2016 greets a rejuvenated UFC of sorts, armed with the momentum from some big fights and events. UFC 195, at least on paper, should help maintain that momentum.
Let’s take a look at some of the fighters I’ll be keeping a close eye on in 2016.
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5 FIGHTERS TO WATCH IN 2016
This guy came out of nowhere, then suddenly manages to fight twice within the span of two months, with his 3rd match already slotted for Jan. 30th. How many fighters can take fights that close to each other and perform well? With all finishes in his fights this year, there is nothing but upside for this kid. Everyone is already calling out for him, wanting to shut down the hype. Looking at the division, Sage could already be causing problems for several on the lower end of the top-10. Look out, lightweight division.
This guy is another fighter that can see title contention in 2016. Currently ranked #4, just behind Chad Mendes, I think this is a perfect time for Holloway. Mendes wouldn’t be able to use his wrestling with Holloway due to the fact that his takedown defence is amongst the best in the UFC. Frankie Edgar has the next title shot which, depending on McGregor, may be against Aldo. Then Holloway is right there for the winner of the situation.
This guy is at a different level this past year. The way he fights, his confidence, and his force inside the octagon is something that can bring in the topic of contention in 2016. I see him crushing Eddie Alveras, possibly a decision with a Fight-of-the-Night bonus. With Khabib Nurmagomedov, the jury is still out on if he is going to return, and that only leaves Anthony Pettis. I see 2016 being a great year for Ferguson. His hard work is going to pay off, plus you can never count him out of a match.
With the way this guys fights and his consistency inside the octagon, this guy is someone to keep your eye on in 2016 without a doubt. Now that he is in the Top 10, give him an actual full camp and he can really pose a threat to Thompson and/or Dong Hyun Kim. Unfortunately the Top 5 in this division is a murders row, but Magny can certainly make his way to the Top 5. His fights in 2015 were against some of the best, his most recent against Maia. Sure he lost, but it was a decision against a fighter ranked #5. He took the fight on short notice and still was able to hang in there with one of the best. Nothing but huge things ahead for this guy.
While most will say that McGregor has already done it, it’s not the end for this guy. He has the choice of defending against Edgar or moving up to lightweight against champ Rafael dos Anjos. Wow! Not only that, but McGregor stated in the UFC 194 post-fight press conference that he will not vacate his title, but wants to be active in two weight classes with two belts. Will that happen in 2016? We all know that Conor gets and does whatever he wants, and the company gained with all of his ideas. This may be history in the making again in 2016 for the new champ.
She has a single fight in the UFC, but what an impression this lady made. To go up against a veteran, ranked in the Top 10, and to lose via split decision. Incredible! The other thing that was remarkable is the fact that she is a kickboxing champion, yet didn’t use that, instead she used grappling. Used her grappling to win over a very tough opponent, and this all in her UFC debut, making the ranking list at #12. Certainly a fighter that, like Joanna, can use her background to explode up the ladder in 2016.