That finish is also a top consideration for knockout of the year.

All that being said, there’s one fight that stands out amongst the rest. It was a fight that took place at UFC 268 and it was a fight that had an insane amount of hype leading up to it and it somehow surpassed even the loftiest expectations.

2021 UFC Fight of the Year

The UFC Fight of the Year in 2021 is definitely the battle between Justin Gaethje (23-3) and Michael Chandler (22-7). This fight took place in November and it’s still a fight that I’m buzzing about nearly two months later.

Gaethje made his lone appearance in 2021 count with this fight against Chandler. These two are fan favorites for their styles and they showed why in their battle. Michael Chandler said their fight would be like a car crash and that’s exactly what we got.

From the opening bell at UFC 268, these two guys went at each other with everything they had. Chandler came out quick throwing major heat and he hurt Gaethje in the first round. However, Gaethje hurt him back when they were swinging away.

In the second round, Gaethje dropped Chandler and hurt him bad. However, Chandler survived and the two continued to slug it out in the center. The final round saw Gaethje land more, but Chandler had big moments in the round as well.

These two threw caution to the wind and just went after each other. Ultimately, Gaethje got his hand raised at UFC 268 and earned a title shot in his victory. If you haven’t watched this instant classic, I highly recommend figuring out a way to watch it as soon as you can.

What to make of the UFC’s strawweight title picture

Just over a week ago at UFC 268, Rose Namajunas (11-4) defended her strawweight title against the former champion Zhang Weili (21-3). The two had met earlier this year with Namajunas scoring a first round knockout.

Given the way the first fight ended, the UFC decided to run things back immediately given how dominant Weili had been. The second fight was what fans expected from the first fight. The fight was razor close.

Weili did a great job through the first half of the fight. If the fight was a three round fight, she would’ve won going away. However, Namajunas came on strong in the championship rounds and won a split decision.

Now, the UFC is left with figuring out who is next for Namajunas. While the answer seems incredibly obvious to most of us, the promotion is hedging against the obvious choice.

Who will get the next UFC title shot?

The obvious choice would be having Rose Namajunas fight Carla Esparza (18-6) next. Esparza has won five fights in a row and she’s the next in line according to the UFC rankings. She also has history with Namajunas.

Thug Rose and Esparza squared off for the inaugural UFC strawweight title with Esparza getting the win. All of these things paint the obvious picture that Esparza should be next. However, Dana White seems hesitant to make this fight.

The UFC President said after UFC 268 that there are other options outside of Esparza and he said that it wasn’t a good idea to wait for a title shot. Esparza was seemingly next in line after Namajunas knocked out Weili, but the promotion booked the rematch instead.

Other options?

If the UFC decides to look past Esparza again, there are a couple of options on the table. Marina Rodriguez (15-1-2) would be a name to watch. However, this would infuriate the masses because Esparza has defeated her during her winning streak.

An option that I think the UFC is leaning towards is the trilogy with Jessica Andrade (22-9). Andrade knocked Namajunas out with a slam to take the strawweight title from her in their first fight. In their second fight, Namajunas edged Andrade by split decision.

Andrade moved up to flyweight after the loss to Namajunas. She’s gone 2-1 with two first round stoppages and a lopsided defeat against Valentina Shevchenko. After her last fight, she said that she wanted to move back down to strawweight to fight the winner of Namajunas and Weili.

Unfortunately for Carla Esparza, I think the UFC is leaning towards going with Jessica Andrade. However, it’s still a fluid situation and something to watch over the next month or so.

What’s next for Chito Vera after his knockout win at UFC 268?

This past weekend at UFC 268, we saw a battle in the bantamweight division which featured the past and the future. Former lightweight champion and top contender Frankie Edgar (24-10-1) was taking on Marlon “Chito” Vera (20-7-1).

Edgar was looking to bounce back after his loss in a title eliminator to Cory Sandhagen while Chito Vera was looking for a signature win. Throughout Vera’s UFC career, he’s been known to be a very slow starter and that didn’t change at UFC 268.

In the first round, Edgar was able to take Vera down and controlled him for the majority of the round. However, in the second round, Vera really turned things around. Chito became increasingly aggressive on the feet and landed some big shots.

