What fights do we really want to see in 2018, ranging from the practically inevitable to the just barely plausible? We’re so glad you asked.
“El Cucuy” is the interim lightweight champ for a reason, OK? He’s stepped up to every conceivable challenge in recent years, from Rafael dos Anjos and Kevin Lee to Edson Barboza and Khabib Nurmagomedov. That last one still hasn’t actually happened, despite several attempts, but it’s not like Ferguson hasn’t been willing.
Credentials aside, Ferguson is just a really fun, creative fighter, and if you don’t want to see him mix it up with McGregor in the first totally legit UFC lightweight title fight in well over a year, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Frankly, I’m not sure I want to know.
You want to talk superfight? Want to come up in here with that champion vs. champion mess? If so, then we need to start right here. The most dominant champion in UFC history is clearly in need of a new challenge. And the champion from the division just above him is pleading for the chance to give it to him. What’s not to love?
There are obstacles to making this fight. Namely, Johnson wants some financial guarantees that the UFC doesn’t want to give, while Dillashaw’s plan to drop 10 extra pounds to meet him at flyweight remains hypothetical at best. The solution is clear: Pay Johnson his money, and make a very big deal about it.
Why, you ask, like some precocious child? Because the money itself will make the fight feel like a big deal. It always does. Even a ridiculous fight gets our attention when they payday is garish enough. The superfight aspect will be the cherry on top, and in the end the UFC might actually succeed in making a star out of the best fighter in the company. Wouldn’t that be nice?
This is a no-brainer. Their first meeting was exciting, yet inconclusive. Both men have been hot since then. Poirier has been campaigning for a rematch in all sorts of clever ways, and it’s not like Alvarez is realistically close to a title shot what with the logjam at the top of the division. Might as well run this one back and see if we can’t get a winner this time.
Let me set the scene for you: It’s mid-2018, Cormier is still the UFC light heavyweight champion, and Jon Jones is, for one reason or another, no closer to returning to the UFC to retake that belt. Whatcha gonna do?
It is but one possible future, though a fairly likely one, and I think the choice there is clear. Either you book a rematch of the second-best light heavyweight pairing of the last three years, or else you let Cormier maul some aging pseudo-contender for no good reason. Basically it’s a choice between fun and no fun. I know which one I’d vote for.
Everyone knows that Cyborg is the baddest woman alive. So why is she the only UFC champion who seems to exclusively face fighters from the division below hers? Nevermind, I already know the answer, and it all goes back to a lack of options. The UFC hasn’t formed an actual women’s featherweight division, so what else can it do?
Answer: Look to an organization that has. Namely, Invicta FC, which has a featherweight champion of its own to lend to the discussion. The UFC has tried to book this fight before, only to meet some vague reluctance on Anderson’s part, but if we’re serious about seeing actual top featherweights fight for the title of top featherweight, this is the only fight that makes sense.
All that stuff I said about why McGregor should come back and fight Ferguson? You could repurpose most of it to make the case for Nurmagomedov and be on just as solid footing. What Nurmagomedov doesn’t have is the interim belt, which is of questionable value anyway, due to its very nature. What he does have is a style that McGregor has seemed particularly vulnerable to in the past, and a horror movie-esque ability to just keeping coming after you for as long as it takes to convince you of your own defeat.
Stylistically, Nurmagomedov is probably the most compelling and most difficult test available for McGregor. The only downside is that when you book him to fight you can never be totally sure he’ll actually be healthy enough to show up in the end. But that’s why you keep Nate Diaz on retainer, obviously.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: The 18 fights on our MMA wish list for 2018