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9 Bold Predictions for the UFC in 2021 – Khabib to Make a Comeback and More

| December 30, 2020 6:47 am PDT
9 Bold UFC Predictions for 2021

In a sport as volatile as mixed martial arts, playing the part of a prophet can often leave you with egg on your face.

But after a crazy year, there are fewer things I have enjoyed doing more than making my UFC predictions for 2021. It’s fun to try and figure out, say, who will be the lightweight champion by the end of the year. Whether that’s interpreting how certain events portend what will happen, or trusting in logic and the natural order to play out, is up to you.

I’m not going to pretend that I can see into the future. Because I can’t. Still, I am confident that the following bold predictions for the UFC in 2021 will be, for the most part, accurate by December 31, 2021.

Khabib Fights in 2021

Let’s start with something that isn’t necessarily a crazy prophecy but is a topic that has polarized fans.

Will Khabib return in 2021? Put that to a vote, and some will say “yay,” while others will most definitely reply “nay.”

Nurmagomedov was clearly overcome with emotion in the immediate aftermath of his submission victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October. Did he make an illogical decision to leave the sport?

The Eagle declared that it was to be his last fight in MMA, following the passing of his father, Abdulmanap. Without the consent of his mother, well, that would be a wrap on any chance of him fighting in the future.

But Dana White believes that he can coax MMA’s G.O.A.T. back for one more.

I recently argued that Khabib would hold on to his title in my UFC champions predictions for 2021. But his final opponent inside the cage, if he does return, will not be a fellow 155-pounder.

More on that a little later.

Ngannou Knocks Out Stipe

Back in 2018, I made a case for why Stipe Miocic was primed to beat Francis Ngannou.

That night, Stipe put on a masterclass to drag “The Predator” to the scorecards and make him look a little amateurish in the process.

In August, I had Miocic getting a second win over the African powerhouse in my prediction for Stipe vs. Ngannou 2. But things change, and I truly believe that Ngannou will be the heavyweight champion by the end of 2021.

Stipe can be hit. We know that. And all it takes is one clean shot for Ngannou to dethrone him, which he will, by the end of the year.

Conor McGregor Fights for a Title

In keeping with my predictions for the UFC lightweight title, Khabib will end 2021 as the champ at 155.

Nurmagomedov has previously flip-flopped on the issue of the Khabib vs. McGregor rematch. At best, he has said he is open to the idea. At worst, well, he has no interest in a second fight with the Irishman at all.

But, there is a gray area where Khabib’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, has admitted that his fighter WOULD rematch McGregor, but only if he earned it.

This appears to be the more interesting take on things. But you must remember that this was Khabib’s perspective before his father passed.

So, if Khabib fights just once in 2021, it’s unlikely to be against McGregor. That means that “The Notorious” wouldn’t get a shot at 155, as long as the Russian rules the roost.

But what if the UFC decides to re-explore the possibility of a new 165-pound weight division?

Guess who gets the first shot at that title?

Usman vs. Thompson Happens in the Summer

I believe 170-pound kingpin Kamaru Usman will fight at least twice in 2021.

The first of these fights is expected to be a rescheduled title scrap in the UFC welterweight division against Gilbert Burns at UFC 258. The second? It’s gotta be Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.

Thompson is 37 years old and approaching the end of his career. But you wouldn’t have guessed that with the manner of his performance in an exciting win over Geoff Neal in December. I think Thompson can cause Usman a few problems and that this fight would be just awesome to watch.

Adesanya Takes Over at Light Heavyweight

Israel Adesanya has pretty much cleared out the middleweight division and has set his sights on a UFC light heavyweight scrap with the incumbent champ, Jan Blachowicz.

If you’re betting on Adesanya vs. Blachowicz going the way of “The Last Stylebender,” good. Because I think he takes the win.

Now, Adesanya is aiming for a super fight with UFC light heavyweight G.O.A.T, Jon Jones. But there is a glaring hole in his plans…

Jones vs. Adesanya Doesn’t Happen in 2021

Despite the endless saga of insults and the heavy beef between this pair, Jon Jones has put the best part of the year preparing for life at heavyweight.

In other words, he won’t be returning to light heavyweight for a long time. Unless he gets absolutely punked in his first fight at 265, which would be a huge shock, he’s hunting a title in a second weight class. And there is no one going to get in his way.

Adesanya will move up to light heavyweight. That’s more than likely where he will remain, as long as he has that strap around his waist.

Adesanya vs. Jones? I believe it will more than likely happen. But not in 2021.

The UFC Cuts More Big Name Fighters

One of my boldest UFC predictions for 2021 isn’t that there will be cuts, but rather who gets cut.

Now, it’s no secret that Dana White is planning on trimming the roster down by the end of 2020. But I think 2021 will see that trend continued, with some big names shown the exit door.

I can see former champions Junior dos Santos, Tyron Woodley, Luke Rockhold, and Frankie Edgar being cut. And that’s just the start.

Let’s put it this way — the UFC roster in 2021 is going to look very different.

Mackenzie Dern Gets Her Title Shot

Former BJJ superstar and current UFC strawweight #11 contender, Mackenzie Dern, will fight for the title by the end of the year.

Dern is a technical wizard on the mat and so adept at surprising her opponents with beautiful offensive BJJ. Take her perplexing accent out of the equation, and it is understandable why the promotion wants to see her fighting for a title sooner rather than later.

The Brazilian-American fights Amanda Nunes’ partner, Nina Ansaroff, in April. If she can win that fight convincingly, she will leapfrog Ansaroff and land a shot at the champ, currently Weili Zhang.

It won’t be a popular decision, and Dern will be battered by Zhang, but I believe we will see her get her first shot at UFC gold by the end of the year.

Khabib vs. St-Pierre in Russia

Yes, that’s right. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Georges St-Pierre in Moscow, Russia.

Can you imagine the scenes? This would be, undoubtedly, the biggest fight in UFC history. It would be the sports event of the year. Folks that have never bet on UFC fights before will suddenly be scrambling to place their bets.

Khabib has stood firm in asserting that a fight with GSP is the only one he wants. That alone is exciting.

In terms of icons, there are fewer fighters in combat sports as revered as UFC Hall of Famer Georges St-Pierre. The Canadian is commonly regarded as the greatest in MMA history and is a two-weight world champion that registered one of the greatest runs of any icon in the sport.

Although he hasn’t fought since November 2017, he would almost certainly be in perfect shape for this fight. It is the only fight St-Pierre would come back for, and I can see it happening.

If I am right about this, 2021 is going to be absolute lunacy.

And That’s All

I am genuinely stoked to see how many of the bold UFC predictions for 2021 turn out.

Rather than jinx the good ones by saying any more, I’ll instead leave things here. That’s probably the best thing to do, right?

But before I go, remember that 2021 kicks off with one of the biggest UFC fights in years. That’s right, McGregor vs. Poirier 2. Make sure to check out the latest UFC picks, too, as we usher in a new year in the world’s greatest MMA promotion.

If you are interested in betting on McGregor vs. Poirier 2 at UFC 257, I’ll leave you with some top-notch content to check out below.

Until next time!

Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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