Written by Timothy Lewis (@Scraptitude) — 02–06–19
Israel Adesanya vs Robert Whittaker
I’m already considering the Adesanya vs Silva fight a foregone conclusion. Even in Silva’s prime, he pales in comparison to Adesanya’s striking pedigree, creativity, and athleticism. That’s no disrespect to Anderson Silva, is normal. He paved the way for an improved version of himself to carry us into the next generation of MMA greatness. And it will be with his sacrifice that Adesanya springboards his way into the title shot MMA fans will undoubtedly clamor for. He’s already the best striker in the history of the sport.
Whittaker, however, is no stranger to dispatching insurmountable terminators. Yoel Romero inspires fear in a way I’ve only seen Anthony Johnson and the aforementioned Anderson Silva do in the octagon. Robert Whitaker bested him in a five-round fight on two separate occasions, not just surviving, but scrapping with all the fervor of a man hunting his own species. He’s an assassin, using the hard surface of every bone with lethal intent. Perhaps most endearing is his mental fortitude, which is equal parts humble and unbreakable.
In the end, “Stylebender” is destined for UFC gold. His capacity for fame is beyond that of Conor McGregor and Jon Jones, and his self-belief is not misplaced. Seriously, look at the highlights. Trained men are reduced to embarrassed piles of flesh. As elite as I believe Whittaker to be, he will come face to face with a harrowing reality facing Adesanya. He is not sculpted such that he will overpower and grapple the Nigerian, which means it’s only a matter of time until he’s on his back observing the underside of the jumbotron.
Yoel Romero vs Jon Jones
Powerful. Intense. Chaotic. Outstanding. Gut-wrenching. Remarkable. Action-packed. Magnificent.
Politics and exemptions aside, this bout could serve as a clash of athleticism unseen previously in the sport of mixed martial arts: the sport’s scariest man against its most talented. NATURALLY, the bout would take place at light-heavyweight (205 lbs), meaning Yoel would be noticeably outsized. After all, he’s a muscle-bound tank at middleweight (185 lbs). With little left to gain or prove at middleweight after two razor-thin losses to current champion, Robert Whittaker, this is the legacy fight and the money fight for both men. What makes this fight most intriguing is that Romero combines shattering punching power with the necessary explosiveness to close the range gap.
T.J. Dillashaw vs Henry Cejudo 2
There was no shortage of headlines pertaining to their first bout. First, there was the “most intricately executed weight cut in history”. Then we had Cejudo’s snake-smashing theatrics. Ultimately, it amounted to one-sided controversy following a first-round TKO stoppage.Cejudo making a statement before his showdown with T.J. Dillashaw
T.J. Dillashaw, the grand loser of the first bout, is an enigmatic figure among fight fans. His personality is a fat dog turd on the carpet, but his skills inside the octagon are beyond reproach. Before the loss, some were considering the bantamweight champ for position atop the P4P list.
Cejudo, meanwhile, is an Olympic Gold medal wrestler; a supercharged race car; a 125 lb titan. By far, he is the most credentialed, physically gifted, and skilled opponent Dillashaw has faced thus far. His obliteration of the champ-champ status seeker leaves a concerned fantasy as to what Demetrious Johnson may have done to Dillashaw’s depleted corpse.
The simple fact is that bantamweight (135 lbs.) is not a natural weight class for Cejudo’s broad-but-compact 5’4” frame. Even still, he maintains the most significant advantage of cage fighting: The ability to choose if the fight happens standing or on the ground. A rematch is imperative, but I see the same result, with Cejudo imposing his will to an early-round finish. Hopefully this time T.J. takes it like a champ, even though he will no longer be one.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Ben Askren
I know “who’s the best wrestler” competitions don’t tickle the fancy of casual MMA fans. What will is the personality clash we have here. Askren, a flippant American, has been running his mouth in asking for this fight. He’s also asked for a new 165 lb. belt to be invented for it to take place. Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov has asserted the importance of humility in mixed martial arts, with a willingness to perform aerial attacks on those who disagree.
Askren is best served in an actual UFC fight before he engages one of the organization’s most dominant and heralded competitors. An upcoming bout with former champ, Robbie Lawler will go a long way toward testing the Olympian. Nonetheless, this is a dream matchup. Both men are tremendous chain wrestlers who positionally dominate their opponents to the point a match between two cage fighters looks like a dad wrestling his child. Despite being in separate weight classes, with Askren spending his career fighting at welterweight (170 lbs), the two are similarly sized. This means if Askren wants to talk that talk, he should consider reaching out to T.J. Dillashaw for some meticulous weight cutting tips.
The central difference between the two is this: Khabib turns ranked opponents into hamburger meat while Askren plows his way through nobodies (sorry, Aoki). I’ll be pulling for the Dagestani eagle to cook this one medium rare.
Conor McGregor vs Max Holloway 2
Outside of his 13-second title-capturing decapitation of Jose Aldo, Max Holloway is arguably the best win on Conor McGregor’s resume. Now a dominant featherweight champion, the young Holloway was bested by way of three-round decision. Amazingly, it was revealed that McGregor tore his ACL part way through the bout, leading him to employ a grappling-heavy approach uncharacteristic of the southpaw slugger. Much has changed since that time. The 21-year-old Hawaiian prospect that lost previously has blossomed into one of the sport’s most impressive competitors. In fact, he has not lost a fight since. McGregor, meanwhile, has mixed publicity stunts with legacy-defining fights, ranging from a duet with Mayweather to his bludgeoning at the hands of current lightweight (155 lbs.) champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov.Max Holloway taking *shots* at McGregor’s The Notorious’ Proper No. 12 Irish Whiskey.
Recently, Holloway has gone so far as to vacation across Ireland and canvass for this very fight.
He’s all but cleaned out the featherweight (145 lbs) division, and should soon set his eyes on lightweight gold. What’s more? This fight has every indication of being a classic. The two are among the sport’s most gifted strikers, at the top of their divisions, in the prime of their careers.
I see a different outcome from the first bout, however. In what should be a five-round affair, Holloway has the advantage. His work rate, chin, and stamina all give him an edge against McGregor, who is known to fade down the stretch. I see a much-improved Holloway wearing down the former champ-champ on his way to a championship round TKO.