In the third round, both men had their moments early. However, momentum was really with Chito as he continuously stalked Edgar throughout. Then, Vera landed a massive front kick to the face that knocked out the former UFC lightweight champion and gave Chito his signature win.

What’s next after UFC 268?

The updated UFC rankings came out today and Chito Vera is just outside the top ten coming in at number eleven. Going back to UFC 227 in 2018, Vera is now 7-2 in his last nine fights. However, many believe that he won one of those two losses.

That was a loss against Song Yadong (17-5-1). With this win, Chito is in a really tough spot in regards to the rest of the division. Guys in front of him include Marlon Moraes, Dominick Cruz, Pedro Munhoz, and Cody Garbrandt.

Garbrandt is moving to 125, Moraes is on a big losing streak, and Cruz and Munhoz fight at UFC 269. In theory, whoever wins that fight would make sense right? Well, Munhoz is also contemplating a move to flyweight while Dominick Cruz will want someone ranked higher.

That leaves Chito in a bit of no mans land. So, who should the UFC pair him with? To me, there’s a couple of options. On one hand, I really like the idea of him rematching with Sean O’Malley (14-1). There’s serious beef there and a sense of uncertainty given the way the first fight ended.

Chito got the TKO win, but an O’Malley ankle injury played a big role. That would be a really good fight that fans would be very hyped for. O’Malley takes on Raulian Paiva at UFC 269. Another possibility is Song Yadong if he wins this weekend at UFC Vegas 42.

If Song wins, the rematch with Chito makes a ton of sense with the winner ready to take on someone in the top ten. Chito deserves a top ten opponent, but he’s a little stuck right now. Either way, expect a good and entertaining opponent for him next time out.

After UFC 268, Justin Gaethje is next in line for the lightweight championship

This past Saturday at UFC 268, we saw one of the best fights if not the best fight of 2021 kicking off the PPV. A lightweight showdown between Justin Gaethje (23-3) and Michael Chandler (22-7) kicked off the UFC 268 main card in style.

Usually when you see a fight that has a ton of hype, the fight normally disappoints. You think to yourself, “There’s no way that this fight can possibly live up to the hype,” and most of the time, it doesn’t. Well, this is one of those times where the fight completely delivered.

From the opening bell at UFC 268, both Gaethje and Chandler through everything that they had at the other. The first round saw Chandler rock Gaethje a couple of times. However, Gaethje landed big shots of his own. In the second round, Gaethje dropped Chandler and nearly finished him.

The final round saw Gaethje throw everything including the kitchen sink at a smiling Michael Chandler. The fight was absolutely incredible and in the end, Justin Gaethje walked away victorious and cemented his status at the top of the division.

Is Gaethje next for the UFC title?

Originally, this fight between Chandler and Gaethje was being looked at as a title eliminator. However, after Islam Makhachev’s performance at UFC 267, there was talk about whether or not Makhachev would jump the line. However, the fight on Saturday put that to rest.

Prior to Saturday night, Gaethje last fought at UFC 254 when he took on Khabib Nurmagomedov for the undisputed lightweight title. Gaethje lost that fight but he entered the contest as the interim UFC lightweight champion.

Gaethje is now 5-2 in his last seven fights with four stoppages. The only two losses he’s had have come against Khabib and Dustin Poirier. There is no doubt in my mind that Justin Gaethje will be next for the UFC lightweight title.

Next month at UFC 269, Dustin Poirier and Charles Oliveira will battle for the lightweight title. Whoever wins that fight will have Gaethje waiting for them. Whether it’s a rematch with Poirier or a showdown with Oliveira, Gaethje will be ready for his second crack at undisputed UFC gold.

Who’s next for Kamaru Usman after UFC 268?

This past weekend at UFC 268, we saw a rematch for the welterweight title. In the main event, Kamaru Usman (20-1) defended his title against Colby Covington (16-3). It was the second time that these men met inside the octagon with the first coming back at UFC 245 in 2019.

In between the first and second fights, we saw dramatic improvement from Usman after he made the switch to Trevor Wittman’s camp. Usman’s striking got considerably better and his performances showed that. However, many still thought of Covington as his toughest opponent.

