In the UFC’s women’s divisions, who will be a champion after 2021?

This week I’ve gone through all of the men’s divisions in the UFC. From flyweight to heavyweight predicting who will walk out of 2021 with a title around their waste. Well, what about the women’s divisions?

The UFC‘s four women’s are currently controlled by three of the very best fighters in the world. Amanda Nunes (20-4), Valentina Shevchenko (20-3), and Weili Zhang (21-1) stand on top of the four divisions.

Nunes reigns over the UFC‘s featherweight and bantamweight divisions. Shevchenko is the queen of the bantamweights while Weili Zhang is the champion at strawweight which is the best division in women’s MMA.

This year there plans to be a number of exciting female matchups in the UFC. As mentioned, the strawweight division is completely stacked and there is the potential of some super fights between champions in 2021.

The UFC is planning for a massive year in 2021 and the women figure to be a big part of that. The question then becomes, will any of the current champions lose their crowns in 2021?

UFC champions after 2021

Strawweight – Weili Zhang

In my opinion, the UFC champion that has the highest chance of losing in 2021 is Weili Zhang when it comes to the women. That’s not a knock on her at all, but it’s more of a testament to how good the strawweight division is.

That said, I believe that she will still be the UFC strawweight champion after 2021 is over. Weili only fought once in 2020 and it was the fight of the year. She defended her title against arguably the greatest strawweight of all time, Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4).

At UFC 248, Weili showed me something we hadn’t seen from her yet. She showed that she can really dig down deep in a tough fight. Joanna pushed her to the limit, but Weili was game for five rounds and won a split decision.

Her first test of 2021 will likely come against Rose Namajunas (9-4). Thug Rose is the number one contender, but there have been hurdles in making the fight. Should it get made, I’m expecting another fantastic matchup.

However, in the end, I think that Weili Zhang is just the better fighter overall. If she loses in 2021, I really don’t believe it’ll be at strawweight. Her only loss would be if she moves up to take on the UFC’s flyweight champion.

Flyweight – Valentina Shevchenko

You can make the argument that the best female fighter in the UFC is Valentina Shevchenko. Of course as long as Amanda Nunes is the champ-champ, she will hold onto the number one spot in the pound-for-pound rankings.

However, you can make the argument that Shevchenko actually defeated Nunes the last time they fought at UFC 215. Nunes won by split decision in a fight that I actually scored for Shevchenko.

The reality is, there is no one at 125 pounds that I see posing a threat to Shevchenko. Her first title defense of 2021 will come against Jessica Andrade (21-8). The former strawweight champion made her flyweight debut with a bang in October.

She was able to stop Katlyn Chookagian in the first round with body shots. Andrade definitely has the power to make it interesting, however, I just don’t see her being able to hang with the overall skillset of Shevchenko.

Bantamweight & Featherweight – Amanda Nunes

This is another easy one. Outside of Valentina Shevchenko, who can really challenge Amanda Nunes in 2021? She’s defending her featherweight title against Megan Anderson (11-4) at UFC 259.

Anderson should give Nunes some interesting challenges given her height and range. However, does anyone really believe that Megan Anderson will be the one to dethrone Amanda Nunes?

Nunes is on another level from most of her competition. She is the greatest female fighter to ever live. Nunes holds two victories over Shevchenko, she’s knocked out Cris Cyborg, she’s knocked out Ronda Rousey, she’s knocked out Holly Holm, and I could go on.

It is truly something special to watch her compete inside the octagon. 2021 is going to be interesting in that I could see the UFC pairing Nunes and Shevchenko up a third time. The only way Nunes or Shevchenko lose in 2021 is if they fight each other.

Honestly, I don’t know how that fight would go. Of course you’d have to favor Nunes. However, Shevchenko has all the skill to be able to hang with her. It’s a superfight that I desperately want to see in 2021.

UFC: State of the women’s flyweight division entering 2021

Arguably the most dominant champion in any UFC division is Valentina Shevchenko (20-3). Shevchenko is the queen of the flyweight division and she has shown that she’s head and shoulders above the competition at 125 pounds.

