5 championship bouts. A number of different top-10 showdowns. A number of high-profile rematches. Greater than a dozen fights that includes former world champions.
The UFC has fairly a summer time of combating lined up. After taking this coming weekend off, the promotion makes an enormous splash on July 11 in Abu Dhabi with UFC 251, that includes a trio of title bouts. That shall be adopted by three extra battle playing cards within the United Arab Emirates via the month, after which it is again to the US for a run that, by the top of August, will embrace 5 extra occasions. With a lot of fights. Huge fights.
Once I was requested to write down concerning the 5 most anticipated fights of the summer time, my preliminary thought was to assemble a listing of the highest dozen or so and flow into it among the many ESPN workforce to get a consensus of which of them most resonate with the group.
“No,” I used to be informed, “that is your record.”
Ah, sure, OK then.
It is smart to method the train this manner, really, as a result of each fan will have a look at the summer time schedule and have completely different fights come out for them. All of us have our personal preferences. Some would possibly level to these 5 title fights on faucet between now and Labor Day and be accomplished with their record. For me, title bouts symbolize lower than half of my top-five itemizing. I did embrace three rematches, although, whereas different followers would possibly keep away from that sort of reserving, considering, “Been there, accomplished that.”
Regardless of your style, there is a battle for you. A number of, the truth is. Listed below are my picks:
Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier 3
Aug. 15 in Las Vegas
Let’s begin with the battle on my record that is farthest off sooner or later. Why? As a result of the UFC 252 most important occasion is the battle of the summer time — and I critically doubt I’m alone in that sentiment. The keen anticipation of lastly attending to see Miocic and Cormier full their heavyweight championship trilogy will gasoline us via the sweaty canine days forward. What might be higher? Cormier knocked out Miocic within the first spherical in July 2018 to grow to be a two-division champ. In the rematch 13 months later, Stipe overcame a tough begin to regain his title with a fourth-round TKO. Who’ll fall this time?
There’s even added intrigue surrounding the third assembly. These two males began out on pretty cordial phrases, however two years later their rivalry has an edge to it. That is what occurs when it is simply you and one different fighter spending an prolonged stretch jockeying for the throne that sits atop Heavyweight Mountain. There have been head video games, microaggressions amplified to the purpose the place these fellows appear to share this one sentiment: I undoubtedly can’t enable myself to lose to that man. With Cormier dedicated to retiring from MMA after this evening, the outcome right here shall be his enduring remaining reminiscence as an lively prizefighter. And for Miocic, who has seen nobody however DC in entrance of him for 2 years? He desires to get this man out of his face as quickly as attainable.
Backside line: If I had been singling out my most hotly anticipated battle of the summer time, this could be it. If I had been placing collectively a listing of three must-see bouts, I would simply go together with this completion of the trilogy together with taped replays of Miocic-Cormier 1 and a pair of. Cannot wait.
July 25 in Abu Dhabi, UAE
Robert Whittaker explains how a Christmas Day coaching session made him really feel burnt out, inflicting him to query if he nonetheless needed to battle and to appreciate he wanted a break.
Generally a champion is knocked off a throne and seemingly falls off the face of the earth. That is what seems to have occurred to Whittaker, who has watched the middleweight division transfer on since he dropped his belt to Israel Adesanya final October. In some respects, Adesanya already was the star of the burden class even whereas Whittaker nonetheless reigned, due to each the stupendous aptitude of “The Final Stylebender” and likewise Whittaker’s harm absences and buttoned-down demeanor. However right here comes a possibility for the ex-champion to get again on the map. Or not.
What makes this matchup particularly interesting for me is that it got here out of left subject. As just lately as 9 months in the past, who may have foreseen Until sharing the cage with Whittaker or any high 185-pounder? However then, in November, the longtime welterweight moved up a division and jumped proper into the deep finish of the pool, taking up extremely ranked Kelvin Gastelum. Until’s split-decision win made him an on the spot contender. If he beats Whittaker, the sky is the restrict.
July 16 in Abu Dhabi, UAE
There are championship fights and high-stakes contender bouts that, wanting on the massive image, imply extra for the UFC and its numerous weight-class hierarchies. However typically you simply need to go together with what excites you. And I like me some Frankie Edgar fights. These of us who’ve adopted the person’s profession seemingly eternally have at all times needed to strap ourselves in for many ups and downs — typically in the identical battle, typically in the identical spherical. As of this month, Edgar has been on this sport for 15 years, and never a second of that has been boring. The previous couple of years haven’t been so variety to this former champion, although. Edgar, who’s transferring to bantamweight, has misplaced three of 4 and appears relegated to a gatekeeper position.
That brings me to Edgar’s opponent. Munhoz suffered a momentum-killing loss to Aljamain Sterling over a yr in the past and has not fought since. However just some months earlier than that defeat, he KO’d Cody Garbrandt and was on a roll. Munhoz had established himself as a rising bantamweight contender, and a win right here may restore that standing to his title.
July 12 in Abu Dhabi, UAE
The primary time these two shared the Octagon, again in December, Volkanovski put on a stunning performance to grow to be UFC featherweight champion. It was his 18th consecutive victory, so everybody already knew the Aussie was formidable. However who was ready to see Holloway dethroned so decisively? Max had received 14 of his earlier 15 fights, the lone loss coming in opposition to Dustin Poirier at light-weight. He had the look of a champion destined to reign for an extended whereas.
That is Holloway’s alternative to grab again the belt and the mojo he misplaced. It’s Volkanovski’s alternative to close up any who nonetheless doubt he is the higher fighter, not only a man who had one nice evening. That is what attracts me to this UFC 251 co-main occasion, much more than the welterweight title battle on the high of the marquee. Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns goes to be an electrifying scrap, however the 145-pound rematch that can happen proper earlier than it has stakes which are extra personally consequential and primal than a championship belt. It’s a matchup of two males who’ve already proved themselves but nonetheless should remind us what they’re product of. It’s the bout I am most wanting ahead to that night.
July 12 in Abu Dhabi, UAE
This is another rematch on that loaded UFC 251 most important card, this one between a pair of former strawweight champions. And sure, I am together with this battle over two of that night’s three title bouts — Usman vs. Burns at welterweight and Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo for the vacant males’s bantamweight championship. I am going to watch all of them, in fact, however this one is especially fascinating for me to ponder due to how the primary assembly took such an abrupt about-face. Namajunas was piecing up Andrade till Andrade picked up Namajunas. The slam that ended the battle was scary vicious.
Namajunas has not fought since dropping the belt that evening in Could 2019. Andrade has spent simply 42 seconds within the Octagon since then, dropping the title to Zhang Weili lower than 4 months later. So each girls are coming off low factors. Each have primarily disappeared. And each, upon lastly reappearing, have one thing to show, maybe to themselves as a lot as to the general public. This rematch initially was scheduled for April, however the reserving fell aside. Right here it’s, lastly. It’s nicely value ready for.