Tag Archives: Jon Jones

Fights to make in 2022 – Winner of Ngannou/Gane vs Jon Jones

After the absolutely incredible fight year that was 2021, 2022 is promising to be bigger, better and badder than ever before in the UFC.

There will be title fights, shocking upsets, incredible wars and new rivalries created throughout the year, but there are some that already spilling over from this year.

With that, we’re going to name you ten fights that the UFC should make in 2022 at some point to give the fans the ultimate fight experience.



By the time February rolls around next month, it will have been two years since we last saw Jon Jones enter the UFC octagon to fight Dominick Reyes for the light heavyweight title.

A lot of things have changed since then, including the holder of that title twice since he relinquished the belt in order to make the move up to heavyweight.

It was supposed to be Jones versus the winner of Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou, but when ‘The Predator’ turned the champ’s lights out at UFC 260 to become the title holder the UFC and Jones entered a stalemate in negotiations.

With Ngannou awaiting news for an opponent, Ciryl Gane quietly moved through the division with decision wins over Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC Vegas 20 and Alexander Volkov at UFC Vegas 30.

That gave the UFC the chance to make an interim title fight between Gane and Derrick Lewis at UFC 265, which the Frenchman won in emphatic fashion with a third-round knockout.

So at UFC 270, Ngannou will defend his title against Gane and the winner of that will firmly be in the sights of a returning Jones. For once though, there isn’t a preferred winner.

Ngannou vs Jones would be one of the biggest pay-per-view fights in the UFC today because the unpredictable nature of the fight. Ngannou has startling knockout power and if he is to make it to that fight, it means he will have handed Gane the first defeat of his career.

On top of his terrifying striking he showed brilliantly improved wrestling against Miocic, which is where Jones would be expected to have the advantage if they were to ever meet. With Jones gone for two years and considerably bigger than before, what will he look like in the cage?

If Gane is to win though, it becomes a gloriously technical battle in all aspects of MMA which would be just as exciting as anything the alternative could offer up.

‘Bon Gamin’ is 6ft 4 and chiseled out of stone. He has very quick hands, great grappling skills and knockout power, but it’s his composure and fight IQ that are beyond his years.

Jones would likely be more inclined to be involved in a stand-up battle against Gane, but once again wrestling is arguably where he would have the advantage.

Whatever happens at UFC 270, it’s the return of Jones lurking in the shadows of the division that make for exhilarating viewing for fans and would make for an amazing fight in 2022.

Make it happen, Uncle Dana!

Jon Jones banned from Jackson Wink gym following latest arrest

Jon Jones has been suspended from his long-time gym by co-owner Mike Winklejohn following his most recent arrest for domestic violence.

The consensus greatest mixed martial artist of all-time had another run-in with the law after being inducted into the fight-wing of the UFC Hall of Fame on September 24th.

The long-time former light heavyweight champion was arrested and charged with felony injuring or tampering with a vehicle and misdemeanour battery domestic violence.



Police were called to a Las Vegas hotel when Jones’ fiance alleged that he had grabbed her by the hair, but not struck her. She was seen with swollen lips and blood on her clothes and hotel bed sheets, which led the police to arrest Jones. He denies harming her in any way.

This was the latest in a string of offences in Jones’ career with the law, which he addressed in a statement shortly after being released on a $5,000 bond.

“I have way too much trauma to consume alcohol, my brain simply can’t handle it anymore. I will leave alcohol in my past forever.”

But now, Jones has been banned from training in the gym until he does exactly that according to co-owner Winkeljohn. The long-time MMA coach was speaking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour when he revealed the news.

“I said, ‘Jon, here’s the deal, man. You’re like my little brother. You have to stop drinking and fix these things for a certain period of time until you come back to the gym,'” Winkeljohn said on the show.

“So, at the moment, he’s out of the gym. He’s not allowed to come in the gym, because I feel I had to do that. Ignoring it and expecting different results, as they say, is insanity.

Jones had been training at the gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico since the arrest but separate from the team.

A statement from the gym’s spokesperson said;

“Jon Jones has been temporarily suspended from training with the Jackson Wink Academy team. Coach Jackson and Coach Gibson will continue to train with Jon offsite as long as he keeps his commitment to a healthy and positive lifestyle.”

