From a fight fans standpoint 2018 was pretty good year. With match ups like Khabib vs McGregor, Miocic vs Cormier,and Holloway vs Ortega 2018 was very entertaining. There are some fights fans are still dying to see and today I will be going through the top fights fans want to see in 2019. I will be naming one fight per division and the fight does not have to be a title fight. Divisions like women’s featherweight and women’s flyweight will be excluded due to lack of depth in the division. I will also be excluding men’s flyweight because no one knows if that will still be a division in 2019.
Strawweight Namajunas vs Andrade: Rose Namajunas only had one title defense in 2018 and it was all the way back in April at UFC 223. Namajuna’s edged out Joanna in their rematch and I think fans agree we need to run this fight back. There is one fight we need to see in 2019 before we see the trilogy between Namajunas and Jedrzejczyk, and that’s Namajunas defending her title against Jessica Andrade. It’s hard to believe these two women have never been matched up before, but this is the perfect time to do it. Andrade is the clear number one contender; she made that clear when she knocked out Karolina Kowalkiewicz with one punch at UFC 228. It’ll be interesting to see if Namajunas can stop the pressure of Andrade, and avoid the power shots of Andrade. If it goes to the ground both women have good jiu jitsu so it’ll be interesting to see who has the advantage on the ground.
Women’s Bantamweight Nunes vs Holm: The women’s 135 pound division isn’t very stacked heading into 2019. With Shevchenko moving down to 125 and no one else being in the position for a title shot, Nunes vs Holm is the only fight that can draw fans attention. Both women have been champion and both women have outstanding striking. We know Nunes is already an animal on the ground, but Holm showed she’s making improvements in her ground game. This would be an interesting match up to make in 2019
Men’s Bantamweight Garbrandt vs Lineker: Even though this isn’t a title fight it’d still be one hell of a match up. After losing to current champion TJ Dillashaw twice, Garbrandt is definitely not getting the next shot against Dillashaw. Garbrandt needs to pick up a big win in order to stay on top of the 135-pound division in 2019. John Lineker is on the verge of getting a title shot in 2019 but he needs a big win. Both men can make an argument for being the hardest puncher at 135. This would be a fight that could end at any second, and would be a real treat for fans in 2019.
Featherweight Rodriguez vs Zabit: The fight most fans were looking forward to in 2018 was Holloway vs Ortega.When the fight did happen Holloway proved he is still the man to beat at 145pounds. There is no clear number one contender at featherweight but a match up between Rodriguez and Zabit will give a little clarity to the title picture in the featherweight division. Both men are exciting and both men are definitely the future of the featherweight division. This fight has been booked before but it’s never come to fruition. 2019 is the year fans want to see these two men fight.
Lightweight Khabib vs Ferguson: We finally got Khabib vs McGregor in 2018 and Khabib remained champ and he is still undefeated. Hopefully Khabib isn’t handed a lengthy suspension after the post fight brawl at 229, because 2019 is the year we’re going to see Khabib fight Ferguson. This match up has been booked time and time again but it’s never happened for multiple reasons. It almost seems like this fight is cursed. Hopefully 2019 will be the lucky year this fight happens.
Welterweight Woodley vs Covington:What a year 2018 was for both these men. Covington captured the interim welterweight title and got a lot of fans attention while doing it. Woodley had a dominant performance in his only title defense of 2018. Woodley made quick work of Darren Till, which was a good reminder of how dominant he is as champion. Covington and Woodley have had a lot of back and fourth leading up to this fight and we thought we were going to see this fight in 2018. There is serious dislike between these two men and that’s what sells tickets. Hopefully they book this fight in 2019 because the build up to this fight would be crazy.
Middleweight Adesanya vs Silva: This is already booked for 2019 but it’s definitely a match up that excites a lot of fight fans. Israel Adesanya has the potential to be the next big thing in the UFC, and the UFC is hoping 2019 is the year of Adesanya. In order for Adesanya to keep rolling he has to get through the definition of a veteran in the fight game. Many people regard Anderson Silva as the greatest of all time and it’s hard to argue that. Stylistically this is a dream match up and one that will kick off 2019 with a bang.
Light Heavyweight Cormier vs Jones 3: This fight needs to happen! Jones has won the first two fights, but DC wants a win over Jones before he retires in 2019. Jon Jones is considered one of the best pound for pound fighters in the game. The only person to ever beat Jon Jones is himself. From USADA violations to trouble with the law Jones’s career has been tainted with controversy. Personality wise Cormier is the exact opposite of Jones so there’s no wonder why these two are perfect rivals, and there’s also no doubt this fight is a must in 2019.
Heavyweight Miocic vs Velasquez: This fight would’ve been much more exciting if there was a belt on the line. Miocic hasn’t fought since suffering a loss to Daniel Cormier at UFC 226. With rumbles of Velasquez making his return in 2019 Stipe is the prefect opponent for Velasquez.This match up would be stylistically one of the best match ups you could make at heavyweight. Both men are good in all departments of MMA. Not to mention both men are arguably the greatest heavyweights in UFC history.
-Stephen Caloggero (@steveo_calo)