With only about two months left in 2019, the fight menu is looking juicier than a Pride-era drug test.
These are the bangers and sleepers that are still to come before we bid adieu to UFC 2019:
Set as the co-main event for the annual Madison Square Garden card, Till and Gastelum are both in talks for a title shot if they can win this. Gastelum is coming off the fight of the year against the newly crowned champion, Israel Adesanya. A rematch is exactly what he’s looking for if he can end Till’s middleweight campaign before it really starts.
Till on the other hand, has just been finished in his last two fights and is moving up to middleweight to begin a soft restart on his career. If Till can pull out a win, however, a trash talking lead up to a PPV with Adesanya could certainly be in the cards.
Prediction: Gastelum by KO
Kevin Lee has been on a downward spiral since his flirtation with the top of the mountain. With losses in 2 of his last 3, Lee’s once speeding hype-train has derailed with a very low chance of survival. The undefeated Gregor Gillespie is his next matchup. Gillespie may seem to be a bad matchup for a fighter struggling to piece his game together, but Kevin Lee’s wrestling is truly elite when he’s on. One thing Lee does have in his favour is that Gillespie, when he’s looked his best, thrives on the ground, exactly where Lee excels.
Prediction: Lee by decision (in a big upset)
What Usman and Covington seem to stand for are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Usman immigrated to the US at eight-years-old. Proudly displaying his love for family and hist Nigerian heritage, Usman is a beacon of the greater good. On the opposite end, Colby Covington called a Brazillian crowd a bunch of “filthy animals” and brought his UFC interim title to the White House for a photo-op and meeting with Donald Trump. With Trump set to be in attendance on fight night, this fight might have a bigger meaning than two men in a cage.
Oddly enough, the differences in ideology, focus, and personality belong to two fighters with an identical style. Both men are elite wrestlers with different means to a similar end. Usman uses his strength to grind out his opponents against the cage and tire them out. Colby Covington uses his cardio and pace to grind out his opponents and wear them down.
Prediction- Usman by decision
Did Max Holloway fly too close to the sun? The owner of the longest active win streak in the UFC moved up to lightweight and fight Dustin Poirier for a chance to face Khabib later in the year. Holloway lost but not without having moments of his own during the match. Max is back at 145 and is facing a shark from the waters down under. Twenty wins and just one loss, have lead Alex Volkanovski to this point.
Volkanovski’s most impressive performance this year was against Chad Mendes, where he continuously turned up the heat until Mendes melted.
Prediction- Holloway by decision
Ortega- Korean Zombie
Brian Ortega had a choice. He could stay silent after his first career loss in a battering versus Holloway, or he could go out and say he could beat Khabib. Ortega chose the latter and the first challenger on that road is the relentless Chan Sung Jung, also known as ‘The Korean Zombie’.
One of the most underrated ground games in all of MMA belongs to the Zombie, and Ortega may be surprised by the grappling skills of the undead. Zombie is the owner of the first submission in the UFC and also holds a submission win over Dustin Poirier. Jung has chosen to go with a more striking centric style in recent years but those skills ok the ground do not just go away.