Since UFC 244 is lacking in the quantity department, I am here to predict some fights that are plausible come November.
UFC 244 will concur under the roof of Madison Square Garden on November 2nd. When the UFC travels to New York, they generally treat fans with a card rich with talent. UFC 205, UFC 217, and UFC 230 are the three previous times that MSG has ever hosted the UFC. All three of those cards had unparalleled depth and the biggest UFC draws.
Previous MSG Events
To this day, UFC 205 is one of the most loaded PPV cards of all time. It was headlined by three star-studded championship fights: Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez, Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Other than those fights, the card still had endless household names in Yoel Romero, Chris Weidman, Miesha Tate, Frankie Edgar, Jeremy Stephens, Khabib Nurmagomedov, among others.
UFC 217 was headlined by the comeback of legend Georges St-Pierre, who faced Michael Bisping for the middleweight title. There were two more championship fights; T.J Dillashaw vs. Cody Garbrandt and Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Other names on the card included Stephen Thompson, Jorge Masvidal, Paulo Costa, Johnny Hendricks, Corey Anderson, and Curtis Blaydes.
UFC 230 is the most recent rendition of the UFC in MSG, and definitely the most underwhelming one. Daniel Cormier vs. Derrick Lewis was the sole championship fight on the card and the depth was not up to par with the other MSG events, but names like Chris Weidman, Jacare Souza, Jared Cannonier, and Israel Adesanya competed.
Do I expect UFC 244 to have three championship fights? No, but there is a middle ground that is easily susceptible and accommodating. Two fights are already booked for UFC 244 and both are exhilarating; Johnny Walker vs. Corey Anderson and Derrick Lewis vs. Blagoy Ivanov. Here are some thrilling yet realistic fight options that could make UFC 244 the best card of 2019.
Potential UFC 244 Fights
Championship- Jon Jones vs. Winner of Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier
This is a popular rumored headline and like all of these potential fights, the timing of this is near perfect. Jon Jones has publicly stated that he would fight in MSG in November.
Madison Square Garden in November?
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) July 24, 2019
Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic will share a dance later this month and if a Jon Jones MSG headliner was offered to either of them, I believe both would be interested (even with a quick turnaround). Again, the outcome does not matter. Jones moving up to heavyweight to attempt double champion status against either Cormier or Miocic is more interesting than anything at 205 pounds (as of now).
Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo 2
Do I need to even discuss how massive this would be? A rumor swirled in late July that this was in talks.
A source tells me that Conor McGregor vs Jose Aldo 2 is being rumored for #UFC244 at MSG.
UFC was looking to resign Aldo. Conor was the bait that reeled him in. Not to mention, Conor has to get back into the good graces of the NYSAC. Has some making up to do.
— #Dizzology🇺🇸 (@TalkMMA) July 28, 2019
It was nothing more than a rumor but even so, this fight makes sense for both fighters and could easily headline this massive card. Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo 1 was one of the most promoted mixed martial arts fights ever, and it only lasted 13 seconds. A rematch would be fair to the fighters and the fans and since both fighters are coming off losses, this is a perfect scenario. A problem that may present itself here is that McGregor will not fight unless he is in the main event.
Donald Cerrone: Conor McGregor ‘won’t fight unless it’s a main event’ https://t.co/qmUEeTOuoN
— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) March 8, 2019
McGregor is the biggest draw in UFC history and if decides to put the gloves back on, expect it to be for a 25 minute fight.
Championship- Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski
Is this main event caliber for MSG? I don’t know, but it damn sure would be a fantastic co-main event. To the common fan, Max Holloway is not a household name, but he should be. If the Frankie Edgar fight was not a big enough testament to how good Holloway is, a fight against Alexander Volkanovski should do the trick. Since Volkanovski is next in line to challenge for the 145 pound title, this is undeniably the next title fight at 145, barring any unforeseeable circumstance. The timing seems rather perfect, but one barricade that could halt this from being in MSG is that Volkanovski expressed that he would like his next fight to be in Australia.
Volkanovski on where he wants to fight Holloway: "I'm told they want to have a card in Australia. Whittaker-Adesanya. Let's do it there." #UFC237
— Sherdog by Mandatory (@sherdogdotcom) May 12, 2019
Now, Volkanovski does not hold the cards on where this fight will be, but if Holloway obliges to it being in enemy territory, expect this to go down at UFC 243. If not, UFC 244 makes a whole lot of sense.
Championship- Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington
Before UFC Newark, this fight may not have been appealing in the bright lights of New York, but Colby Covington‘s last performance? One of the best in recent memory. Love or hate him, he concreted himself as the next challenger at 170 pounds and November should be perfect timing for both fellas. Kamaru Usman has been battling injuries since winning the title at UFC 235, but deems November as an accurate time for his return to the octagon. After UFC Newark, these two enjoyed a healthy back and forth, which is good for business and will help promote this fight when the time comes.
This would fill the needs of a headliner in most cases, but if the UFC brings this to New York, expect it to be the co-main event and a damn good one at that.
Championship- Amanda Nunes vs. Germaine De Randamie 2
Similar to Holloway vs. Volkanovski, this would not appeal as a headliner, but Amanda Nunes deserves to fight at the most prolific events and MSG is just that. Nunes’ next fight would have more than likely been against Cris Cyborg, but since Dana White has publicly said the UFC is, “out of the Cyborg business,” Nunes will need a new dance partner. Look at the top of the women’s 135 and 145 pound division. Cris Cyborg? No longer fighting in the UFC. Felicia Spencer? Just lost to Cyborg. Holly Holm? Nunes’ last fight. Insert Germaine De Randamie.
De Randamie is one of the best strikers in female mixed martial arts and could (emphasis on could) present problems for Nunes. She is the most deserving title challenger between both weight classes that Nunes currently owns. Riding a five fight win streak, one of which was for the inaugural 135 pound belt, a rematch with Nunes is undeniably in her future.
Interim Championship- Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan
Unfortunately, there is a glaring problem that presents itself here; the state of 135 pound champion Henry Cejudo. If his injury sidelines him longer than expected, figure an interim championship between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan will be booked. If the UFC were to make an interim 135 pound championship, there is no doubt that it would be between Sterling and Yan. Sterling most recently dominated Pedro Munhoz at UFC 238, which very well could earn him a direct path to Cejudo (if healthy). On the same card, Yan had a commanding victory over Jimmie Rivera. Since this fight became a possibility, Yan and Sterling have exchanged words in person and through social media.
Their return time tables are rather identical. Let the men dance.
Jorge Masvidal vs. Leon Edwards
Not one fighter in the UFC has enjoyed their stock rising as much as Jorge Masvidal. After two unearthly knockouts over Darren Till and Ben Askren, chatter arose of Masvidal being the next man in line to challenge Usman. That was put to rest after Covington’s performance and now Masvidal will have to settle for a number one contender fight. Leon Edwards is a real problem for Masvidal or anyone in the 170 pound division. Edwards is riding an eight fight win streak and has not lost since 2015 to current champion Usman. Edwards and Masvidal have bad blood. After UFC London, they were involved in a backstage, physical altercation.
On top of the already developing backstory, both fighters fought in July only two weeks separate, so their time tables should align. Masvidal has his eyes on big money fights, but ultimately a fight against Edwards makes the most sense. After his win against Rafael Dos Anjos, Edwards made sure his voice was heard on his opinion about Masvidal.
Expect this fight to be made in MSG.
Ben Askren vs. Demain Maia
This fight has been on the rumor forefront for the better part of two weeks. Apparently, it is close to being booked.
Ben Askren vs Demian Maia should be announced this week per @arielhelwani
Who takes it in the battle of Wrestling vs BJJ!? #HelwaniShow
— PlanetMMA.com (@ThePlanetMMA) August 5, 2019
This fight may go down sometime in October on ESPN plus, or at least that is what the UFC is aiming for, but it should not be. Askren is undoubtedly a PPV draw and one of the best the UFC has to offer. Granted, his last two fights were less than impressive, but he sells fights with his wittiness and him fighting in New York makes sense. Maia has revived his career in 2019, winning both of his bouts. Now, he looks to face another top grappler at 170 pounds in Askren. Hopefully this fight is a masterful grappling match, not a horrendous barrage of stand up exchanges between two non-strikers.
UFC 244 will be booked to the brim sooner or later, so for now, it is a waiting game. Thanks for reading and remember this; P3 is the official protein snack of the UFC.
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