Against all odds, MMA has managed to make an impact this year. Due to COVID-19, several fights have had to either be altered or postponed altogether. Despite that, several big bouts have managed to take place.
With 2020 coming to an end, there are still plenty of fights to look out for. Whether they are title, contender, or just great fights, there is plenty to be thankful for. With Bellator and the UFC looking to end the year with a bang, anything is possible.
If everything stays intact, we could be spoiled with several Match of the Year candidates. Here are some of the top fights to keep an eye on.
10/24 – Khabib Nurmagomedov (C) vs. Justin Gaethje (C) – UFC Lightweight Title – UFC 254
Happening this weekend, October 24, this will be a fight between two warriors.
For Khabib (28-0), this will be the first time he has fought since his father died. Intending to go 30-0 beforehand, it is unknown what the future holds for the Russian. “The Eagle” will look to continue his winning ways and wrestle a striker down to the floor.
Fresh off of his one-sided performance against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, Gaethje (22-2) is on a four-fight winning streak. Winning the interim title in the process, “The Highlight” knows what waits for him. In fact, he handed off his interim title during faceoffs on “Fight Island”, knowing the title on Khabib’s shoulder is the only one that matters.
Dana White has stated that numbers are trending higher for this fight than any Conor McGregor fight. That is without any drama or hatred inserted into the picture. If that is the case, we are in for one wild ride.
10/29 – Gegard Mousasi vs. Douglas Lima – Bellator Middleweight Title – Bellator 250
Bellator is just starting to gain momentum thanks to big matches and a new broadcast home. Now, they will look to fill a void in the middleweight division while also making history.
Mousasi, a former Bellator Middleweight Champion, will get another chance at the title against Bellator Welterweight Champion Douglas Lima. The title is up for grabs after Rafael Lovato Jr. relinquished it due to cerebral cavernoma. Originally for May, COVID-19 affected those plans. Now, Mousasi (46-7-2), who is 9-1 in his last ten fights, will look to add to his collection of gold.
Fresh off of beating Rory MacDonald in the Welterweight Grand Prix finals, Lima (32-7) is hoping to be the latest double-champion for Bellator. On a three-fight win streak, Lima is as focused as ever before, which can be dangerous.
11/7 – Thiago Santos vs. Glover Teixeira – UFC Fight Night 182
Now that Jon Jones is out of the equation, the UFC’s light heavyweight division is wide open. With a new champion in Jan Blachowicz must come a new challenger. Enter former contender’s Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira.
For Teixeira (31-7), a win could provide the 40-year-old the opportunity to fight for light heavyweight gold for the first time since 2014. On a four-fight win streak, Teixeira is hungry and ready to take over.
This will be Santos’ (21-7) first fight back since tearing his left LCL, PCL, MCL, meniscus, and right ACL in a close fight against Jones. He originally recommended Dominick Reyes fight him for the title. With Reyes out of the picture, Santos is looking to right what he and many to believe was a wrong at UFC 239.
11/12 – Patricio Freire (C) vs. Pedro Carvalho – Bellator Featherweight Title/Grand Prix – Bellator 252
A rivalry fight will finally be settled inside a Bellator cage. Another bout that was postponed due to COVID-19, “Pitbull” Freire will defend his Featherweight Title against SBG Ireland’s Pedro Carvalho.
As a result of social media commentary by both SBG and Team Pitbull, there is some tension in the air. Freire (30-4), the Bellator Lightweight and Featherweight Champion, is on a five-fight win streak. Not only will he be putting his Featherweight Title on the line, but his spot in the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix.
Carvalho (11-3) is 4-0 in the Bellator cage and has no kind words for the Pitbull’s. With a chance to make it to the semi-finals, something has got to give. With a rivalry to match it, this might end up being Bellator’s fight to watch out for.
11/19 – Darrion Caldwell vs. A.J. McKee – Bellator 253
Speaking of the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix, two top fighters will be competing in the semi-finals, with the winner going to the finals.
Caldwell (15-3), the former Bellator Bantamweight Champion, has moved on to a new division. With wins over Henry Corrales and Adam Borics, “The Wolf” is looking to thrive at featherweight.
As confident as ever, A.J. McKee (16-0) will be competing in his first bout since December against Derek Campos. During that fight, McKee had a tear in the LCL in his left knee. His future in the tournament was in question. With COVID-19 delaying the fight McKee was able to heal and train as hard as he could.
A Bellator mainstay, McKee is looking to be the next big thing for the promotion. Can he end up getting the job done, or will Caldwell prove that he is the best Bellator has to offer?