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UFC Storylines For 2020

UFC 247

Will Jorge Masvidal become the UFC Champion at 170 lbs?

Jorge Masvidal has the potential to become the UFC Welterweight champion. Jorge Masvidal is a UFC veteran who’s career is clearly on the upswing. There are many potential opponents that Masvidal could fight next as he has suddenly become a bankable fighter. As one of the biggest draws in all of the UFC, Masvidal could fight any number of opponents.

The Welterweight division saw a shift in power during 2019 when Kamaru Usman beat the previous champion, Tyron Woodley by unanimous decision in March of 2019. In what was largely a low action fight, Usman proved to be the better wrestler against the proven former champion. While Usman may be the champion, Masvidal is the biggest star attraction in the division.

Masvidal is coming off a great 2019 that saw him become the most popular fighter in the sport. To recap, Masvidal started the year with a 2nd Round KO over a tough opponent in Darren Till. He followed that win up with a 5 second KO over noted wrestler, Ben Askren. That win forever immortalized Masvidal’s name in the UFC record books and further added to his legacy. Masvidal finished off 2019 with a 3rd Round TKO doctor stoppage win over Nate Diaz. The Diaz fight was stopped after the 3rd Round because Diaz sustained a large cut that was impairing his vision. Before the stoppage, Masvidal was winning the fight consistently outboxing and out landing Diaz.

His excellent performance may have set up a UFC Welterweight Title Fight against Kamaru Usman, the current champion. Usman is coming off a 5th Round TKO stoppage over Colby Covington to retain his Title. Usman showed great striking ability and used his reach and size advantages to beat Covington and ultimately got the emphatic 5th Round stoppage. If a fight between Usman and Masvidal does come to fruition in 2020, it would be a super fight for the Welterweight Title. It is an evenly matched fight that Masvidal may have the edge in coming off a stellar 2019.

Masvidal has steadily improved his fighting skills to become the fighter he is now. With a renewed approach to the sport after suffering some tough losses previously, Masvidal had an exceptional 2019. No opponent has been set for Masvidal’s next fight, but he has stated he would like to take on Conor McGregor next. Masvidal wants the McGregor fight because it would be a bigger payday and garner more attention than a fight against Usman would. Most likely, Masvidal will fight McGregor next and challenge Usman for the Welterweight Title in his following fight.      

Can Conor McGregor re-establish relevancy in the UFC?

Conor McGregor may still be the biggest draw in the sport, but he still has a lot left to prove as a fighter. McGregor rose in popularity in part due to his hands, but also because of his mouth. McGregor often beat opponents before they enter the octagon because of the mental warfare he initiates and becomes the bully. The behavior is not very attractive, but is one of the reasons he is so popular. McGregor looked exceptional against Donald Cerrone, only needing 40 seconds to defeat the UFC veteran. With some unorthodox shoulder strikes that broke Cerrone’s nose in the opening seconds of the fight, McGregor showed he is still improving on his striking attacks. It was a great chance for McGregor to show he is still an elite fighter capable of the spectacular whenever he enters the octagon.

The rise of Conor McGregor in the sport is unlike anything we have seen. McGregor went from a relatively unknown Irish fighter to a two division champion in the Featherweight and Lightweight divisions. Since then, McGregor decided to do a huge money grab and fought Floyd Mayweather in a sanctioned boxing match. In one of the most unique sporting events of the past decade, McGregor acquitted himself well before getting stopped in the 10th Round by the master boxer.

Conor McGregor has dealt with his share of troubles outside the octagon. First, there was the bus incident at UFC 223, then a video comes out of McGregor hitting a bar patron in the head in an Irish bar. These poor decisions have cost McGregor money, time and fans. McGregor climbed the UFC mountain with brashness and bravado to become a two division champion. While McGregor did win both the Featherweight and Lightweight Titles, he never defended either of them and was later stripped of the Titles. While McGregor reached the UFC mountaintop in 2016, he was unable to stay there because he didn’t fight in the UFC again until 2018. McGregor will look forward to 2020 as a year of redemption for his career, and got off to a terrific start against Donald Cerrone. 

Is Khabib Nurmagomedov the GOAT?

Khabib Nurmagomedov is another level of athlete, a truly elite grappler that has yet to be truly challenged in a fight. His upbringing is unlike most UFC fighters, growing up in the Dagestan region of Russia with a father/coach that trained his son to be one of the greatest fighters to ever compete in the UFC. With a compact build and strength that is beyond his weight class, he often overwhelms opponents with his mix of grappling disciplines that are unlike anything seen before in the sport.