Jones responded to the news going public with a tweet on his official account, which he has since deleted, in which he described it as ‘heart-breaking’.

“Had a heartbreaking conversation over the phone with one of my longtime coaches last night, really hurts to lose the support of someone I respect so much. Sincere thank you to the rest of the coaches for staying in the fight with me. Our journey continues.”

Jones hasn’t fought since February 2020 when he controversially defeated Dominick Reyes via decision at UFC 247. He then relinquished his light-heavyweight title to pursue a move to heavyweight, but he is yet to debut after financial disagreements with the organisation.

Why it’s time for the UFC to move on from Conor McGregor and Jon Jones

It’s been a while, granted, but Jon Jones and Conor McGregor are back in the news for their antics outside of the octagon yet again.

After back-to-back KO defeats to Dustin Poirier this year, with the most recent at UFC 264 ending in a broken leg for ‘Notorious’, the Irishman was back in the limelight for an altercation with rapper Machine Gun Kelly at the MTV VMA awards last month.

Jones on the other hand hasn’t fought since February 2020 when he was controversially given the nod in a tight fight with Dominick Reyes at UFC 247. He relinquished his light heavyweight title after that fight in order to move up to the heavyweight division, but payment disputes with the company mean he is yet to debut at the biggest weight class despite being named publicly as the number one contender to the title.

But Jones was back in the public eye for all the wrong reasons last week, when he was arrested following his induction into the UFC Hall of Fame for his fight with Alexander Gustafsson.

‘Bones’ Jones was arrested on a domestic violence charge as well as injuring and disabling a vehicle after his fiance was seen with blood on her lip and clothes. She told police that he “pulled her hair a little bit” and witnesses claim she was “scared” of potentially seeing Jones again according to the police report.

For both fighters, it’s the latest in a long list of incidents that have taken outside the cage that have put a negative spin on their careers in mixed martial arts.

Inside the octagon, their greatness is undisputed. McGregor was of course the first ever two-weight simultaneous champion in the company’s history and is their biggest cash cow, with seven of their top ten highest ever selling pay-per-view events featuring him in the main event.

Jon Jones Makes A Vow In First Comments After Recent Arrest

Jones is regarded by many as the greatest of all-time with a record of 26-1 (1 no contest), with his only defeat coming by way of disqualification in a fight in which he completely dominated from start to end. He held the light heavyweight title on and off for ten years, only losing it after trouble with the law, USADA or relinquishing it.

But there comes a point where there is a changing of the guard in the cage but also outside of it, and it’s time for the UFC to create new stars and faces of the company to send these two to the rear-view mirror.

McGregor’s aura has gone anyway, with three defeats in his last four fights and all by stoppage too. Fans are no longer watching him to see him blow opponents away or even watch him get his mouth shut, they’re watching for the circus that comes with him and that’s not good for the UFC.

Jones is a tougher situation because despite his close-run wins over Thiago Santos and Reyes, he is still winning. A move up to heavyweight offers fresh match-ups, fresh rivalries and fresh opportunities which fans will absolutely love, but at what point do the UFC say enough is enough?

Conor McGregor arrest: UFC star arrested in Miami for strong-armed robbery  and criminal mischief | The Independent | The Independent

As Daniel Cormier reminded everyone already, there is a code of conduct in the UFC. It’s just up to them to enforce it. It’s safe to say that if this was anyone not named Jon Jones or Conor McGregor then the UFC would have cut ties a long time ago.

Now though, they must make a decision. Carry on as if nothing has happened and just cash in for as long as they can on star names, or build up new mega-stars who can take over the throne as the top guys in the company and give them far less grief.

Israel Adesanya, Max Holloway and Brandon Moreno have shown that it is possible to be a super popular, mega star in the mixed-martial arts world and not cause problems with the law. The UFC are a big enough brand and entity now that they don’t need to rely on one or two stars anymore.

Cut ties and lead by example. Do the right thing.

Top 5 The Ultimate Fighter Seasons

The Ultimate Fighter makes it’s long awaited return tonight on Fight Pass after a three year absence.

Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and contender Brian Ortega will serve as the coaches to two teams comprising of bantamweights and middleweights, before eventually going head to head for the 145lbs title themselves at a later date.

But with season 29 finally upon us, what are the greatest seasons that have come before this? We’ve seen legends created through the show like Michael Bisping and TJ Dillashaw, but these five seasons stand out for me more than any other.


TEAM JONES VS TEAM SONNEN
(Season 17)

Complete Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 finale fight card and televised FX line  up revealed - MMAmania.com

The greatest fighter of all-time according to most people was a TUF coach once upon a time, lining up alongside ‘The Bad Guy’ Chael Sonnen to coach a bunch of welterweights.

Names like Uriah Hall and Kelvin Gastelum stood out the most, as Jones and Sonnen kept it mostly civil throughout the season – preferring to settle their beef in the octagon rather than the gym.

The coaches challenge was hilarious and there were some incredibly highlight reel knockouts to go with it before a fun finale fight ended in split decision. There was even a cameo by female superstar Ronda Rousey as she promised to make an appearance for one fighter in particular after he declared his love for her. It’s well worth the watch.


TEAM LESNAR VS TEAM DOS SANTOS
(Season 13)

The Ultimate Fighter 13 Ratings: Episodes 1 Through 10 And Finale -  SBNation.com

If your name isn’t Conor McGregor, then you have no claim to being a bigger box-office draw than Brock Lesnar in the UFC. The former world heavyweight champion was looking to bounce back after losing his title to Cain Velasquez and a bout with diverticulitis by taking on Junior Dos Santos.

It was a series that really endeared Lesnar to MMA fans, as it showed just how seriously he took his training and how incredibly strong his mentality to win was. He often talked to his team about “turning chicken shit into chicken salad”, rather than make excuses and it was something that many noticed.

Dos Santos had in-house problems, sending a coach home during the series for trying to take sessions over, while Team Lesnar had a war amongst themselves when a drunk Tony Ferguson made some crude remarks during an argument in the house.

Overall, the series was great entertainment with highly competitive fights and two coaches who wanted to win at all costs.


TEAM RAMPAGE VS TEAM EVANS
(Season 10)

Matt Mitrione debuts on TUF Wed 8/16 on Spike – preshow discussion of  football, injuries and MMA | Capital City Cage Wars MMA Events

One of the most heated coaches rivalries in the show’s history took place in season 10, as the heavyweights season reignited a concept that was beginning to dwindle.

Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Rashad Evans were fierce rivals in the light-heavyweight title picture and agreed to take part as coaches of two heavyweight-filled teams for this season. There was extra spice added to the show as UFC president Dana White made the shock announcement once the teams were revealed that there was still another contender – legendary street fighter Kimbo Slice.

Joining the ranks alongside the likes of Roy Nelson and Brendan Schaub, Kimbo competed under the UFC banner for the only time in his career. Add to that some very heated clashes between the coaches, including the infamous scene where Jackson literally ripped a door to shreds, it’s more than worth your time.


TEAM LIDDELL VS TEAM COUTURE
(Season 1)

10 bizarre, blast-from-the-past revelations after rewatching 'The Ultimate  Fighter 1' in 2020 – The Athletic

Where it all began. 28 seasons later and the first ever season of The Ultimate Fighter is still among the best there is.

Legendary names in the sport like Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck, Chris Leben, Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar and Kenny Florian all debuted in the UFC in this series of the show, coached by the just as legendary light heavyweight Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture.

It was the season that introduced us all to the craziness that was the TUF house, as Sanchez paraded around drunk and doing yoga in the rain while Leben showed us just how emotionally charged the whole process can be.

In the end, it also led to one of the greatest fights ever in the finale between Griffin and Bonnar that was so close both fighters were awarded contracts with the UFC despite Griffin getting the nod on the scorecards. Legendary.


TEAM PULVER VS TEAM PENN
(Season 5)

Photo: The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5 cast revealed - MMAmania.com

For me, without a doubt the greatest season there is of The Ultimate Fighter. Some of the most iconic moments in the show’s history took place as lightweights matched up, with former champion BJ Penn and Jens Pulver going head-to-head as coaches.

