TheODDSbible's UFC 2017 Predictions
2016 was an incredible year for the UFC.
Conor McGregor was submitted by Nate Diaz at Welterweight, before coming back and beating him by Majority Decision on his way to defeating Eddie Alvarez at Lightweight and becoming the first man to hold two belts simultaneously. He was then stripped of the Featherweight title and it was handed to Jose Aldo, who McGregor beat in spectacular fashion in 2015.
Former champions Jon Jones and Brock Lesnar failed drug tests before and after UFC 200 respectively, marring what was supposed to be the biggest event of the year.
Miesha Tate defeated Holly Holm for the Women's Bantamweight belt, before losing it to Amanda Nunes who went on to dominate Ronda Rousey for a brutal 48 seconds at UFC 207 in her first defence of the title.
In the midst of all that; Michael Bisping defeated Luke Rockhold to become Middleweight champion, Tyron Woodley and Cody Garbrandt finished the year as Welterweight and Bantamweight champions respectively, whilst Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Demetrious Johnson and Daniel Cormier were the only fighters to retain their belts for the entire year.
Not to mention, the UFC was bought for $4 billion by WME-IMG - setting 2017 up to be another outstanding year. Here's how we expect it to go.
Conor McGregor loses the Lightweight Championship
Everyone has an opinion on "The Notorious" Conor McGregor. Some like his arrogance, his constant, nonstop talk about how rich he is and his awful Willy Wonka suits... some people really, really don't.
Regardless of what you think about him however, you have to admit that he's a smart guy. He talked his way to becoming the first ever double champion in UFC history and if he wants to hold onto his remaining belt, he will avoid Khabib Nurmagomedov at all cost.
Quite simply: the Russian beats him. He holds him down, muscles him against the cage and more than likely submits him late in the fight. The entire bout will look like the first round of McGregor's Interim Featherweight Title fight against wrestler Chad Mendes.
McGregor and his team will want his first Lightweight title defence to be against Nate Diaz. McGregor knows he can (just about) beat Diaz, as he managed to do it in their rematch at UFC 202. The Diaz rubber match is where the money is for all concerned, and Diaz is a lot more beatable - especially at lightweight - for McGregor than Nurmagomedov... a lot more.
In my opinion, it gets to the point where either it becomes impossible to deny The Russian the Lightweight Title shot or McGregor believes that he can actually beat him and takes the fight. Either way, McGregor loses the Lightweight belt.
Once he's lost it, he'll swan off to Hollywood for a bit. A Swan seems a bit of an effeminate animal to associate with McGregor, but you know what I mean.
You can back Khabib Nurmagomedov to be the Lightweight Champion at the end of 2017 at 7/4 with BetVictor.
BJ Penn retires... again.
On January 15th future UFC hall of famer and one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time BJ Penn makes yet another comeback. There's a joke somewhere about BJ's and Come-backs but I'm not making it because I'm an adult... and I tried for about half an hour and couldn't think of one that was actually that funny.
Penn takes on Yair Rodriguez at Featherweight in the main event of UFC Fight Night 103. In my opinion Penn shouldn't be fighting at Featherweight. The Hawaiian has fought once at 145lbs before and has never looked worse, or been beaten more definitively than when he was finished with punches by Frankie Edgar in July 2014.
Penn fell for the old misconception that if your career is flagging, dehydrate yourself even more before a fight; that should solve it! Nope. Penn may very well beat Rodriguez. I don't think he will, but it's a possibility. Then where does he go after that?
The Featherweight division's best will crucify him, especially if he looks as out of shape and decimated by the weight-cut as he did in the last fight. BJ Penn is one loss away from permanent retirement, and while it's not a certainty (although quite likely) that it will come against Rodriguez, it will come shortly after.
It's sad, but that's life. I feel bad now... should have ended this bit on a blowjob joke.
