| Thu 28/12/2017 - 19:39 EST

UFC/MMA Bold Predictions for 2018

UFC/MMA Bold Predictions for 2018

Five Bold UFC/MMA Predictions for 2018

UFC 219 on Saturday caps off what was a tumultuous 2017 for MMA with plenty of off-cage drama, returning legends, and crossovers with boxing and pro wrestling. But it's why we love the sport and why we constantly pay attention. It'll be tough to top the antics of this year but 2018 promises plenty of buzz. Here are five crazy predictions for UFC/MMA in 2018.

*All odds via Bodog sportsbook.

Georges St-Pierre Returns to Fight Conor McGregor

  • UFC Future Events Odds: St-Pierre (-160); McGregor (+130)

When it comes to "megafights" like this, it's only a matter of time. St-Pierre just vacated his newly won middleweight title due to health issues while McGregor is doing God knows what following his massive payday for Mayweather-McGregor in boxing. For both fighters, this is the best possible fight they can make in terms of money, promotion, and hype. 

Odds have already opened for this hypothetical fight with the slight lean on St-Pierre. The French-Canadian is the bigger man despite McGregor having the reach advantage. This fight ends with a St-Pierre submission or a McGregor knockout. Even with UFC President Dana White's sour relationship with St-Pierre, this is a fight he'll make in a heartbeat if he could.

Cyborg Retires from MMA and Heads to Boxing

  • UFC 219 Odds: Cyborg (-360); Holm (+270)

Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino is one of the worst-treated fighters. Fans, fighters, and even Dana White have constantly bullied her for her past steroid use and her pay issue with the UFC only exacerbates her situation. It will come as no shock if and when she defeats Holly Holm on UFC 219 and abruptly announces she is done with the sport. 

Cyborg had long wanted to fight ex-UFC golden girl Ronda Rousey and gets a consolation with a chance to trounce Holm. The Brazilian has long hinted at competing in boxing and a brief one-fight bout in Muay Thai against Jorina Baars was a premonition.

Don't expect to see Cyborg back in the octagon in 2018.

T.J. Dillashaw Becomes Second Simultaneous Two-Division Champ

  • UFC Future Events Odds: Dillashaw (+100); Johnson (-130)

After recapturing the UFC bantamweight title last November, Dillashaw quickly called out flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson to finally book their "champion versus champion" fight which has been teased as early as 2015. Johnson recently broke Anderson Silva's UFC record for title defences and Dillashaw's only loss came via a controversial split decision to former champ Dominick Cruz.

This superfight has the makings to be the greatest considering both champions are in their prime and look unstoppable. If and when this fight takes place, Dillashaw will use his superior striking and NCAA Division I wrestling background to finally hand Johnson his first defeat in seven years and become a true simultaneous two-division champ.

Rory Macdonald Becomes Bellator's First Simultaneous Two-Division Champ

Macdonald became Bellator's biggest signing in 2016 and submitted fellow UFC veteran Paul Daley to earn a shot at incumbent welterweight champ Douglas Lima. They're scheduled to fight on Bellator 192 on January 20. Not only will he beat Lima to win the title, but expect him to call out middleweight champ Rafael Carvalho and promptly beat him to win two titles in a year.

Macdonald is still a top MMA talent and under Bellator, he has the room to call his shots more. Bellator President Scott Coker has the creativity to let Macdonald pursue what he wants and a champion versus champion fight is as big as it gets. Both Macdonald and Carvalho match up well and the winner would elevate themselves to superstar status.

It's the type of superfight both Macdonald and Bellator needs. 

The UFC Announces Expansion to Africa and Russia

  • UFC 219 Odds: Nurmagomedov (-300); Barboza (+230)
  • UFC 220 Odds: Ngannou (-175); Miocic (+145) (via Bodog)

The biggest fight in 2018 won't take place in the octagon but outside of it as the UFC fights to get a new TV deal. Currently, the UFC's current broadcaster, FOX has offered the UFC $200 million but Dana White and co. are aiming for something more. Earlier this year, White infamously used Floyd Mayweather Jr. to pump up some buzz for the UFC.

In 2018, expect news that the UFC will be heading to two of the world's biggest untapped markets. In Africa, the UFC has an African contender in Francis Ngannou who has also lobbied to have the UFC go to his native continent. If Khabib Nurmagomedov beats Edson Barboza, he could be fighting on his home country soon.

Whether the UFC actually hosts an event in said places is another thing. But as soon as the first quarter of 2018, expect White to float some news regarding events in both places. 

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