Names like Nate Diaz, Manny Gamburyan, Gray Maynard, Joe Lauzon and Cole Miller were apart of the series, where we saw the good and bad sides of the fighting community. From Penn asking the fighters who absolutely didn’t want to be on Pulver’s team and ten of the 16 putting their hand up, to a fighter being 20lbs overweight, to personal feuds spilling over into the octagon it really had everything.

Several fighters made it into the UFC and enjoyed long stints with the company but it was the season that made me fall in love with the sport and I expect it will do the same for you too.

Fantasy Fights: Francis Ngannou vs Jon Jones

It’s a fight that is bound to happen eventually with the way the world is right now, but that doesn’t make it any less of a fantasy fight as it stands.

The biggest and baddest of the big, bad men in the UFC Francis Ngannou is the man right now. The reigning, undisputed world heavyweight champion overcame one of just two losses in his professional career when he knocked out Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 earlier this year.

Immediately the conversation switched to his first defence, which many assumed would be against the consensus greatest of all time, former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

‘Bones’ vacated the 205lbs title last year after successfully defending the title for an 11th time against Dominick Reyes in order to pursue a move up to heavyweight. He called out Miocic for a fight, but claimed he wanted to take his time to put the weight on ‘the right way’ by bulking up in the gym.

Since then he has gained plenty of muscle mass, weighing in now at around 240lbs while looking far more powerful than we’ve ever seen him before.

Financial differences mean the fight hasn’t happened yet and won’t be booked any time soon, with Ngannou likely to defend the title against Derrick Lewis later this summer. But that just makes us wonder even more what would happen if ‘The Predator’ stepped into the octagon with the greatest of all time for the heavyweight strap.

Well the first thing we know is that if Ngannou lands a clean strike, the fight is essentially over. Jones has never been beaten in his career, apart from his disqualification to Matt Hammil, but he’s also never been dropped either.

He has a phenomenal chin, but he’s never fought at heavyweight before and Ngannou could well be the hardest hitting man to ever live.

One thing Jones does have to his advantage is his 84.5 inch reach, and he knows exactly how to use it. There would be a 1.5 inch difference between the two fighters, and Jones is well known for using his kicks too to extend that reach. He uses push kicks to the body and he will be the heaviest leg kicker that Ngannou has ever come up against.

When it comes to wrestling, you’d expect Jones to have the advantage too. He’s always been able to outwrestle his opponents, but even against Reyes it took him a while to really get the takedowns going. Ngannou showed hugely improved wrestling against Miocic in their rematch and with his natural size and power advantage over Jones, it’s hard to see how he would be able to fair any better than Stipe did.

If Jones did get the fight down to the ground, he’s much more of a submission threat than Miocic was. He has six tap out wins throughout his career and has even competed in submission tournaments to test himself out, so he is more than competent and would expect to be strong enough to hold Ngannou down if needed.

Ngannou is really good at closing the distance quickly to lands his vicious strikes and Jones’ footwork isn’t as good as it once was. Considering how much bigger he’ll be, it’s likely that he will have slowed down a bit too and evading Ngannou isn’t the easiest thing to do. Jones can’t just rely on his chin because he’ll get put to sleep, so he’ll have to be really smart.

He’ll have to keep that distance using his kicks, keep his head off the centre line and keep moving, using his takedowns whenever necessary and using all his experience.

It’ll be near impossible for Jones to get a stoppage on the feet, because he isn’t and has never been one of the more powerful guys at light heavyweight never mind if he moves up. Despite that though, I just can’t back against him.

He’s the best ever and while he’s had a couple of close shaves, he has that aura of invincibility around him still in my eyes.

Ngannou is the scariest heavyweight ever but he’s still quite early on in his career in terms of experience and I think Jones has the qualities to overcome him in a five-round war, gradually taking over as it goes on.

PICK – Jon Jones via Decision

Jon Jones and Dana White feud continues over heavyweight title shot

UFC president Dana White and former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones’ war of words continued following UFC 260 as Francis Ngannou was crowned the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

Ngannou defeated Stipe Miocic with a stunning performance to earn himself a second-round knockout, setting up a potential fight with ‘Bones’ Jones in the summer. Jones is set to move up to heavyweight after dominating the light heavyweight division in the UFC since signing with the company in 2008.

