Here are my three picks for fighters who I believe will either fight for the title in their respective divisions or earn the right to fight for UFC Gold by the end of 2020. Each of these fighters have had and will have different career paths as they progress in their journeys. Mainly due to the structure of their divisions, as well as their current age/experience. However, I feel that all three of them either have or will have by the end of the year, a championship level skill set.
Maycee Barber is the second-youngest fighter currently competing in the UFC coming in at 21-years-old. Not only has she had tremendous success in the promotion going 3-0 (first fight at strawweight, other two at flyweight) with all three being finishes but she has also done a tremendous job of promoting herself, becoming one of the most well-known and talked about prospects in the game.
She’s charismatic, fun, full of energy and has a bulletproof mindset. She is destined to be a star in the company. Barber has vocally stated many times her goal is to become the youngest UFC champion ever. She has 736 days to complete this goal. She even has a timer set on her phone reminding her constantly of how long she has.
Inside the octagon, she has shown that she can come back from adversity. For example, in the JJ Aldrich fight, where she got dropped several times but came back a round later to finish the fight. She has also shown great takedown defense, and solid technical striking. She is now with Roufusport, which is a great team, as well as having Ben Askren as her wrestling coach. By all accounts, she is growing rapidly as a fighter. She is scheduled to fight Roxanne Modafferi on the first card of 2020 at UFC 246. She is the heavy favourite and a victory, in my opinion, will put her one win away from a title shot, which I predict will come late this year.
Brandon Moreno is a well-known name to the hardcore MMA community and a top flyweight contender. He has seven fights in the UFC and was considered a very promising fighter after he went 3-0 with the promotion from October 2016 – April 2017. However, Brandon then lost momentum after losing back to back fights against Sergio Pettis and Alexandre Pantoja.
Moreno was expected to face Ray Borg on April 7, 2018, at UFC 223. The bout was cancelled after Borg was injured by glass from a bus window that was smashed by Conor McGregor and his team. Brandon was released by the UFC in late 2018. He subsequently signed with the LFA, where in one fight, he won the title by knockout on June 7th, 2019.
Soon after this, the UFC resigned him and booked him to fight undefeated promotional newcomer Askar Askarov at UFC Fight Night: Rodríguez vs. Stephens on September 21st. They fought to a draw, which was controversial to most, as many, including myself, thought Moreno had won. On December 14th, Moreno fought prospect Kai Kara-France, who he came in as the underdog against. He won the fight by unanimous decision. It was a sensational bout where he showed phenomenal striking against a great competitor.
Moreno is scheduled to face Jussier Formiga on March 14th at UFC Fight Night 170. With the vacant flyweight title being fought for on February 29th in a contest between Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo, this puts Moreno in a great position to make a statement against the #2 ranked contender and put himself in line or at worst one fight away from a title shot. It’s going to be a big task for Moreno. However, I believe he has the skills to become the flyweight world champion.
Ciryl Gane impressed many within the hardcore MMA community in 2019. Not only because of the physical specimen that he is but because of the unique, diverse and high-level skill set he brings to the octagon. He’s 29 years old but only 6-0 in his MMA career (3-0 in the UFC) and so far he’s looked amazing.
Gane’s background is kickboxing, which you can clearly see in the way he strikes. He’s ridiculously fast and fluent for his size and very educated on the feet. He’s shown his grappling skills as well, finishing two of his UFC fights by submission (arm-triangle and heel hook).
People immediately compared him to his former training partner and friend Francis Ngannou presumably because of his freakish athleticism. I believe they are very different fighters. Ngannou’s game is based directly on his power and strength and he does a tremendous job of using it. However, Ciryl Gane has shown that he can technically outclass opponents on the mat and on the feet, while still having the power to put them out cold with one shot.
Gane is currently ranked 15th in the heavyweight division. If he stays as busy and as successful as he was last year, he’ll most definitely be able to get his name in the mix. However, there is a hold up at the top of the division. The champion Stipe Miocic is injured and won’t defend against Daniel Cormier for another 5 months at least. With another fight to decide who will get the shot after Cormier between Ngannou and Rozenstruik, it will be hard and unlikely for Gane to get his title shot by the end of the year. However, he can definitely earn one for 2021. He could show the world that he is championship calibre by racking up wins against ranked opponents.
That was my list for my top three fighters who will see success on their journeys towards a UFC Title Shot in 2020.
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