Last year we gave you 10 outlandish MMA predictions for the year 2020. Yes, not all of them came true and this was largely down to the COVID-19 pandemic (and also because some of them were ludicrous). We reviewed them here, but now, we will make 10 MMA predictions for 2021!
1 – Conor McGregor becomes the lightweight champion in January, only to lose it in his next fight
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that the first PPV of 2021 is UFC 257. Headlining this one is a rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Also, you’ll know that former champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov retired earlier in 2020, so the belt is up for grabs. The likelihood is that this fight will end up being for the 155lbs belt.
The prediction is that McGregor defeats ‘The Diamond’, but runs into the rest of the shark tank at 155lbs. Justin Gaethje sets an unreal pace, of which McGregor has previously struggled with. Charles Oliveira has arguably the slickest ground game in the whole sport, another area that McGregor has struggled with previously. Finally, Michael Chandler prefers a wrestling heavy approach, which could also cause the champion problems. These are just a few of the guys in the stacked 155lbs division who could realise a title shot.
2 – Stipe Miocic defeats Francis Ngannou again before losing to Jon Jones
This is similar to one of last years predictions, that Stipe Miocic will defeat Francis Ngannou in a rematch. However, this time there is the added caveat of Jon Jones. Miocic likely just has Ngannou’s number. Yes, ‘The Predator’ was very raw when the men first met and was exposed and dominated but Miocic will likely do enough to do a similar thing again. After defeating Ngannou (likely in April/May time), Jon Jones will get the next shot at Miocic.
Jones was the long time 205lbs champion and is looking big at heavyweight. He is arguably one of the best MMA fighters to ever live, holding a record of 26-1, with the one being a dubious DQ. He defeats Miocic, cementing himself as one of the best.
3 – All of the Bellator champions remain champion until 2022
Bellator certainly isn’t famous for its strength in depth. All of the champions now will likely be champions coming into 2022, unless anyone retires. They really are the best in their division, without any real competition on the horizon. One champion who could struggle is Vadim Nemkov at light heavyweight. There has been a host of new talent added to the Bellator 205lbs division and any one of these guys could cause Nemkov problems. Also, when AJ McKee fights for the title in 2021, he could easily get the W.
4 – Donald Cerrone calls time on his career
A tear will be shed whenever this happens. One of the most recognisable, game fighters in the whole sport, Donald Cerrone is nearing retirement and 2021 will likely see him hang up the gloves. Having gone without a win since May 2019, including four back-to-back losses, Cerrone is starting to slow down. At 37, he’s unlikely to put in another title run at either 155lbs or 170lbs and this means there isn’t much left for him. Give him a fight he can win and let him retire a happy, wealthy man.
5 – Alexander Volkanovski makes three defences of his title
The featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski is proving to be one of the best 145lbs the UFC has ever seen. He’s beaten the two of the featherweight GOAT’s in Jose Aldo and Max Holloway and is yet to be truly tested to his maximum. Brian Ortega looks to be next for the Australian. He likely edges out a decision against T-City.
Then we’ll probably see either a third match against Holloway, a fight against Calvin Kattar or even a fight with the up and coming, Zabit Magomedsharipov. The most difficult of these would be a fight with Kattar. The length of Kattar combined with his boxing ability makes him a tricky opponent for anyone at 145lbs. Magomedsharipov had been protected by not having to go five rounds in the UFC so far and this will be exposed should he realise a title shot.
6 – Sean O’Malley rematches Marlon Vera, wins, only to lose in his next outing to Rob Font in a main event
One of the biggest disappointments in 2020 was how Sean O’Malley handled his loss to Marlon Vera. Yes, it appeared he suffered an injury but it was a direct result of a leg attack from ‘Chito’. They rematch in early 2021, with O’Malley edging out a decision victory. O’Malley goes on to face Rob Font in a fight night main event, only to come out with another L.
As of yet, O’Malley hasn’t fought any elite strikers. Yes, he got a knockout of the year contender victory over Eddie Wineland, but apart from that, he had a poor 2020. Rob Font is a phenomenal striker with a dangerous ground game. He beats O’Malley with ease, maybe even finishing ‘Sugar’ before potentially gaining a title shot in late 2021 or early 2022.
7 – Dana White lives up to his word and releases some big names including…
We know that Dana White is looking to release up to 60 UFC stars this year. This MMA prediction is that the names will include: Jacare Souza (five losses in last seven fights), Luke Rockhold (three losses in last four fights), Greg Hardy (shambles of a UFC career), Felice Herrig (0-3 in her last three fights, without a win since 2017), Jeremy Stephens (0-4 in his last four fights) and Robbie Lawler (without a win since 2017 and 1-5 in his last six).
8 – James Gallagher, Valerie Loureda and Dillon Danis continue to get knock over fights
Three of Bellator’s future stars will likely all compete in 2021 but will also likely continue to get winnable fights. You can’t blame Scott Coker for wanting to protect future stars but it doesn’t always make for interesting fights. James Gallagher, Valerie Loureda and Dillion Danis will all likely compete once or twice in 2021 against opponents that they’ll be expected to defeat.
Loureda and Danis are still early in their careers so it’s understandable that they’re being given ‘easy’ fights but this will continue into 2021. All we can hope for is that Bellator don’t give these fighters opponents that are ‘too easy’, but at least make the fights competitive.
9 – Israel Adesanya narrowly defeats Jan Blachowicz, drops back down to 185lbs and rematches Robert Whittaker
Although not confirmed, Israel Adesanya and Jan Blachowicz will face off for the light heavyweight championship in March. The ‘Last Stylebender’ has defeated four of the top 10 at 185lbs and a move up in weight is the logical next move. Blachowicz is 8-1 in his last nine fights, including five finishes. Although Blachowicz holds a huge size advantage over Adesanya, the striking of the middleweight champ may just be too much for the Polish champion.
Having captured the 205lbs belt, Adesanya will drop down and rematch Robert Whittaker. Whittaker is 2-0 since losing his belt, defeating Darren Till before dominating Jared Cannonier.
10 – Leon Edwards signs for Bellator and co-headlines a card alongside his brother, Fabian
Leon Edwards is brutally underappreciated by the majority. Yes, he doesn’t fight very often. He doesn’t ‘rock the mic’ as good as some other people. He’s not a finisher. However, his ability is undeniable. He’s riding an eight-fight winning run, including two wins in main event slots. Although he’s not competed since 2019, neither has Nate Diaz and he’s still a fan favourite… Edwards is set to face Khamzat Chimaev (at some point, the fight has been cancelled twice). The prediction here is that Edwards schools Chimaev, leaves the UFC and signs for Bellator.
Leon Edwards’ younger brother, Fabian Edwards competes at middleweight for Bellator and has impressed thus far. Both hailing from Birmingham, England, the Edwards brothers will co-headline a Bellator card towards the end of 2021.
If any of these predictions come true, we’re in for an exciting 2021. Keep it locked to MMASucka to keep up to date with everything MMA and see if these MMA predictions come true!
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