5 UFC fights we need to see in the second half of 2019
From two highly anticipated rematches to a grudge showdown involving England's biggest star, these are the bouts the UFC must book before the year is up.
Jon Jones v Daniel Cormier III
There is little left for Jones to achieve at 205lbs after his win over Thiago Santos at UFC 239.
The champ was taken to a split decision in that bout, but the tactics he adopted illustrate just how unchallenged he is at light heavy.
Rather than use his superior wrestling to dominate Santos, Jones chose to stay on his feet and against the most devastating striker in the division.
There are several young pretenders emerging at this level – Dominick Reyes, Johnny Walker and Aleksandar Rakic all look dangerous – but Jones should only have his eye on one man: long-time rival and heavyweight champion Cormier.
Cormier must first negotiate a heavyweight title defence against Stipe Miocic, who would also be a worthy opponent for Jones, but this is a fight that must be made if he comes through unscathed.
For Jones, it would be a chance to become a two-weight champion and solidify his claim to being the greatest of all time.
For Cormier, this would be his opportunity to avenge the only two losses of his career against the man he hates most, putting his name forward for GOAT in the process.
Get to work, Sean Shelby.
Amanda Nunes v Cris Cyborg II
Nunes is the greatest female fighter of all time. Any doubts about that were emphatically put to bed at UFC 239.
The Lioness’ first-round KO of Holly Holm means that she has beaten every active fighter to hold either the bantamweight or featherweight belts.
Her current nine-fight streak includes wins over Ronda Rousey, Valentina Shevchenko, Miesha Tate and, most impressively, Cris Cyborg.
The destruction of her fellow Brazilian to claim the 145lb belt at UFC 232 was a shock to many, and fans will be keen to see the two face off again this year.
Cyborg has the skill and power to trouble Nunes, and she will be desperate to wrest back the belt she lost in such spectacular fashion in December.
The 33-year-old is scheduled to fight Felicia Spencer at the end of July and, should she win, as expected, then the UFC must get to work on Nunes v Cyborg II.
The only other fight that makes any kind of sense is a rematch at 135lbs with flyweight champ Shevchenko, who is scheduled to defend her belt against Liz Carmouche on 10 August.
Jorge Masvidal v Kamaru Usman
UFC 239 was headlined by two title fights, but Masvidal was still the biggest winner on the night.
Gamebred obliterated Ben Askren with a flying knee inside five seconds to break the UFC record for quickest knockout and sew up every ‘KO of the year’ award going.
More importantly, the veteran of 47 fights is now the de facto people’s champ and nothing but a title shot will do next.
Top welterweight Usman is still awaiting his first defence and, with Rafael dos Anjos and Colby Covington tied up with other assignments, Masvidal could (and should) jump the queue.
The 34-year-old is one of the most entertaining fighters in the whole of the UFC and deserves a chance at the title after his lengthy run in the promotion.
Usman would pose a considerable challenge for the ‘Cuban Jesus’ and few would give him a chance, but Masvidal thrives on adversity and should never be written off.
Here’s hoping he finally gets the chance to prove that on the biggest stage.
Ben Askren v Darren Till
Five seconds. That was all it took for Askren to lose his consciousness at UFC 239 as Masvidal stole the show.
Instead of catapulting towards a title shot, Askren now finds himself back in the pack at 170lbs and, at 34 years old, his future in the sport is suddenly in question.
The likelihood is that Funky will fight on, and there is no better match-up for him than Till.
Funnily enough, the Liverpudlian is also looking to climb back into championship reckoning following a devastating KO loss to Masvidal.
This would not only be an entertaining fight in the octagon but, with Askren and Till already trading blows over social media, on the microphone as well.
The stakes would be high for both fighters – a loss would put Askren’s career in jeopardy while Till’s stint at welterweight would likely come to an end if he were to fall.
Everything adds up for the UFC here, we just have to hope that both fighters see it that way, too.
Jan Blachowicz v Dominick Reyes
Blachowicz reminded everybody of his pedigree as he welcomed Luke Rockhold to light heavyweight with a brutal second-round KO at UFC 239.
The Polish brawler has now won five of his last six, with three coming inside the distance, and will be looking to enter title contention with another statement win next up.
Another potential contender at 205lbs is Reyes, who remains undefeated at 11-0, including five wins in the UFC.
The No.4-ranked Reyes may feel he is next in line for a title shot, but the likelihood is that the UFC have bigger plans for Jones’ next fight.
That leaves both fighters needing one more win to secure a shot at the belt, leaving the door open for this fight to take place at some point this year.
And, with the power that both men possess, it is unlikely to disappoint.
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