Cain Velasquez becomes Heavyweight Champion again
Cain Velasquez is only ever one win away from title contention. He's probably the best heavyweight in the world, regardless of if he has the belt or not, and as long as he can avoid the injuries that have plagued his career of late, I see him winning a number one contender's bout and eventually the belt.
He's destined for a showdown with the last man to beat him; Fabricio Werdum, and I think this time Velasquez shows that the first contest was a fluke.
He'll finish Werdum via T/KO in the rematch and move onto the title fight. Whether the Heavyweight champion at the time is current title holder Stipe Miocic or whether a fourth encounter with rival Junior dos Santos is on the cards, as long as Velasquez can stay healthy, I think we'll definitely see the heavyweight strap back around the Mexican's waist.
Ronda Rousey officially announces her retirement from MMA
By the time this article is released, it may have already happened.
At UFC 207 Ronda Rousey, the pioneer of Women's Mixed Martial Arts, was beaten in 48 seconds. She had never looked more outclassed, never been more out of her depth and never appeared so dejected afterwards.
Her first career loss to Holly Holm over a year before had clearly taken it's toll on her mentally, and unlike Conor McGregor after his loss to Nate Diaz in March, Rousey was unable to show that champion spirit and bounce back.
She fell off the radar, refused to do any press at all and seemed a shell of her dominant former self. Rousey used to say that she wasn't going to fight for long, that she was going to retire early... and she was saying that was when she was undefeated and running through competitors in less than a minute a piece!
Now, she's been handed her arse twice in a row, in devastating fashion and there's no chance she'll have the desire or the mental strength to come back from that. She's done. She's rich. She'll still go down as one of the greatest of all time. She's 'rhinocerosing' off to Hollywood.
Jon Jones moves to the Heavyweight Division
From July, Jones will be available to compete in the octagon following on from his suspension. Don't be surprised to see Jon move up to the heavyweight division as he's always pointed out that this will happen.
Looking at the current light heavyweight division except for a rematch with Cormier or facing Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, what fight will peak the interest of what some consider to be the greatest fighter to enter the octagon? He already holds wins over the big names at 205lbs and will surely look to regain his gold and move up to try and emulate McGregor's two weight world champion accolade.
The problem is - Dana White recently said he would never trust Jones to headline an event again following on from the drama-hit UFC 200 card. But the huge draw that Jon Jones is, surely he could command a shot at becoming a two-weight world champion.
Joe Rogan leaves the UFC
How odd will it sound without the familiar, knowledgeable and energised voice of Joe Rogan down your ears during UFC events?
I always could never get my head around how the UFC would work without it's familiar trio of Mike Goldberg, Joe Rogan and the voice of the octagon Bruce Buffer, but with Goldberg being let go from his role following UFC 207 that he has held for nineteen years, it shows that anything is possible.
Joe Rogan no longer is involved in any UFC Fight Night commentaries with the likes of Brian Stann, Dan Hardy and Kenny Florian taking over the helm as well as international events such as UFC 204 in Manchester where the absence of Rogan was noted.
He signed a one year extension to his contract in June 2016 but I can see Rogan leaving his position and focusing on other aspects of his career. You will be missed!
UFC holds its first event in Russia
2016 - the year that the UFC finally made its dream a reality. Madison Square Garden, UFC 205 and it didn't disappoint.
As soon as UFC 205 was over, Dana White turned his attention to Russia and China stating that him and Ari Emmanuel would be traveling to Russia in the next couple of weeks also saying "I promise you this: when we roll into Russia, we're going to make it big".
It seems absurd that the UFC hasn't staged an event in Russia, considering the growth of Khabib Nurmagomedov and the sheer size of the nation that truly loves its MMA, with fans clamouring to watch other promotions such as ACB, M-1 Global and Fight Nights.
The UFC will probably look towards an arena in Moscow or St Petersburg to host its first Russian event which will mean that Europe will continue to be a major focus of the UFC with events in the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Croatia and Poland taking place in recent years.