2018 marked the 25th year anniversary for the UFC and the promotion delivered in year 25 with several huge story lines like Conor McGregor returning to the octagon, Daniel Cormier winning two belts, Jon Jones claiming what was rightfully his and a huge women’s super fight between Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes just to name a few. As 2019 kicks off lets predict how good the New Year will be for current UFC champions by predicting who will be carrying the gold strap at this time in 2019.
Current Champion: Rose Namajunas
Possible Contenders: Jessica Andrade, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Nina Ansaroff, Tatiana Suarez
Next Year’s Champion: Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Outlook: Namajunas isn’t an active champion. In fact she hasn’t really trained since the Conor McGregor bus incident in April. In her last fight against Jedrzejczyk she was actually out struck in every single round, and some found the outcome controversial. Prediction is that she will fight by April of 2019 and lose to Andrade. Andrade will then rematch Jedrzejczyk in late 2019 with Jedrzejczyk once again defeating Andrade and reigning over the Strawweight Division.
Current Champion: Valentina Shevchenko
Possible Contenders: Jessica Eye, Sijara Eubanks, Katlyn Chookagian, Liz Carmouche
Next Year’s Champion: Valentina Shevchenko
Outlook: Let’s face it. Shevchenko is too good. Chances are her win over Jedrzejczyk in December was probably her toughest challenge even with Carmouche in the mix who has a win over Shevchenko in 2010.
Current Champion: Amanda Nunes
Possible Contenders: Germaine De Randamie, Holly Holm, Ketlen Vieira, Raquel Pennington
Next Year’s Champion: Holly Holm
Outlook: It’s hard to pick against Nunes especially after becoming the baddest woman on the planet by knocking out Cris Cyborg in 51 seconds and becoming the first woman in UFC history to win championships in two different weight classes. However, Holm is due to get the benefit of the doubt in a close fight for once. Will a fight between Nunes and Holm ever happen given they’ll most likely be a rubber match with Nunes and Cyborg? It’s very possible. Prediction is the belt will be vacated with the Nunez and Cyborg part two taking place and Holm will once again get the belt by avenging a loss to De Randamie.
Current Champion: Amanda Nunes
Possible Contenders: Cris Cyborg, Holly Holm, Megan Anderson, Holly Holm, Cat Zingano,
Next Year’s Champion: Amanda Nunes
Outlook: What could be better then seeing Nunes and Cyborg fight in December of 2018? Seeing them fight again in 2019. Cyborg’s contract is up with the UFC and Dana White said in the press conference following UFC 232 that the fight won’t happen, but how could you not give Cyborg a rematch? Prediction is that Nunes will defeat Cyborg again by knock out and then set up a fight with her and Holm for late 2019. Given what Nunes has done lately you can’t pick against her.
Current Champion: Henry Cejudo
Possible Contenders: TJ Dillashaw, Jussier Formiga, Joseph Benavidez, Ray Borg
Next Year’s Champion: Henry Cejudo
Outlook: We have no idea what the future holds for this division, but if it still exists in 2019 you have to go with Cejudo holding belt at the end. After all he ended Demetrious Johnson’s reign on top of the division. Prediction is Dillashaw will defeat Cejudo in their super fight on January 19th. Dillashaw will not hold onto it though giving Cejudo and a top contender a shot at the vacated belt and Cejudo wins.
Current Champion: TJ Dillashaw
Possible Contenders: Raphel Assuncao, Marlon Moraes, Jimmie Riveria, Aljamain Sterling
Next Year’s Champion: TJ Dillashaw
Outlook: This division is exciting. The top seven fighters are super talented and have a shot to win the belt on any given night unless it’s against Dillashaw. Hard to believe it but every time Dillashaw steps inside the octagon he looks better and better.
Current Champion: Max Holloway
Possible Contenders: Brian Ortega, Frankie Edgar, Renato Moicano, Chad Mendes
Next Year’s Champion: Max Holloway
Outlook: This division may have a new champion if Holloway moves up to Lightweight. There are a lot of scenarios that could take place at 155 but nothing is set in stone. Prediction is that Holloway will defend his 145-pound strap successfully in the first half of 2019 and then get a big time fight at the 155 in the second half of the year.
Current Champion: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Possible Contenders: Tony Ferguson, Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Max Holloway
Next Year’s Champion: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Outlook: This division is stacked from top to bottom. There are so many outcomes that could take place 155. However 27 men have tried to defeat Nurmagomedov and 27 have failed. Not only did they fail, but they haven’t even been close to getting a victory. How do you pick against a guy who’s never even been close to losing a fight?
Current Champion: Tyron Woodley
Possible Contenders: Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman, Darren Till, Santiago Ponzinibbio
Next Year’s Champion: Tyron Woodley
Outlook: Well let’s all be honest with ourselves. Woodley 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.
Current Champion: Robert Whittaker
Possible Contenders: Kelvin Gastelum, Ronaldo Jacare Souza, Israel Adesanya, Paulo Costa
Next Year’s Champion: Robert Whittaker
Outlook: Adesanya and Costa are two rising stars and maybe future champions one day. Are they ready for Whittaker is the question? After all Whittaker has looked great since moving up to Middleweight. Prediction is Whittaker makes easy work of Gastelum in February and then takes on either Adesanya or Costa and gets a win.
Current Champion: Jon Jones
Possible Contenders: Alexander Gustafsson, Anthony Smith, Jan Blachowicz, Corey Anderson
Next Year’s Champion: Alexander Gustafsson
Outlook: Welcome back Jon Jones. Just not for long at 205. Expect Jon Jones to move up heavyweight and Gustafsson defeating Smith to claim the vacant championship.
Current Champion: Daniel Cormier
Possible Contenders: Jon Jones, Brock Lesnar, Stipe Miocic, Francis Ngannou
Next Year’s Champion: Jon Jones
Outlook: This division is going to be fun to follow in 2019. There’s so much drama between the champ and all of the contenders listed above with the exception of Ngannou. Not sure whether or not DC will fight Lesnar or give a rematch to Miocic in the early part of 2019. Also if he rematches Miocic and loses who knows if they’ll be a rubber match or not. Here’s what we do know. The UFC caters to their superstars and having Jon Jones move up has dollar signs written all over it. Prediction is that at the end of 2019 Jon Jones will be the baddest man on the planet.