More than a year after the adjustments caused by the pandemic, the UFC’s starting scene has radically changed in terms of its belts.
Only welterweight monarch Kamaru Usman appears stable, active and in abysmal dominance of his division, as well as flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, who has managed to be so convincing that fans are asking her to return to 135 pounds. to challenge the also unbeatable Amanda Nunes.
In the first seven months of 2021, five new champions were crowned. Rose Namajunas (strawweight), Brandon Moreno (flyweight), Aljamain Sterling (bantamweight), Charles Oliveira (lightweight) and Francis Ngannou (heavyweight) started the year with belt dreams and fulfilled it, but the most complex ones are coming. : the path of defenses.
With that in mind, we offer a look at what the rest of 2021 has on the agenda for each champion and UFC champion.
Straw Weight: Rose Namajunas
Rose Namajunas stunned the world with a spectacular victory against China’s Zhang Weili, who had a breakneck promotion to the championship during a 21-game winning streak, but had to wait more than a year to defend.
Namajunas, who was a champion between 2017 and 2019, thus became the first female fighter in UFC history to regain a title she previously lost.
Although it was anticipated for a moment that Namajunas would have a rematch in the first defense of her second reign against Carla Esparza, who beat her in the final of The Ultimate Fighter 20 in 2014 to be the inaugural 115-pound monarch, it was recently announced that Namajunas-Weili 2 official fashion at UFC 268 on November 6.
SEE: Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas (UFC 261)
Women’s Flyweight: Valentina Shevchenko
Valentina Shevchenko has been hell-bent on ending any doubts her critics have and is coming off a dominant takedown gig against Jessica Andrade for the fifth defense of the 125-pound belt at UFC 261.
ESPN’s No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter is scheduled to make her sixth defense of her gold against Lauren Murphy for the month of September at UFC 266. A win there will likely continue to add to many fans’ hopes of seeing her in a trilogy fight against Nunes. .
SEE: Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Andrade (UFC 261)
Men’s Flyweight: Brandon Moreno
Brandon Moreno submitted Deiveson Figueireido in June to make history and leave behind a rivalry that grew in 2020 and had a draw in their first meeting.
For the first defense of the first champion born in Mexico, the dates of November and December appear as probabilities, but his rival could come out of the confrontations between Alex Pérez vs. Matt Schnell and Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval.
SEE: Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno 2 (UFC 263)
Women’s Bantamweight: Amanda Nunes
Amanda Nunes has not defended this belt since December 2019 when she beat Germaine de Randamie for her fifth successful championship defense.
The double champion and GOAT fight against Julianna Peña at UFC 265 in August fell for a positive to Covid and now it is expected that they can find a new date before the end of the year.
SEE: Amanda Nunes vs. Germaine de Randamie (UFC 245)
Men’s Bantamweight: Aljamain Sterling
The 135-pound title is the most controversial today. Petr Yan appeared to be winning the fight against Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259 until the Russian made a serious mistake. A fragrant knee to the opponent’s head when he was on his knees on the ground cost him his belt and Aljamain a wave of criticism.
After neck surgery for the current monarch, the rematch will take place in Abu Dhabi at UFC 267. The winner of that fight would already have a rival in turn in former monarch TJ Dillashaw, who looked great in a close win over Cory Sandhagen in his first fight after a two-year suspension for doping in late July.
SEE: Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling (UFC 259)
Feminine Featherweight: Amanda Nunes
The 145-pound division that Nunes commands is in great uncertainty. The last challenger Megan Anderson is no longer part of the UFC and it is unknown when we could see a new defense of the GOAT.
Holly Holm’s recent rise to face Norma Dumont could open the door for a rematch with the biggest ever, this time at featherweight. Nunes, who stopped Holm in July 2019 with a memorable kick, has two defenses from the featherweight championship that he won against Cris Cyborg in December 2018.
SEE: Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson (UFC 259)
Men’s Featherweight: Alexander Volkanovski
Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega were unable to meet in March because of a Covid-positive from the champion, and will now have their highly anticipated match at UFC 266 in September with the 145-pound championship at stake.
Along the way, their rivalry grew after several weeks sharing the spotlight as coaches for The Ultimate Fighter in Las Vegas.
Australian Volkanovski are seeking his second successful defense of the UFC title, following back-to-back decision victories against Max Holloway. Mexican American Ortega earned a title shot by defeating Chan Sung Jung ‘The Korean Zombie’ in October after an absence of nearly two years.
SEE: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway 2 (UFC 251)
Lightweight: Charles Oliveira
The MMA world celebrated that a guy with Charles Oliveira’s humility and work ethic became champion of one of the most glamorous divisions when he beat Michael Chandler for the vacant title at UFC 262.
The most logical thing would be to see him face Dustin Poirier for the belt, but it seems that the ‘Diamond’ could be more interested in a millionaire fight with Nate Diaz or wait until the return of Conor McGregor for a fourth meeting.
Either way, Chandler and Justin Gaethje will meet at UFC 268 in November and that fight could define their next opponent.
SEE: Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler (UFC 262)
Welterweight: Kamaru Usman
The 170 have the strongest male champion in the UFC. Kamaru Usman’s growth is outstanding, with four successful defenses in the past two years to rank number one on ESPN’s pound-for-pound rankings.
After giving Jorge Masvidal a rematch in April, and stopping him with a tremendous knockout, Usman now opens the door again for Colby Covington, whose jaw he fractured at UFC 245 during his first defense. That rematch is scheduled to headline UFC 268 in New York in November.
SEE: Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal 2 (UFC 261)
Middleweight: Israel Adesanya
Israel Adesanya’s loss to Jan Blachowicz in his attempt to go after a second belt in March diverts attention somewhat from what he has achieved at 185 pounds.
The kind of fights “The Last Stylebender” gave against Kelvin Gastelum, Robert Whittaker, Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori (his most recent win in June) support the superstar status he has acquired.
A new fight against Whittaker is expected, but the intention is to do it in New Zealand or Australia, which has not had a PPV since October 2019, when Adesanya unified the belt.
SEE: Israel Adesanya vs. Marvin Vettori 2 (UFC 263)
Light Heavyweight: Jan Blachowicz
Jan Blachowicz inherited Jon Jones’ division without being able to face him, but he has shown that his Polish power is real, especially with the knockout of Dominick Reyes to win the vacant belt last year.
Blachowicz is scheduled to fight veteran Glover Teixeira at UFC 267 in late October, in anticipation of a future fight against Czech finisher Jiri Prochazka, perhaps the most exciting fighter in the division.
SEE: Jan Blachowicz vs. Israel Adesanya (UFC 259)
Heavyweight: Francis Ngannou
Francis Ngannou showed his growth and maturity as a fighter to take the belt from Stipe Miocic, but due to differences in his schedule with the promotion today we have an interim monarch in Ciryl Gane.
The Frenchman was a partner of Ngannou and has a technique rarely seen at heavyweight that generates great expectations. The UFC will seek to unify the heavyweight championship before the end of the year or in early 2022.
SEE: Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou 2 (UFC 260)