LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 07: Daniel Cormier celebrates his victory over Stipe Miocic in their UFC heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 226 event inside T-Mobile Arena on July 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

2019 is upon us, and it could be a big year for the UFC. After a poor year in 2018, the company now starts their relationship with ESPNHenry Cejudo defends his flyweight title against bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw on the very first ESPN+ card. That will be the first title fight in the UFC in 2019. With that, we at MMASucka made some predictions about who will be the champion in each division when 2019 concludes.

Participants

First, I would like to thank each writer who participated in this discussion. Without them, pieces like this would not be possible.

Matt Bricker
Jeremy Brand
Mike Skytte
Brian Gerson
Ed Gallo
Michael Fiedel
Omar Villagrana
Mitch Banuelos
Patrick Auger
Wesley Riddle
Ryan Wagner
Michael DeSantis
Sasha Moksyakov

Be sure to check out everyone’s work on just about every MMA promotion you could think of. Now, let’s get into the picks.

Strawweight

Rose Namajunas is the current champion and is set to defend her belt against Jessica Andrade in Brazil in May. Andrade isn’t the only rising contender who is looking to taste strawweight gold in 2019, though.

Deitrich: Jessica Andrade
Bricker: J. Andrade (2)
Brand: Rose Namajunas
Skytte: J. Andrade (3)
Gerson: Tatiana Suarez
Gallo: J. Andrade (4)
Fiedel: J. Andrade (5)
Villagrana: J. Andrade (6)
Banuelos: T. Suarez (2)
Auger: T. Suarez (3)
Riddle: T. Suarez (4)
Wagner: R. Namajunas (2)
DeSantis: T. Suarez (5)
Moksyakov: R. Namajunas (3)

Women’s Flyweight

Valentina Shevchenko finally won what always seemed like her belt at UFC 231. MMASucka doesn’t seem to think she will be losing her belt any time soon, and she seems to be one of the untouchable UFC champions.

Deitrich: Valentina Shevchenko
Bricker: Andrea Lee
Brand: Shevchenko (2)
Skytte: Shevchenko (3)
Gerson: Shevchenko (4)
Gallo: Shevchenko (5)
Fiedel: Shevchenko (6)
Villagrana: Shevchenko (7)
Banuelos: Shevchenko (8)
Auger: Shevchenko (9)
Riddle: Shevchenko (10)
Wagner: Shevchenko (11)
DeSantis: Shevchenko (12)
Moksyakov: Amanda Nunes

Woman’s Bantamweight

Amanda Nunes is one of the UFC champions that there seems to be no answer for. After recently becoming a double champ, it’s hard to say which belt she will defend. But, it’s safe to say that she probably won’t lose either.

Deitrich: Amanda Nunes
Bricker: A. Nunes (2)
Brand: A. Nunes (3)
Skytte: A. Nunes (4)
Gerson: A. Nunes (5)
Gallo: A. Nunes (6)
Fiedel: A. Nunes (7)
Villagrana: A. Nunes (8)
Banuelos: A. Nunes (9)
Auger: Valentina Shevchenko
Riddle: A. Nunes (10)
Wagner: V. Shevchenko (2)
DeSantis: A. Nunes (11)
Moksyakov: A. Nunes (12)

Women’s Featherweight

Cris Cyborg seemed to be one of the unbeatable UFC champions. That was partially because there were only a few fighters in her division. Now, with Nunes gaining her second belt, Cyborg and the division’s future with the UFC seem unclear.

Deitrich: Division cut
Bricker: Division cut (2)
Brand: Amanda Nunes
Skytte: Division cut (3)
Gerson: Cris Cyborg
Gallo: Division cut (4)
Fiedel: A. Nunes (2)
Villagrana: A. Nunes (3)
Banuelos: A. Nunes (4)
Auger: C. Cyborg (2)
Riddle: A. Nunes (5)
Wagner: A. Nunes (6)
DeSantis: A. Nunes (7)
Moksyakov: A. Nunes (8)

Men’s Flyweight

After Demetrious Johnson was dethroned by Cejudo, the former champ went off to ONE. Now, the division seems to be getting the axe. The fact that Cejudo is defending against Dillashaw seems to provide a little bit of hope for the future of the divison, though.

Deitrich: Division cut
Bricker: Division cut (2)
Brand: Henry Cejudo
Skytte: Division cut (3)
Gerson: Division cut (4)
Gallo: Division cut (5)
Fiedel: Division cut (6)
Villagrana: TJ Dillashaw
Banuelos: Division cut (7)
Auger: Division cut (8)
Riddle: T. Dillashaw (2)
Wagner: Division cut (9)
DeSantis: Division cut (10)
Moksyakov: Divison cut (11)

Men’s Bantamweight

TJ Dillashaw only fought once in 2018, impressively knocking out Cody Garbrandt. It’s unclear when he will be defending his belt next, due to his upcoming flyweight title shot. But, there are a few worthy contenders waiting for him when he comes back to his division.

Deitrich: TJ Dillashaw
Bricker: Marlon Moraes
Brand: T. Dillashaw (2)
Skytte: M. Moraes (2)
Gerson: T. Dillashaw (3)
Gallo: M. Moraes (3)
Fiedel: T. Dillashaw (4)
Villagrana: T. Dillashaw (5)
Banuelos: M. Moraes (4)
Auger: T. Dillashaw (6)
Riddle: M. Moraes (5)
Wagner: T. Dillashaw (7)
DeSantis: T. Dillashaw (8)
Moksyakov: T. Dillashaw (9)

Men’s Featherweight

Current featherweight champion Max Holloway has been one of the most dominant UFC champions. After his beatdown of Brian Ortega in December, Holloway remains without an opponent. There are a few rising contenders, in Renato MoicanoAlex Volkvanovski, and Zabit Magomedsharipov. And, we still haven’t seen Holloway fight Frankie Edgar yet. It’s likely that “Blessed” will cross paths with one or multiple of these contenders in 2019.

