5 fights that the UFC must make in 2017
One of the reasons why MMA is slowly but surely inching out boxing as the premier combat sport in the world has to do largely with the fact that most of the best fighters in the world fight under the unified banner of the UFC.
And 2016 has been a flagship year for the company; ranging from getting sold for a mind-boggling $4.2 billion dollars to playing host to a cluster of landmark pay-per-view cards that have aided greatly in embedding MMA into the fold of mainstream sport.
Drawing inspiration from an irrepressible Irishman whose gift of gab and skill inside the Octagon are almost comparable to the audacity of his dreams, 2016 has seen many fighters break through the ranks of mainstream anonymity and take the effort to be recognised as personalities.
What also shines through, however, is the quality of fights that have been put on. MMA as a sport is given to continuous evolution and never has that ever-changing dynamic come to the fore as impressionably as it has this past year.
And In order to sustain this growth and build on it even, 2017 has to be an equally gratifying year in terms of the entertainment value provided by the fights that the UFC make. They have to be as compelling in narrative as the Diaz-McGregor fights were and – in equal measure – as technically intriguing as was the Dillashaw – Cruz contest.
On that note, here are 5 fights that the UFC absolutely has to pen down for the year to come.
#5 Ronda Rousey vs Cristiane Justino Cyborg
The phenom that was ruling the Women’s Bantamweight Division – Ronda Rousey – was dethroned in the most brutal fashion towards the end of 2015 when Holly Holm dismantled her in a showcase fight at UFC 193.
A year away from the spotlight, barring an occasional appearance, she is ready to make her comeback against current champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 197 on December 31st. Assuming she wins, 2017 can be the year where Rousey asserts herself once again as the postergirl of the company alongside Conor McGregor.
However, there will always be an ignominious asterisk hanging over her resume when she retires unless she dispels this notion that she can’t deal with an elite striker. A Holly Holm rematch would have been mint for the UFC should she have held out for Ronda Rousey to return, but that ship sailed when she lost the title to Miesha Tate at UFC 196.
Enter Cris Cyborg. Fearsome, hardened, elite, unbeaten and now, fighting in the UFC. For the longest time when Rousey kept collecting arms, Cyborg was running roughshod over the Invicta Featherweight roster.
It was always destined that they would face-off against each other but Rousey’s devastating loss to Holly Holm threw a spanner in the works. Although in the time that the former UFC Bantamweight Champion spent recuperating, Cyborg has fought in the UFC twice at a catchweight of 140 pounds.
It looks more likely than ever that the fight will happen in 2017.