UFC 218 is set to take place on December 2 in Detroit, Michigan and even now in its earliest makeup, looks set to be one of this year’s most electric events.
UFC 217 in November has been stealing the headlines for all the right reasons in recent times and though it’s lineup stands amongst the very best fight-cards the UFC has ever put together, the card that follows it has been quietly forming a night of fights that could well challenge it, when all is said and done.
UFC 218, on the strength of its reported participants so far, may have been a ‘card of the year’ winner in most past years in the promotion’s history but luckily for us, it comes just one month after Georges St-Pierre attempts to make his comeback in a middleweight title bout for the ages, facing off against the champ Michael Bisping.
On December 2, exactly four weeks after UFC 217, UFC 218 – according to MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani – may look a little something like this.
If things move in the right direction for Detroit, they could get:
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 27, 2017
Now, of course, nothing has been finalised as of yet and at the time of writing, the only fight to be made truly official is the heavyweight bout featuring Alistair Overeem and Francis Ngannou but when you take a look at the currently unscheduled fighters that occupy the UFC roster, it’s pretty clear to see – if the reports are to be believed – that this is the lineup they are gunning for.
Max Holloway is looking increasingly likely to attempt to defend the belt he won against José Aldo at UFC 212 and the man who seems favoured to take him on above all others is the former UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar, who despite falling short in two 145lb title fights in the past, will feel like now is his time to claim what will be his second taste of UFC gold.
Holloway holds one of the longest active win-streaks in the UFC right now and has shown huge improvement at every time of asking so far. It’s a fight that the fans have been wanting for years now and opportunity for Edgar to place himself amongst the very few fighters who have ever won two championship titles in two different weight classes.
In the supposed co-main event of the night, the heavyweight prospect Francis Ngannou will attempt to make his push into the title picture by taking out the legendary Alistair Overeem.
‘The Reem’, whose chin has certainly seen better days, has now won two on the trot and despite losing out by way of 1st round KO to the current champ Stipe Miocic, will know that a win over the ailing 265lb division’s hottest prospect will do wonders for his title-aspirations.
Ngannou could well be the knight in shining armour that the heavyweight ranks need right now, but in his next opponent – for the first time – he will face off against someone whose own form and skillset are indicative of a true top-3 level fighter.
Next up is one of those fights that just simply cannot be a letdown, no matter what. In the vein of the Melendez/Sanchez’s, Lawler/Cerrone’s and Diaz/Daley’s of the past, we now have Alvarez/Gaethje, a pairing so volatile that they may as well print both Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje‘s name on the Fight of the Year trophy before we even see how this thing plays out.
Gaethje’s UFC debut might well be the one fight that could pip this one to the post, though, if it does come down it. His ridiculous comeback win over Michael Johnson earlier this year was a vintage performance from the unbeaten brawler and one helluva way to announce himself on the promotional roster.
Eddie Alvarez may have taken an exceptional amount of punishment in his last two fights but for those who know the fighter in question, do not be surprised to see the ‘Underground King’ make one final push at the title and defy the odds once again.
The flyweight title may well have another challenger by the time the main-card opener gets done and dusted. Henry Cejudo‘s eye-catching win over Wilson Reis in his last outing drew some pretty deserving comparisons to the lightweight champion Conor McGregor. Cejudo was able to dart in and out, landing repeatedly on his opponent, and really just show some massive improvements in his striking.
When you consider that ‘the Messenger’ is also an Olympic wrestler, it’s not hard to see how Sergio Pettis will have his hands full with this one.
Pettis, himself, is most certainly no slouch, though. And while it seemed – for a time, at least – that he would be confined to the shadow of his brother Anthony, he has managed to make a convincing run at the title, taking out John Moraga and Brandon Moreno in his last two fights to place Demetrious Johnson’s belt firmly in his sights for the year 2018, an ambition that could well be solidified with a win over a name as huge as Cejudo’s.
UFC 218 will take place on December 2 in the Little Caesars Arena, Detriot, Michigan.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena