5 championship bouts. A number of different top-10 showdowns. A number of high-profile rematches. Greater than a dozen fights that includes former world champions.

The UFC has fairly a summer time of combating lined up. After taking this coming weekend off, the promotion makes an enormous splash on July 11 in Abu Dhabi with UFC 251, that includes a trio of title bouts. That will likely be adopted by three extra battle playing cards within the United Arab Emirates by means of the month, after which it is again to the USA for a run that, by the tip of August, will embrace 5 further occasions. With numerous fights. Large fights.

Once I was requested to jot down in regards to the 5 most anticipated fights of the summer time, my preliminary thought was to assemble a listing of the highest dozen or so and flow into it among the many ESPN group to get a consensus of which of them most resonate with the group.

“No,” I used to be advised, “that is your listing.”

Ah, sure, OK then.

It is smart to method the train this fashion, really, as a result of each fan will take a look at the summer time schedule and have completely different fights come out for them. All of us have our personal preferences. Some would possibly level to these 5 title fights on faucet between now and Labor Day and be achieved with their listing. For me, title bouts characterize lower than half of my top-five itemizing. I did embrace three rematches, although, whereas different followers would possibly keep away from that sort of reserving, pondering, “Been there, achieved that.”

Irrespective of your style, there is a battle for you. A number of, in reality. Listed below are my picks:

Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier 3

Aug. 15 in Las Vegas

Let’s begin with the battle on my listing that is farthest off sooner or later. Why? As a result of the UFC 252 essential occasion is the battle of the summer time — and I significantly doubt I’m alone in that sentiment. The keen anticipation of lastly attending to see Miocic and Cormier full their heavyweight championship trilogy will gasoline us by means of the sweaty canine days forward. What may very well be higher? Cormier knocked out Miocic within the first spherical in July 2018 to turn out to be a two-division champ. Within the rematch 13 months later, Stipe overcame a tough begin to regain his title with a fourth-round TKO. Who’ll fall this time?

There’s even added intrigue surrounding the third assembly. These two males began out on pretty cordial phrases, however two years later their rivalry has an edge to it. That is what occurs when it is simply you and one different fighter spending an prolonged stretch jockeying for the throne that sits atop Heavyweight Mountain. There have been head video games, microaggressions amplified to the purpose the place these fellows appear to share this one sentiment: I positively can not permit myself to lose to that man. With Cormier dedicated to retiring from MMA after this night time, the end result right here will likely be his enduring closing reminiscence as an energetic prizefighter. And for Miocic, who has seen nobody however DC in entrance of him for 2 years? He needs to get this man out of his face as quickly as attainable.

Backside line: If I had been singling out my most hotly anticipated battle of the summer time, this could be it. If I had been placing collectively a listing of three must-see bouts, I’d simply go together with this completion of the trilogy together with taped replays of Miocic-Cormier 1 and a pair of. Cannot wait.

If you happen to like watching heavyweights …: Junior dos Santos vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (Aug. 15), Derrick Lewis vs. Alexey Oleinik (Aug. 8), Fabricio Werdum vs. Alexander Gustafsson (July 25).

Robert Whittaker vs. Darren Until

July 25 in Abu Dhabi, UAE



Robert Whittaker explains how a Christmas Day coaching session made him really feel burnt out, inflicting him to query if he nonetheless needed to battle and to comprehend he wanted a break.

Generally a champion is knocked off a throne and seemingly falls off the face of the earth. That is what seems to have occurred to Whittaker, who has watched the middleweight division transfer on since he dropped his belt to Israel Adesanya final October. In some respects, Adesanya already was the star of the load class even whereas Whittaker nonetheless reigned, due to each the stupendous aptitude of “The Final Stylebender” and in addition Whittaker’s damage absences and buttoned-down demeanor. However right here comes a possibility for the ex-champion to get again on the map. Or not.

What makes this matchup particularly interesting for me is that it got here out of left subject. As lately as 9 months in the past, who might have foreseen Until sharing the cage with Whittaker or any prime 185-pounder? However then, in November, the longtime welterweight moved up a division and jumped proper into the deep finish of the pool, taking up extremely ranked Kelvin Gastelum. Until’s split-decision win made him an on the spot contender. If he beats Whittaker, the sky is the restrict.

If you happen to like watching showdowns on the crossroads …: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Jack Hermansson (middleweight, July 18), Chris Weidman vs. Omari Akhmedov (middleweight, Aug. 8).

Frankie Edgar vs. Pedro Munhoz

July 16 in Abu Dhabi, UAE

There are championship fights and high-stakes contender bouts that, wanting on the huge image, imply extra for the UFC and its varied weight-class hierarchies. However generally you simply need to go together with what excites you. And I like me some Frankie Edgar fights. These of us who’ve adopted the person’s profession seemingly endlessly have at all times needed to strap ourselves in for plenty of ups and downs — generally in the identical battle, generally in the identical spherical. As of this month, Edgar has been on this sport for 15 years, and never a second of that has been boring. The previous couple of years haven’t been so type to this former champion, although. Edgar, who’s transferring to bantamweight, has misplaced three of 4 and appears relegated to a gatekeeper function.

That brings me to Edgar’s opponent. Munhoz suffered a momentum-killing loss to Aljamain Sterling over a yr in the past and has not fought since. However just some months earlier than that defeat, he KO’d Cody Garbrandt and was on a roll. Munhoz had established himself as a rising bantamweight contender, and a win right here might restore that standing to his title.

If you happen to like watching rising contenders …: Calvin Kattar vs. Dan Ige (males’s featherweight, July 15), Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Derek Brunson (middleweight, Aug. 1).

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway

July 12 in Abu Dhabi, UAE

The primary time these two shared the Octagon, again in December, Volkanovski placed on a shocking efficiency to turn out to be UFC featherweight champion. It was his 18th consecutive victory, so everybody already knew the Aussie was formidable. However who was ready to see Holloway dethroned so decisively? Max had gained 14 of his earlier 15 fights, the lone loss coming in opposition to Dustin Poirier at light-weight. He had the look of a champion destined to reign for an extended whereas.

That is Holloway’s alternative to grab again the belt and the mojo he misplaced. It’s Volkanovski’s alternative to close up any who nonetheless doubt he is the higher fighter, not only a man who had one nice night time. That is what attracts me to this UFC 251 co-main occasion, much more than the welterweight title battle on the prime of the marquee. Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns goes to be an electrifying scrap, however the 145-pound rematch that can happen proper earlier than it has stakes which are extra personally consequential and primal than a championship belt. It’s a matchup of two males who’ve already proved themselves but nonetheless should remind us what they’re product of. It’s the bout I am most wanting ahead to that night.

If you happen to like watching rematches …: Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Benavidez (July 18 for vacant males’s flyweight title).

Rose Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade

July 12 in Abu Dhabi, UAE

This is one other rematch on that loaded UFC 251 essential card, this one between a pair of former strawweight champions. And sure, I am together with this battle over two of that night’s three title bouts — Usman vs. Burns at welterweight and Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo for the vacant males’s bantamweight championship. I am going to watch all of them, after all, however this one is especially fascinating for me to ponder due to how the primary assembly took such an abrupt about-face. Namajunas was piecing up Andrade till Andrade picked up Namajunas. The slam that ended the battle was scary vicious.