When Khabib Nurmagomedov entered the UFC in 2012, it was only a matter of time until he would become the Lightweight champion. The only thing that was stopping him from reaching this pinnacle sooner were injuries he dealt with that forced him to be out of the octagon from April of 2014 to April of 2016. Even though Nurmagomedov missed nearly two years of competition, he quickly established himself as the king at 155 lbs. Training in wrestling, judo and combat sambo from an early age, Nurmagomedov has been groomed by his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov to become a UFC champion.

His father, a former athlete and current martial arts coach still trains him and those wrestling fundamentals instilled in him are why Nurmagomedov is seemingly unbeatable. Nurmagomedov controls opponents like they’re rag dolls continually wearing them down on the ground with top position while looking for potential submissions or ground and pound. It is impossible for an opponent to game plan for Nurmagomedov because no sparring partner has the wrestling acumen or ability of Nurmagomedov. His elite level of ground control allows him to dictate the fight and dominate his opponent.          

Khabib Nurmagomedov is the current Lightweight champion (155 lbs.) and is quite possibly the best wrestler the sport has ever seen. With an improved striking game and a ground game that is absolutely lethal, Nurmagomedov is making a case as the greatest UFC fighter of all time. Coming from a Russian sambo background, Nurmagomedov overwhelms opponents with his grappling attack and sticks to them like white on rice. There is no equal to Nurmagomedov in terms of grappling skills and he is coming off a 3rd Round submission win over Dustin Poirier in September of 2019.

Nurmagomedov is now training for the toughest fight of his career against the dangerous Tony Ferguson, scheduled for April 18th. Ferguson is a talented boxer that has a high work rate. An excellent and accurate striker, Ferguson often overwhelms his opponents with combination punching. If Ferguson can keep the fight on the feet, he will give himself a decent chance at defeating Nurmagomedov. However, the more likely scenario in the fight will be that Nurmagomedov will wear down Ferguson with his grappling and retain his Title. If Nurmagomedov keeps winning in dominant fashion, the argument that he is the GOAT will only strengthen.

Will Jon Jones move up to Heavyweight?

Jon Jones may finally be ready to move up to heavyweight following his fight against Dominick Reyes at UFC 247. Jon Jones has already established himself as the greatest light heavyweight of all time, but the question remains about how he would fare at heavyweight. Jones would have the speed advantage at heavyweight and would no longer have to worry about cutting weight. Jones has finally seemed to put his past troubles with drugs behind him and is ready to take over the heavyweight division.

Jon Jones is an all time great and has little to prove at light heavyweight. Jones is physically built as the ideal light heavyweight, standing at 6’4 with an 84.5 inch reach. Having beat every opponent he has faced there aren’t many fights at light heavyweight that would be a challenge for Jones. A re-match against Thiago Santos makes sense as it was a competitive fight where Jones was pushed. Jones trains with heavyweights during his fight camps and has stated he is finally ready for the challenge of moving up to heavyweight, potentially following the Reyes fight. If Jones can become a two division champion, it would further his legacy and he could possibly be remembered as the greatest light heavyweight and heavyweight ever.         

Jones is coming off a 5th Round split decision win over Thiago Santos in July of 2019 to retain his UFC Light Heavyweight Title. Jones was tested in this fight and was somewhat fortunate to escape with a split decision. Santos tore his ACL and MCL in the early rounds and fought the rest of the fight essentially on one leg and performed admirably. If Santos was fully healthy for the whole fight, there is a good chance he wins a decision against Jones. A re-match between Jones and Santos would be interesting and could possibly happen in 2020. Santos hit Jones with consistency in a stand up battle and as the more powerful striker was able to make Jones fight off the back foot. There was some great back and forth action as Santos exposed some vulnerability in Jones’ fight game.

Jones is now set for a Light Heavyweight Title defense against Dominick Reyes on February 8th. Reyes presents some interesting challenges for Jones because of his build and knockout power. Reyes is 6’4 with 7 of his 12 wins coming by knockout. Jones should have the striking and stamina advantages against Reyes. Jones will need to control the range and keep the powerful Reyes at bay with various striking attacks. If Jones can get past Reyes, a move up to heavyweight would make sense for Jones. A Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic Heavyweight Title fight would be great for the sport and further establish Jones as an all time great fighter. Miocic is an excellent heavyweight champion, but could still be beat by the slighter Jones who would have the speed and reach advantages.

Jon Jones by 4th Round TKO

Can Max Holloway win his (145 lb.) Featherweight Title back?

Max Holloway is a great former champion that could possibly get his Featherweight Title back in 2020. Holloway has proven to be one of the greatest boxers to ever fight in the UFC. Holloway is known for overwhelming opponents with his high pace striking attack that doesn’t allow them much time to recover. Oftentimes, his opponents succumb to the pressure and lose by TKO as was the case against Jose Aldo and Brian Ortega.