Deitrich: Max Holloway
Bricker: Renato Moicano
Brand: M. Holloway (2)
Skytte: M. Holloway (3)
Gerson: R. Moicano (2)
Gallo: R. Moicano (3)
Fiedel: M. Holloway (4)
Villagrana: M. Holloway (5)
Banuelos: M. Holloway (6)
Auger: R. Moicano (4)
Riddle: M. Holloway (7)
Wagner: M. Holloway (8)
DeSantis: M. Holloway (9)
Moksyakov: M. Holloway (10)

Lightweight

The biggest fight in the history of the company took place in the lightweight division in October. Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Conor McGregor, and we all know what happened after. With both of their immediate futures unclear, there are multiple directions that the division could go in the next year.

Deitrich: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Bricker: K. Nurmagomedov (2)
Brand: K. Nurmagomedov (3)
Skytte: Dustin Poirier
Gerson: Max Holloway
Gallo: M. Holloway (2)
Fiedel: K. Nurmagomedov (4)
Villagrana: Tony Ferguson
Banuelos: T. Ferguson (2)
Auger: K. Nurmagomedov (5)
Riddle: K. Nurmagomedov (6)
Wagner: K. Nurmagomedov (7)
DeSantis: K. Nurmagomedov (8)
Moksyakov: K. Nurmagomedov (9)

Welterweight

The past few months have done nothing but make the welterweight division confusing. Tyron Woodley never defended against previous interim champ Colby Covington. Instead, Woodley will defend against Kamaru Usman in March. These three are the consensus top three welterweights, and it is likely one of them will hold the strap in a year’s time.

Deitrich: Kamaru Usman
Bricker: Colby Covington
Brand: K. Usman (2)
Skytte: Tyron Woodley
Gerson: K. Usman (3)
Gallo: T. Woodley (2)
Fiedel: T. Woodley (3)
Villagrana: T. Woodley (4)
Banuelos: T. Woodley (5)
Auger: T. Woodley (6)
Riddle: T. Woodley (7)
Wagner: K. Usman (4)
DeSantis: T. Woodley (8)
Moksyakov: T. Woodley (9)

Middleweight

At some point in 2019, there will likely be a middleweight clash between two of the best strikers in the sport. Current champ Robert Whittaker first needs to get past his upcoming challenger Kelvin Gastelum. Rising challenger Israel Adesanya needs to defeat the legend that is Anderson Silva. But, assuming both of those things happen, Whittaker and Adesanya will end up facing off in what will be a spectacular fight.

Deitrich: Robert Whittaker
Bricker: Israel Adesanya
Brand: Luke Rockhold
Skytte: I. Adesanya (2)
Gerson: I. Adesanya (3)
Gallo: R. Whittaker (2)
Fiedel: R. Whittaker (3)
Villagrana: R. Whittaker (4)
Banuelos: I. Adesanya (4)
Auger: R. Whittaker (5)
Riddle: R. Whittaker (6)
Wagner: R. Whittaker (7)
DeSantis: I. Adesanya (5)
Moksyakov: R. Whittaker (8)

Light Heavyweight

Jon Jones made his return from suspension and easily reclaimed his title against Alexander Gustaffson. He has a quick turn around and will defend the belt against Anthony Smith in March. With the division at its worst in history, it doesn’t seem likely that the all time great will lose his title any time soon.

Deitrich: Jon Jones
Bricker: J. Jones (2)
Brand: J. Jones (3)
Skytte: Cancel 205
Gerson: J. Jones (4)
Gallo: Dominick Reyes
Fiedel: J. Jones (5)
Villagrana: J. Jones (6)
Banuelos: J. Jones (7)
Auger: Yoel Romero
Riddle: J. Jones (8)
Wagner: J. Jones (9)
DeSantis: J. Jones (10)
Moksyakov: J. Jones (11)

Heavyweight

Current heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is expected to defend his belt against Brock Lesnar and then retire. Nothing is certain in MMA though, and money definitely talks. Maybe Cormier will stick around longer. Whether he does or doesn’t, former champions Stipe Miocic and Cain Velasquez will be looking to reclaim the gold.

Deitrich: Stipe Miocic
Bricker: S. Miocic (2)
Brand: Francis Ngannou
Skytte: S. Miocic (3)
Gerson: S. Miocic (4)
Gallo: S. Miocic (5)
Fiedel: S. Miocic (6)
Villagrana: C. Velasquez
Banuelos: C. Velasquez (2)
Auger: C. Velasquez (3)
Riddle: C. Velasquez (4)
Wagner: S. Miocic (7)
DeSantis: C. Velasquez (5)
Moksyakov: Daniel Cormier

These types of predictions are hard to make because there’s just so much uncertainty in the sport of MMA. Suspensions happen, fighters retire, people get hurt, and contracts expire. UFC champions are always changing, especially in an era when super fights are happening more frequently. But, this is still a fun way to see who has high expectations heading into 2019, and who we are expecting big years from.


View the original article on MMA Sucka: MMASucka Predicts UFC Champions at End of 2019