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With the first fights of the 2020 season done and over with, I break down which fighters will rise in the rankings and fight towards that title shot or who will fall and move down the ranks. Here we go.
RISE: Edmen Shahbazyan (Middleweight)
Coming from Dana White’s Cotender Series, the “Golden Boy” has done nothing but impress everyone. The 22(!!!) year old is 11-0-0, while 4-0-0 in the UFC with 3 finishes that have come all in the first round. He’s one of the few that have actually looked promising coming off of the Contender Series. The sky is the limit for this kid and I can see him finishing this year as a top 3 Middleweight
FALL: Donald Cerrone (Middleweight/Welterweight)
Jeez man, this is killing me to write this. Cowboy is the reason I got hooked onto MMA back in the WEC days. The truth hurts sometimes though. Cowboy is nothing but a middle of the ranks fighter that can never cash in, and UFC 246 proved that. Of course, he faced Conor McGregor, who is no easy match to anyone. He started off the 2020 campaign pretty rough, getting TKO’ed in the first :40 seconds of the fight. He failed the land a single strike. I think Cowboy will win this year, but this was his peak. He had the red panty night, and that’s the highest he’ll go.
RISE: Luis Peña (Lightweight)
Another Contender Series guy and the guy with the best nickname in the game. “Violent Bob Ross” Luis Peña is 7-2-0 and 3-2 in the UFC. The guys flashy, he’s exciting and he’s Violent Bob Ross. He may not be a title contender, but his draw will be biggest beneficiary.
FALL: Zhang Weili (W Strawweight)
Zhang came out of nowhere when she defeated Jessica Andrade for the Straweight strap. Although she is 4-0-0 in the UFC and 20-1-0, I just don’t see the hype behind Zhang. She has all the talent in the world. Maybe she can reign as the champ for a while…who knows. That straweight division has been a rollercoaster since it was established. I see multiple females holding that belt this year.
RISE: Diego Ferreira (Welterweight)
Diego Ferreira hasn’t lost since 2015, and he kicked off 2020 keeping that stat alive. Since that lost loss, he’s won 6 in a row, with finishes in 3 of those 6. He’s looking at cracking the 155 top 10, and should be seeking an opponent in the top 7 with his next fight. The only direction for Ferreira in 2020 is up.
FALL: Justin Gaethje (Lightweight)
This one hurts me. It really does. I love watching this guy fight and I really hope to see him get that title shot that he deserves. What’s against him is the top 5 guys in his division. Khabib who wrestles fuckin bears, Tony Ferguson, the return of Conor McGregor. The talent in that top 5 is just so much better than the “Highlight Reel”. I don’t see him being anything better than a top 5 fighter but I’m begging that he proves me wrong.
RISE: Jairzhinho Rozenstruik (Heavyweight)
What better way to end 2019 than making your opponents lip explode? Rozenstruik knocked out Allistar Overeem in spectacular fashion, splitting the right side of his upper lip into 3 pieces with 4 seconds left in the last round. It was a top-2 nastiest things I’ve ever seen in the UFC. #1 being when Jessica Eye practically ripped Leslie Smith’s ear off. Fuck my stomach turns when I think of that. ANYWAY, Rozenstuik is 10-0-0 and 5-0-0 in the UFC with all 5 wins coming via KO. 9 of his 10 wins have come via KO. In a matchup of the scariest dude alive, he faces Francis Ngannou on March 28. I expect a head to be on the canvas in that fight.