The 2016 calendar has wrapped up for the UFC, and at the beginning of the year, I made 10 predictions.
Here’s how they turned out…
1.) Khabib Nurmagomedov returns from injury, wins, gets the title shot and becomes UFC Lightweight Champion.
This could have easily been reality but the title shot ended up going to Conor McGregor, instead. 0-1. Hopefully he gets his crack at the belt in 2017.
2.) Neither Robbie Lawler or Carlos Condit is the UFC Welterweight Champion.
Lawler defeated Condit in a close decision but went on to lose to Tyron Woodley via first round knockout, ultimately losing his 170-pound title. 1-1.
3.) Nick Diaz returns to action and gets a rematch against Lawler or Condit (or hopefully both). Perhaps more of a wish than a prediction.
4.) Ronda Rousey regains the Women’s Bantamweight title and either ends the year as Champion or retires with the belt.
She returned to action last weekend against current champion Amanda Nunes and lost by first round TKO. There was only one day left in the year to count this one as a win, but unfortunately she came up short in the title fight. 1-3.
5.) Dominick Cruz regains his UFC Bantamweight title and is still the Champion by year-end.
I should have just ended this prediction after he regains his title, because he lost the belt with just one day left in the year! I could easily be 5-0 here, but things did not go exactly my way. A very sad 1-4.
6.) Mirsad Bektic enters the Top 15 of the UFC’s featherweight division and possibly cracks the Top 10 by the end of the year.
He only had one fight this year, a first round rear naked choke submission over short notice opponent Russell Doane, who normally competes at 135-pounds. Despite this fact, he managed to crack the 145-pound rankings, allowing my prediction to ring true. 2-4.
7.) Gegard Mousasi goes undefeated in 2016 and enters the UFC middleweight title picture.
The big homie did it! Mousasi went 4-0 in 2016 with a unanimous decision victory over Thales Leites and T/KOs of Thiago Santos, Vitor Belfort and Uriah Hall, respectively. Now we’re lookin’ better, 3-4.
8.) Alistair Overeem becomes UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Overeem scored a second round TKO of Andrei Arlovski to earn a shot at Stipe Miocic and his UFC Heavyweight title, but unfortunately he came up short, losing the bout via first round knockout after dropping Miocic with one of his first punches. Came so close yet again, but no cigar! 3-5.
9.) Jon “Bones” Jones regains the UFC Light Heavyweight title and either ends the year as Champion or relinquishes his belt for a move up to the heavyweight division.
Yet another prediction that could have easily been true, but a positive drug test got Jones suspended for the rest of the year, after he had gained the UFC interim-light heavyweight title with a unanimous decision win over Ovince St. Preux. 3-6. Jones did win a belt, but it wasn’t the specific one I said he would capture.
10.) Al Iaquinta returns to action following knee surgery and goes undefeated through 2016.
Iaquinta never competed in 2016 and is for the moment retired from the sport of mixed martial arts. The UFC has failed to come to terms on a new contract with the lightweight who is 7-2 inside the Octagon and on a four fight winning streak that includes three TKO finishes. 3-7. In conclusion, I was correct with 30% of my predictions on the year, which ties the previous year. 2016 had its ups and downs in the world of the UFC, and after another wild ride around the globe, it’s time to put the solid year of action and entertainment in our rear-view and look forward to what 2017 has in store.