Very few fighters actually get into the UFC with any other goal than earning the distinction of being world champion. Over the years, we’ve seen various prospects achieve that goal, however, we’ve also seen a bunch of fighters ultimately fail in their pursuit of becoming a UFC titleholder.
Despite sometimes being crowned as a future UFC champion, nothing is guaranteed. There are currently fighters in the promotion that are expected to hold gold one day, but they won’t. However, that’s not to say that every competitor with high expectations will disappoint. Let’s take a look into a crystal ball to see who will be UFC champions in the future, and who won’t.
ten Won’t Win: Michael Chandler
Michael Chandler famously noted upon his UFC signing that he wasn’t there for a long time, he was there for a good time. So far, he’s had a good time, and also gotten close to becoming a world champion. He was seconds away from defeating Charles Oliveira at UFC 262 to become lightweight champion, but that’s sadly the closest he’ll ever get.
Chandler has his place right now as one of the most entertaining fighters in the game. However, as he’s approaching his late 30s, and with losses to the top two guys in the division, he’ll likely never hold UFC gold.
nine Will Win: Islam Makhachev
Islam Makhachev is likely one fight away from challenging for the UFC’s lightweight throne. Currently riding a ten-fight winning streak, the Russian is not only in his prime, he’s seemingly getting better with every single fight.
At only 30 years old and only getting better, Makhachev is pretty much guaranteed to get his hands on the gold. Even if he loses that bout, he’s far too good to never hold a UFC title in his career.
eight Won’t Win: Maycee Barber
Maycee Barber is only 23 years old and is already one of the top women’s flyweights on the planet. While her initial winning streak saw her jump into title contention, losses to Alexa Grasso and Roxanne Modafferi saw her slide back in the rankings. However, she is back into the winning column as of late.
While her age and knockout power lead some to think that she will be UFC champion like she proclaims, it’s going to be a tough ask. With a division as light as women’s flyweight, she’ll probably fight for the belt, but there’s no chance she’s beating Valentina Shevchenko.
7 Will Win: Erin Blanchfield
A women’s flyweight that will claim gold one day is the 22-year-old Erin Blanchfield. Unlike Barber, ‘Cold Blooded’ has made no qualms about fighting for the title anytime soon. Instead, she’s taking the slow rise, and sharpening her skills with time.
That’s a strategy that will help her largely in the future. Blanchfield is coming off two lopsided victories in her first two appearances and is seemingly only getting better. Look for the New York native to hold a UFC title by her time is done.
6 Won’t Win: Tai Tuivasa
Tai Tuivasa’s career turnaround from being nearly cut to being a top-three ranked heavyweight is a story that is incredible. However, it’s likely that he’s peaking here, which isn’t bad. But there are serious limitations to his skillset.
Tuivasa’s style of wild-brawling and hoping that he doesn’t get knocked out is entertaining. However, with a limited grappling skillset and the fact that there are only so many wars that you can take, he won’t hold UFC gold.
5 Will Win: Magomed Ankalaev
Magomed Ankalaev’s current run might be the most under-the-radar storyline in the UFC. The Russian is currently sitting at 17-1, with a solid eight-fight win streak with wins over names such as Thiago Santos and Volkan Oezdemir.
Light-heavyweight is at a weird place at the moment. However, with Ankalev’s technical striking and competent ground game, he will one day be a UFC champion. It’s also going to happen sooner, rather than later.
4 Won’t Win: Vicente Luque
Vicente Luque is one of the most entertaining fighters on the UFC’s entire roster. His climb from being just a brawler to being a top-five ranked title contender is also a great story in its own right. However, his recent loss to Belal Muhammad shows that he has clear limitations at the top level.
Luque has good jiu-jitsu, great striking, and lots of power. However, his wrestling is notably his weak point, and it showed in his last appearance. At 30 years old, it’s likely he won’t be able to improve to hang in the wrestling game with the top names at 170 pounds.
3 Will Win: Arman Tsarukyan
Arman Tsarukyan made his name in 2019 by coming in on short notice against the aforementioned Islam Makhachev and taking him to the brink. To date, that is still the Russian’s most competitive fight of the last few years.
Still only 25 years old, Tsarukyan showed that the Makhachev fight wasn’t an aberration. He’s dominated all the completion he’s faced and is showing massive improvements as well. With his wrestling and rapid improvement, expect Tsarukyan to be champ before he hangs up the glove.
2 Won’t Win: Darren Till
Darren Till was one of the most highly-rated prospects during his run to receive a title shot in 2018. While he failed that night against Tyron Woodley, he’s also shown that he has the potential to be a top contender at middleweight.
However, he’ll never hold gold. While he’s one of the most likable fighters in the game, his inconsistency makes it hard for him to ever sustain a winning streak, let alone actually win a title.
one Will Win: Khamzat Chimaev
While his best friend Darren Till won’t become champion, Khamzat Chimaev will eventually be champ. The Chechen is still only 27 years old and has showcased that he’s the whole package from wrestling, striking, and even mic work.
While some pundits thought Chimaev might have been “exposed” in his fight with Gilbert Burns, that’s a terrible take. He beat a top top-two ranked welterweight in only his fifth UFC fight. If he’s doing this, this early in his career, imagine where he’ll be by the end. Regardless of the end destination, you can guarantee that he’ll be UFC champion at some point.
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