Jones has officially only ever been beaten once in his career, via disqualification after he landed some illegal elbows in a fight he was completely dominating. Since then he is unbeaten, first winning the UFC title in 2011 to become the youngest ever champion in the companies history. He had only ever lost the title by being stripped for out-of-cage issues including drug tests and run-ins with the law until he vacated the belt last summer.

After taking time away from the cage to be able to put the weight on for his move up the weight classes, Jones was declared as next in line by Dana White ahead of UFC 260’s main event.

Jones has always stated that while he is interested in competing with the UFC’s biggest fighters at championship level, the money has to be right for him to be able to do so. White intimated during the post-fight presser that Jones was using this as an excuse not to fight, potentially out of fear because of how scary the new champion Ngannou is.

After Jones watched ‘The Predator’ decapitate Miocic in the second round, he tweeted out “show me the money” to indicate his interest in a bout.

Dana White replied to this tweet directly in the post-fight presser, joking that if he were Jones “he’d be looking to move to 185.” Jones quickly responded to that tweet saying, “Go to 185? I didn’t gain all this weight for no reason!”

White followed up in his press conference by stating that it’s easy to say you want the fight but to hide behind excuses, citing Derrick Lewis as the next fight to make if the Jones bout couldn’t get done.

“Derrick Lewis is the fight to make, but if Jon Jones really wants that fight, and listen, it’s one thing to go out and tweet and say you want it, and I put on the weight and this and that – do you want the fight?

I promise you we can call Derrick Lewis or one of these other heavyweights and they want the fight.

“If Jon Jones really wants the fight, Jon Jones knows he can get the fight. All he’s got to do is call and do it. It’s easy to say you want the fight, but if you really want the fight, Francis Ngannou is the heavyweight champion of the world right now. All he’s got to do is pick up the phone and call [UFC EVP and Chief Business Officer] Hunter [Campbell] and we can get the deal done.”

Jones would respond on social media once again, stating his reasons for financial incentive rather than just glory.

Jones would go on to further defend his position, stating that it has nothing to do specifically with Ngannou being the champion and is more to do with his position as the consensus greatest of all-time.

The 33-year-old went on to add that he felt White’s comments were ‘disrespectful’ and a ‘slap in the face’ when he feels he has gone about doing things the right way.

It certainly seems as though this is a firm negotiating stance from both sides that is unlikely to find a solution any time soon without some serious talks going down first. Ngannou admitted that the Jones fight is the one he likes most and believes should happen next, but did also say that he is a company man and wants to remain active so will fight whoever the UFC tell him to.

With a July or August date pencilled in by the new champion for his first defence, there is time for something to be ironed out by all parties to find an agreement.

UFC Vegas 20 Fallout – Gane dominates but fails to shine

The heavyweight showreel is over for another month after back-to-back main events for the big boys and this time it was Ciryl Gane who came away with his name in the win column.

The Frenchman extended his record to 8-0 with a dominant yet unspectacular win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik, jabbing his way to a unanimous 50-45 decision win which saw no knockdowns in the 25 minutes it ran.

The pressure was on Rozenstruik coming into the fight, having only lost once in his career in a 20 second knockout to Francis Ngannou at UFC 249 in April 2020. He was the big hitter of the two and had stated he “needed to put him [Gane] down” in the build up to the bout. Instead, he was gun shy throughout and after the fight described it as the worst performance of his career.

Gane was hardly spectacular himself, earning the win but not many plaudits aside from that. The consensus G.O.A.T Jon Jones chimed in during the fight ahead of his upcoming move to heavyweight, criticising the performance of both fighters.

Jones took to social media to voice his thoughts saying, “these boys better get used to pushing the pace, all this standing around ain’t gonna fly when daddy comes home.”

Jones is expected to be the challenger for the heavyweight title against the winner of the Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou fight at UFC 260 next month, but Gane threw his name into the hat should something happen to that main event in the build up.

“I think the people like a man like me. Young, a little experience but I manage it very well. I’m undefeated. I think I’m only one undefeated in the rankings. So yes, I think I’m legit.