We saw both stories play out on Saturday at UFC 268. In the first two rounds, we did see that improvement from Usman. We saw him drop Covington twice in the second round and nearly finish him. That said, we also saw Covington prove how tough he was.

In the later rounds, I actually was favoring Covington with his pressure and he was landing. That said, Usman still got the nod and the right decision in my book was 48-47 Kamaru Usman. The UFC‘s welterweight champion proved that he’s still the best in the world.

Who is next after UFC 268?

Dana White was absolutely right when he said Colby Covington is clearly the second best welterweight in the world. White said that if Kamaru Usman didn’t exist, Colby Covington would be the UFC welterweight champion. Usman has now defeated him twice.

The champion is on his second round through a lot of the top tier opponents which is why White has already labeled him the welterweight GOAT. Now that Usman has defeated Covington for the second time, who is next in the welterweight division.

Well, there are a couple of options for the champion. Leon Edwards (19-3, 1 NC) is fighting Jorge Masvidal (35-15) next month at UFC 269. If Edwards wins that fight, there is no doubt in my mind that he’s next for Kamaru Usman. This fight would also be a rematch.

However, if Masvidal were to win, there’s a different contender who Usman hasn’t fought. That man is Vicente Luque (21-7-1). Luque was actually the backup this past weekend and he’s won four straight by stoppage. If Edwards falls next month, expect Luque to get the next shot.

Khamzat Chimaev (10-0) is a wild card name to watch. As of now, no way he’d get the next shot. However, there’s rumors that he might fight Gilbert Burns next. If he fights Burns and destroys the former title challenger, he could leap all the way to the front of the line.

What’s next for Frankie Edgar after UFC 268 knockout loss?

Frankie Edgar

This past Saturday on the main card of UFC 268, we saw a bantamweight showdown between former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar (24-10-1) and Marlon “Chito” Vera (20-7-1). This was a big fight for Edgar who had a home crowd advantage fighting at MSG.

The fight at UFC 268 started out really well for Edgar. Edgar was able to get a takedown in the first round and spent the majority of the round on top of Chito Vera. The second round saw Chito Vera really start to put together a little momentum.

Chito started landing some big shots and entering the third round, the fight was up for grabs. Vera was fighting with a ton of urgency and kept pushing forward with big shots on the former UFC champion. Edgar was having his moments too until he was caught.

Chito landed a massive front kick to the face that knocked Edgar out and sent him to the canvas. Vera celebrated as a MSG crowd fell a little quiet as they watched the Toms River native ask the referee what happened. The former UFC champion suffered his second consecutive brutal knockout loss.

What’s next after UFC 268?

After this latest loss at UFC 268, many are wondering what’s next for Frankie Edgar. On one hand, we are just one year removed from him winning a tremendous fight against Pedro Munhoz. On the other hand, he’s 40 years old and has been brutally knocked out twice in a row.

Do I think that Edgar is going to retire? No, and I don’t believe the UFC is going to say he needs to hang it up. Edgar was very competitive with Chito until that knockout in the third round. I can’t see him walking away after that loss.

However, the UFC is going to have to figure out an opponent that makes sense. For that, I would turn your attention to UFC 269 next month. On the prelims, Dominick Cruz (23-3) is taking on Pedro Munhoz (19-6).

Whoever loses that fight would be perfect for Frankie Edgar. If Cruz loses to Munhoz, the UFC could put together a matchup between the two legends that fight fans everywhere would love to see. If Munhoz loses, we can see a rematch after their first fight was razor close.

I don’t see Edgar hanging it up, but I also don’t see him making another run towards a title. For the fans of “The Answer”, you might want to enjoy his next fight because that one might just be his last.

What’s next for Colby Covington after UFC 268?

UFC, Colby Covington

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC 268, we saw a rematch for the welterweight title. The champion Kamaru Usman (20-1) defended his title for the second time against Colby Covington (16-3). Their first fight came back at UFC 245 in December of 2019.

That fight nearly two years ago was as close as it could get. Through four rounds, the judges scored the fight 3-1 Usman, 2-2, and 3-1 Covington. It was all going to come down to the fifth round and Usman won it emphatically stopping Covington before the round was over.

