One way to embarrass me is to make my predictions for the last couple of UFC events public. Not to say that I’m a stooge when it comes to talking about MMA, it’s just a testament of how unpredictable the sport is. That’s why everyone makes predictions. If they are right then they can brag about being some kind of prophet that can see the future, but if they are wrong they can use the “MMA is unpredictable” excuse.
With that being said, predicting whose going to be next UFC champion in any given weight class is approximately ten times harder than taking a jab at forecasting a singular fight. Heck, I’d be pretty impressed with myself if I batted .500 with this list. Nonetheless, here are the guys that I think will be the next in line to wear the crowns of UFC’s many divisions based on their overall talent, stylistic match-up with the champion, and the circumstance.
The predictions after the jump.
I’m in the camp that believes that the Cain Velasquez that lost to Junior Dos Santos was not the same man that mauled Brock Lesnar to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship. I favor Dos Santos against pretty much everybody except for a testosterone-pumped Alistair Overeem and Cain Velasquez. Velasquez has the wrestling skills to put away JDS, but if he comes in to the re-match attempting to out-strike the elite striker then he’ll probably last less than 64 seconds.
Alexander Gustafsson would be the popular choice at this slot coming off his impressive win over Thiago Silva, but Jon Jones presents major problems for Gustafsson. To be fair, Jones presents major problems to just about anybody in the world, and Jones could surpass Silva’s Middleweight Championship title reign if he stays at 205. Davis is the guy that I think has the most potential. He’s a fantastic wrestler and athlete similar to Jones. The Evans loss should make him better, and he could be a real threat to Jones’ title in about a year after honing his craft.
Middleweight – Chris Weidman
Chris Weidman has to be the quickest learner in all of MMA. The progress he makes from fight to fight is simply remarkable. He’s about two wins away from getting a championship shot, and the 37-year old Anderson Silva probably only has a couple more fights before he check outs. It all adds up to Weidman becoming the next middleweight champion after taking down Silva multiple times through-out the fight Sonnen-style.
Even before the injury to GSP, I was predicting Condit to defeat Canada’s MMA hero. He presents major problems on the feet with his unorthodox style and power, and he is exceptional off of his back if he were to be taken down (ask Dong Hyun Kim). The ring rust will probably be too much for George as he’ll likely be out of the cage for over a year. That’s not to say that St. Pierre won’t win the title right back and avenge the loss.
The 155 pound division is unpredictable to say the least. In his last two fights Ben Henderson looked the best I’ve ever seen him look. It’s possible that he’ll hold onto the strap for a long time or lose it right back to Frankie Edgar in his next fight. I think he’ll be able to successfully defend it a couple of times, but Anthony Pettis might have his number. Pettis definitely has the hunger to win this as he still hasn’t gotten his promised title shot from their first fight. He’s a bad stylistic match-up for Henderson, and his gas tank should contribute to him winning the latter rounds in what should be a classic five-round war.
Jose Aldo is the other fighter that has a stranglehold on his division. He has speed, power, and is advanced in all facets of the game. The next featherweight champion probably isn’t even in the UFC right now. So I just made my selection based on potential. At 23 years-old Dustin Poirier has impressed me with his maturity and well-roundedness. He’s a gritty fighter that could steal a decision in war. A win over the Korean Zombie on Fuel TV would confirm my beliefs of him as a potential champion.
Michael McDonald is going to dominate the sport of MMA for a long time. The ability he has at 21 years-old is scary. He represents the new version of fighters that are coming up learning the hybrid style of Mixed Martial Arts. He’s taking a big step up in competition against Miguel Torres at UFC 145, and he may find himself with a loss. That still doesn’t change the fact that it seems as though a UFC Championship is McDonald’s destiny.
Flyweight – Joseph Benavides
This is the closest thing there is to a lock. It’s basically down to three men, and I’d favor Benavidez in a fight against Demetrious Johnson or Ian McCall. He’ll probably be the king of UFC’s newest division for quite a while. He is talented in all facets of the game, and that presents problems for his future opponents.
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