Sean Covington, Columnist – Covington’s Corner
My bold prediction for this year that an independent investigation from an outside source (government I guess?) will be launched into USADA, its testing process and results. It will later be found that there is significant tampering with samples, cover-ups, payoffs, EVERYTHING. Jeff Novitzky will be fired, UFC will lose a tremendous amount of credibility and possibly the ESPN deal, making Bellatorthea number one MMA promotion in late 2020 with a new deal from…let’s say CBS along with All Elite Wrestling. BOLD!
Frank Hyden, Columnist – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
I think buyrates for most UFC pay-per-views will continue to go down or underperform, leading to increased talk of starting up an actual UFC Network, with plans for it to start in 2020. People are excited until they announce that UFC Network is essentially just slightly better than a re-branded UFC Fight Pass, with one (weak) UFC Network card a month featuring people you’ve never heard of and little else. Here’s to hoping I’m completely wrong.
Christian Moore, MMATorch Contributor
My bold prediction for 2019 is we see new champions in Jessica Andrade and Israel Adesanya. I see Andrade steamrolling Rose Namajunas whenever Rose accepts the fight. I think Israel gets it done, beating Whittaker. We’ll see a new heavyweight champ as well, just a matter of when Cormier fights this year.
Michael Grocke, MMATorch Fight Handicapper
Here are two:
Jon Jones will be a model citizen and toe the company line all while walking through everyone he faces in the light heavyweight division.
Amanda Nunes won’t get through the year as both the women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion.
Cole Henry, Host – MMA Scope Podcast
I don’t know if this is bold or particularly creative, but I’ll go with Conor McGregor competing twice in 2019. McGregor hasn’t competed more than once in a calendar year since 2016 but I think that could end. He is coming off a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov and it wasn’t exactly a competitive fight or an inspiring performance by the Irishman. So, I think just to get everybody salivating again its possible that we see McGregor matched up with a somewhat favorable opponent so that he can perhaps land another KO and reignite fan interest. Now I’m not saying fans aren’t interested in McGregor now, but it just seems like the rematch will be bigger if McGregor is coming off an impressive win. It could give casual fans a reason to think he could have a chance in the rematch with Khabib because his performance certainly didn’t do that. Right now, I like the rumor that McGregor could potentially fight Donald Cerrone, perhaps in June or July and then he could rematch Khabib later in the year around November or December.
Michael Hiscoe, MMATorch Managing Editor
My prediction for 2019 is that Paige VanZant will get through Rachael Ostovich on Jan. 19 and be awarded a flyweight championship fight with Valentina Shevchenko in the summer. That fight will go exactly as you would expect it to and we never see VanZant in the cage again.
A second prediction is that Greg Hardy is a top 10 ranked heavyweight by year’s end.