“So I want to say to everybody, yes, if for the [title fight] next month, if someone is injured, I’m here. No problem.

While he probably didn’t earn many new fans with the win over Rozenstruik due to the unspectacular nature of it, credit should be given to him. He is now 8-0 in his career and 5-0 in the UFC, meaning he has the longest win streak of anyone in the heavyweight division.

A title shot is probably premature, but the victory should see him enter the top five of the rankings and could potentially set up a fight against Alexander Volkov to see who could take on the winner of the eventual fight between Jones and the winner of Miocic/Ngannou.

He showed he could go five rounds against a top ranked heavyweight and nullify their attacks, but as he climbs the rankings those fighters are less and less likely to be as punch-shy as Rozenstruik was and he will be need to show that he can deal with that also.

Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis have heavyweight trail planned out

Take two for this huge heavyweight clash as Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis finally meet in the main event at UFC Vegas 19 this weekend.

The fight was originally scheduled for back in November, but was cancelled just hours before the weigh-ins after ‘Razor’ tested positive for COVID-19. The fight was scrapped, with Anthony Smith and Devin Clark stepping into the main event slot on short notice in a five round fight that was won by ‘Lionheart’.

After being planned for January, Conor McGregor’s return to the fight game meant that their prospective date was turned into a pay-per-view card and they were moved back even further once again but it has seemingly worked in their favour.

Since then we’ve seen Cyril Gane pick up a very convincing knockout win over Junior Dos Santos at UFC 256 in December, while Alexander Volkov was able to completely outclass Alistair Overeem at UFC Vegas 18 too.

With Volkov’s win, he moved into the conversation about title contention once again but both of these men have already beaten Volkov in the past. So a fight for him against one of them is unlikely, and he will likely fight the winner of Gane’s fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruik which takes place at UFC Vegas 20.

With the heavyweight title on the line next month when Stipe Miocic takes on Francis Ngannou at UFC 260, this fight has kind of created it’s own path for the winner because of the later date.

Jon Jones has already been guaranteed the next shot at heavyweight against the winner of that title fight, and with Volkov likely to get paired up with Gane or Rozenstruik that would leave the winner of this fight to take on the loser of the title fight to earn themselves a shot at the strap.

Lewis has fought for the title before, being dominated by Daniel Cormier in a second-round submission defeat back in 2018. He lost his next fight too, being knocked out by Junior Dos Santos but has since won three in a row. A win over Blaydes followed by a win over Ngannou or Miocic would almost guarantee him a shot at the crown next.

UFC Fight Night: Lewis v Oleinik : News Photo

For Blaydes, the story is different though. He has lost only twice in his career, both times to Ngannou, with the first due to a doctor’s stoppage for a cut and the second via knockout in under a minute. Since then he has won four in a row and had it not been for Jones’ move up to heavyweight, he’d probably be next in line for a title shot.

Winning alone simply isn’t enough for Blaydes, after coming under fire for his style by Dana White after he beat Volkov back in June. He needs to win emphatically and make a statement in the process. With Jones’ title fight pencilled in for the summer, a win here for Blaydes could see him either wait out until the end of the year for a shot at the belt that he definitely would have earned – or take out the loser.

Whatever happens, the heavyweight title path is very clear for all involved right now. It’s a waiting game mostly unless your name is Miocic, Ngannou or Jones – or you can make a statement to try and jump the queue.

UFC Vegas 18 Fallout: Volkov and Sandhagen stake claim for next title shots

The first UFC event at the APEX in 2021 lived up to the hype as both co-main events delivered with spectacular knockout finishes.

Cory Sandhagen fought Frankie Edgar in the bantamweight division while Alexander Volkov took on veteran Alistair Overeem in the main event of UFC Vegas 18, with both of the elder statesmen on what is likely to be their final run at UFC gold.

The 135lbs clash was widely accepted to essentially be a number one contender bout, with champion Petr Yan set to defend his belt against Aljamain Sterling next month at UFC 259. While many were expecting a close fight between the rising star Sandhagen and legendary figure that is Edgar, that is far from what we got.

It took just 28 seconds for ‘Sandman’ to finish the fight, landing a flying knee flush on Edgar’s chin and leaving him lying unconscious with a walk-off KO.

