We have already enjoyed one title fight in the UFC this year, with Kamaru Usman successfully defending his welterweight belt in style and setting a record winning streak for the division in the process.
As the sport continues to recover from the disruption of COVID-19, we have picked out the 10 MMA fights we would most like to see during the rest of 2021.
Potential title fights dominate the list and few are as fascinating as those where the challenger has moved to a new division.
Reigning middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is moving up to light heavyweight and will face the current title holder Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259. The undefeated Nigerian will have to learn how to carry an extra 20 pounds, and if he succeeds then he could set up an even more exciting clash.
Two-time light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is now looking to compete at heavyweight, but many are hoping his plans can be put on hold for long enough to meet Adesanya in the octagon.
The differing styles of the two fighters – coupled with their long-running feud – would make for an explosive combination.
In the women’s divisions there are hopes for a third instalment in the rivalry between Amanda Nunes – who currently holds both the bantamweight and featherweight belts – and flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.
‘The Bullet’ has lost both of the previous MMA fights but the most recent was a narrow split decision back in 2017 and both are running out of other credible opponents to defeat.
McGregor in demand
Unsurprisingly, Conor McGregor – still the sport’s biggest draw – pops up a few times in our list of potential MMA superfights in 2021.
A third fight against Nate Diaz – to break the tie and complete another trilogy – is on many fans’ wish lists, but a rematch with the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov would also be fascinating given the bad blood between the two.
When they met at UFC 229 it generated the most pay-per-view buys in the competition’s history and the hostility was so intense that it spilled outside the octagon.
The biggest challenge would be getting Khabib back into the cage, with the Russian having announced his retirement following his 29th win at UFC 254. At the age of just 32 – the same as McGregor – he surely has enough left in the tank to make it a round 30 if given a suitable incentive.
Khabib may not feel that he has anything left to prove against McGregor, but there is one opponent who would surely tempt him back into action.
A bout with the legendary Georges St. Pierre has been floated on multiple occasions and Khabib revealed that this would have been his late father’s “dream fight”.
Despite denials, rumours persist that this one is in the works and it would undoubtedly be a memorable way to celebrate the return to normality.
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