Predicting the UFC champions at this time in 2021

OPINION: Predicting the UFC champions at this time in 2021

The UFC just held their final pay per view event of 2020 and no more title fights will take place for the rest of this crazy, weird and stressful year.

2020 tested the limits of many people, including UFC president Dana White. Nonetheless, the UFC managed to pull off a successful year.

Now with 2021 quickly approaching and whole new year of UFC champions defending their titles, let’s try and predict who will hold UFC titles at this time next year.

Women’s Strawweight
Current Champion: Zhang Weili
Possible Contenders: Rose Namajunas, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Yan Xiaonan, Amanda Ribas
Next Year’s Champion: Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Outlook: This is a fun division with a lot of exciting matchups and a number of possibilities. If you know me then you know that I’m blatantly bias toward Jedrzejczyk so of course I’m predicting her. However bias aside, it’s really not out of the realm of possibility as many people thought she won her UFC 248 fight against Weili and should be the champ right now. Plus Dana White promised her that if she wins one fight in 2021 she’ll receive another title shot. Weili vs. Namajunas is the next title fight in this weight class. If Namajunas wins then she’ll likely retain the belt because based on her common trend of inactively she probably won’t fight again for the rest of the year and once again hold up this amazing and stacked division.

Women’s Flyweight
Current Champion: Valentina Shevchenko
Possible Contenders: Jessica Andrade, Katlyn Chookagian, Lauren Murphy, Cynthia Calvillo
Next Year’s Champion: Valentina Shevchenko
Outlook: Don’t really need break down anything here. Shevchenko is has dominate as they come and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. I don’t think anyone sees her losing her title anytime soon.

Women’s Bantamweight
Current Champion: Amanda Nunes
Possible Contenders: Germaine De Randamie, Holly Holm, Aspen Ladd, Irene Aldana
Next Year’s Champion: Holly Holm
Outlook: I’m not picking against Nunes. I’m making a bold prediction and saying that Nunes gives up her 135-pound title and Holm wins the vacant title and may even defend it once in 2021. Holm looked amazing in her last outing and may now finally be a complete mixed martial artist. Personally, I think she has the skill set to beat Nunes and would love to see those two run it back, but for the sake of this prediction I’m just going to leave it at Holm winning her second UFC title.

Women’s Featherweight
Current Champion: Amanda Nunes
Possible Contenders: Holly Holm, Megan Anderson, Felice Spencer
Next Year’s Champion: Amanda Nunes
Outlook: Nunes is a beast. Another one who you can’t bet against. Especially in this division which doesn’t even have a ranking system.

Current Champion: Deiveson Figueiredo
Possible Contenders: Cody Garbrandt, Brandon Moreno, Alex Perez, Brandon Royval
Next Year’s Champion: Deiveson Figueiredo
Outlook: Figueiredo is the real deal. The future in this division has some moving parts, but it will all go throughout the current champ. He may have a mega fight with Cody Garbrandt in the future at flyweight. He’s good enough to go and challenge for the bantamweight title and may even win it. With so much unknown I have to make a prediction on what we do know and that is that Figueiredo is the man at 125-pounds.

Current Champion: Petr Yan
Possible Contenders: Aljamain Sterling, TJ Dillashaw, Cory Sandhagen, Frankie Edgar
Next Year’s Champion: Aljamain Sterling
Outlook: Another exciting division in which there are so many possible outcomes. For me, I really like what Sterling has done and think he’s the front runner in 2021. One thing to note is that Dillashaw returns in the new year and he’s on a mission to reclaim his belt. I feel like if he does, you might see Henry Cejudo even come out of retirement for a blockbuster title fight. Not sure what the road map is like for Dillashaw or how he’ll look after the layoff, so I’m taking Sterling to reign over the bantamweights, but this prediction is likely to be wrong considering the division is filled with killers

