This weekend kicks off an unprecedented period in the company’s history, in which all UFC titles are on the line in just five months. From the ten champions who reigned going into December 2014, only two remain. In a little over 13 months, eight out of ten champions were dethroned in a spectacular year for the UFC.
So with each champion already booked to a fight or at least tentatively booked (in the case of Robbie Lawler), and with two interim belts in play (both with more significance than you would think), we aim to predict who will defend their belts and who will fall to their respective challengers.
Heavyweight Title: Fabricio Werdum vs Stipe Miocic (UFC 198, May 14)
While Werdum has been in the form of his career in recent years, winning six fights on the bounce and culminating with a victory over former champion Cain Velasquez, Stipe Miocic provides a much sterner task for the Brazilian than he has faced in that time. Miocic has 10 KO’s to his name in 14 wins, six of which came in the first round.
Miocic stylistically looks to be a terrible matchup for Werdum, hence why the Brazilian turned it down earlier this year on short notice.
Prediction: Miocic… And NEW!
Interim Light Heavyweight Title: Jon Jones vs Ovince St. Preux (UFC 197, April 23)
With Daniel Cormier forced to pull out of UFC 197 with an injury, Jones gets set to square off against OSP for an Interim Title. The significance of this match is that Jon Jones never lost his title to DC; he was stripped of it after being suspended by the company.
Jones will feel like he is defending his title against OSP, and he will likely prove to be far too skilled for the former football player.
Prediction: Jones… And STILL… kind of!
Middleweight Title: Luke Rockhold vs Chris Weidman (UFC 199, June 4)
In a rematch of UFC 194’s co-main event, Rockhold and Weidman will look to outpoint each other again.
Rockhold surprised a lot of people in that fight – not only in the result, but in the devastating fashion by which he did so. Weidman will need to step it up massively to beat his bitter rival. Having switched camps for this fight, Weidman is looking to do just that.
Prediction: Weidman… And NEW!
Welterweight Title: Robbie Lawler vs Tyron Woodley (UFC 201/202, TBC)
Robbie Lawler has been involved in some of the most captivating wars in the sport’s history in the last couple of years, and seems to be indestructible.
Woodley, who has a great wrestling base with extremely good hands, will be looking to not fight Lawler’s fight, and stay on the outside in order to try and get it to the ground if possible. Lawler’s take-down defence however, is probably the best in the UFC and his ability to make a fight dirty is uncanny.
Prediction: Lawler… And STILL!
Lightweight Title: Rafael dos Anjos vs Eddie Alvarez (UFC Fight Night, July 7)
Rafael dos Anjos must be wondering what he has to do to get some recognition from the UFC. After brutally beating up Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis, RDA was hoping to defend his title at UFC 200, but was not granted his wish and is instead headlining the UFC Fight Pass card two nights before the marquee event.
His opponent Alvarez, a former Bellator lightweight champion, has just beaten Pettis and is looking extremely strong. Known for his exciting fights and his ability to take a punch, Alvarez will provide a stiff test for the Brazilian.
Prediction: dos Anjos… And STILL!
(Interim?) Featherweight Title: Jose Aldo vs Frankie Edgar (UFC 200, July 9)
With speculation surrounding McGregor’s future in MMA, Aldo and Edgar will fight for the Interim Title to keep the division moving, or more than likely for the undisputed belt by the time of UFC 200.
The elephant in the room is that while this fight is for an Interim Title, should McGregor not return to fighting, the belt would automatically become the undisputed one. So a lot rides on this rematch. Aldo, one of the longest reigning Champions in UFC history, will look to regain the gold, while former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar will look to become only the third fighter in history to win belts in two different weight classes.
Prediction: Aldo… And NEW!
Bantamweight Title: Dominick Cruz vs Urijah Faber (UFC 199, June 4)
The amazing return by Cruz against Dillashaw saw the former Champ regain his title. It has now set up a grudge match between himself and Faber, the only man to beat Cruz. While Cruz has spent a long time on the sidelines he looked as good as ever against Dillashaw and should prove to be too much for an ageing Faber.
Prediction: Cruz… And STILL!
Flyweight Title: Demetrious Johnson vs Henry Cejudo (UFC 197, April 23)
Henry Cejudo, an Olympic gold medallist should prove to be DJ’s toughest test to date. With an unparalleled wrestling background, technical striking and a great fight I.Q. Cejudo should be a handful for the long time Champ.
Johnson is looking to beat Anderson Silva’s record breaking 10 title defences. Johnson stands at seven defences and will be looking to get passed this opponent also, edging him ever closer.
An upset could be on the cards here.
Prediction: Cejudo And NEW!
Women’s Bantamweight Title: Meisha Tate vs Amanda Nunes (UFC 200, July 9)
Newly minted bantamweight champion Tate will make her first defence against Nunes at UFC 200, on a card many believed would see the return of Ronda Rousey or a rematch with Holly Holm. Perhaps the Nunes fight made sense because the Main Event was the same and Rousey is still injured but it feels a step too far for the Brazilian.
Prediction: Tate… And STILL!
Womens’s Strawweight Title: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Claudia Gadelha (UFC on FOX, July 8)
JJ has been on a tear through the Strawweight division since its inception and looks one of the most dominant champions on the roster at the moment but her toughest fight to date came against Gadelha the first time the pair met. JJ went on to get the title shot and win with that victory while Gadelha was left to rue a missed opportunity. The rematch will likely be a fiery affair as they coach opposite eachother on the Ultimate Fighter.
Prediction: Jedrzejczyk… And STILL!
So with ten title fights to look forward to over the coming months, be sure to check Pundit Arena for all the latest UFC news as it happens.