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Looking into the MMA Crystal Ball: UFC predictions for 2017 (PART 2)

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Looking into the MMA crystal ball: UFC predictions for 2017 (PART 2)

Following on from last week’s predictions for the year ahead, here is the second installment in predicting in what the year ahead will bring…

The Middleweight division creates a batch of hungry contenders

With the announcement that Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping is likely out until at least May, the middleweight division will see a host of new contenders gunning for Bisping’s title along with a real upheaval in the top 5 rankings.

Ronald ‘Jacare’ Souza will make light work out of Tim Boetsch and demand his long-awaited shot at the 185 belt. Expect Souza to sit out until the end of the year and wait for the winner of the champ and no.1 contender, Yoel Romero. Elsewhere, Derek Brunson will shock the world and brutally KO the G.O.A.T. Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva, this will also be the final time we see Silva in the Octagon as he retires in front of an adoring crowd at UFC 208, only to show up in Bellator 6 months later…

Speaking of Octagon retirements, Vitor Belfort will be outclassed and will tap to a rear naked choke from Kevin Gastelum, after a 20 year MMA career Vitor will finally hang the gloves up (or so we think), making way for Gastelum to finally show his promise as a contender in the Middleweight division and vanquishing all talk of him moving back down to 170. He will go on to pick up further wins against Hector Lombard and the aforementioned Brunson.

Chris Weidman will be on the receiving end of another devastating loss at the hands of Gegard Mousasi. After moving 0-3 in his last 3 bouts against some of the best the division has to offer, Chris decides to revaluate his entire MMA career – deciding to move up to Light-heavyweight, where he looks refreshed and revitalised at the lack of having to cutting masses of weight. Chris is once again spared no easy bout and meets a surging Jimi Manuwa, headling a Fight Night in December. Chris grinds out a decision win, but show cases some excellent grappling and takedowns. The 205 division just might have found a much-needed contender! Whilst Weidman’s move up begins with relative success, another former champ who has made the move up weight struggles considerably – Jonhy Hendricks is knocked out by a returning Hector Lombard and his career is put on hold as figures out his next move.

A surging and hungry Robert Whittaker dominates a returning Luke Rockhold in the summer, with the Kiwi warrior eager to call out his next opponent, Gegard Mousasi. The pair meet in New Zealand in the autumn, with a back and forth affair that goes down as one of the year’s best bouts. Hometown judging gives Whittaker the nod, but there would be no arguments had Mousasi snatched the win. Whittaker decides to hold out for a title shot.

Upon Bisping’s return he faces Romero, the build up to this one is typical Bisping promotion, lots of insults and acquisitions are thrown towards his challenger, which seems to rile up Romero. The bout itself will be fought out at 100 miles per hour, a frantic pace which will see Bisping hurt badly in the opening rounds first, as the champion struggles with Romero’s takedowns and strikes.

Eventually the fight will move into the championship rounds and in the 5th Bisping’s team will know he needs a stoppage to win, as he is down 4 rounds. Like a scene from ‘Rocky’, Bisping’s volume of punches and cardio will prove to best his rival, as the clock ticks down Bisping will begin to tire Romero out and a referee stoppage will see Bisping keep hold of his 185 strap. Bisping will finally meet his match at the New Year’s card, where a determined Jacare ends the night quickly, utilising his superior BJJ and tapping Bisping. A new champ crowned, but one with a massive target on his back as Whittaker and Gastelum look set to be the new breed in 2018.

Bellator snatch their two biggest UFC stars yet

In order for Bellator to be a viable challenger to the UFC, they must continue their success from 2016 into 2017. Bringing in top-level free agents including Rory Macdonald, Scott Coker ambitions become far greater than contenders. With the shock retirement of both Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort, Coker makes his play and announces their signings at the end of 2017. With plans to have the two square off with one another once again, as Coker announces a PPV planned for Brazil in February 2018. Another aging, past his best former champ, meeting another may not seem like must see TV but it has proved to be Bellator’s niche and it sets the MMA world alight!