It was the second highlight reel knockout in a row for Sandhagen, after his spinning heel kick win over Marlon Moraes back in October on Fight Island earned him this fight.

While some, including the champion Yan himself, have suggested that former champion TJ Dillashaw should get an immediate rematch following the end of his suspension, Sandhagen disagrees. In his post-fight interview he made it very clear what his plans are, calling out the winner of the upcoming title fight.

I heard Yan doing an interview, saying he wants to fight TJ [Dillashaw] after. TJ’s coming off some of the most dangerous PED’s you can do in the sport. That seems disrespectful to the sport, and I’ve been working. I’ve been working for the belt and I think I’m better than Yan, so if he wins I want Yan, same as Sterling too.

Sandhagen’s last defeat came at UFC 250, when Sterling submitted him in just 88 seconds to earn himself a title shot against the winner of the fight between Yan and Jose Aldo at UFC 251 the following month. ‘Sandman’ is confident that if they fought again for the belt, that it would be a different outcome.

You guys have seen I’m a different animal since that fight with Sterling. I’m grateful he taught me a lesson but the next time we fight I’m gonna hurt Aljamain. I want to fight the winner of that fight in July, or whenever they want really, but I’ve got to be next for the title. There’s no-one else even in the conversation, especially after a performance like that.”

In the main event, Overeem was blasted by ‘Drago’ and knocked out in the second round after a super display of power striking from the Russian.

An early jab rocked Overeem and his strikes throughout the first round ended up breaking the nose of Overeem and causing a lot of blood and problems for the Dutch fighter. He came out for the second round but Volkov was too strong physically and too accurate with his punches and put him down several times before the referee waved it off.

While it marked the end of Overeem’s final run towards UFC gold, it marked the beginning of serious conversations around Volkov’s road to the belt.

With Stipe Miocic defending the title against Francis Ngannou at UFC 260 next month, with the winner already likely to face Jon Jones in the summer, Volkov’s chances of his next bout being for the belt are incredibly slim.

Dana White won’t want him to be inactive in the hope he can get a title shot, especially while the likes of Derrick Lewis, Curtis Blaydes, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and co are all fighting still.

While Lewis and Blaydes will meet later this month at UFC Vegas 19 in a rescheduled bout from last year but the fight that Volkov should be keeping an eye on is March’s bout between Rozenstruik and Cyril Gane.

The two are looking to build up some momentum to join in the title picture themselves and with Lewis and Blaydes already having wins over Volkov, his best bet is a fresh opponent. If Volkov can get a quick turnaround to fight the winner of Rozenstruik and Gane before the halfway point of the year, a win could see him position himself to take on the winner of Miocic/Ngannou vs Jones at the end of the year.

The title pictures of two more UFC divisions are starting to become a little clearer, which can only lead to positive match making.

10 fighters who will have a big 2021

Coming out of a year where the world seemed to stop due to the coronavirus pandemic, the UFC have managed to set up possibly the most exciting year yet.

Dana White has cut a lot of fighters from the payroll which has paved the way for up and coming fighters to make their way into the rankings. Dominant champions have moved up in weight to open up divisions and we’ll surely see gold change hands more than we did in 2020.

Opportunities have arisen and the current roster is ready to take them. Here are ten fighters who have big years ahead of them. Whether it’s new comers charging up the rankings or seasoned professionals putting themselves into the hall of fame, keep your eye on them all.


Kevin Holland

Many fans’ Fighter of the Year for 2020 and it is hard to argue against it. Five fights and five wins, which was a joint record in the UFC for victories in a calendar year, has seen ‘The Trailblazer’ race up the middleweight rankings into 10th place.

Displaying a wide range of abilities throughout his run has made people stand up & take notice. He now needs to build on that and this year could see Holland be involved in some big nights. But first he must deal with number seven ranked Derek Brunson.

With the champion Israel Adesanya moving up in weight for his next fight to become a double champ and the number one contender Robert Whittaker taking on Paulo Costa, Holland could join the elites of this division in 2021 with a win or two.


Jon Jones

Being knocked off the pound-for-pound top spot by Khabib Nurmagomedov didn’t go down well in the Jones household. He immediately took to Twitter to vent his frustrations and it was clear to see he wants and feels he deserves that spot back.

