It was a challenging year for most sports leagues in 2020 but the UFC came though with flying colors thanks to an ability to adapt and a series of amazing, high-profile fights.
2020 gave us some incredible MMA fights and moments, but there is still unfinished business for some fighters heading into the new year. There are some bouts that we just absolutely need to see this upcoming year, whether it be rematches, trilogy fights, or new blood coming in to challenge current champions.
So, here is our list of the five big fights MMA fans can look forward to in 2021.
1. Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou
There are plenty of options available to Jon Jones. He has longstanding issues with middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Even after vacating the light heavyweight title in advance of a move to heavyweight, there are men at 205 pounds who want to prove their worth against the longtime king. I am fully confident that Ngannou will avenge his loss to Stipe Miocic when the two collide this spring, and the win will lead to the biggest fight of the year when Jon Jones makes his long awaited debut at heavyweight.
Jones clearly stayed at light heavyweight longer than he needed to, and he will be taking a challenge meritorious of his talent in facing the sport’s deadliest puncher for one of its most prestigious titles. This will be the biggest fight of 2021 when it gets announced.
2. Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk II
2020’s best fight needs a second bloody chapter, and there’s no doubt this rematch is a high priority for the UFC. Weili Zhang successfully defended her women's strawweight title against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in March, earning a split decision in an all-out war that won the CBS Sports award for Fight of the Year. Zhang deserved the win in the eyes of most, but the fight was close enough -- and thrilling enough -- that a rematch remains one of the best fights the UFC could make.
3. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Georges St-Pierre
If considering only active UFC fighters, a rematch with Conor McGregor would be the biggest fight to make for Khabib Nurmagomedov's return. However, the war that most fans want to see is a super fight between Khabib and former two-division champion Georges St-Pierre.
People close to Khabib believe that a fight with GSP would be enough to lure the undefeated Russian out of retirement. GSP also previously expressed interest in a match with Nurmagomedov. I, like many others, am hoping and praying UFC president Dana White can convince 'The Eagle' to fly one more time so we're not left wondering what might've been.
4. Jorge Masvidal vs Colby Covington
We all love it when former team-mates and training partners become enemies.. Masvidal is coming off a loss to reigning champion Kamaru Usman, while Covington works his way back up to the title picture. The two are bound to cross paths.
Despite the delay in booking the fight, the desire for the match-up hasn't dissipated. The UFC know this and are likely keeping it in their back pocket until after Usman faces Burns. Covington has expressed his willingness to fight Masvidal, and he could be getting his wish in 2021.
5 .Conor McGregor vs Justin Gaethje
And one could argue it should've been made instead of Conor McGregor's UFC 257 rematch with Dustin Poirier, although I will admit I am pumped for the second instalment of that rivalry. McGregor vs Gaethje is a fight many, myself included, have pined for. Much of the intrigue surrounding the match-up initially stemmed from Gaethje's kill-or-be-killed style, which he's deviated from in the last two years.
Like him or loathe him, you have to admit McGregor is a master of space management, timing and counter-striking - tools that are a pressure-based fighter's worst nightmare. If McGregor gets through Poirier, Gaethje is the man he should fight in his second outing of 2021. No ifs, buts or maybes.
We're all looking forward to the big fights coming up in 2021. The first event for the next Fight Island will take place on January 16 when featherweight contenders Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar meet. That will be followed by a bout from Leon Edwards on January 20. Finally, Conor McGregor will be fighting. The Irishman makes a long-awaited return to the octagon in a rematch with Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 on January 23.
Thank you for reading this blog till the end.
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