With the NFL draft kicking off tonight, now is the perfect time to have some fun with our own MMA mock draft. For this scenario, let’s assume that the UFC, Bellator MMA, ONE FC and the Rizin Fighting Federation all have no fighters under contract, and there will be a draft to populate their rosters.
Here’s how it will work… The draft order will be as such: UFC, Bellator, ONE FC, Rizin. The mock draft will consist of four rounds. Let’s get to it.
The UFC has the very first selection in the MMA mock draft, but many things need to be considered, such as age, drawing power, and dependability. With that being said, there is not much debate on the top pick.
McGregor is an obvious choice. The only other fighter that you can make an argument to select here would be Jon Jones, but his legal troubles make him too risky for the top pick. McGregor, while he does have dependability issues of his own, is not mired in legal missteps. The Irishman has also proven to be a tremendous draw.
One promotion’s reluctancy becomes another promotion’s goldmine. Bellator won’t waste much time here in choosing the aforementioned Jones. Despite his baggage, Jones would bring to Bellator its highest profile and most talented fighter.
This is where things start to get interesting. ONE FC can go many ways here — popularity, drawing power, best women’s fighter — but ultimately, the company would land on the consensus pound-for-pound king. Say what you will about Mighty Mouse, but the man brings it every single fight. ONE FC will have to hope that Johnson provides better drawing power than in the past, but the organization competes in a Pacific market loaded with flyweight up-and-comers.
Rounding out the first round is Rizin. The Japanese promotion loves the spectacle. To some, their pick here could come as a surprise. However, for those that know Rizin’s tendencies, this makes all the sense in the world. Cyborg is the best women’s fighter in the world, and she is worthy of this pick.
UFC: Cody Garbrandt
Bellator: José Aldo
ONE: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Rizin: Stipe Miocic
The second round features a lot of youth. The undefeated Garbrandt, 25, provides the UFC with a marketable up-and-comer who has already marched through the likes of Thomas Almeida, Takeya Mizugaki and longtime bantamweight great Dominick Cruz. Aldo, who is still just 30 years old, remains one of the best featherweights in the world. Nurmagomedov, 28, is a big injury risk, but he’s also a dominant lightweight who hasn’t lost in 24 pro fights. The 34-year-old Miocic would head to Japan, which has a history of hosting the world’s top heavyweights.
UFC: Tony Ferguson
Bellator: Tyron Woodley
ONE: T.J. Dillashaw
Rizin: Doo Ho Choi
The picks of Ferguson, Woodley and Dillashaw continue the trend toward budding stars. Ferguson has posted an impressive resume and is on the cusp of a lightweight title run. Meanwhile, Woodley and Dillashaw already have UFC titles in their trophy case. As for Rizin, the promotion continues its unorthodox approach to this draft by choosing a Korean fighter who is still a few fights from contending, but who brings a highlight reel of knockouts to the ring.
UFC: Robert Whittaker
Bellator: Daniel Cormier
ONE FC: Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Rizin: Michael Page
Round four is a mix of tried and true names and up-and-comers. The UFC will look to the future with Robert Whittaker, who proved he’s the real deal when he topped Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Bellator lands Cormier, a top light heavyweight who can provide the promotion with a strong draw for another couple years. ONE looks to the women’s side with its pick of top strawweight Jędrzejczyk. Meanwhile, Rizin wants even more highlight-reel moments, so the organization would be especially fond of Page.
There you have it: a mock draft inspired by the NFL’s upcoming draft tonight. Agree with these picks? Hate ‘em? Think we missed someone? Let your voice be heard in the comments section below.