Current Champion: Alexander Volkanovski
Possible Contenders: Max Holloway, Brian Ortega, Zabit Magomedsharipov, Henry Cejudo
Next Year’s Champion: Zabit Magomedsharipov
Outlook: A lot of things can happen in this division. Right now Max Holloway is on the outside looking and he’ll need Volkanovski to lose. Ortega appears to be next for Volkanovski and that’s a fun matchup. What happens in that fight will dictate what happens in the future. Cejudo likes the way he matches up against Volkanovski and is interested in coming out of retirement to fight him. While that’s unlikely, it is possible. However, you know what is likely and possible? Magomedsharipov finally breaking through as champion like many have predicted he would one day. He’s been due to break put and 2021 maybe his time to finally shine.

Current Champion: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Possible Contenders: Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, Charles Oliveira
Next Year’s Champion: Conor McGregor
Outlook: This comes down to whether or not Nurmagomedov is actually retired. I’m taking his word for the sake of the argument so therefore we’ll need a new champ in 2020. Of course we all know that this maybe the deepest division in the sport and so many people can win the championship. However looking at the top of the division, McGregor matches up great against the divisions top fighters right now. Sure all of those fighters can beat him, but McGregor can definitely beat them as well. If McGregor wins the title, expect him to be inactive and hold the division, because he has a track record of winning titles and not defending them. Oh and if Nurmagomedov does hold onto the belt or does fight again, then he’ll be your champ. Just thought I’d add that.

Current Champion: Kamaru Usman
Possible Contenders: Colby Covington and Gilbert Burns
Next Year’s Champion: Colby Covington
Outlook: Well let’s all be honest with ourselves. Usman is not an active champion. If we see him in the octagon twice next year we should be thankful. It’s hard to lose your belt if you aren’t going out there and defending it. Usman is going to be tough to beat, but the next two guys in line have a good shot at doing it. Burns and Covington both pose a threat to his throne. Burns gets the next shot and can definitely walk away the winner. Covington appears to have business with Masvidal and I think he wins that fight to secure the winner of Unman and Burns. Now yes there are other contenders and there are other possible outcomes here, but most likely that’s your lineup for 2021. Covington couldn’t help Donald Trump keep the white house, but he can make the welterweight division great again.

Current Champion: Israel Adesanya
Possible Contenders: Robert Whittaker, Paulo Costa, Jared Cannonier, Marvin Vettori
Next Year’s Champion: Israel Adesanya
Outlook: Adesanya looks dominate and it’s hard to bet against him. Whittaker and Vettori may have the best shot of beating him, but Whittaker already had a shot and lost badly. It’s going to take an incredible effort to dethrone the middleweight king and I don’t see that happening next year.

Light Heavyweight
Current Champion: Jan Blachowicz
Possible Contenders: Israel Adesanya, Glover Teixeira, Dominick Reyes
Next Year’s Champion: Jan Blachowicz
Outlook: Adesanya is rumored to possibility move up and challenge Blachowicz. If he does and if he plans on winning, he would need Blachowicz to just stand there and eat leg kicks and that’s not going to happen. Blachowicz will step forward and steamroll him with Polish power. If that fight doesn’t happen then Teixeira is next and I like Blachowicz in that fight as well. Again there’s other possible outcomes, but if those are the next matchups, then I like Blachowicz.

Current Champion: Stipe Miocic
Possible Contenders: Jon Jones, Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes, Derrick Lewis
Next Year’s Champion: Jon Jones
Outlook: Jon Jones is going to heavyweight and that’s official. He’s going to be a force there too. Ngannou is the only one that has a shot to beat him, but if he’s going to beat Jones then he’s going to need to land a heavy shot to do it. Jones is too good and he is a mismatch for almost every heavyweight. He’s tall, he’s long, he has a strong wrestling game and unlike most heavyweights, he’s dangerous with his legs. Of course at the this moment everything goes through Miocic. who is the possibly the greatest heavyweight in UFC history. Can Miocic beat Jones? Sure. But I’m not betting against Jones.

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John Eric Poli