What’s up, boys and girls? I’m the new guy on the Tarps off block! Some solid content from the TO guys, and I hope I can add to it! Going to tell you a bit about myself before I get rolling here.
I guess when I was 4 or 5, my mom told me I’d turn on the tv and put it on SportsDesk. For you youngin’s out there, that’s SportsCentre today long before TSN hooked up w ESPN. I’ve been listening to Sports radio pretty much full time since I was 15. Jim Rome is a hero of mine. I’m a sports junkie. I’ve played every sport. I’ve watched every sport. I even watched a film on Rugby while the pandemic has been in effect. I LOVE sports. All aspects. Watching, playing, the business side, the history, I truly can’t get enough.
When it comes to UFC, I can’t sit here and say I’ve been a hardcore since day 1 because I haven’t been. My first UFC experience was in 1998. Buddy from high school had the first 6 UFC events on tape. Absolute bloodbath. I miss Harold Howard. I can say more than a few things about the differences between the 1998 UFC and 2020 UFC, but I’m not going there today. The sport is barely a quarter-century old. The state of MMA in 2020 is astounding. UFC receives $750 million annually from ESPN and another 200+ in other guarantees. They don’t need any certain fighters anymore. Dana made the UFC bigger than any-one fighter hence why the biggest draw in the game fought only once last year.
They don’t NEED Connor anymore. Dana pushing through the pandemic was literally gold for the sport as a whole. New stars, merchandise, repeated Million dollar buy PPV’s, the 125-pound division rebirth. 2020 was a great year for the UFC, and I will break down each weight class heading into 2021. Here. We. Go!
Champion: Deiveson Figueiredo (Brazil)
This dude is THAT DUDE. Easily, the baddest motherfucker to ever hold the 125 strap. Mean. Quiet. Precise. POWERFUL. The 24/7 fight week shades. That fight night red stripe down the side of his head is somehow scary as well. The only thing this champ is missing is his ability to speak English. Demetrious Johnson defended the belt 11 times in a row and is considered the best FW ever. Hard to disagree, but Figgy is a finisher. DJ took everyone and their brother to the scorecards. Joseph Benivitez still doesn’t know where he is after the beat down Figgy laid on him TWICE this year.
For the first time, people are interested in the buck and a quarter division. A champion finisher will definitely help put eyeballs on the division. Just keep making weight bro. That Moreno fight was the best fight I saw all year, and I have seen them all. Sorry JLW and Joanna, but you were my number 2 fight in 2020.
On the come up:
Champion: Petr Yan (Russia)
No disrespect to Petr but there are plenty of world-class 135ers, and Yan beat 40-year-old Uriah Faber and then Jose Aldo to become Bantamweight champion. The King of Cringe Henry Cejudo beat Dominic Cruz in May and retired post-fight, leaving a huge void at 135. Unlike the 125 division, the 135 division didn’t have a Figgy to lean back on, so enter Petr. Dana said fuck it, and to add eyeballs to a PPV, he put Jose Aldo v Petr Yan for the 135 strap not long after Aldo was beat via split decision by Marlon Moraes. Controversially so. Aldo was actually coming off two losses losing to the 145 champion Alex Volkanovski earlier in the year via UD.
I think this is the division that will have the title change hands in 2021. Petr Yan is a phenomenal fighter, but there are guys lined up to give him a go. Just look at the list of possible opponents for Yan in 2021. These names make my dick hard.
Look out, Petr:
Champion: Alex Volkanovski (Australia)
It’s impossible not to talk about Max Holloway when you’re talking Featherweight. I’m my opinion; Max lost the first fight against Alex 3-2. I also think Max lost the second fight 3-2. Not a popular opinion, but watch those fights again. I did. And it changed my thoughts on the fights.
There are so many guys in this division to look out for. At the end of this blurb, you’ll see a solid list of contenders. Volkanovski has beaten premiere talent, becoming champion. He’s beat the likes of an unbeaten Jeremy Kennedy, a one-loss Darin Elkins, Chad Medes easily, Jose Aldo, and of course Max X2.
Could we see Henry Cejudo challenge Alex for the strap? In an absolutely loaded division. (you’ll hear that again, I’m sure)
He’d have to jump the likes of:
Champion: Khabib Nurmegomedov (Russia)
29-0. That’s insane when it comes to MMA. Recently, Khabib has beaten Justin Gathje, Dustin Porier, and of course, Connor McGregor. Gathje was out of his depth with the Mauling Russian. Porier looked somewhat competitive, and Connor actually won a round vs. Khabib. The only round he’s ever lost. Seriously. The most impressive 3 win streak for any champion in the UFC.
That said, that lovely 0 is padded. Out of Khabib’s first 11 opponents professionally, 6 of them were in their first pro fight. That’s pad. When it comes to the UFC opponents, you won’t hear me say he had an easy road. I’m not even gonna go there with the 6 (!) pull-outs.
