1. Robert Whittaker (UFC champion)
Whittaker is one of the greatest strikers in all of MMA and one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world. Coming off two exhilarating wins over top contender Yoel Romero. I’m looking for a big 2019 from Whittaker who starts 2019 with a hometown defense against Kelvin Gastellum at UFC 234.
2 . Gegard Mousasi (Bellator Middleweight champion)
I’m giving Mousasi the champion’s respect and ranking him #2 after the beat down of Rory Macdonald last month. Mousasi has been a dominant champion and defends again against Rafael Lovato Jr at Bellator 214.
3 . Kelvin Gastelum
Gastelum has had an impressive MMA career. I think that this next matchup against Robert Whittaker is a tough one for Gastelum however he is the rightful #1 contender to the UFC championship.
4. Yoel Romero
Romero is a dominant fighter even coming off two close decisions to Whittaker. On any night he is one of the scariest fighters on earth. Look for Romero to take a fight early in 2019 as he has been injured for the last half of 2018.
5. Luke Rockhold
Rockhold the former middleweight champion but is injured often, and missed his chance to become #1 contender when dropping out against Chris Weidman at UFC 230. That being said, Rockhold is an excellent fighter when healthy. Look for Rockhold to return in 2019 and make some noise in the middleweight division.
6. Israel Adesanya
Adesanya is coming on strong. With a big knockout win over Derek Brunson last month and a shot against Anderson Silva at UFC 234, Adesanya is the best prospect in the divisions history. Let’s see Adesanya make a statement in February and get the next title shot.
7. Ronaldo Souza
Jacare is the guy nobody wants to face. His striking has improved and his ground game and jiu-jitsu has always been top level. With a huge knockout over Chris Weidman on short notice, Souza is in line for a top 3 contender.
8. Paulo Costa
The Brazilian is a very intriguing prospect. Costa just needs to get healthy. A win over Yoel Romero would have vaulted Costa up the ranks, unfortunately the fight was withdrawn due to injuries. Let’s hope that Costa and Romero meet somewhere in 2019.
9. Chris Weidman
Weidman is at a career crossroads. I think an eventual move to 205 would be a career refresher. Losing 4 out of his last 5 fights is a killer, however Weidman is a former champion and in a division without much depth so he is still worthy of a top ten spot.
10. Anderson Silva
Even at 43 years old I would still name Silva a top ten middleweight . His last win was against former top ten Derek Brunson and Silva deserves that respect. If Silva can somehow beat Adesanya he will get the next title shot.