Moving up now to heavyweight after relinquishing the light heavyweight title, expect his next fight to be announced against the winner of the UFC 260 main event when Stipe Miocic defends his heavyweight title against Franics Ngannou.

Already considered by many as the greatest of all time, moving up and becoming the heavyweight champion sets that accolade in stone. A legacy defining year ahead for Jonny ‘Bones’ Jones.


Khamzat Chimaev

2020 was a big year for the Chechen but 2021 could be even bigger. After his debut on Fight Island he set a turnaround record of 10 days to get his second UFC victory and became a fan favourite instantly.

Now 3-0 in the UFC he will face Leon Edwards on March 13th, where a win will propel him into the top half of the welterweight division. He’s ready to fight anyone at anytime so expect him to be active. Only his potential opponents will stop that.

By the time arenas are full to capacity with fans, could the new star already have gold around his waist?


Israel Adesanya

Another man moving up in weight class, the middleweight champion has dealt with the contenders put his way so far and is looking to test himself at 205lbs in the light heavyweight division.

An immediate title fight with newly crowned champion Jan Błachowicz at UFC 259 would put ‘Stylebender’ in the small company of multi-weight champions. It would also set up a potential super fight with former champion Jon Jones.

Is this the year people start mentioning Adesanya in the G.O.A.T debate?


Lerone Murphy

Already off to good start after his victory against Douglas Andrade at UFC Fight Island 8, an active year could see Lerone Murphy get a match up against a ranked featherweight.

The Englishman likes to get his opponents out of the octagon quickly, however showed patience to win a unanimous decision on Fight Island.

He has a story to go along side his skills too, a survivor of being shot in the face twice earns him the nickname ‘The Miracle’. Opportunities will certainly come his way this year and he’ll be ready to take them.


Tom Aspinall

The only man flying the flag for England in the heavyweight division, the all action scouser can start moving into the rankings in 2020.

His first outing of the year is scheduled for UFC Vegas 19 next month against Andrei Arlovski and gives Aspinall a chance to test himself against an experienced veteran, who has been in the cage with the likes of Miocic, Overeem & Rozenstruik.

Fighting early in the year allows him to get another two or three more fights in and this knockout artist will surely give us some highlights in 2021 in return.


Yan Xiaonan

The number three ranked strawweight is on an incredible 11 fight streak in MMA, six in the UFC, and is right in line for a title shot in 2021.

By her own admission one more fight will be needed before that opportunity is earned, and a possible match up with the number two ranked Joanna Jędrzejczyk is one Dana White should be looking to make.

Whichever opponent comes her way, a win will see the possibility of a historic event. If China carries on their successful fight against COVID-19, imagine an all-Chinese title fight with current champion Zhang Weili in Asia, with fans in attendance. What a night that would be.


Manel Kape

Kape is scheduled to make his debut in the UFC at flyweight on the main card of UFC Vegas 18 and comes into the company after leaving Rizin as the champion. He also served as the back up to the UFC 256 main event between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno.

Another exciting young fighter who doesn’t like to leave his fate to the judges, he’s got 15 wins on his record with 14 coming via TKO or submission. An impressive win can introduce him to fans and set him up for a huge 2021.


Song Yadong

Nicknamed ‘Kungfu Monkey’, Yadong is on an impressive eight fight unbeaten run.

His first fight of the year is scheduled to come on the prelims card at UFC 259 against another young fighter, Kyler Phillips. With a wide range of finishes on his record, Yadong is someone who will excite people this year and can start moving up the featherweight division and will be keen to make up for inactivity last year.


Magomed Ankalaev

Magomed Ankalaev dealt with Ion Cutelaba twice in 2020 and after his opponent claimed playing possum in their first meeting, he did it in even more emphatic fashion the second time around.

He’s now on course to get himself into title contention with a successful 2021. The 11th ranked light heavyweight is scheduled to face number eight ranked Nikita Krylov in his biggest test yet at UFC Vegas 20 next month.

A win there and if the Dagestanian can be active and add to his 9 finishes, he can end the year knowing a fight for the belt won’t be far away.