Whilst the world tries to comprehend Vitor and Silva no longer part of UFC television, there will be no respite for anyone associated within MMA, as the most high profile signing of them all a Mr GSP signs with Bellator! GSP and the UFC will hit stalemate on negotiations and a court will rule his contract is now void. Coker will announce GSP to the world during a press conference in September and that GSP has his sights on both Middleweights.

The UFC will be outraged by this and look to seek revenge; in a world where WME-IMG is looking for new stars, they will seek out the services of Michael ‘Venom’ Page and offer big money to bring him over, lots of bad blood will be spilled by both companies, but ultimately the UFC will do enough to entice MVP away and so begins talk of superfights for the talented striker to discuss.

Jon makes no ‘Bones’ about it

After a turbulent 2016, Jon Jones makes his return in August, where he meets newly installed champion Anthony Johnson. Johnson who took out previous champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 211, is riding a wave of confidence of going into his bout with Jones and for spilt second he almost looks to achieve the possible…Jones is dropped for the first time in his career and has a torrid first round, but like a true champion he bounces back from the adversity, going on to become the first man to stop Johnson through strikes, showcasing some vicious elbows. After lifting the 205 title that he never lost, Jon Jones decides to set his sights onto new pastures and begins his march to Heavyweight supremacy.

Miocic breaks heavyweight records

It is a well-known fact that no UFC Heavyweight champion has been able to defend it more than two times, the belt has become something resembling a game of ‘hot potato’ since its inception, but given some of the talented fighters and monsters in the division it is no wonder it has proved to be the hardest belt to keep. This will all change however as Stipe Moicic shatters this unwanted record to smithereens. A rematch with Fabricio Werdum will relatively play out the same as last time, if only for a little longer.

Due to contract wrangles with the UFC, a new attitude will exude from Stipe, no longer the ‘company man’ he once was, and he will start to build up an even bigger fan base. In the autumn he will meet Cain Velasquez, in the former champ’s homecoming in Mexico. Once again for Cain, this will prove to have a similar outcome as has last visit to his family’s homeland and the unthinkable will happen once more…’Cardio Cain’ will be beaten at his own game and Stipe will shock the former champ and put the world on notice. The new ‘baddest man on the planet’ has arrived and he doesn’t look to be going anywhere, expect Jon Jones v Stipe Miocic in early 2018.

The star making potential of Cody Garbrandt continues to grow

Cody Garbrandt was involved in the talk of fighter of the year in 2016 and rightly so, 4 wins along with a ‘passing of the guard’ moment with Dominic Cruz how is it possible he can top last year’s achievements? A star making turn of the TUF series against his former teammate, TJ Dillashaw will set up a mouth-watering match during International Fight week’s festivities. Both sides will aim to unsettle the other’s preparations and there will be plenty of pre-fight scuffles during press conferences, but both men will put it all the line in the Octagon.

Cody’s power will be the difference maker and he will catch his former ‘Alpha Male’ teammate cleanly, become only the second man ever to stop Dillashaw. Like true professionals the beef will be squashed there and then, even involving both camps shaking hands and embracing one another. Dillashaw will once begin his climb to be given the opportunity to fight the champion again, whereas Cody will set his sights on squashing another rivalry once and for all, against the former champion Dominic Cruz. Last time round Dominic Cruz was able to show a lot of heart and a solid chin, as he was dropped repeatedly. This time around all that heart and chin will fail him. Cody won’t leave it to the judges and a beautiful combination will leave the referee no choice but to stop the fight. Cody will immediately get on the mic and call out Jose Aldo, Conor McGregor and even a certain Mighty Mouse.

Stay tuned for part 3 next week!

This article comes to us by way of @LeithMonz

A blackbelt in armchair combat sports banter, Leith is a passionate follower of MMA and Boxing...sometimes taking this passion to levels only a fiery Scotsman can; during his rants on the sports, resembling 'a slightly smaller' version of Austin Powers' character, Fat Bastard! A lover of the fight game since he was old enough to watch his first fight (Mike Tyson v Frank Bruno 1 if you must ask), he eats, sleeps and breathes the crazy world of combat sports, but hasn't ever considered stepping in the ring or cage...he is far too pretty for that!

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