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Publisher EA Sports will turn the excitement up a notch for MMA fans when they share the first official look at UFC 4 this weekend. Speculation over the existence of a new entry in the franchise emerged when a website for UFC 4's beta popped up in June. That's not to mention rumours circulating that Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury could follow in the same footsteps as boxing legend Mike Tyson and appear in EA Sports' UFC series.
One thing that is certain at this point is that UFC 4 will debut at the highly anticipated UFC 251 on 11th July. EA Sports' last instalment in the series, UFC 3, was released back in 2018 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with Irish superstar Conor McGregor featuring on the cover. UFC 4 will no doubt land on PS4 and Xbox One, but the series could likely debut on the upcoming Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 later this year. There is no doubt that UFC 4 will see some major changes, including a new cover star (maybe even two, who knows?) and updated ratings since UFC 3.
SPORTbible has now decided to take a look at the 10 fighters, both male and female, who will top UFC 4's roster for overall stats. It's worth remembering that our list looks across the whole of the UFC and not a particular division. With that being said, fighters could appear in more than one weight class in UFC 4 as they did in UFC 3, but we're going to focus on giving them their best overall in the division that they perform in now ahead of the title's release.
10. Zhang Weili
Zhang Weili went from losing her first professional MMA bout in 2013 to going on a 21-fight winning streak and becoming the UFC women's strawweight champion. If that isn't impressive, then nothing really is. Full credit has to be handed down to the 30-year-old Chinese MMA star for her accomplishments inside the octagon. Not only has she maintained a seven-year undefeated streak, but she delivered a memorable performance in a fight that is an early contender for the best MMA clash of 2020. That's right, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Weili went to war at UFC 248 in the co-main event slot and blew MMA fans away with their performances. Weili managed to successfully defend the title for the first time thanks to a split-decision victory in March, but it proved there is plenty of exciting things left to see from her reign as strawweight champ.
UFC 3 overall: N/A
UFC 4 prediction: 90 rating
Just like some of the other names on this list, Alexander Volkanovski didn't make the UFC 3 roster in 2018. But the 31-year-old UFC star has since been ranked as one of the best MMA fighters in the world right now. Volkanovski, who hasn't lost an MMA fight since 2013, remains undefeated in UFC and captured the featherweight championship in his last clash against Max Holloway. The 'Great' is currently scheduled to defend his title against Holloway in a rematch on 11th July at UFC 251. Should Volkanovski secure back-to-back victories over Holloway, his high rating in UFC 4 will pretty much be secured ahead of the title's release.
UFC 3 overall: N/A
UFC 4 prediction: 90.25 rating
Look, it might seem harsh to leave Justin Gaethje out of the top 10 after his stunning upset against Tony Ferguson, but it's not a strong enough reason to see 'El Cucuy' bumped off this list. Ferguson might have lost to Gaethje at UFC 249 in May for the interim lightweight championship, but he remains one of the best fighters in the business. Let's not forget that the 36-year-old UFC star was undefeated for eight years and was on a 12-fight winning streak going into the Gaethje clash. That's not to mention that he held the interim lightweight championship, only to be stripped of that title-fight opportunity due to injury.
What probably hurts more for Ferguson than his eight-year winning streak coming to an end was his mega-fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov falling through an extraordinary five times. Just when it seemed that UFC finally had one of the most hotly anticipated fights locked in for 2020, the coronavirus pandemic struck and 'El Cucuy' took on Gaethje instead. Even though the shine might be taken away now from a future fight with Khabib, Ferguson's attitude and desire to still face the 'Eagle' proves his warrior mentality is still going strong. Not only has his bizarre training methods baffled fans, but also his eccentric style has puzzled many opponents that have faced him in the octagon. Ferguson's loss to Gaethje will probably see him drop from his UFC 3 rating, but 'El Cucuy' still deserves to be ranked amongst the best in UFC 4.
UFC 3 overall: 91.5 average based on his four key stats
UFC 4 prediction: 90.5 rating
Israel Adesanya has not only impressed with his skills inside the octagon, but the UFC star also knows how to pull off a brilliant walkout for his fights. The 30-year-old Nigerian-born fighter arrived in Dana White's MMA organisation not long after UFC 3's release, meaning that he missed out on a place in the title's roster. But there's no question that the undefeated Adesanya will rank quite highly in his debut in the EA Sports series. The 'Last Stylebender,' who holds an unblemished MMA record, has wasted no time in climbing the middleweight rankings in UFC.
