The Next UFC Champion; Division By Division

danielcormier

What’s next? That always seems to be the most asked question in MMA. Whether it be matchmaking, event scheduling or whatever else, the MMA landscape naturally looks beyond the present to see what the future will bring. And nowhere more does that happen than with the UFC titles. So, instead of complaining about it I’m going to indulge it and pick out who I think will be the next UFC champion in each division. If you disagree with any of the predictions, let us know your opinion in the comments section below.

Here we go!

Women’s Strawweight

Current champion – Vacant

Obviously with the first ever holder of the 115 lbs belt being decided on the current season of TUF it’s a case of any one of the sixteen participants having a chance. From the second it was announced that the belt would be awarded this way, I’ve picked Joanne Calderwood as my champion – and I’m sticking with that because simply put, for me, she’s the best in the world.

Flyweight

Current champion – Demetrious Johnson

The lightest and heaviest men’s divisions have the most stable champions with the least amount of frightening challengers. Demetrious Johnson has basically cleared out the division already so rematches will probably be his biggest tasks. Ian McCall and John Dodson will pose tough tests but, for me, it will be third time lucky for Joseph Benavidez after he beats everyone else and forces another rematch.

Bantamweight

Current champion – TJ Dillashaw

For a division which has lacked the interest of fans for years it is suddenly about to kick into life. TJ Dillashaw, Urijah Faber, Renan Barao and Dominick Cruz, on their day, can all beat eachother – which makes for a mouthwatering 2015. If he can stay healthy, though, Dominick Cruz is, in my opinion, still the best 135 pounds fighter in the world and seeing as he’s the next in line for the title, he’s the next champion.

Women’s bantamweight

Current champion – Ronda Rousey

Lets be honest here, there is no woman in the world capable of beating Ronda Rousey. The next champion will more than likely be when the armbar-queen retires – which won’t be too far away in my opinion. There really isn’t any stand-out pick here but Sara McMann is my choice.

Featherweight

Current champion – Jose Aldo

If you look through the top six 145 pounders in the UFC’s rankings Jose Aldo has convincingly beaten them all – except one. The Brazilian will have a tough task against Chad Mendes next but the one man I see that can match or better him on the feet is Conor McGregor. If Aldo does beat McGregor in that fight, I still see the Irishman winning a vacant title down the line once Aldo moves up to 155.

 

Lightweight

Current champion – Anthony Pettis

To me, this is the most obvious of all the championships. Anthony Pettis is a tremendous fighter with the ability to beat almost any fighter in the world – but not Khabib Nurmagomedov. The Russian has the perfect set of skills to take out the American and once he gets the title shot I can’t see him leaving without the belt.

Welterweight

Current champion – Johny Hendricks

With the next two contenders already lined up (Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald) Johny Hendricks will have a tough enough time keeping his belt before another challenger can emerge. I think Johny will have enough to be Robbie again but I don’t see him taking out the Canadian Psycho.

Middleweight

Current champion – Chris Weidman

If the TRT ban hadn’t been introduced I would probably be saying Vitor Belfort here right now – but it has. I think middleweight is the weakest division of all in terms of elite quality MMA with Jacare Silva [CORRECTION: Souza, not Silva]and Yoel Romero the only two men on the up capable of giving Weidman a huge test. Of those two I think Jacare is more capable of beating Weidman.

Light-Heavyweight

Current champion – Jon Jones

The new 205 lbs champion will either be very soon or very, very far into the future. If Jon Jones doesn’t lose to Daniel Cormier in his next outing I don’t really see anyone else capable of beating him until he meets Cormier again. Either way, I have to go with Cormier as the next champion because of his ability to wrestle all-comers into oblivion. Jones showed defensive wrestling frailties against Gustafsson and offensive wrestling frailties against Texeira; if those still exist against Cormier – he will show them up.

Heavyweight

Current champion – Cain Velasquez

As with Demetrious Johnson, looking through his divisional ranks trying to find someone that can beat Cain Velasquez is a good way to get a headache. Realistically, the next UFC heavyweight champion probably isn’t even in the UFC or maybe not even in MMA. At heavyweight, nobody has the skill-set to beat a healthy Velasquez but everyone has a punchers chance. So, by that logic, the man with the best chance of beating Cain Velasquez is the man who can land the one blow which will knock him out cold. That man is, of course, Mark Hunt.

Don’t forget to leave your opinions in the comments section below.

Lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Co-host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Tuesday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma