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UFC President Dana White is catching lots of flak in media circles as of late because he seems so intent on continuing to produce fights amid the coronavirus pandemic. Sure, the company postponed three upcoming events that were scheduled for London, Columbus, and Portland but remains focused on making sure UFC 249 happens next month.
Admittedly, I have no idea whether that’s a good or bad strategy for White, the UFC or even the world in general. If I were qualified to offer such advice about the unprecedented situation that faces the world today, I probably wouldn’t be writing about combat sports for Bleacher Report.
But what I am qualified to do is give White and his matchmaking team some ideas about what kinds of superfights could help salvage the rest of the 2020 schedule.
Like it or not, the UFC intends on having a wildly successful year no matter the circumstance.
With that in mind, here are the five best superfights the UFC should consider that would help make that happen.
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Fans have been waiting for this fight too long for it not to be included on our list. Both Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson have put together incredible win streaks in the UFC. Nurmagomedov has won all 12 of his UFC fights, and Ferguson has won his last 12 with the company, too.
Something has to give. Nurmagomedov seems like the immovable object that could reign atop the UFC’s lightweight division as long as he so desires. But Ferguson’s unorthodox fighting technique and strange ability to adapt to whatever situation he encounters inside the Octagon could make the American the irresistible force that ends up shocking Nurmagomedov and the entire world.
UFC 249 appears to be on the way on April 18 though it remains uncertain whether the UFC will actually be able to pull off its daring plan. Regardless, Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson has already been canceled four times before, so if UFC 249 goes forward next month it would offer fights fans the chance to finally see which UFC fighter is the best lightweight in the world.
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UFC bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo is technically already lined up for his next title defense against former featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 250. Instead, it would seem better to pit Cejudo against current featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski in a champion vs. champion superfight.
Both Cejudo and Volkanovski appear to be at the peak of their powers. Cejudo was the fourth-ever UFC “champ champ,” and Volkanovki dethroned Max Holloway last year with shocking ease to prove he belongs among the top fighters in the sport.
Cejudo vs. Volkanovski would be a huge matchup between two elite champions in their primes. While it’s not something the UFC would usually rush into making happen, Cejudo vs. Volkanovski is exactly the type of fight that would help the combat sports world take its collective mind off other things.
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Both Valentina Shevchenko and Weili Zhang are human dynamos who appear to be unstoppable at times. In fact, there are a good number of people who follow the UFC that think Shevchenko deserved the nod against Amanda Nunes back in 2017 at UFC 215.
And Zhang’s epic performance against former women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk has helped China’s first UFC champ muddy up the water in the debate over who deserves to be the clear No. 1 woman in the UFC behind Nunes.
There’s no doubt that the winner of Shevchenko vs. Zhang would produce a superstar of massive proportions. The winner would gain an amazing following that would rival that of Nunes in the sport, and the loser of the fight wouldn’t be hurt by daring to square off against such elite competition.
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Suddenly, Jon Jones has so many interesting and noteworthy fights ahead of him at light heavyweight that the UFC’s longtime pound-for-pound king might not ever seriously need to consider moving up to heavyweight.
But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t. Jones is already among the top two or three MMA fighters of all-time. In fact, there’s a good argument for Jones being the No. 1 MMA fighter ever.
But imagine if Jones added to his long list of excellent credentials the stalwart accomplishment of moving up to heavyweight to capture UFC gold from Stipe Miocic. While Miocic seems likely on his way to facing Daniel Cormier again in a third fight, it would seem better for Jones to leapfrog Cormier into that spot.
After all, Jones has already proved himself to be superior to Cormier. If he could lift the heavyweight championship from Miocic, he’d come close to inarguably proving himself superior to just about every other fighter ever.
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Pure violence. That’s what Conor McGregor vs. Jorge Masvidal would be at welterweight.
McGregor is 2-1 in the 170-pound division. He split fights against Nate Diaz in 2016 and stopped Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 in January. Still, there exists some reasonable debate as to whether McGregor can seriously compete among the elite 170-pounders in the UFC right now, and facing and beating Masvidal would end that debate.
But Masvidal has been on a serious tear. The UFC’s King of Swag has become one of the top performers in the company. Sure, the UFC’s “BFM” champion is due a legit title shot at 170. But the tremendous superfight that would be McGregor vs. Masvidal would trump Masvidal against Kamaru Usman along with just about any other fight that could be made at welterweight.