GROCKE’S TAKE: My New Year’s wish list of fights I want to see in 2017 – some realistic, others not

By Michael Grocke, MMATorch contributor

Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor at UFC 202 (photo credit © Joshua Dahl USA Today Sports)

With Christmas just a few days away, here are the fights I have on my wish list for the New Year. Some are close to happening already, while others might never happen.

Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier

This fight was supposed to be the main event at UFC 200, but Dana White and company were forced to pull Jones out of the bout due to a failed drug test just days before the event. Jones seemed to have gotten himself back on track by beating Ovince Saint Preux after a one year suspension because of a felony hit and run charge.

As for Daniel Cormier, this was his chance for redemption. It was a chance to avenge his loss to Jones back in January of 2015 at UFC 182. It was a fight in which Jones won convincingly by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46). Cormier had put everything he had into training for the UFC 200 fight, to the point that he broke down in tears upon hearing the news of the failed drug test.

Daniel Cormier is a great fighter, but is he the best light heavyweight in the UFC? Until we get Jones vs. Cormier II, it’s a question without an answer.

Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson 2 – UFC

Woodley vs. Thompson was the co-main event at UFC 205 for Woodley’s welterweight title. The two went back and forth for five rounds each taking the best the other had to offer. It was an extremely difficult fight to score and the judge’s scorecards proved that. Tyron Woodley walked out of the cage with his belt after the decision came back as a majority draw 47-47, 47-47, 48-47). Although Woodley retained the welterweight title, he didn’t leave with the win. Someone has to be declared the winner, and that’s why we need Woodley vs. Thompson 2 in 2017.

Ronda Rousey vs. Cris “Cyborg” Justino – UFC

If Ronda Rousey beats Amanda Nunes and takes back the Women’s Bantamweight Title at UFC 207 on December 30, Dana White has all but guaranteed that a “super-fight” with Cris “Cyborg” Justino is next. Appearing on The Herd on FS1 back on October 12, White said, “I know that Cyborg wants that fight. Ronda wants that fight, too. Ronda’s plan right now is to come back and try to win her title back. If that happens, the Cyborg fight will definitely happen.”

I’m not sure Rousey makes it past Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 on December 30, but win or lose; Cyborg should be next. It’s a fight everyone wants to see and the numbers would be massive.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson

After waiting for two years, this fight has to happen in 2017. The fans want it and both fighters want it. With Conor McGregor out of the picture, pitting the #1 contender against the #2 contender in the lightweight division ( only makes sense.

If it were up to Khabib’s manager the fight would happen tomorrow. “Conor we know wants nothing to do with Khabib. You thought Conor ran from Frankie (Edgar)? Conor will move to 170, 185, he’ll drop back down to 145 to avoid Khabib. We already know that. But right now the No. 1 guy is Khabib and the head of the snake is Tony Ferguson. Tony Ferguson deserves it. Nobody deserves it more than him,” Abdel-Aziz said.

“By beating Tony, he’s silenced all doubters. As a fan, who deserves it more than Tony Ferguson? Nobody. It would be sad not to see Khabib vs. Tony Ferguson. Khabib should be fighting the champion but the champion is in a cave somewhere hiding.”

The winner gets McGregor.

Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo 2 – UFC

Jose Aldo wants nothing more than a chance to avenge the thirteen second knockout loss he suffered at the hands of McGregor at UFC 194. Since the fight Conor has moved on to greater heights, while Aldo’s career seems to be in flux. I thought McGregor should’ve granted Aldo a rematch instead of moving up in weight to take on Nate Diaz. Hopefully at some point McGregor decides to drop back down to Featherweight and challenge for the title he never lost.

Eduardo Dantas vs. Darrion Caldwell – Bellator

The two-time Bellator bantamweight champion, Eduardo Dantas successfully defended his belt against Joe Warren at Bellator 166 by majority decision (47-47, 49-44, 48-46). Having covered the fight for, how one judge saw the fight as a draw is a mystery. Dantas dominated the fight.

Darrion Caldwell got the revenge he was looking for by beating Joe Taimanglo at Bellator 167. Taimanglo handed Caldwell the first loss of his career after he caught in a guillotine choke nine seconds into the third round. Now the two are on a collision course to find out who the best bantamweight is in Bellator.

Michael Chandler vs. Benson Henderson 2

Michael Chandler successfully defended his lightweight title at Bellator 165 by split decision (48-46, 46-48, 48, 47). It was a close fight that I scored 48-47 in favor of Chandler. Henderson got off to his usual slow start, which put him behind two rounds to one heading into the championship rounds. Unfortunately for Ben he came up short on two of the judge’s scorecards dropping him to 1-2 under the Bellator banner. The first fight was so close; I’d like to see them go at it again.

Bobby Lashley vs. Cheick Kongo – Bellator

I NEED to see Lashley fight a legitimate heavyweight.

Brock Lesmar vs. Bobby Lashley

Hey, it’s my wish list.

Happy Holidays!

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