It is fair to say, that the combat sports industry is an ever evolving organism. It goes through phases of popularity, boxing and MMA battle for the limelight, one taking presedence over the other and vice versa.
MMA faded into the background recently. The blinding glare of Mayweather versus McGregor was all encompassing. For a brief stint, outshone MMA totally, all be it with help from their biggest star. However, MMA is beginning to mount a comeback. Recent news promises some huge planned or official bouts in the UFC.
Let’s begin with the huge heavyweight clash between Alistair Overeem and Francis Ngannou. The bout has been rumoured for some time and has finally been made official. Ngannou is one of the few young talents that the heavyweight division has.
Alistair Overeem, is one of the usual suspects. He has faced, and beaten, a who’s who of the division’s heavy hitters. Although he has almost made it many times, Overeem has never won the UFC heavyweight strap. He has challenged for it though and he is one of the most decorated heavyweights in the sport’s history.
So, if Ngannou wants to attain the title shot he so craves, he must go through Overeem first. But make no mistake, Overeem still desires that belt, he has won heavyweight gold but never the big one. Not having the UFC title in his collection of gold belts probably eats away at him, he is going to be a dangerous man at UFC 218.
It is the last chance saloon for Overeem and a showdown against the old guard for the young lion. Will the young lion pass the gut check? Exciting stuff!
The UFC featherweight title picture has been quiet of late. Interim champion, Max Holloway unified the belts against Jose Aldo back in June. The new undisputed king of the featherweights has been quiet since then. Perhaps this was to recover from injuries and plot his next move.
With that being said, we could be seeing him again soon. Frankie Edgar will face Max Holloway for the featherweight championship at UFC 218. Edgar is a veteran former champion who previously won lightweight gold and is now chasing the 145 pound belt.
Edgar has got close to the gold at featherweight numerous times but has always missed out on a shot at the undisputed belt. Nevertheless, he is at the very top of the 145 pound rankings and rightly so.
Though he is a veteran, he is still as dangerous as ever, knocking off young contenders like Yair Rodgriguez. Holloway became a star after finishing Pettis and grew into his own even more when he beat Aldo. It is clear to see that it is his time. If he can beat a weathered, gritty ring general like Edgar, he will truly cement his place at the top. This is an interesting bout that is hard to predict. There will surely be fireworks.
Speaking of the featherweight division, Brian Ortega faces Cub Swanson in December. The two featherweights are both top contenders. This fight will no doubt determine the next opponent for the winner of Edgar/Holloway.
Both of these guys are absolute killers, Swanson’s stand-up is thrilling to observe. Watch his barnburner against Doo Ho Choi for evidence. Brian Ortega has incredible Jiu-Jitsu, with the ability to close the show with a sub at any time.
Perhaps the biggest planned bout is the upcoming light heavyweight title clash. No word yet on if the contracts have been signed, however, Cormier has confirmed Oezdemir as the next challenger.
The belt reverted back to Daniel Cormer after his loss to Jon Jones was overturned. Cormier is unbeaten apart from his losses to Jones. Other than Jones he is seen as the best 205 pounder of all time.
After a spate of PED positive tests, it would seem Cormier is actually the best. Volkan is a new face on the light heavyweight scene and with KO wins over some top contenders, he is a logical choice. Gustafsson certainly has a claim to a rematch but 205 needs to see someone fighting for the belt other than the usual suspects.