Who Will Be UFC & Strikeforce Champions in 2010?
The future is an unpredictable thing. Some people make new year resolutions, thinking that they may be able to improve their lives in some way, but the majority of them fall short of their goals.
MMA is no different. Fans of the sport try to predict the outcome of fights, who will be the next big star in the sport, and who future champions will be. Again, a lot of these fans fall short of their predictions, but I've still decided to give it a go.
Here are my predictions of who will be the champion in each weight class in the UFC and Strikeforce divisions by the end of 2010.
UFC - B.J. Penn
What started out as a terrible year for B.J. in 2009 (after being destroyed by Georges St. Pierre) turned into a career-changing year for the talented lightweight.
Penn already has three title defences in the lightweight division, and in 2010 I expect him to double that. Next up for Penn I think will be Gray Maynard, who he should dispatch fairly easily, and I think he'll follow that up with a destruction of Frankie Edgar.
Late in 2010 I think we'll see a rematch between him and Kenny Florian. I would like to say that Florian will come out on top since he's a very exciting fighter, but I think B.J. will come out with the win, although it will be far more competitive and even than their first encounter.
Strikeforce -*Shinya Aoki
Although most fans would like to see Aoki go to the UFC and fight B.J. Penn, I doubt that it will happen. Instead, I can see Aoki going to Strikeforce as part of the talent exchange system, with Aoki getting a title shot against Gilbert Melendez, although I doubt he will end up defending it in 2010. Just one of the major problems with co-promotion.
UFC -*Georges St. Pierre
No surprise here. GSP is the most dominant welterweight in the world and, in my opinion, the pound for pound best, which he will only strengthen in 2010.
At UFC 111 he is set to face Dan Hardy, who I expect him to defeat in impressive fashion. Next, I think he will fight Josh Koscheck, who has improved since their last fight, but again I think GSP will beat Kos in impressive fashion.
I think GSP will only have two fights in the welterweight division in 2010, but it won't be the end of his year. Read on to find out why.
Strikeforce -*Nick Diaz
Diaz is set to face Marius Zaromskis at Strikeforce: Miami for the welterweight title, which I think he will win. If Diaz can stay away from his beloved weed, I think he could go on to have a very successful 2010 and defend his belt twice more in the year, possibly against Jay Hieron and then Jake Shields, who I think will end up losing his middleweight title.
UFC -*Georges St. Pierre
I'm going to go ahead and call it right now: Anderson Silva vs Georges St. Pierre will happen in 2010.
Silva is set to face Vitor Belfort for the middleweight title at UFC 112. This will be a very tough fight for Silva, but I think he will survive being rocked in the first round to come back and defeat Belfort by submission in the fourth round. Next, I think he will fight Marquardt for the title, who he should beat fairly easily.
Finally, at the last event of the year and Silva's last fight in the UFC under his current contract, I think Silva and GSP will fight for the middleweight title and to determine the pound for pound best. I'm picking GSP to win this epic match and be crowned the best in the world. Expect to then see GSP vacate the welterweight title in early 2011.
Strikeforce -*Dan Henderson
I think that Henderson will get an immediate title shot upon joining Strikeforce and he will be far too much for Shields to handle. Expect him to win by knockout in the first or second round.
However, I don't think that the middleweight title will be defended again in 2010 because I think that Henderson will want to move up to light heavyweight in order to challenge Mousasi. I think that he will have to fight one fight at light heavyweight, against someone like Sobral, in order to prove that he deserves a title shot before he actually challenges Mousasi at an end of year show.
Light Heavyweight Division
UFC -*Thiago Silva
This division is by far the hardest division to predict, but I'm going to go with someone a lot of other people might not even consider.
I think that Silva will beat Rashad Evans at UFC 108 impressively and then beat Randy Couture in a number one contender fight before fighting the champion at the start of Autumn. One of the hardest questions is who will the champion be: Machida or Shogun?
I'm going to go with Shogun to beat Machida and for Silva to then beat Shogun for the title. Silva will then be able to defend his belt before the end of the year by beating Antonio Rogerio Nogueria.
Strikeforce -*Gegard Mousasi
I think 2010 will be the year when everyone realises that Mousasi is the real deal and everyone will want him to go to the UFC, even more than they want Fedor there.
After his fight with Gary Goodridge at Dynamite! 2009, I think he will defend his light heavyweight belt against Muhammed "King Mo" Lawel in the first half of the year before going to Dream to defend his middleweight belt. In the second half of the year, he could defend his belt against Dan Henderson, who he will beat impressively.
UFC -*Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria
Predicting the UFC heavyweight division depends on if and when Lesnar returns, which I'm guessing will be near the end of the year, and he will return not as the same fighter before his injury.
Shane Carwin and Frank Mir are scheduled to fight each other for the interim-heavyweight title at UFC 111, and I think Mir will come out victorious. The UFC will then be hoping for a Lesnar vs. Mir rematch, but I don't think that Lesnar will be fit enough in time.
Instead, I think Mir will fight the winner of Valesquez and Nogueria, which will be Big Nog. Nogueria will prove that he isn't past his prime by beating Mir impressively. I then think we will see Nogueria vs. Lesnar and skill will come out over size: Nogueria will come out with one of the biggest wins of his career by submitting Lesnar, although Lesnar's ring rust and the toll his injury took on him will show in the fight.
One of two things will happen to the Strikeforce heavyweight title in 2010: Either Overeem will finally come to Strikeforce and defend his belt against Fedor, or he will be stripped of the title and a title fight will occur between Fedor and possibly Arlovski.
Either way Fedor will end up with the belt before the end of 2010. I'm hoping that after Fedor beats Werdum, he will fight Overeem for the title during the summer, which I think Fedor will win in one of his greatest ever performances.
Hopefully he then will*defend his title before the end of the year, possibly against Arlovski if he joins Strikeforce soon, and can win one or two fights before meeting Fedor in a rematch.