The arrival of Spring will bring with it a plethora of eagerly anticipated fights, and with that in mind we rank the top seven bouts to look forward to as we bid winter farewell.
We’re only one month into 2018 but following UFC 220’s pair of scintillating main-event fixtures, the stage has been set for some incredible match-ups and storylines as 2017 drifts further into the rearview mirror.
Spring begins in just a few days and for that reason, we’ve compiled a list outlining the most intriguing match-ups we have to look forward to over the course of the next three months.
Honourable mentions: Jessica Andrade vs. Tecia Torres, Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder, Ray Borg vs. Brandon Moreno
#7 – Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown at UFC on FOX 29
Carlos Condit’s eagerly anticipated comeback loss to Neil Magny recently didn’t exactly show him at the peak of his powers but with an opponent like Matt Brown, he will definitely have the perfect opportunity to put on a show. Brown’s recent foray into retirement didn’t exactly last too long but with his win over Diego Sanchez in his last outing, he proved he still has that fight in him and this fight should be a lot of fun because of that.
#6 – Donald Cerrone vs. Yancy Medeiros at UFC Fight Night 126
Yancy Medeiros earned himself a legion of new fans following his thrilling UFC 218 win over Alex Oliveira, a fight that many considered to be among the very best fights we’ve ever seen. In that fight, he displayed the type of heart and determination you just cannot teach and established himself as a genuine name in the welterweight division. Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone’s momentum at 170lb has been taking some serious hits in recent times following his trio of brutal losses to Darren Till, Jorge Masvidal, and Robbie Lawler but with this matchup, he finds himself in a position to get his aspiration at welterweight back on track and the fans should most definitely be excited for it.
#5 – Yoel Romero vs. Luke Rockhold at UFC 221
Perhaps if it were Robert Whittaker that was taking on Luke Rockhold instead of Yoel Romero then this fight might be stirring up a bit more interest but still, this remains a pretty stellar matchup. Romero, though now 40, is still relatively young and unscathed in terms of MMA mileage and given the fact that he is one of the most freakishly athletic specimens on the roster, anything can happen when he takes on the former-champ. Rockhold, though disgraced by Michael Bisping at UFC 199 in one of the most shocking upsets of all-time, is still one of the very best middleweights to ever do it and is about as well-rounded a fighter as you can get. Over five-rounds it’s anyone’s guess as to who will come away with the win and with it, a shot at the undisputed belt held by Robert Whittaker.
#4 – Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje at UFC on FOX 29
What a fight this is, eh? It’s hard to see the former-WSOF champ Justin Gaethje getting himself into the title-picture at lightweight, all things considered, but with his last pair of scheduled bouts, it has become clear that this guy’s penchant for getting himself into barnburners has made him something of a hero to the sport’s fans. Dustin Poirier is a man whose own tendency to get violent inside the octagon has seen him engage in some seriously brutal scraps in recent times and although it’s always good to let the fights actually happen first, we may as well give these guys their Fight of the Night bonuses before anything goes down.
#3 – Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk II at UFC 223
The rematch to perhaps the greatest title-upset in recent memory takes place at UFC 223 and what makes this interesting are the unknowns. Some did predict Rose’s victory over the fearsome muay-thai master Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 but you are a complete and utter liar if you tell us that you saw her dropping Joanna with a left-hook in the very first round to take home the belt! Namajunas’ progression from prospect to champion has been pretty astounding at times but now, facing a more level-headed and driven Joanna Jedrzejczyk will no doubt be the true test of her abilities.
#2 – Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar at UFC 222
Max Holloway has been making his argument as one of the world’s pound-for-pound greats for some time now and with his UFC 218 pounding of José Aldo, he displayed an advancement in his skillset that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. Another man who is showing absolutely nothing in the way of natural deterioration is the longtime contender Frankie Edgar, who despite being on what many would consider to be ‘the way out’, just seems to retain his abilities each and every time. He holds the distinction of never once having been finished in his career and though Holloway is as tough as nails, Frankie’s veteran savvy could well be a bigger difference than many give it credit for in this truly fascinating title fixture.
#1 – Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223
All we can really say about this matchup is that we just hope it actually goes through this time around. Three separate attempts have been made to pair up the streaking lightweight contenders Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov and while absolutely nothing is concrete, one can only pray that things work out for both men. On paper, it’s perhaps the most interesting matchup in the sport right now and with a potential shot at the ‘Notorious’ Conor McGregor up for grabs, expect some serious tension to be found both inside the octagon and out when this one finally gets underway.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena