By RJ Marceau
This year has been great as a fan of the UFC and as a new avid fan it has been a year full of new champions, big fights and great rivalries. We have seen seven new champions, two of the biggest fights in UFC history between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor and the scandal of Jon Jones.
The UFC has three big shows left in 2016 with UFC 205, 206 and 207 with a few UFC Fight Nights in between. I will analyze the big fights on each card and might rant a little bit.
This card sells itself with Conor McGregor being on the card. The first UFC card in NYC at MSG would be amazing with anyone on the card but the UFC went all out by including Conor. They are also featuring title fights between Stephen Thompson vs. © Tyron Woodley, © Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Middleweight contenders Chris Weidman & Yoel Romero face off as well as Lightweight contenders Khabib Nurmagomedov & Michael Johnson.
I will go in further detail once it’s fight week focusing in all the main fights.
UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Jacare 2
No joke as of right now this card is more intriguing then UFC 206. We are two months away so things can change but right now this card is on par. Rockhold looks to get back on track after losing his belt Bisping and he will be focused on finishing Jacare. He has beaten him before but after letting his guard down against Bisping I see him coming out to prove a point. Jacare is no slouch and is coming off a victory over Vitor Belfort at UFC 198. This fight should be a #1 contender fight but we will see if Weidman or Romero gets the title shot first.
The next fight that pops out to me is Middleweight rising stars Robert Whittaker vs. Derek Brunson. Whittaker at age 25 has been on a 5 fight win streak and hasn’t lost in over two years. The same could be said for Brunson who is also on a 5 fight win streak. Both guys have beaten Ultimate Fighter standout Uriah Hall but haven’t beaten any other big names in the Middleweight division. Both men are looking to prove a point and I could see this fight stealing the card.
Luke Rockhold defeats Jacare Souza via 1st Round KO
Derek Brunson defeats Robert Whittaker via 2nd Round KO
UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Abdurakhimov
This might be the worst card of the year but I’m intrigued by Heavyweights Derrick Lewis and Francis Ngannou. Lewis has beaten some notable names most recently Roy Nelson and should be facing a bigger threat in the Heavyweight division but it’s a nice gesture to feature him in the main event. I expect Lewis to destroy Abdurakhimov and continue up the Heavyweight ladder. Ngannou is still very green but giving him the co main event spot is good opportunity. I know it’s not a great card but he could impress and possibly find himself on the prelims of either UFC 207 or UFC 208. Both win with 1st round KOs and continue to impress
Derrick Lewis defeats Shamil Abdurakhimov via 1st round KO
Francis Ngannou defeats Anthony Hamilton via 1st round KO
At first glance I thought I was looking at UFC Fight Night card because besides © Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson it’s filled with fighters who are not even close to being contenders in their division. Besides Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi the rest you would see on the UFC Fight Night Cards. When it comes to Cormier vs. Rumble 2 I think Rumble has learned from his mistake of jumping the gun when they fought last time and gassing out. Credit to Cormier who ate an absolute bomb and was able to weather the storm and tap out Johnson in the 3rd round at UFC 187. Cormier must extend the fight to the later rounds to defeat Johnson but I see Johnson ending this fight in 3 rounds.
Even though Cub Swanson has made somewhat of a career renaissance by winning his last two fights I don’t see him defeating Doo Ho Choi. Choi looks like your average guy but his technique is amazing. In all three of his UFC fights he has been able to KO all of his opponents in the 1st round with great combos and placement of his punches. Choi is a rising star in the featherweight division and a win should get him a shot at a contender such as Max Holloway.
Anthony Johnson defeats © Daniel Cormier for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship via 3rd round KO
Doo Ho Choi defeats Cub Swanson via 2nd round KO
UFC on Fox: VanZant vs. Waterson
This card isn’t stacked with big names but it does however have a lot of young talent looking to make a name for themselves. The main event features Paige VanZant vs. Michelle Waterson. VanZant has been great in the UFC so far besides her one hiccup vs. Rose Namajunas. Waterson was impressive in her UFC debut against TUF competitor Angela Magana winning via 3rd round submission. These two are both good standing up and I think this will be a good fight. Waterson will be her biggest challenge besides Namajunas so I’m interested to see how VanZant performs.