Adesanya secured victories over the likes of Kelvin Gastelum and UFC legend Anderson Silva en route to capturing the middleweight championship against Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 in October 2019. While 'Izzy' kicked off his title defence in a lacklustre showdown against Yoel Romero at UFC 248 back in March, it's not enough to dampen what he has achieved in UFC in two years. UFC president White has since confirmed that Adesanya will return to action against Paulo Costa, with the middleweight champ no doubt wanting to leave behind the criticism from the Romero fight. There's an exciting future for the 'Last Stylebender' in UFC, especially with his heated rivalry with UFC legend Jon Jones and the idea of setting up a super-fight between the pair.
UFC 3 overall: N/A
UFC 4 prediction: 90.75 rating
6. Kamaru Usman
Kamaru Usman, who hasn't lost since his defeat to Jose Caceres in 2013, could establish a dominant reign in the welterweight division. The 33-year-old Nigerian-American was rated highly in UFC 3, but he has since added a title to his name when he defeated Tyron Woodley for the welterweight championship at UFC 235 in 2019. The 'Nigerian Nightmare' kicked off his title reign in style with a fifth-round TKO victory over Colby Covington at UFC 245 last December. There was clearly no love lost between Usman and the outspoken Covington in the build up to their fight. And there's no denying Usman taught 'Chaos' a brutal lesson when he managed to deliver a devastating shot in the third round and broke Covington's jaw.
Usman was scheduled to make his second title defence against Gilbert Burns at UFC 251, but his opponent was pulled out of the fight after testing positive for coronavirus. It's hardly surprising that the UFC star's impressive wrestling style and fighting ability has attracted interest from other MMA fighters. Conor McGregor had teased that Usman could have been a potential opponent for him in the future before he made his sudden MMA retirement last month. That's not to mention Jorge Masvidal, who will now take up Burns' vacant spot to face Usman in a super-fight at UFC 251. Either way, Usman's reputation and the carnage of bodies that he has left inside the octagon will most likely put him on a high rating in UFC 4.
UFC 3 overall: 90 average based on his four key stats
UFC 4 prediction: 91 rating
5. Stipe Miocic
Stipe Miocic was in a very comfortable position when UFC 3 hit retail shelves in 2018. The 37-year-old UFC star had defended the heavyweight championship three times, which included victories over MMA veteran Alistair Overeem and the destructive Francis Ngannou. But Miocic would lose the heavyweight championship crown when he stepped into the octagon with Daniel Cormier at UFC 226 in July 2018. The Croatian-American fighter might have been considered the favourite by many fans going into the bout, but 'DC' stunned the MMA world by scoring a sensational first-round knockout victory.
Miocic has since bounced back and shown why he once again reigns top of the heavyweight division after his victory over Cormier in the rematch. The two-time heavyweight champ clashed with 'DC' at UFC 241 in August 2019 and secured a TKO victory in the fourth round, allowing him to regain the title that he had lost the previous year. Miocic hasn't fought since his rematch with 'DC,' but he will return to complete his trilogy of fights with the UFC legend on 15th August at UFC 252. While his final rating could ultimately hinge on if he walks out with the championship crown, Miocic is currently in a strong enough position to make him one of the top fighters in UFC 4.
UFC 3 overall: 90.75 average based on his four key stats
UFC 4 prediction: 91.25 rating
Just like many other UFC stars on this list, irrespective of male or female, Valentina Shevchenko is without question one of the best MMA fighters in the world right now. The 32-year-old, whose only UFC defeats came at the hands of Amanda Nunes, has strengthened her rule over the flyweight division since UFC 3's launch. In fact, Shevchenko returned to flyweight with a victory over Priscila Cachoeira and then challenged for the title against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in late 2018. The UFC star picked up a unanimous decision victory over Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231 and captured the then-vacant women's flyweight championship.
Shevchenko's first successful title defence against Jessica Eye at UFC 238 had her pull off a victory in stunning fashion. The Kyrgyzstani-born Peruvian fighter stopped Eye in the second round with a speculator head-kick knockout. With the additional title defences against Liz Carmouche and Katlyn Chookagian in 2019 and 2020 respectively, Shevchenko is a dominant force in the women's division. Shevchenko has also had highlights outside of the octagon, namely her hilarious rivalry with former UFC star Henry Cejudo. However, it would be criminal for 'Bullet' not to receive a slight upgrade with what she has accomplished in the last two years.
UFC 3 overall: 91 average based on her four key stats
UFC 4 prediction: 91.5 rating
3. Amanda Nunes
What can honestly be said about Amanda Nunes that hasn't already been said? The 32-year-old Brazilian UFC star has not only beaten several top female fighters, but she has destroyed so many of them en route to cementing her legacy as one of the best to have ever stepped inside the octagon. Valentina Shevchenko? Check (twice). Miesha Tate? Check. Ronda Rousey? Check. Cris Cyborg? Check. Holly Holm? Check. You only need to name all of the aforementioned female athletes to understand why Nunes lives up to her nickname of the 'Lioness.'
If any further validation for Nunes' third-placed position were needed on this list, then one only needs to look at what she has achieved since UFC 3's release. Nunes destroyed Cyborg in the first round at UFC 232 in December 2018 and, in the process, became the first woman to become a two-division UFC champion. Holm, who handed UFC legend Rousey her first MMA defeat, was another name that Nunes chalked up on her first-round victory list last year.
Nunes, who is top of the women's pound-for-pound rankings, has rightfully been lauded for her impact in the MMA world. UFC president Dana White revealed that the 'Lioness' would take her place on his 'MMA Mount Rushmore.' Despite the first successful defence of the UFC women's featherweight championship against Felicia Spencer at UFC 250, Nunes hasn't ruled out the possibility of making a shock retirement. Even White admitted that he would be furious if the UFC star made that decision, mainly for how he wants a featherweight division "built for her." Whatever the future might hold for Nunes, she is in a comfortable position for UFC 4's launch: she will most likely be the highest-rated female fighter.
UFC 3 overall: 91 average based on her four key stats
UFC 4 prediction: 92.25 rating
Khabib Nurmagomedov's manager, Ali Abdelaziz, has made his feelings clear about the 'Eagle' being snubbed for the UFC 4 cover. However, there is no denying that the 31-year-old UFC lightweight champ will be one of the highest-rated fighters in EA Sports' forthcoming title. Khabib's unblemished MMA record, coupled with his incredible ability to verbally torment opponents inside the octagon, has made him a true force to be reckoned with in the UFC.
Following UFC 3's release, Khabib ascended to the top of the lightweight division by beating Al Iaquinta for the title at UFC 223 in April 2018. The undefeated MMA Russian superstar has since had a memorable feud with fierce rival Conor McGregor and walked away with the ultimate bragging rights from their heated UFC 229 clash. However, not even that blockbuster fight was enough to end their rivalry and Khabib hasn't wasted the chance to hit back at the 'Notorious' when the opportunity presents itself.
Khabib has been out of action since he defeated Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in September 2019 and successfully defended and unified the lightweight championship. UFC attempted to book a mega-fight between the 'Eagle' and Tony Ferguson for the fifth time, but the April clash fell through due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Khabib's most likely return is expected in September against interim lightweight champ Justin Gaethje, but those plans could be pushed back after the untimely death of his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. Khabib's accomplishments so far and his undefeated status will no doubt earn him the rating he truly deserves in UFC 4.
UFC 3 overall: 91.25 average based on his four key stats
UFC 4 prediction: 92.5 average rating
1. Jon Jones
There's no questioning Jon Jones' brilliance inside the octagon at this point. The 32-year-old MMA legend has carved through the light heavyweight division and remains top of UFC's pound-for-pound rankings. Just before the release of UFC 3, Jones had defeated fierce rival Daniel Cormier for the second time at UFC 214, a result that would later be overturned as 'no contest' after he tested positive for turinabol.
The future UFC Hall of Famer might have been stripped of the light heavyweight championship after the second 'DC' fight, but he returned in late 2018 to defeat Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 and regain the title. Jones has since beaten the likes of Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos at UFC 235 and UFC 239 respectively, with his most recent victory coming against Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 back in February. Even UFC president Dana White has since come out and said that there is "no debate" that 'Bones' is the best fighter in MMA history.
What does the future hold for Jones? Will he make his long-awaited climb up to heavyweight? Will he become a dual champ before the end of his career? Will there be an MMA fighter who can do the unthinkable and hand Jones his first clean professional loss? While those are some of the burning questions left to be answered, there is no question in our mind that Jones should be named the highest-rated fighter in UFC 4.
UFC 3 overall: 92.25 average based on his four key stats
UFC 4 prediction: 93.5 average rating
Featured Image Credit: PA
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