The UFC has been gearing up for the start of the new year with some great fights being lined up. A few title shots have been announced and a few cards are going to be back to back within the next couple of weeks. To pass some of the time, I wanted to make my own rankings of the fighters going into 2021. This is based on what they have done and where they are currently positioned in their respective divisions for the upcoming year.
10. Francis Ngannou
He is going up against a man who has beaten him a few years back and looking for revenge. This is again for the heavyweight championship, and will cement him in history for sure if he can beat Stipe. Also, the winner is set to draw Jon Jones for a heavyweight title fight in 2021 in Jon’s heavyweight debut. If anyone has the ability to beat Jon, it has to be Francis with his one punch knockout power. If he can beat two of the greatest fighters ever in the same calendar year, it will definitely make him a fighter of the year candidate.
9. Alexander Volkanovski
After edging out the greatest featherweight ever in Max Holloway twice, he will finally be able to fight someone else in 2021. Brian Ortega is a name that comes to mind after his extremely impressive win over The Korean Zombie. If he can get his hands on a big name guy like that and beat him, this can also entice Henry Cejudo to come out of retirement for the opportunity to become the first ever three weight class champion in the UFC. If he beats Cejudo, then he becomes a star in the sport instantly and has a huge career jump in 2021.
8. Deiveson Figueiredo
Having such a great 2020 in bursting onto the scene with potentially the best fight of the year, he will be set to have an amazing 2021 as well. The rematch with Brandon Moreno is going to be the first fight he has, and if he beats him decisively, then he will be able to call his shots on bigger names in the sport and possibly move up for a super fight at bantamweight against Petr Yan. He is cleaning the flyweight division out and making it look easy, except for Brandon. Look out for him in 2021, AGAIN.
7. Jan Blachowicz
For a champion to be this low, shows how talented this promotion is. He has the biggest opportunity of his career in front of him when he will face Izzy to defend his light heavyweight belt for the first time. If he wins that, he will have dethroned the king of the middleweights, and also be able to call his shot on who he wants next. Glover Teixeira is most likely the number one contender, but he is not the money fight that Jon Jones would be. Jan will have the opportunity to defend his belt, or possibly move up and take the heavyweight belt that Jon may be holding on to.
6. Conor McGregor
After the long layoff, he will return against Poirier for a long awaited rematch. This can catapult him directly into being a champion, if Khabib is staying retired as he says he is. This will give him a championship belt over his shoulder again, and he will be able to defend it against this stacked division. He will have a plethora of guys to choose from, such as Gaethje, Chandler, and Oliveira just to name a few. All big names who can help him become a potential fighter of the year, as if he needed another accolade.
5. Jon Jones
How can you have a list without Jon on it? He has made the move up to heavyweight and is all but announced as the number one contender after the Stipe-Ngannou rematch. If he can get a win over either of them, he will be the heavyweight champion and some have rumored him going back to light heavyweight to get his belt back from Jan or Izzy. Nonetheless, this has set him up to have one of the brightest 2021s of any fighter in the sport.
4. Petr Yan
He has now been scheduled against the number one contender Aljamain Sterling to defend his belt. If he can get through him, he will have a plethora of big fights to choose from, such as Cody Garbrandt or Henry Cejudo. If he can bring Henry out of retirement and beat him, this will sky-rocket his legacy to new heights that even a win over Jose Aldo could not do.
3. Stipe Miocic
As the heavyweight champion and a first responder, he lives a complicated life. He has to be available for his community at the drop of a dime, as well as train for the biggest, scariest, and hardest hitting guys in the sport. He has a rematch lined up with Francis Ngannou, which if he can get through him again, will give him a golden fight against Jon Jones. Beating Jon can take Stipe from being “one of the heavyweight GOATs” to THE heavyweight GOAT in an instant.
2. Kamaru Usman
He is the current welterweight champion and has a fight lined up with Gilbert Burns to defend his belt again. The reason I have him so high is because he has a lot of great fights to come if he can get through Burns, such as money fight Conor McGregor or any rematch of the top competitors such as Masvidal, Covington, or Edwards.
1. Israel Adesanya
He’s the hottest name in the game right now and he has cleaned out his division. He was given the light heavyweight title shot and if he wins that, he will almost be a shoe-in for fighter of the year. His career trajectory is off the charts right now.