September is right here, and with it comes three massive MMA title fights.
The UFC has a pair of them on one present towards the tip of the month in Las Vegas, and ONE Championship’s probably greatest star places his belt on the road the day earlier than that.
At ONE Championship: Revolution on Sept. 24, Christian Lee (15-3) defends his light-weight (170 kilos) title in opposition to Rae Yoon Ok (15-3), who acquired his shot due to an upset of former UFC and Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez in April. Lee, one-third of three siblings who struggle for ONE, has a six-fight successful streak.
At UFC 266 on Sept. 25, Valentina Shevchenko (21-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) places her ladies’s flyweight title up in opposition to Lauren Murphy (15-4 MMA, 7-4 UFC) within the co-main occasion. And within the headliner, featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski (22-1 MMA, 9-0 UFC) returns in opposition to challenger Brian Ortega (15-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC).
Those are three nice title fights … however which ones is the very best?
That’s what we requested our panel within the newest version of Triple Take. MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn, Matt Erickson and Farah Hannoun (alphabetically) weigh in on the probabilities.
I’ll be sincere up entrance: This is extra of a hope than a perception. