2018 was an outstanding year for champions. Now that 2019 has begun we are left to wonder who will become champion once this year is finished. Tough call, but here are some fighters I believe will be holding gold by the end of the year.
My prediction: Tatiana Suarez becomes champion
Why: There is no better grappler with cardio than Tatiana Suarez. Her mix of jiu-jitsu and wrestling has earned her the title, “The Khabib Nurmagomedov of the Strawweights.” Not to mention her Muay Thai which only adds to her dominant performances giving her massive ground-and-pound. From all her techniques she looks to capture gold in the new year and be the next dominant champion.
My prediction: Valentina Shevchenko remains champion.
Why: The flyweight is stacked with competition; none can compare to the athleticism of Valentina Shevchenko. Her Muay Thai and taekwondo are out of this world and always give her great advantages over her opponents. Adding in her judo she becomes even more dangerous with a series of grappling and ground-and-pound techniques. Yes, the division is still brand-new to the organization; it does not appear anyone will be dethroning her anytime soon.
BANTAMWEIGHT & FEATHERWEIGHT
My prediction: Amanda Nunes remains champion.
Why: Amanda Nunes has been on a role since capturing the title back in 2016. Despite suffering some weight cut issues she always brings aggressive knockout power and beast-like ground-and-pound. Not many can survive her power. The ones who can will be eaten alive from every ounce of aggression she brings to fuel her fire. 2019 will be another great year for the “Lioness” to keep her crown as queen of the bantamweights and featherweights.
My prediction: T.J. Dillashaw becomes champion.
Why: Already the reigning bantamweight champion, Dillashaw looks to become the third/fourth two-division champion. He will do that with his Muay Thai and wrestling. Even with the Olympic wrestling Henry Cejudo possesses, Dillashaw will be able to out strike him while inflicting intense damage. On the downside, I believe once capturing the title the organization will see an end to the division. But hey, it was fun while it lasted.
My prediction: T.J. Dillashaw remains champion.
Why: The striking power and wrestling ability of T.J. Dillashaw are none like any bantamweight possesses. He always brings power and speed with his techniques making him highly dangerous. Not to mention, he fights like a hungry animal that never gives his prey a chance. That killer instinct he brings will help continue his dominance in the new year and possibly longer.
My prediction: Max Holloway remains champion
Why: This is one of the most stacked divisions where anything is possible. However, Max Holloway is a fighter who does not appear to be human when stepping inside the octagon. His speed and cardio can outmaneuver anyone in the division. Bring in his Muay Thai he then becomes a destructive animal with no limits. He can out strike any opponent and avoid many takedowns at the same time. A pretty dominant champion and he will continue his dominance all through 2019.
My prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov remains champion
Why: There never has been a dominant lightweight champion─not until now. Khabib Nurmagomedov is truly a beast in the making. His sambo makes him one of the best grapplers the sport has ever witnessed; possibly the best ever. Add in his Muay Thai and his ground-and-pound becomes an ever greater threat to all contenders. He appears unstoppable and that is believable with a record of 27-0, which will increase in the new year.
My prediction: Tyron Woodley remains champion
Why: So he was not one of the most entertaining champions to watch, but 2018 changed all that. His boxing power and wrestling ability prove why he will continue to remain champion. He can and will out strike his new opponents in the new year. He will even out grapple everyone that arrives to face him. With both these abilities, he will reign supreme in 2019 and prove to everyone why they shouldn’t doubt him.
My prediction: Robert Whittaker remains champion
Why: Robert Whittaker has overcome many odds in his career and he will continue to do so in 2019. His wrestling and Muay Thai give him a great advantage both standing and ground. Bring in his cardio and speed he can outlast any opponent while landing heavy shots. He’s already on the road to another dominant champion. He also continues to come back better than before and that will help him defend his throne.
My prediction: Jon Jones remains champion.
Why: There really is no debate on who is the greatest champion of the light heavyweight division. Even after failed drug tests and issues outside the cage Jones has remained one of the best. From him his striking to his grappling to his speed and cardio he can outclass anyone. He will continue his legacy further in the new year demolishing anyone who stands in his way. Not likely anyone can stop him and no one will.
My prediction: Cain Velasquez becomes champion.
Why: Cain Velasquez has been away from the sport for almost three years. It appears like he’s not the same fighter he once was. True, but he never has been one to take lightly. He will come back stronger with his boxing and wrestling techniques. With both combinations, he will tear through the division once again and reclaim his spot as champion. Aiding him will be his speed and cardio to bring down any contender who dares to stand in his way. 2019 will mark the return of “The Baddest Man on the Planet.”
Now that I have given my thoughts we must wait to see who will claim gold by year’s end. In the words of Bruce Buffer; “IT’S TIME!”