I personally don’t think Khabib will come back. If he does, it’s Khabib vs. GSP, or it won’t be in the budget that month for me to buy that PPV. Presumably happening in April 2021. UFC is booked through March.
This division could honestly benefit from no Khabib. Nobody wants to see Tony vs. Khabib anymore, thanks to an extra weight cut and a man vs. boy performance against Charles Olivera. The ladder being the man. Really leaving only one opponent. GSP. We will see.
Take out Khabib; you have all kinds of mouth-watering matchups. But ultimately, I think it’s Dustin vs. Connor on 1/23/21 for the Lightweight strap. Again, we will see.
Think of the possibilities:
Champion: Kamaru Usman (Nigeria)
Yawn. W. Yawn. W. Get used to that formula. I have a feeling Marty from Nebraska is going to be Champion for a long time. I can also see him making a run at 185 soon to challenge… Izzy?!
I’d love to see that.
Nobody has spoken about it at all, but it has to be, in my opinion, extremely possible in this Champ Champ era. Usman is massive. I don’t see how the guy makes 170 not only makes it but makes it look so effortless. It’s not a crazy idea at all. But enough about a fairy tale that Dana will make fiction, the 170 division is stacked.
You should already have Jorge Masvidal vs. Colby Covington. You can go so many ways without even having Snoozeman fight. That honestly just came out as I was typing, oops.
The new big thing in the UFC Khamzat Chimaev is as scary as they come. Ranked guys like Neal Magny, Geoff Neal, and even Micheal Chiesa can go anyone, anytime.
In saying how stacked it is, I’d say the only real threats to Usman at the moment are Colby, Jorge, and maybe Khamzat. Here are some KitKorner favorite 170LB picks.
Can they beat Marty?
Champion: Israel Adesanya (Nigeria)
Probably my favorite fighter currently on the UFC roster. What he did to Paulo Costa was downright disrespectful.
Skinny Izzy went counter shot/ground and pound to absolutely destroy Costa. And then he fucked him. Just watch the tape.
He’s fun; he dances, and whoever puts a mic in his hands should be in the hall of fame. To me, he’s an MMA athlete from the future. Ahead of his time. That striking is so unique and pure that boy will be tough to beat. I think he knows this, and that’s why he decided to move up to challenge for the 205 strap.
Jan Blackhowicz is a beast. No fucking around dude in the cage, but I don’t see how he keeps up with Izzy. Too fast and way too confident. I see Izzy vs. Jan going the distance unless Jan could catch Izzy with one, which I don’t see happening. The rest of the 185 division stacks up like this—another loaded division.
Can Izzy ride these contenders?
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT 205LB
Champion: Jan Blachowicz (Poland)
Almost at the big boys. It makes me think of one man.
In my opinion, he’s the best to step foot in the Octagon.
He’s stepping away from the 205 division at a good time for him. Jon’s last two fights weren’t your usual Jon Jones domination. He looked very human vs. Reyes. He looked very human vs. Santos as well. It was a good time to step out of 205 and move up to heavyweight.
Name a heavyweight or two that can actually beat Jon Jones. I can think of one guy.
But back to 205, it’s a fun spot in this division. The goat is gone, which means the division is wide open.
Dominic Reyes was supposed to be the next guy, but 45 seconds into the fight, Jan landed the hardest body shot of 2020, and Reyes was searching the rest of the night. One kick to the ribs 30 seconds and put a welt on Reyes’ ribs I have never seen before. The fight was over right there. The rest was elementary.
When you have a dominant champion for so long, the division will take some time to rebuild. Here are some 205 names to watch out for in 2020.
HEAVYWEIGHT 266LB MAX
Champion: Stipe Miocic (USA)
He’s the GOAT HW. No debate.
Young sport, new GOAT every 5-10 years it’s going to feel like. MMA has become a global sport by any stretch of the definition. The fact that Stipe is the only American born champion as we enter 2021 is truly remarkable.
The UFC is huge but let’s not get carried away. Dana once claimed that the UFC “Entered the top 4 major sports”. Uhhh, assuming you’d remove the NHL, the Habs and Leafs by themselves are worth more than what the entire UFC was bought for.
Nice try, Uncle Dana.
I will give him credit that it could get there one day, though. He also said, “You can’t give a person a basketball and expect them to know what to do with it. You tell that same person someone is coming to fight them; instincts would take over.” He’s right. We can all think about fighting if we had to.
Very relatable sport.
Maybe one day, MMA will hit that landscape, but I love watching the sport grow for now.
I don’t care what anyone says. The heavyweights just hit different. It doesn’t always look Garbrant like when the bomb hits in the big boy division, but the carnage is unmatched compared to the other weight classes.
My heavyweight contenders:
I hope you guys enjoyed this. It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this MMA wise. Fantasy Football is my bread and butter, so I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me again.