Predicting the next 3 new UFC champions

Winning and defending a UFC title is one of the hardest feats in professional sports. These three individuals are on the cusp of obtaining that goal if everything plays out in their favor in the coming months.

UFC belt
UFC belt / Steve Marcus/GettyImages
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1. Ilia Topuria

Ilia Topuria is the first individual on this list with an actual shot at obtaining a UFC championship. He is scheduled to take on Alexander Volkanovski for the UFC featherweight championship at UFC 298. This match was rumored for UFC 297, but thanks to some shuffling Volkanovski was moved into a fight with Islam Makhachev at UFC 294. That fight ended badly for the featherweight champion as he was knocked out in less than one round. The scheduled fight with Topuria was moved back a month, with some raising an eyebrow at that decision being too early, especially after such a dramatic knockout.

It's that knockout loss to Makhachev that makes Volkanovski’s fight with Topuria such an interesting pairing. Topuria is known for blasting his opponents with heavy shots. He’s finished three fights via knockout since joining the UFC, and in those fights, he doesn’t win by knockout, he still punishes his opponents. According to UFC Stats, Topuria lands 4.44 significant strikes per minute and has knocked down his opponent in four of five outings in the Octagon. Topuria brings violence every time he competes.

That puts the focus on Volkanovski. Will he have recovered enough by the time UFC 298 comes around? He’s been known to take a lot of damage and push through, that’s one factor that has made him a beloved champion. But can he afford to take so much damage against Ilia Topuria? That’s the big question he’s facing and if he hasn’t recovered enough there’s a strong chance, he will not make it out of the fight with that belt in tow. If he were to pull out of the contest, Topuria may be favored to defeat many of the other ranked competitors at featherweight. He’s a force in the division and someone that fans have kept their eye on for a long time.