Nader Assaf’s MMA Mailbag

Nader Assaf’s MMA Mailbag


Nader Assaf’s MMA Mailbag


Via Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Welcome back to an old series I like to call the MMA Mailbag. Today, I’ll be answering my Twitter Follower’s pressing question, so make sure to drop me a follow on there to be featured in the next edition! 

Matt, my man, where do I begin? MMA is more than just two people locked in a cage. It’s an art form, and a way of life for those who choose to pursue it. With that in my mind, who doesn’t love a good barnburner? Here are some recommendations to get you into the beautiful sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

2022 Fights: 

  • Gilbert Burns vs Khamzat Chimaev
  • David Onama vs Nate Landwehr
  • Glover Texeira vs Jiri Procházka
  • Matt Schnell vs. Sumudaerji

Pre 2022 Bangers & All Time Classics:

  • Justin Gaethje vs Michael Chandler
  • Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald II
  • Zhang Weilli vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk I
  • Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega

Individual Stars To Watch: 

  • Israel Adesanya 
  • Charles Oliveira
  • Marlon Vera
  • Tai Tuivasa

Of course, there’s many more but here are some of my personal favorites. Enjoy!

In all honesty, I don’t think there’s much that Dustin Poirier can improve at this point. He’s definitely on the tail end of his career, and with all due respect, I don’t see him even getting close to beating the current champion, Islam Makhachev. His best hope is beating another lightweight contender (most likely Dariush) and praying that Alexander Volkanovski beats Islam. Poirier is much bigger than Volk, and is a phenomenal boxer, so on paper, the matchup is intriguing. That is the only scenario I see Dustin even having a chance to capture gold, and even then, it’s very unlikely with how good a post-Islam victory Volk would be. 

Two of my favorite fighters sadly lost their belts this year in heartbreaking fashion, but I guarantee that at least one of them will win their belt back soon. Charles Oliveira is taking a break, as he mentioned on Twitter in regard to a potential fight against Rafael Fiziev, and right now, he’s in a tough spot with the dominating fashion Islam won in. He won’t win his belt back, if he ever does, for another year at this point. Israel Adesanya, on the other hand, regardless of what people say, WILL win his belt back from Alex Pereira, and should 100% get an immediate rematch. We saw an Izzy who fought with more aggression, almost knocking Poatan out in R1, before losing the fight with only minutes left, because he settled. Adesanya is one of the best strikers of all time, and I think that this fight is the spark that Stylebender needs to return to his early, un-conservative form. Book it. 

Classic, but great question from my man Evan, and in all honesty, my answer has changed. Originally, I had Khabib Nurmagomedov as my GOAT, but at this point, it has to be Jon Jones. As you evolve as a fan and analyst of the sport, you truly appreciate the legendary run that Jonny Bones went on. He is technically undefeated to this day, competing in a whopping 15 title fights and never losing one. The names on his resume include Daniel Cormier, Glover Texeira, Lyoto Machida, and Alexander Gustafsson, upon many more. If he’s able to come back and win the heavyweight title, there shouldn’t be a doubt in anyone’s mind who’s the greatest to ever do it. 

With the speed that this division is operating at, I still expect Francis Ngannou to be champion at the end of 2023. He’s an amazing fighter that’s only leveled up since his first failed title bout against Stipe Miocic, and was able to beat Ciryl Gane with an injured knee. Francis certainly won’t fight until at least UFC 285, and I believe he beats Jon Jones and/or Curtis Blaydes. He’ll be the favorite against both of them, and if healthy, will remain champion. 

Make sure to stay on the lookout for my next mailbag tweet and send in your questions to be featured!


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