Max Holloway, the former featherweight champion is an elite striker with great stamina and boxing ability. Holloway’s 5 career losses are to Alexander Volkanovski, Dustin Poirier twice, Conor McGregor, and Dennis Bermudez. Holloway was so dominant that from January of 2014 to December of 2018 he was undefeated. Holloway will most likely stay at featherweight after losing to the bigger Dustin Poirier in a failed attempt to become a two division champion. Holloway seemed to get better each fight, but the Poirier fight may have taken something out of him. Holloway has not looked the same since then, with a decent performance against Frankie Edgar and a disappointing loss to Volkanovski on the judges’ scorecards. Holloway needs to regain his confidence and improve on his footwork in order to reach the pinnacle of the sport once again.        

Max Holloway was once thought of as the greatest featherweight of all time. Holloway’s recent wins include Anthony Pettis, Jose Aldo twice, Brian Ortega and Frankie Edgar. To begin 2019, Holloway made a failed attempt at moving up to 155 lbs. when he challenged Dustin Poirier for the interim UFC Lightweight Championship. Holloway lost a unanimous decision after getting outboxed and out grappled by the bigger fighter in Poirer. While Holloway was unable to win at 155 lbs., he did take care of Frankie Edgar with a unanimous decision win to retain his Featherweight Title. Holloway easily outboxed the smaller Edgar and won the decision.

Holloway once again had the size advantage going into the fight against Alexander Volkanovski, but was unable to establish his timing against the tricky Volkanovski. Using a variety of low kicks, Volkanovski repeatedly attacked the legs of Holloway, weakening his lower half and mitigating Holloway’s excellent boxing skills. Holloway deserves a re-match against Volkanovski and hopefully that fight happens in 2020. Holloway will need to defend the kicks of Volkanovski with more effectiveness and have a higher work rate to get off more of his striking techniques.

Will Israel Adesanya fight Jon Jones?

Israel Adesanya has taken the UFC by storm and just has that “it” factor. While, Adesanya will be fighting Yoel Romero next to defend his Middleweight Title, he has teased a move up to light heavyweight to possibly fight Jon Jones. These two fighters are possibly the most gifted strikers in their division and a matchup between two great fighters would really test both champions. If Jones does move up to heavyweight, it is unlikely that a fight against Adesanya ever happens. If Jones were to fight Dominick Reyes, Stipe Miocic and Israel Adesanya in succession it would be great for the UFC and his career. For Adesanya, he could potentially fight Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa and Jon Jones in succession in an attempt to become a champion at light heavyweight and middleweight.

Israel Adesanya is a special fighter who’s striking game is on another level. His kickboxing background and excellent balance gives him a chance to get off his striking attacks from odd angles that opponents often don’t anticipate. In this way he is similar to Jon Jones who also employs unorthodox techniques to beat opponents. Watching a fight between Adesanya and Jones would be like seeing a chess match as each fighter would read each other’s movements to get their timing. It only took Adesanya 7 UFC fights to become the Middleweight champion and he could soon want to conquer the light heavyweight division as well. Jones and Adesanya are both 6’4, but Jones has a 9.5 inch reach advantage.    

Adesanya is a Nigerian-New Zealander that comes from a kickboxing background and has quickly taken the UFC by storm. To begin 2019, Adesanya beat Anderson Silva by unanimous decision. Silva is a UFC legend and one of the greatest fighters to ever grace the octagon. Fighting an older version of the legend, Adesanya out-striked and out-maneuvered Silva to earn the decision win. Adesanya followed that up with another unanimous decision win over Kelvin Gastelum in what is widely considered the fight of the year for 2019. Gastelum fought well against the taller Adesanya and both fighters had their moments. The quality, accuracy, striking versatility and length of Adesanya proved to be the difference in what was the toughest fight in Adesanya’s UFC career.

That win set up his Title fight against the former champion, Robert Whittaker. Adesanya quickly showed that he had the speed and striking advantages. Adesanya was able to get the 2nd Round stoppage after some excellent counterpunching as he caught Whittaker coming forward. Adesanya’s next opponent will be Yoel Romero at 185 lbs. Adesanya will most likely win this fight because of his speed, youth and reach advantages. If Adesnaya can retain his Middleweight Title, fans will be clamoring for him to move up to 205 lbs to challenge Jon Jones in a fight that could go either way with no clear favorite. With excellent striking techniques and solid takedown defense, Adesnaya would have a decent chance of beating Jones. This super fight would do a lot for both fighters’ legacies and give fans a great matchup between two fighting geniuses.

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