It’s been quite the year for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The return of fans in Jacksonville to see Kamaru Usman, Rose Namajunas and Valentina Shevchenko get their hands raised as champions was incredible, as well as many of the belts around the weight divisions moving around. Francis Ngannou, Brandon Moreno and Charles Oliveira were among Americans Aljamain Sterling and Rose Namajunas to hear Bruce Buffer exclaim his famous ‘AND NEW…’
Now we’re into the final three months of the year, and Dana White has got some incredible nights planned for MMA fans around the world, including three events on at primetime for European fans.
The three main events in the run-up to the end of the year sees six huge title fights. UFC 267, live from Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena, hosts Polish light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz defending his title against Brazilian-American light heavyweight legend Glover Teixeira, who is looking to get his hands on a title for the first time, after losing to Jon Jones back in 2014. Blachowicz is coming off the back of a groundbreaking victory against the previously-undefeated Israel Adesanya, who was aiming to beat the Pole and become a two-weight world champion.
The co-main event also includes the cancelled Petr Yan bout, with bantamweight champ Aljamain Sterling pulling out of the fight due to injury, leaving Yan opponentless until rising star Corey Sandhagen stepped in to fight for the interim title. Sandhagen has had an impressive year so far, notably winning a performance of the night bonus against veteran Frankie Edgar thanks to an incredible flying knee knockout.
This was followed by a controversial split decision loss to TJ Dillashaw, but it clearly hasn’t hampered his chances at winning a title. Petr Yan is also coming off the back of a controversial bout after kneeing a downed opponent and being disqualified in the title fight against Aljamain Sterling. Also featured on the card is Manchester’s Lerone Murphy, returning to the cage for the first time since January, looking to become the latest Brit to continue their unbeaten record, as well as Kiwi fighter Dan Hooker, stepping in to fight for the second time in the last two months.
Just a week later is the incredible card of UFC 268 back in Madison Square Garden, giving MMA fans some incredible bouts. Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington run it back for the welterweight belt for a second time, hoping to give us another five rounds of carnage. Rose Namajunas defends her strawweight title in a rematch with Zhang Weili, after winning the title in their first clash back in April.
On top of these two blockbusters is Justin Gaethje vs Michael Chandler in a battle at the top of the lightweight division, with both men coming off the back of title-fight losses. The aforementioned Frankie Edgar also features on the main card, with real estate mogul Al Iaquinta also included on the undercard. It’s worth noting that it’s daylight savings time in the USA on the night of the event, meaning that British fans can enjoy the fights an hour earlier than normal!
The final main event of the year so far has only a few fights announced, but Jorge Masvidal vs Leon Edwards is finally happening, just two and a half years after Masvidal and Edwards clashed at UFC London, which was described by Masvidal as giving the Birmingham fighter a ‘three-piece with a soda.’ Amanda Nunes also returns to the ring to defend her two belts against Julianna Pena, a fight initially intended for August before Nunes was forced out of the bout with COVID. Dustin Poirier vs Charles Oliviera is also expected to be announced in the coming weeks, with Poirier going for the title for the first time since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2019.
In between all of this mind blowing action, we’ve got fight nights featuring Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez, Paulo Costa vs Marvin Vettori and Rob Font vs Jose Aldo to keep us entertained in the meantime.