Who Will Be UFC Champion At The End of 2020
By Ben Jessop
Yesterday I looked at who I think will be the UFC champion at the end of this year in the women’s divisions, today I do the same in the men’s.
The heavyweight division is one that fluctuated heavily throughout 2019. After Daniel Cormier took the belt from Miocic in 2018, Stipe came back in August 2019 in one of the biggest superfights to grace the UFC to win and regain his title as the baddest man on the planet.
The time for Stipe to defend that title will be looming very soon, and in the heavyweight division every opponent you can face is dangerous.
It seems the UFC is already targeting who might be next for the title shot, either we’re going to see a trilogy between Stipe and Cormier or it will be the winner of Jairzinho Rozentruilk vs Francis Ngannou who face each other in March. We have four huge hitters in the quest for the title, any of whom have the power to bring it home.
Prediction: Stipe Miocic
The GOAT? The man widely renowned as the greatest of all time still resides at the very top of the light heavyweight food chain and currently looks unstoppable.
A matchup between Jones and Dominick Reyes takes place in February and offers Reyes his first look at the belt but getting through Jones is a task many have taken on, but none have successfully completed.
The top fifteen of the light heavyweight is filled with killers, including the likes of Thiago Santos, Daniel Cormier, Anthony Smith, Dominick Reyes, Corey Anderson, Johnny Walker, Ilir Latifi, Volkan Oezdemir to just name a few.
There are most certainly some future champions in the top fifteen and someone will find the key to taking down Jon Jones but as for 2020. I just don’t see him losing the belt.
Prediction: Jon Jones
The middleweight division has gone through many changes and has been ripped apart by the current champion throughout 2019 – Israel Adesanya, the undefeated kickboxer who has taken the UFC by storm and dethroned Robert Whittaker in October 2019 to make him the undisputed champion of the world.
The middleweight division, is again rife with danger for Adesanya to face. Whittaker, Costa, Romero, Cannonier, Till, Hermansson, Gastelum, Brunson and it’s hard to think that Paulo Costa isn’t going to be next to fight for the title and become Adesanya’s first defence along with the ever looming danger of Yoel Romero.
Adesanya is going to need to be on top form all year round. Although, edging towards a fight against Jon Jones at LHW seems to be taking most of his attention currently, he may want to focus on defending his own division at least once before making that leap.
Prediction: Paulo Costa
In March of 2019, one of the most impressive title fight performances took place courtesy of reigning champ Kamaru Usman who picked apart and took down a dominant Tyron Woodley and has since defended and been one to work through the never-ending Colby Covington, breaking his jaw in the process.
The queue of challengers waiting to take on Usman and take his belt is undeniably daunting with names such as Masvidal, Edwards, Dos Anjos, Thompson, Diaz, Pettis etc.
After the year that Masvidal has had, it’s hard to deny that he’ll be next to get the title shot, especially now he’s missed out on the money fight in McGregor to Cerrone. But with Leon Edwards facing Tyron Woodley in London in March, the UFC may be looking to give the next title shot to the winner of that bout too.
Either way, Usman needs to be aware that the whole division is on his back and he best be in a position to defend what is his.
Prediction: Jorge Masvidal
The most dominant champion in UFC history? It has to go to Khabib Nurmagomedov without hesitation. He is undefeated at 28-0 and has run through all his opponents so far in his UFC career.
The lightweight division is the most controversial in the UFC promotion, mainly due to the drama between Nurmagomedov and McGregor but also because there is no division as stacked on the entire roster.
The fight every fan wants to see is next up, with Tony Ferguson finally facing Khabib in April. If anyone in the division offers Khabib a real, genuine threat it is Tony Ferguson.
The unwavering onslaught that Tony will put onto Khabib may be enough to wear him down and loosen his ground game but we must not underestimate Tony on the ground, with a black belt in BJJ he is far from indefensible if it does go to the ground.
Prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov
The featherweight division also went through some changes, when Alexander Volkanovski dethroned a dominant Max Holloway right at the last minute, on December 14th.
There is a wealth of talent in the featherweight division, with newly ranked fighters such as Ryan Hall or Arnold Allen through to the likes of Jose Also, Yair Rodriquez, Chan Sung Jung, Brian Ortega or Zabit Magomedsharipov and with everyone making waves in the division it’s going to be extremely hard for Volkanovski to retain that title.
It will be a while before his first defence, but the top four are all in a position to take him on. Whether he runs it back with Max Holloway, faces Brian Ortega, fights Zabit Magomedsharipov or jumps into the octagon with Chan Sung Jung the danger is rife.
Prediction: Chan Sung Jung
The greatest combat athlete alive? Henry Cejudo? Whether you agree with his statement or not, it’s hard to deny his dominance in both the bantamweight and flyweight divisions.
But to focus on bantamweight for a moment, Cejudo is going to need to defend his bantamweight title again throughout 2020 after successfully obtaining the vacant belt by defeating Marlon Moraes.
The bantamweight division has killers coming through the ranks, offering Cejudo problems he may not have the answers for. Aljamain Sterling, Petr Yan, Cory Sandhagen, Pedro Munhoz, Jimmie Rivera to just name a couple. The top four are all free of confirmed bouts as of January and all will be chomping at the bit to get their hands on the title shot.
Prediction: Aljamain Sterling
Henry Cejudo vacated the flyweight title right at the end of 2019, leaving the division without a champion as he suggested he’s focusing his attention on his bantamweight conquests amid claims that the UFC were stripping him as he’d not defended the belt since claiming it.
This has left a big whole and an enormous opportunity for both Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo who will battle it out to take that vacant 125-pound title in Norfolk, Virginia 2020.
Prediction: Joseph Benavidez