#3 Brian Ortega vs. Chan Sung Jung – UFC Fight Night 181 – October 17th, 2020
This Featherweight clash was initially pegged to take place in December 2019 at UFC Fight Night 175, but an injury to Ortega put paid to that. At that stage it sounded like an exciting, potentially fantastic fight between two of the best 145-lbers on the planet, but developments since have made it even more intriguing.
Surprisingly, considering both Ortega and ‘The Korean Zombie’ have reputations for being two of the nicer guys in MMA, the rivalry between the two is now intensely personal. That’s because of a nasty incident that occurred at UFC 248 in March.
Reports suggested that Ortega “slapped” Jung’s Korean translator Jay Park after an interview earlier in 2020 saw Park translate an accusation from Jung that Ortega was afraid to fight him. Park, of course, is not a fighter and is nothing more than a musician and translator.
At any rate, ‘The Korean Zombie’ responded by threatening ‘T-City’ in an angry Instagram post, warning that his “face would be bloody” in their eventual meeting. Well, October’s UFC Fight Night 181 now offers the Zombie the chance to back up his words.
Will Jung’s hard-hitting style come out on top? Or will Ortega – who hasn’t fought since December 2018 – be able to win the day with his slick grappling and underrated striking game? We should find out in October in one of the most personal UFC fights in recent memory.
#4 Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Yair Rodriguez – UFC 254 – October 24th, 2020
Like the dream match between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, the UFC has attempted to book a clash between Featherweight contenders Zabit Magomedsharipov and Yair Rodriguez on numerous occasions. Every time, the fight has fallen apart – most recently last month.
Thankfully, the UFC hasn’t given up on the pairing and the clash has been re-booked for October’s UFC 254. And it remains one of the most highly anticipated UFC fights in the last couple of years. Both men bring an unorthodox, aggressive fighting style into the Octagon, and when they finally face off, there’s no telling what might go down.
Of the two, it’s Magomedsharipov who’s perhaps closer to a UFC title shot. He’s gone 6-0 in the UFC since arriving there in 2017, and holds impressive wins over Calvin Kattar and Jeremy Stephens. His striking is wild but effective, his wrestling is phenomenal and he’s also highly dangerous with submissions on the ground.
However, Rodriguez has proven himself to be a venomous finisher since coming into the UFC by winning the Featherweight tournament on the first season of TUF: Latin America back in 2014. Just 22 at that point, ‘El Pantera’ is now a hardened veteran with a UFC record of 8-1. His victims include Stephens, ‘The Korean Zombie’, and UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn.
Like Zabit, Rodriguez is willing to throw low-percentage, high-impact strikes, and can also wrestle and grapple with the best that the division has to offer.
So who will come out on top? It’s honestly impossible to say. But with the winner likely to claim the next UFC Featherweight title shot, this one will be unmissable.
#5 Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje – UFC 254 – October 24th, 2020
When Justin Gaethje destroyed Tony Ferguson in May to claim the interim UFC Lightweight title – as well as a shot at reigning UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov – the first thought for most fans was one of disappointment. After all, the result meant that we’d likely miss out on the long-awaited Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson clash.
In hindsight, though, the fight between Khabib and Gaethje might be an even better clash than Khabib vs. Ferguson would’ve been.
As everyone knows, ‘The Eagle’ is arguably the greatest fighter in the history of the UFC’s 155lbs division. Unbeaten at 28-0, Nurmagomedov has destroyed everyone he’s faced, from Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor to Rafael Dos Anjos and Edson Barboza. Nobody has been able to stop his takedown and once he has an opponent down, it’s near impossible to shake him off.
And yet Gaethje has arguably the best defensive wrestling in the division, and more than that, ‘The Highlight’ appears to hit harder than any other Lightweight in the UFC too. His punches have the ability to devastate whatever they hit, and since arriving in the UFC, he’s knocked out every opponent he’s beaten.
With many longtime observers feeling that Nurmagomedov could be vulnerable to a great striker capable of stopping his takedown, there’s every possibility that in Gaethje, the Russian could be about to face his kryptonite.
With McGregor still absent, Nurmagomedov is arguably the biggest star in the UFC right now, and that alone would make this fight a must-see. Add in the possibility that Gaethje has to actually beat him, and no self-respecting MMA fan can afford to miss this one.
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