2018 may go down as the most significant year in the history of MMA since 2005. Last year saw an unprecedented increase in the financial leverage of individual fighters. When fighters who aren’t major draws in the UFC can reportedly generate 8 figure salaries in competing organizations, it’s clear that the old rules no longer apply. This is great for fighters in the short term, but if the UFC doesn't adapt quickly, it could be bad for everyone in the long run.
15 years ago Russia was home to some of the greatest fighters in MMA. But the MMA landscape is always changing, and through the late 2000s Russian fighters virtually disappeared. The tides have again turned for Russian MMA, and it’s not impossible to imagine a scenario where Russian fighters hold 3 major UFC belts by the end of 2019.
UFC 243: Whittaker vs Adesanya goes down on October 5th, 2019 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne Australia. This is a huge card for Australia as it features two of its own countrymen facing off in a highly anticipated title unification match.
The UFC finally makes it’s long awaited return to the Middle East with UFC 242 which takes place in Abu Dubai, UAE on September 7th, 2019. This fight is “close to home” for the hugely popular Nurmagomedov who hails from Dagestan just 3500 kilometers away. Expect a massive crowd and a truly unique experience inside the stadium for this gigantic event.
UFC 238 takes place on June 8th at the United Center in Chicago. It features two titles fights at bantamweight and womens’ flyweight, plus a number one contender match in the extremely deep lightweight division. While not stacked with big names that a casual audience would recognize, this a rock solid card with fun fights going all the way down to the early prelims.
UFC 237 will take place on May 11th at the Jeunesse Arena in Barra da Tijuca, Brazil. As far as PPV cards go, unfortunately this one is on the weaker side. I’m really excited to see Rose Namajunes vs Jessica Andrade and Jose Aldo vs Alexander Volkanovski. However, the card doesn’t have a whole lot of depth beyond those two fights. On the plus side, with several older vets on this card such as Silva, Nogueira, and Penn, I’m afforded the opportunity to write about some true legends of the sport.
UFC 236 goes down on April 13th at State Farm Arena in Atlanta Georgia. As far as Pay-Per-View cards go this is a decent offering, it’s not the best card of the year, but it’s certainly not the worst. It’s a bit of a strange card in that it offers two title fights, both interim belts, and neither with a fighter ranked higher than #3 in their weight class. That should tell you a lot about the state of these two divisions.
UFC 234 takes place in Melbourne, Australia and is headlined by the middleweight championship bout between Australia’s own Robert Whittaker and the American Kelvin Gastelum. By and large, this PPV is pretty shallow card with only 5 of the 24 fighters on the card being ranked. That said, there are some interesting matchups, and often times the seemingly bad cards are the ones that end up being the most entertaining.