She has been so dominant that people lose their minds when she loses a round as she did at UFC 255. Shevchenko just defended her title last month against a very game, Jennifer Maia (18-7-1).

Nobody in the world believed that Maia could hang with Shevchenko. However, Maia was able to win a round and make it competitive. Well, as competitive as a fight can be when one person loses four of the five rounds.

Simply put, Valentina Shevchenko is at a different level. The UFC flyweight champion has only lost twice inside the octagon. Both of those losses came to two-division champion, Amanda Nunes.

However, many believe that Shevchenko won the second matchup which Nunes took by split decision. Nevertheless, when the flyweight division was created, the UFC created it with Valentina Shevchenko in mind.

UFC Flyweight in 2021

As we head into the new year, we already know what is going to be first for Valentina Shevchenko. The first challenger will be former UFC strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade (21-8).

Andrade is now competing in her third weight class in the UFC. She started at bantamweight when it was the only division. However, she was much smaller than all of her competition.

When the strawweight division was created, she dropped twenty pounds to compete there. She captured UFC gold, but it still didn’t appear to be her natural weight class. Finally at 125, she seems to have found the perfect fit.

In her debut, she finished former title challenger, Katlyn Chookagian (15-4), in the first round. A matchup between Shevchenko and Andrade should be a lot of fun for fight fans. No word on when this matchup will take place.

Outside of the title fight, there is another compelling matchup in the division that should be made. That would be the rematch between Chookagian and top contender, Lauren Murphy (14-4).

The two fought back in 2016 with Chookagian picking up the win. However, Murphy has now won four in a row which has placed her third in the rankings. A matchup between the two could be a title eliminator.

One storyline to watch out for in the UFC‘s flyweight division in 2021 is a potential champion versus champion super fight. Weili Zhang (21-1) is the UFC’s strawweight champion and widely considered one of the best in the world.

If she’s able to defend her title once or twice successfully in 2021, I wouldn’t rule out her moving up to challenge Shevchenko. Dana White has already said that he likes the idea. The flyweight division is definitely one to watch in 2021.

2020 UFC Fight of the Year

It’s been a crazy year for the world and a crazy year for the UFC. The promotion started on a high note back in January when Conor McGregor headlined a card that sold over one million PPVs. The promotion was off and running.

However, in March, production had to be shutdown by the UFC due to the global pandemic. COVID-19 shut the entire world down and the UFC was no exception. However, the promotion worked hard to get back on track.

After just over a month off, the UFC was back open for business in May. They were the first professional sport league to come back in full force and they delivered. Despite the lack of live crowds, the fighters delivered all the way since May.

There have been so many incredible fights this year inside the octagon. One of the fights that was on the shortlist for fight of the year was Josh Emmett (16-2) and Shane Burgos (13-2) from back in June.

This was a featherweight shootout where both men were trading serious shots back and forth. Both are extremely powerful and Burgos was able to holdup and survive the ungodly power from Josh Emmett.

Another candidate just took place at UFC 256. The flyweight title fight between Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) and Brandon Moreno (18-5-2). An absolute back-and-forth war between the two best flyweights in the world that resulted in a draw.

All year long, I believed that one fight in particular would be the UFC‘s fight of the year. However, the Figueiredo – Moreno fight made me start hedging my bets. However, in the end, I’m sticking to the one fight that I think truly deserves to be the fight of the year.

UFC’s Fight of the Year

In a crazy 2020, the UFC‘s Fight of the Year has to be the strawweight title fight between Weili Zhang (21-1) and Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4). This title fight took place at UFC 248 which was the last PPV event with fans in 2020.

The fans that were in attendance that night should thank their lucky stars they got to witness this fight in person. This UFC strawweight title fight had it all and it was such a perfect fight for that division.

In Jedrzejczyk, you had the greatest strawweight in UFC history. In Zhang, you had the new champion who appeared to be a force that would become the greatest strawweight in the promotions history.

What ensued was a back-and-forth high level war over five rounds. These two ladies didn’t stop the entire time. The pace was incredible and the technique from both of these fighters was just perfect.