Nearly two years later, the two met again at UFC 268. The thing everyone, including myself, had been noting leading up to the fight is the improvements we’ve seen from Kamaru Usman. He continues to get better and better while Covington’s inactivity left a lot of question marks about what to expect.

In the early parts of the fight, Usman was dominating while Covington was hesitant. In the second round, Usman nearly finished Covington again after dropping him twice. However, Covington turned the tide in the third round at UFC 268.

After he survived the second, Covington started getting more and more aggressive. With being aggressive, he was able to make the fight very close and even wobbled Usman on the feet. However, despite making the fight very close, he couldn’t do enough to get the decision at UFC 268.

What’s next after UFC 268?

Say what you want about Colby Covington, but he’s clearly the second best welterweight on the planet. Kamaru Usman has ran through all of his competition and Covington has fought him very close for nearly ten rounds. In the ten rounds they’ve fought, I give Usman six to Covington’s four.

That’s how close these two are. However, Usman is just a bit better and that is why he’s the UFC welterweight champion. With that, it’s time for Covington to reset and take on different challenges that can get him back to the top. He was asked about what’s next and there’s only one name on his mind.

At the UFC 268 post-fight press conference, Covington made it clear that he wants Jorge Masvidal (35-15) next. Masvidal is currently scheduled to face Leon Edwards at UFC 269 next month. Regardless of the result next month, I think the fight with Covington makes all the sense in the world.

Masvidal will not get a title shot if he beats Edwards next month. He’s lost twice to Usman including getting knocked out cold. if Masvidal loses to Edwards next month, he’s still got star power and that alone still makes the Covington fight interesting.

Win or lose, I think the UFC books Covington against Masvidal next. An under the radar pick could be former title challenger Gilbert Burns (20-4). However, there’s whispers that the UFC might have other plans for Durinho at the moment.

What’s next for Zhang Weili after UFC 268 loss?

This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 268, we saw a rematch for the strawweight title. Rose Namajunas (11-4) was defending her title against Zhang Weili (21-3). The two had previously met at UFC 261 with Namajunas scoring a head kick knockout.

However, given how dominant Weili had been (winning 21 fights in a row), the UFC decided to give the former champion an immediate rematch despite the definitive result in the first fight. The general consensus was that these two were very close in skill and the first finish was more of a flash.

Personally, I thought we’d see an ultra competitive fight with Namajunas squeaking out a decision and that is exactly what we got. However, I underestimated how well Weili would do in the rematch. I figured she’d have her moments, but I didn’t think she’d do as well as she did.

In fact, watching it live, I scored the fight for Zhang Weili at UFC 268. I had her winning the first three rounds with Namajunas winning the last two. One judge saw the fight this way, however, two of the judges gave the fight and the victory to Rose Namajunas.

What’s next after UFC 268?

Despite losing at UFC 268, Zhang Weili shouldn’t hang her head. She put on a great performance and like I said, I scored the fight for her and many others did as well. However, there’s a clear argument for Namajunas winning so the decision isn’t a robbery by any stretch.

With two consecutive losses to Namajunas, where does that leave the former UFC champion? Well, she’s going to need to string together a few wins before a trilogy can make sense. She is going to have to force the UFC’s hand just like Valentina Shevchenko is doing with the Amanda Nunes trilogy.

With that, who should she take on next? There’s two opponents that make a ton of sense for Weili’s next fight. The first opponent is Marina Rodriguez (15-1-2). Rodriguez has impressively won three straight which has launched her to third in the strawweight rankings.

Given her style and still, the UFC couldn’t go wrong with booking her against Weili. I think the leader in the clubhouse for Weili’s next fight is a matchup with Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4). Jedrzejczyk was recently removed from the UFC rankings due to inactivity, but she’s still one of the very best in the world.

Weili and Jedrzejczyk had the Fight of the Year in 2020 and a rematch makes all the sense in the world. Both are former UFC champions and both have lost to Namajunas twice in virtually the same manner. First fight by knockout, second fight by close decision.

Something tells me the UFC might pass over Carla Esparza in favor of Marina Rodriguez, but that’s far from guaranteed, just something to watch. If I’m betting money, I say the UFC books the rematch between Zhang and Jedrzejczyk for sometime in the spring.

