2019 has ushered in another hugely successful year for European fighters in the world’s premier MMA organization.
The promotion held its final event of 2019 earlier this morning in South Korea. Let’s take a look at Europe’s chances of UFC gold in 2020.
Arnold Allen: (15-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) Featherweight
Another fighter with only one professional defeat on his MMA record, Allen looks to finally be getting a push in one of the most competitive divisions in the UFC. “Almighty” is scheduled to face Team Alpha Male’s Josh Emmet at ‘UFC Fight Night Night 166’.
Six- straight victories for the 25-year-old former Cagewarrior’s fighter, including a victory over former UFC lightweight title challenger Gilbert Melendez has laid the foundation for a big 2020 for the fighter. A win over #10 ranked Emmett would elevate the Suffolk fighter into the upper echelon of the featherweight ranks.
Darren Till: (18-2-1 MMA, 6-2-1 UFC) Middleweight
Liverpool’s Darren Till made his middleweight title debut with a masterful tactical display against former interim champion Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 244. The move to 185lbs has re-invigorated the former welterweight championship challenger after back-to-back defeats against Tyron Woodley and Jorge Masvidal.
A headline fight in London next February against Swede Jack Hermansson looks likely after the Swede reiterated his desire to throw down against the 170lbs title contender. Victory over “The Joker” would keep the scouser right in contention for a shot at Israel Adesanya’s gold.
Nathaniel Wood: (16-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC) Bantamweight
“The Prospect” is certainly living up to the hype since signing from Cage Warriors Fighting Championship in 2018. He’s currently on an unbeaten three-fight win streak with the promotion and hasn’t suffered a loss since being knocked out by Northern Ireland’s Alan Philpott back in 2016.
Brad Pickett’s fighter has all the attributes to be a contender in the division after taking submitting his last three opponents. Nathaniel Wood, like compatriot Arnold Allen, is facing a top-ranked opponent and former flyweight title challenger in Jon Dodson at ‘UFC Fight Night 167’ in February. Victory over Dodson would elevate the Englishman into title contention.
Molly McCann: (10-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC)
Yet another Liverpudlian on the list, McCann has evolved ten-fold since her promotional debut and sole promotional loss against Gillian Robertson. The Scouser has won three on the bounce including a victory over former KSW champion Ariane Lipski.
Considering the depth of the flyweight division, McCann is only a couple of victories away from a potential title shot against Valentina Shevchenko. She is scheduled to face Ashlee Evans-Smith on March 21, 2020 at 'UFC Fight Night 171'. 2020 is shaping up to be a big year for the tough scouser.
Petr Yan: (14-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) Bantamweight
Petr Yan: "This is fun."
Russia’s Petr Yan may be the most lethal fighter on this list. He has backed up all his ‘thrash talk’ with cerebral showings, most recently at UFC 245 when he finished future UFC hall of famer Urijah Faber with a devastating head-kick KO that earned a performance of the night bonus.
“No mercy” is hot on the heels of UFC bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo compiling a 6-fight-promotional win streak. The Russian may already be next in line but one more victory will 100% guarantee a shot at “Triple C”.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk: (16-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) Women’s Strawweight
Joanna Jedrzejczyk says she will fight for UFC strawweight title with a victory over Michelle Waterson 🎤
The undoubted European queen of women’s MMA needs no introduction and is on this list due to the fact she is hoping to regain the women’s 115lbs title against current champion Wei Li Zhang at UFC 248 in March. The former strawweight champion is coming off a masterful decision victory over Michelle Waterson and is hoping to reclaim the belt off China’s first-ever promotional champion.
No fighter has won more strawweight contest than the ATT fighter, racking up ten wins in the division. She has only won 2 of her last five but don’t that let deceive you as three of those fights were title bouts, losing back-to-back against former champion Rose Namajunas and dropping a flyweight contest to reigning champion Valentina Shevchenko a weight-class up.
Leon Edwards: (18-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) Welterweight
Jorge Masvidal and Leon Edwards exchange words and punches backstage during the ESPN+ post-show pic.twitter.com/kYEkWxN8Io
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 16, 2019
What more can Edwards do to earn a UFC welterweight title shot? The Birmingham fighter has racked up an eight-fight win streak and is unbeaten since dropping a decision to current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman back in 2016. The UFC failed to act on a potential narrative with Jorge Masvidal after the pair were involved in a backstage altercation at ‘UFC Fight Night: Till vs. Masvidal’ last February.
Tyron Woodley has been penciled in as a potential opponent for the Renegade MMA man but has refused to fight the Brit overseas – that fight could well take place in the United States next year. A win for Edwards over Woodley would make it exceptionally tough for UFC brass to deny “Rocky” a rematch with the 170lbs champion.
Next Saturday we will complete the list of potential European UFC contenders in 2020.