They both hurt each other numerous times throughout the fight. After the fight was over, Jedrzejczyk was not even recognizable. Ultimately, Zhang walked away retaining her UFC title after a hard fought five rounds.

In a year that has truly been remarkable, this fight stands out to me as the most remarkable. If you haven’t had a chance to watch this fight, I would suggest trying anyway you can to sitting down and watching this classic from UFC 248. You won’t regret it.

UFC: Rose Namajunas says she’s ready to fight in response to Dana White’s comments

One of the more anticipated UFC title matchups in 2021 was supposed to be the fight between Weili Zhang (21-1) and Rose Namajunas (9-4). Originally, this fight was supposed to take place in the first quarter of 2021.

Namajunas returned to the cage at UFC 251 where she avenged her loss to Jessica Andrade. Andrade had defeated Namajunas for the UFC strawweight title a year prior at UFC 237.

During that year-plus layoff, Andrade lost the UFC strawweight title to Zhang. Zhang and Namajunas are looked at as the top two strawweights in the world by a decent margin.

From a stylistic perspective, the fight promised to be extremely competitive. Since 2017, Namajunas had looked sensational in the UFC. Her only hiccup was getting knocked out by an Andrade slam in a fight she was dominating.

Last week, Dana White came out and put a little on water on the fire of this fight. In an interview with BT Sport, White said that he was hearing that Namajunas didn’t want the UFC strawweight title fight. 

With that in mind, the promotion would look at potentially booking Zhang against Carla Esparza. Rose Namajunas appeared in a livestream on her YouTube channel over the weekend where she addressed White’s comments.

What’s next in the UFC’s strawweight division

“I’m just ready to fight. I don’t know what’s going on, but I know you guys are ready for me to fight too. Maybe there’s a misconception out there that I’m weak minded or whatever. That’s not true. That’s what I live for. I’m the pressure cooker,” Namajunas said.

Certainly, Namajunas doesn’t sound like someone who doesn’t have the desire to fight for the UFC title. It’s worth noting that we really don’t know exactly what is going on behind the scenes with Rose’s camp and the UFC.

It’s well known that Dana White doesn’t always get involved with negotiations. A lot of the time it’s the match makers and legal teams working on fights while White focuses his time on promoting the fights that are already booked.

However, White does get involved when needed. It seems clear that White was passed along the message that Rose wasn’t interested in the title fight. However, Namajunas’ camp is adamant that isn’t true.

Both sides need to get together to resolve this issue. No disrespect to Carla Esparza, but nobody is itching to see her fight for the UFC title at the moment. The fight to make is Zhang against Namajunas.

I’ll be curious to see how this situation plays out over the next few weeks. If they figure this out, I would expect the UFC strawweight title fight to take place in either March or April.

Per Dana White, Rose Namajunas doesn’t want the next UFC title shot

For the last couple of months, fans have been anticipating the next UFC strawweight title fight. The fight was expected to be Weili Zhang (21-1) and Rose Namajunas (9-4). A fight that would truly pair the best two strawweights in the world.

Namajunas was the reigning UFC strawweight champion prior to her loss to Jessica Andrade. In that title defense, Namajunas was winning until she was slammed and knocked out by Jessica Andrade.

Andrade would go on to lose her first UFC title defense to Zhang. Namajunas was very vocal about being relieved when she lost and that she didn’t like the pressures and anxiety that came with being UFC champion.

However, she found that fighting spirit again in 2020 and she got back in the cage. She took on Andrade and was able to avenge her loss which was supposed to setup the anticipated title fight with Zhang.

The promotion has been saying that was the fight they were going to make. However, Dana White changed his tune in an interview with BT Sport. White said, “What I’m hearing is Rose does not want a title shot. She doesn’t want to fight for the title.”

What is the UFC going to do?

After this, Rose Namajunas’ fiancé/head coach told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that the information from Dana White was false. Pat Berry told Helwani that Namajunas definitely wants the UFC title shot.

