The UFC expects 2020 to be a big year for the promotion with Conor McGregor back in the octagon, Jon Jones defending his light heavyweight championship, and Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson already booked. Unfortunately, this year also sees the UFC facing significant issues in its biggest division – the heavyweights.
Currently, the entire heavyweight division is in limbo as the UFC focuses its energy on making a trilogy fight between champion Stipe Miocic and the man he defeated for the title, Daniel Cormier. These two combatants have split the first two bouts, but UFC betting sites have Miocic as the slight favorite at -140 if they were to fight in 2020.
Cormier is a +120 underdog, which is a significant shift in betting odds from their last fight when he closed as a -160 favorite and Miocic was a +105 underdog. Their first encounter in July 2018 saw Miocic a heavy favorite of -227 and Cormier a +132 challenger.
While the UFC attempts to book a third fight between DC and Miocic, they’ve created a logjam at the top of the heavyweight division as other top contenders have earned a chance to fight for the title. Fortunately for the promotion, we’ve already figured out how to clear up this heavyweight mess.
Daniel Cormier has done a lot for the UFC especially in the heavyweight division. But, he’s not bigger than the company and he needs to step aside so that Stipe Miocic can defend the title against someone else who’s deserving.
Cormier and Miocic fought last August and the division has only tightened up since then with both Curtis Blaydes and Francis Ngannou staking claims to a title shot. They’re both waiting for the UFC to clear up this mess in order to step back into the Octagon.
Another reason for this trilogy fight to be put on hold is that Cormier is planning on retiring in the immediate future. It would create chaos if Cormier beats Miocic and then retires. The UFC would be worse off than they are now if that were to happen. Yet, if they let Miocic fight other contenders first then they can revisit the DC trilogy match-up later this year.
Jon Jones, the sport’s pound-for-pound best fighter, has talked about moving up from the light heavyweight division to the heavyweight division to take on Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title.
This would be a big money fight for the UFC, but it pushes the other top contenders further back in line. The UFC can’t risk having top heavyweights sitting on the sidelines for no reason. The UFC should sort the division out first before allowing Jones into the title picture.
With Jones and Cormier out of the picture, the UFC and betting sites alike would open up Stipe Miocic to take on the consensus pick for the next title shot – Francis Ngannou. The two men previously fought in January 2018 and Miocic won via unanimous decision.
Since then, Ngannou has done more than enough to earn a rematch against Miocic after Francis has scored three straight knockout wins over top ranked opponents in Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos. Even more impressive is that Ngannou beat them all in a combined two minutes and 22 seconds.
For his part, Miocic isn’t opposed to a rematch against Francis Ngannou. In fact, the current UFC heavyweight champ believes that he would beat Ngannou just like he did in the first fight.
With Ngannou ahead of Blaydes in the rankings, he will get the first crack at a UFC heavyweight title shot since he’s already beaten Blaydes twice. That leaves Blaydes without any clear direction while he waits to move up in line. The solution to this problem is Derrick Lewis.
Lewis has beaten Ngannou, but doesn’t deserve a title shot over Blaydes as he’s lost to Cormier and Junior dos Santos in the last 15 months. However, Lewis defeated Ilir Latifi at UFC 247 and has put himself firmly into the top five and available for a big fight.
Blaydes vs. Lewis could be viewed as a title eliminator fight and an exciting one as both men are dangerous strikers. The winner could take on the winner of Miocic vs. Ngannou and both losers could also fight each other next. It’s a win-win scenario all the way around.
As exciting as Cormier vs. Miocic III would be, fight fans would rather see Jones vs. Cormier III instead. These two men have had a bitter rivalry over the years and a third fight would be huge for the UFC. It would also remove both Jones and Cormier from a Miocic fight which means the UFC could focus on Ngannou and Blaydes instead.