Predicting the Future: Who Will Rule the UFC by the end of 2012?
(I know there have been several lists like this, but I thought since there have been a few exciting changes and new up-and-comers in the divisions I thought now would be the best time to "predict the future.")
Brock Lesnar, Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre, and B.J. Penn.
What do all of these people have in common?
They are all the current UFC champions in their division. Can they hold this prestigious position for long?
But there are always new people coming and going, and they will not just sit back and let the kings in their division rule without a fight. These are the fighters who I think will be No. 1 in their respected divisions by the end of 2012.
Heavyweight: Brock Lesnar
2010: Cain Velasquez TKOs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Frank Mir wins in his bout against Shane Carwin in the third round. Gonzaga goes on to shock the world by winning against Junior Dos Santos by kimura in the second round. Frank Mir manages to win against Brock in their third bout to claim the title and proclaim himself Jesus.
2011: Cain Velasquez briefly claims the heavyweight belt by winning a UD against Mir. Mir suddenly isn't so cocky anymore. Lesnar climbs back up to the title shot by KTFO of Gabriel Gonzaga in the first round. Lesnar wins the title against Velasquez by first round TKO.
2012: Lesnar defends his belt on numerous occasions, cements himself in the UFC Hall of Fame.
Explanation for decisions: Of course, the events will not transpire in this exact way, but Lesnar's speed and size has always amazed me. It's unbelievable how fast he can be, and as he is always improving as well, I think it is inevitable that he dominate at one point in the UFC.
Of course, he will have to establish himself cleaner striking and possibly some sort of ground game to continue to hang with the best, but unless he gets lazy it will be more than possible for him to do so.
Meanwhile, Fedor will be raking in the wins in another organization and will be on the verge of transitioning to the UFC to make the ultimate super fight against Lesnar.
Light Heavyweight: Gegard Mousasi
For most of 2010, 2011, and some of 2012, Mauricio Rua was ruling the UFC, not unlike the days when he ruled Pride. It seemed nobody could stop him as he steamrolled through the division. Lyoto Machida and he had three matches total.
The first fight was the controversial unanimous decision in which Machida ended up being the winner. The second fight Rua got dominated the first two rounds and then made a incredible comeback in which Machida was knocked out for the first time in his career.
In the the third fight, Rua took home a clear unanimous decision and stood on top of the light heavyweight division in the UFC for the first time.
Then, Gegard Mousasi was finally signed with the UFC. After beating Rashad Evans, he took on Rua and won in an amazing fight. He defended his title twice against Jon Jones and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
In 2013, he will fight Lyoto Machida. If he wins, it will be hard to find anybody capable of beating him.
Middleweight: Nate Marquardt
2010: After Chael Sonnen defeated Marquardt by UD, Anderson Silva won by first round KO against Demian Maia. That led to Chael Sonnen getting a title shot in which he unfortunately lost to Silva by third-round TKO.
2011: Anderson Silva does one last fight before retiring, maybe against somebody like GSP, but the result is unrelated. Point is, Silva is no longer in the division.
Vitor Belfort wins by third-round TKO against Sonnen. Sonnen's stamina is what is keeping him from being champ. Demian Maia climbs back up the ladder by easily submitting Yushin Okami in the second round.
2012: Nate Marquardt rematches Demian Maia and wins by UD. It is now clear that Maia has large difficulties fighting any top-notch fighter. Wanderlei Silva has meanwhile been racking in the wins and fights Vitor Belfort, making a much needed win in the second round by TKO.
Wanderlei Silva fights Demian Maia and wins by a unanimous decision to earn a title shot in 2013.
At the end of the year Marquardt is the one holding the title, and Wanderlei is set to have the next shot.
Explanation for decisions: In the middleweight division, Silva has been clear No. 1 for a very long time. Nobody could challenge him, but once he retired, there were so many people all close to equal behind Silva that it became a desperate fight for the top spot, and nobody could hold the belt for long.
If I had to continue the years in the division, I would have Wanderlei taking the belt from Marquardt, and the chaos continues. Most likely a fighter relatively unknown to us now will eventually climb his way to No. 1 and stay there as the new king of the middleweight division.
Welterweight: Paulo Thiago
2010: Paulo Thiago silences his critics with his win versus Mike Swick. GSP continues his reign of domination and even mixes it up a bit and wins by TKO against Hardy in the first round. Koscheck sticks to his game-plan this time and wins by UD against Daley.
Fitch is getting closer to a title shot by beating Alves again, but Paulo Thiago's rampage isn't over yet: He avenges his only loss and submits Fitch in the first round.
2011: This is supposedly when the GSP vs Silva fight takes place. Josh Koscheck and Paulo Thiago face off to determine who gets the next shot at GSP, Paulo wins by a manner not unlike the first encounter in the second round. Alves easily defeats Hardy, and us MMA fans can't wait for the epic match of Paulo Thiago and GSP.
The fight does not disappoint. In a fight where neither fighter refuses to back down, Paulo wins by UD.
2012: Paulo Thiago defends his title against Thiago Alves, while GSP dismantles other competition to lead to a crucial rematch in the beginning of 2013. At that point, Paulo Thiago and GSP are miles ahead of any other competition in the UFC.
However, in Strikeforce Nick Diaz has literally been unbeatable. He has confirmed that he will move to the UFC somewhere in 2013, and it will be a much anticipated movement indeed for MMA fans around the world.
To explain my decision of Paulo Thiago doing so well, I just think all he has to do is improve his striking to be a little crisper and it's hard for me to see how he could be beaten. He has the power, killer instinct, and submissions to become an extremely strong fighter.
Lightweight: George Sotiropoulos
2010: Penn beats Frankie Edgar, Sotiropoulos turns heads with his impressive win over Joe Stevenson.
2011: Penn beats Greg Maynard in a surprisingly close fight, Sotiropoulos beats Sean Sherk. He is getting quite close to a title shot against Penn. Meanwhile, Jim Miller destroys Tyson Griffin in an important bout.
2012: After Florian wins against Miller, he fights Sotiropoulos for a title shot. Sotiropoulos wins and earns his shot at the title. At the end of 2012, he fights Penn and dismantles the champ to wow the MMA fans who wonder where this amazing fighter came from.
More likely scenario: Penn beats everybody. The end.
Seriously though, I truly and legitimately think Sotiropoulos will be the lightweight champion in the UFC by the end of 2012. It may not go as smoothly as I imagined, but he is immensely talented and with more experience he will for sure become champ sooner or later.