Conor McGregor ‘Down’ for fight with Michael Chandler following UFC 268

Conor McGregor, UFC

This past weekend at UFC 268, Michael Chandler (22-7) went to war with Justin Gaethje (23-3). The fight lived up to every ounce of hype it had and will be on the shortlist of fight of the year. Easily the fight could get inducted into the fight wing of the UFC Hall of Fame.

Both men hit the other which everything they had. They both had each other rocked and wobbled at various points in the fight. In the end, Justin Gaethje landed a little more and was able to win a decision, but in reality, there were no losers in this fight.

Michael Chandler’s stock doesn’t fall after suffering defeat at UFC 268. To me, he’s exactly where he was before the fight. Right in the mix of things and inside the top five of the UFC‘s lightweight division. This morning, Chandler made it clear what he wants next.

Chandler took to Twitter and made his callout for his return. Chandler said that he wanted a fight with former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor (22-6) next. McGregor is currently rehabbing a broken leg that he suffered in his last fight.

Former UFC champion responds

After the callout, it didn’t take long for Conor McGregor to issue a response. The former champion is very active on Twitter and one had to think that he would respond. The only question would be the type of response.

Would we get the nice and respectful version of Conor McGregor? Or would the former UFC champion go right into the trash talk and mind games? McGregor was very respectful in his response that you can see below.

I mentioned this in the article this morning, but if you want a perfect fight on paper, it’s a fight between McGregor and Chandler. It’s a massive fight that can headline a UFC PPV and would satisfy the casuals and the hard core MMA fan base.

The only question would be around the UFC’s willingness to make the fight happen. For McGregor, there’s always the third fight with Nate Diaz. Or a matchup with Rafael Dos Anjos (a fight that would also make sense for Michael Chandler).

It’s important to remember that UFC 268 just was Saturday night and both men are going to need time. Chandler needs to recover from the war he was in while McGregor still needs to fully heal from the broken leg.

All that being said, these are two guys who the UFC organization loves. If Chandler wants this fight and McGregor wants this fight, it’s going to happen. Time will tell, but I think fans would be pretty satisfied if this fight were to happen in the late spring or early summer in 2022.

Michael Chandler has his eyes on Conor McGregor after UFC 268

MMA, UFC, michael chandler

This past Saturday at UFC 268, we saw a fight that very well might be fight of the year and it lived up to it’s enormous hype. Kicking off the PPV on Saturday was a lightweight showdown between Michael Chandler (22-7) and Justin Gaethje (23-3).

Both men were coming off title losses in their last fights and whoever won this fight was being looked at as a potential number one contender in a stacked lightweight division. Given the styles of both men, this fight at UFC 268 had more hype than any non-title fight I’ve seen in recent memory that didn’t involve Conor McGregor or Nate Diaz.

Somehow, it seemed to even surpass expectations. From the opening bell, these two went right after each other and threw everything they had. In the first round, Chandler was able to rock Gaethje a few times and it looked like he could get a stoppage win.

However, Gaethje weathered the storm then came back strong by dropping and hurting Chandler in the second. The third round showed Chandler just eating everything Gaethje threw and he was throwing heat back. An absolute war at UFC 268 that should be going into the hall of fame one day.

In the end, Justin Gaethje got his hand raised which was the right call. However, this was a fight where there really wasn’t a loser in my opinion. Michael Chandler dropped to 1-2 in the UFC following the loss to Gaethje.

Chandler has his next UFC opponent in mind

Michael Chandler took to Twitter this morning and made it clear what he wants next. With a simple caption of, “2022,” Chandler posted a face off picture with him and former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor (22-6).

McGregor is currently recovering from the broken leg that he suffered back at UFC 264 against Dustin Poirier. The Notorious one is looking to return in the late spring or early summer which aligns when Chandler will likely make his next trip inside the octagon.

While I absolutely love this fight, I’m not sure if the UFC will go in this direction for McGregor. If McGregor wants to get right back in the title picture, Chandler is a great option. However, with anything tied to Conor McGregor, there are a lot of moving pieces.

Another option to watch for Chandler and McGregor for that matter is former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13). The former champion is recovering from knee surgery and aligns perfectly with both men in terms of his spot in the rankings.