However, White doesn’t seem to think so. White would go on to say in the interview that Carla Esparza (17-6) is the fight they are currently looking at for Weili Zhang. No disrespect to Esparza, but nobody really wants to see that fight.

Yes, Esparza is on a four-fight winning streak, however, none of those were that incredibly impressive. Her last two wins were razor close split decisions that many had going the other way.

This is not a high profile UFC strawweight title fight. Zhang – Namajunas is the fight to make, however, if the UFC can’t come to a deal, they will move on. Looks like they have a plan in place. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation shakes out.

UFC: Weili Zhang – Rose Namajunas targeted for Q1 2021

One of the more anticipated matchups in any of the UFC‘s female divisions is the next title match in the strawweight division. We already know that champion, Weili Zhang (21-1), will be taking on former UFC champion, Rose Namajunas (9-4).

However, the timeline for the fight has been up in the air. After Namajunas defeated Jessica Andrade back at UFC 251, it was announced that she would need to take some time off to get surgery.

Of course, Zhang has been sidelined in China due to the pandemic. All of these factors have delayed the inevitable showdown between the two. We have not seen Zhang since her Fight of the Year performance against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248.

By the time Zhang competes next, it would have been almost a year layoff for the champion. Her coach conducted an interview with MMA Fighting recently where he talked through the timeline of the UFC title fight.

“We’ll see how things go with this virus,” Pedro Jordao told MMA Fighting. “But I think probably be in the first quarter. We’re training for a while here. It appears that her next fight will be against Rose, but nothing is set yet. Everything indicates that’s the plan.”

UFC Strawweight Title

I think I can speak for most fans in saying that this is arguably the most exciting matchup in the UFC‘s strawweight division. Namajunas and Zhang are the two best in the world at 115 and I think there’s a gap between them and the pack.

Namajunas looked incredibly sharp at UFC 251 in the first couple of rounds. However, she ran into some major trouble in the third round with Jessica Andrade. Namajunas was rocked and hurt badly by the former champion.

However, she still did enough to get the decision. Zhang had an absolute war with Jedrzejczyk last March. It was really the first time in her UFC career that Zhang had been pushed to the limit.

Nevertheless, Zhang was able to get the unanimous decision victory. She’s sensational and should be the big favorite going into the title fight with Namajunas. However, Namajunas has world class skills that could give Zhang some problems in their matchup.

This fight is so exciting for a number of different reasons. While Zhang is clearly the more powerful fighter, Namajunas has extremely clean and crisp technique on her feet. I’m fascinated to see the gameplans for both fighters whenever they clash.

State of the UFC’s strawweight division

Last night at UFC Vegas 13, a new contender emerged in the strawweight division. Eighth ranked Yan Xiaonan defeated fourth ranked Claudia Gadelha. Xiaonan became just the third women in UFC history begin her career at 6-0 with the victory.

She did a fantastic job last night of showing off her beautiful striking from distance. While Gadelha was able to take her down in the first round and control her, Xiaonan bounced back in the final two rounds to really dominate the striking and win the decision.

As stated, it was the sixth straight UFC victory for the Chinese born strawweight. The UFC‘s China market has taken off over the last couple of years and a major contributor to that is the current strawweight champion, Weili Zhang.

You have to imagine that the promotion is already daydreaming about a potential matchup between Zhang and Xiaonan. That would easily be the biggest fight in the history of Chinese MMA. With last night’s victory, Xiaonan is perhaps only one more win away from securing that shot.

With the win, Xiaonan is expected to jump into the top five of the UFC‘s rankings while Gadelha will drop a little. The division is very exciting right now and it seems extremely fluid when it comes to the top contenders.

What’s the state of the UFC’s strawweight division?

Starting at the top, you have Zhang. Zhang has become a superstar for the promotion and was the first Chinese born UFC champion in history. This year, she had what many are considering to be the fight of the year against Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

It was an absolute war and Zhang walked away with the decision. The next fight for the UFC champion seems pretty obvious. Currently, the promotion is targeting a fight between her and former UFC champion, Rose Namajunas. That fight is expected to take place next year.