Sage Northcutt vs. Mickey Gall is a great prospect fight with two rising fighters. Northcutt has been impressive at lightweight but has lost his only fight at welterweight vs. Bryan Barberena. Gall has faced two guys who would be considered as amateurs and impressed. Northcutt is a proven prospect so I’m intrigued on how Gall does. These two both have a bright future but I’m siding with Northcutt due to his experience. As a fighter I’m more interested in Mickey Gall but you can’t teach experience and Northcutt can bring him into deep waters by bringing it out of the 1st round.
The last fight I'm interested in his Alan Jouban vs. Mike Perry. Perry is a newcomer to the UFC but he has won both his fights via KO and has only been in the UFC for two months. Jouban is the perfect stepping stone for Perry to become a contender in the welterweight division.
Michelle Waterson defeats Paige VanZant via split decision
Sage Northcutt defeats Mickey Gall via 2nd round submission
Mike Perry defeats Alan Jouban via 2nd round KO
This card is already making noise with the announcement last week of Ronda Rousey returning to face UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes. When it comes to this fight I see it as Ronda’s last hoorah. She either defeats Nunes and gets back in the spotlight once again or she loses and it’s her last fight in the UFC. Ronda is more vulnerable in this fight due to a one year layoff and coming off being knocked out for the first time. Rousey had an air of invincibility and now that she has been knocked out she will be more worried about getting dropped again. Nunes was able to dismantle Miesha Tate at UFC 200 and show her impressive stand out. Rousey made her name on destroying fighters in minutes and Nunes isn’t the women to charge at. Nunes will defeat Rousey and I think it will be her last fight.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez has just been announced which is a rematch from UFC 188. Werdum was able to beat Velasquez for the belt but lost it in his first defense vs. Stipe Miocic. Werdum and Velasquez beat Travis Browne this past year but Werdum didn’t impress. He was able to beat him via unanimous decision as Velasquez won via 1st round KO. I’m assuming the winner would get the title shot and the loser would face Alistair Overeem. Velasquez looks like he is back to normal form and defeat Werdum via 2nd round KO.
I said I would possible rant and here it goes. Back in January, Dominick Cruz defeated TJ Dillashaw via a split decision for the UFC Bantamweight Championship that could’ve gone either way. It was assumed Dillashaw would get a rematch but that hasn’t happened. He went on to defeat #2 ranked Raphael Assuncao at UFC 200. Cruz faced Uriah Faber at UFC 199 and won via unanimous decision. The logical route was Dillashaw vs. Cruz II at either UFC 205, 206 or 207. However it’s rumored that Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207. Garbrandt to his credit has been undefeated in the UFC and is a rising star but c’mon. He hasn’t beat one credible opponent in the bantamweight division with his most polished victory was over bantamweight punching bag Takeya Mizugaki. It would be one thing if he beat Assuncao, Caraway or even John Lineker but he hasn’t. The UFC is looking for big money fights in the narrative of Cruz vs. Team Alpha Male is good but the fight should be Cruz vs. Dillashaw!! Garbrandt is a talented boxer but he has zero experience versus fighters like a Dominick Cruz or TJ Dillashaw who display world class footwork and aren’t sitting targets. Even if Garbrandt wins he still doesn’t deserve the shot over Dillashaw.
©Amanda Nunes defeats Ronda Rousey via 2nd round KO to retain the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship
©Dominick Cruz defeats Cody Garbrandt via unanimous decision to retain the UFC Bantamweight Championship
Cain Velasquez defeats Fabricio Werdum via 2nd round KO
The rest of 2016 should be great for the UFC and UFC 205 & 207 are must watch cards. UFC Fight Nights should have some good fights as well so I recommend tuning in. I will most likely breakdown each card as it gets closer but this was just a rest of the year overview. Hit me up @RJ_Marceau on the Twitter machine on your WWE and UFC thoughts.
SEE ALSO: "RJ's Two Cents - UFC 201 Review"