Predicting All 12 UFC Champions One Year From Now
What a difference a year can make.
MMA is an absurdly fast-moving and unpredictable sport. While a certain amount of knowledge and education can go into predicting the future of the sport, there's also a fair dollop of luck, or lack thereof, involved. Fighters get injured, fail to make weight, lose what appear to be sure-fire wins, or - as is often the case these days - simply decide to stop fighting.
All of that is to say, predicting the future is about the same as predicting the weather; you have a good idea of how things will go but every now and then nature throws a spanner in the works. That's not a bad thing though; the mercurial nature of the sport is what keeps it fresh and alive.
If you'd tried to play the guessing game one year ago, would you have predicted that Daniel Cormier would be Heavyweight Champion? That Tyrone Woodley wouldn't have fought in a year? That Cris Cyborg would still be champ? Well that last one was a fairly safe bet but the others not so much. It's certainly been an odd year for UFC with Champions clearing out their respective divisions, leading to divisive "Super Fights", poor buy-rates, inactive fighters, and more interim belts than you could shake a stick at.
From now until July 2019 looks to be just as wacky, so let's see who will be sitting atop the throne(s) by then.
12. Women's Strawweight Champion - Rose Namajunas
Rose Namajunas shocked the world when she TKO'd the then-dominant Strawweight Champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Until then, Rose was considered a talented fighter who never quite reached the upper echelon of the UFC. Many forget but, before Paige VanZant, Rose was once considered the UFC's next poster-girl; she was unceremoniously dumped when VanZant appeared on the scene. Rose did eventually go on to beat VanZant in a moment of redemption in 2015.
Namajunas slowly rose up through the ranks, minus one setback, and finally stood face-to-face with the most impressive female fighter the UFC had ever seen. Flying in the face of logic and assumptions, Namajunas systematically destroyed Jedrzejczyk and became the Strawweight Champion of the world. Since then Rose defeated Jedrzejczyk again in a barn-burner of a fight and is in need of a new challenger. The number one contender fight will be between Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Jessica Andrade at UFC 228.
That's a tricky fight to predict but should Karolina come out victorious, she'll move on to face Rose early next year. Oh, that one setback Rose had? Rose lost to Kowalkiewicz at UFC 201, but this is a much different Thug and we're thinking she'll retain via TKO.