After those two, the division gets interesting. You have Jedrzejczyk ranked second, however, her next steps aren’t clear. She flirted with retirement, but recently said that she would be fighting again but wants to wait for fans to return before she comes back.

Another former UFC champion is ranked right behind her in Carla Esparza. Esparza is currently on a four fight winning streak that has her knocking on the door for another potential UFC title shot. After Esparza you’ll have Xiaonan, Nina Ansaroff and Michelle Waterson. Tatiana Suarez is also in there, but has been inactive due to injuries.

After last night, I believe that the UFC should look to book Xiaonan against either Jedrzejczyk or Esparza. Whoever they can book her with in early 2021, I try to make that happen. Perhaps on the same card as Zhang and Namajunas with the winners facing off in the summer.

UFC: Major title fights will be coming back to Fight Island

UFC, Dana White

The UFC will be leaving Fight Island to return to the United States this week after a very successful first run in Abu Dhabi.

In speaking with The National, White detailed some of the bigger fights that he has in mind for the UFC‘s return to Abu Dhabi.

“Khabib will be the next…we’re talking about Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa, that fight is happening. Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas is a possibility. All the massive, big fights with literally the champion vs. the No. 1 contender are all looking like Fight Island.”

UFC’s Fall Return

The UFC‘s fall return to Fight Island is going to be massive. I would expect that the first fight we will see booked is the middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya (19-0) and Paulo Costa (13-0).

The two undefeated fighters have a ton of heat between the two of them. Over the weekend, the fight was prematurely announced for September. However, Dana White said the fight is not official.

Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) will be making his return at some point against Justin Gaethje (22-2). The two men will unify the UFC‘s lightweight championship on Fight Island.

Zhang and Namajunas is another massive fight that will happen on Fight Island. There could also be additional title fights that will still be announced in the months to come for Fight Island in the fall.

The UFC will likely have to make most of their big fights on Fight Island with the way that the pandemic is going. The United States is a fluid country with the virus. As a result, I think the UFC might be setting up shop on Fight Island for most of 2020.

UFC: Did Joanna Jedrzejczyk retire?

You cannot mention the greatest female fighters in UFC history without considering former strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4). Before the strawweight division really took off, Jedrzejczyk built the division and reined supreme for years.

Jedrzejczyk has gone 0-4 in her last four attempts at UFC gold with her last chance coming against Weili Zhang (21-1). Their fight at UFC 248 is likely the fight of the year and was razor close. It’s clear Jedrzejczyk is still one of the best, but has she hung up her gloves?

Former UFC Champ – “33 and Retired”

Jedrzejczyk took to Instagram over the weekend and posted a photo of her on vacation in Bulgaria. An interesting read is the first hashtage where the former champion stated that she was, “33 and retired.”

Obviously we haven’t heard any confirmation on this as of now. Jedrzejczyk could walk away from the sport now with nothing to prove.

Jedrzejczyk is a hall of famer in my book. After becoming the second ever UFC strawweight champion, Jedrzejczyk defended the title successfully five times over the course of two years.

Jedrzejczyk was an active and dominant champion before losing to the title to “Thug” Rose Namajunas at UFC 217. I think that Jedrzejczyk still has plenty of fight left in her, but again, there’s nothing left for her to prove.

I think her fight in February shows that she’s still at the top of the sport. Zhang is considered on the Nunes/Shevchenko level by most. But, Jedrzejczyk is right there with a lot of people thinking she won that split decision over Zhang.

It’ll be something to pay attention to in the next few weeks to see if we get any confirmation on the topic. Jedrzejczyk has given us great fights over the last five years, and maybe she’s just ready to enjoy life outside the cage.

UFC: Fights to make after UFC 251

Following any major UFC event, the fans want to know what comes next? UFC held their first event on Fight Island last night, and everyone wants to know what fights are going to be made following UFC 251. Here are five fights that the UFC should make.

Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns

This is a fight that we basically got confirmed from UFC president Dana White last night. In the post-fight press conference, White made it clear that Gilbert Burns (19-3) would be the next challenger for Kamaru Usman (17-1).

Burns was originally scheduled to be in the main event last night, but a positive COVID-19 test took him out. Once he recovers, he is the first guy in line for Usman. He’s also the one fighter who is the worst matchup for Usman in the division.

Usman did not win any new fans at UFC 251, but the champion did what he had to do in defeating Jorge Masvidal (35-14). Usman leaned on his wrestling and controlled the BMF title holder for five rounds.

Burns and Usman matchup extremely well. Usman’s wrestling can be neutralized by Burns’ elite skills on the ground. Burns has elite striking and speed which can give Usman issues.

Usman and Burns were once teammates which adds in another wrinkle to the fight. Expect this matchup to be booked in October/November.

Jorge Masvidal vs Colby Covington

Gamebred stepped up on six days notice, but he fell short in his quest to become the UFC’s welterweight champion. He made it clear that he wants to stay active and work his way back to the title. The quickest route to that is against his former training partner.

Colby Covington (15-2) would make the perfect opponent. Both men used to live together, but now they can’t stand each other. Both are coming off a loss to Usman which is a perfect setup for the fight.

This fight would have a ton of heat, and the winner would be guaranteed another shot at the UFC‘s welterweight title. With the drawing power of both men, this could headline a card on it’s own. I wouldn’t be shocked to see this one occur around the same time that we see Usman-Burns.

Weili Zhang vs Rose Namajunas

It was known that the winner of the Rose Namajunas (9-4) and Jessica Andrade (20-8) fight would likely get the next shot at UFC strawweight champion, Weili Zhang (21-1). Both women went to war last night, but Namajunas walked away with a decision.

To me, Namajunas has always been the second best strawweight in the world. I thought she was always better than Andrade, but got caught in that slam. I also firmly believe that Zhang is the absolute best in the world.

Thug Rose is going to get the title shot after last night’s victory, but I’m not sure how I feel about the matchup for her. This fight could be a springboard for Zhang.

If Zhang is able to defeat Namajunas, she could aim for a champion versus champion fight with Valentina Shevchenko next.

Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling

The UFC crowned a new bantamweight king last night, and his name is Petr Yan (15-1). It didn’t come easy, but Yan was able to stop Jose Aldo (28-7) in the fifth round to claim the UFC‘s bantamweight champion.

Last month, Aljamain Sterling (19-3) made an emphatic statement that he’s the top contender at 135 pounds. In a fight with Cory Sandhagen (12-2) which was considered a title eliminator, Sterling finished Sandhagen in under 90 seconds.

Many people believe that Sterling was more deserving of a title shot than Yan was. Well, now the UFC can move to make this fight. There might not be a more exciting division in the UFC than bantamweight right now. Yan/Sterling is going to be incredibly fun to watch.

Alexander Volkanovski vs Winner of Zabit Magomedsharipov-Yair Rodriguez

The UFC‘s featherweight king didn’t get the clean victory he wanted last night. Many people, including Dana White, believe that he lost the fight. However, the judges are all that matter and they gave the fight to Alexander Volkanovski (22-1).

I can’t see the UFC moving to book Volkanovski-Holloway 3 with Alexander being up 2-0 in the series. The Australian champ wants to fight by the end of the year, so what makes the most sense?

Reportedly, Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1) and Yair Rodriguez (13-2-1) are supposed to fight in August. Magomedsharipov is currently ranked right behind Holloway while Rodriguez is ranked fifth.

Both of these men are extremely popular and talented fighters. I think the UFC would be smart to make this fight the title eliminator. Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung who are also supposed to fight this year, have already had shots at the title.

Magomedsharipov is considered the next great Russian champion that’s in the UFC. If Zabit can defeat Rodriguez in August, it would be a massive global fight to pair him with the champion, Volkanovski.

UFC has great fights ahead

The UFC is going to put on some stacked cards the rest of this year. All of the fights listed above should take place before we hit 2021. Combine those with the fights that are already scheduled, and you should be expecting some stacked cards in the second half of 2020.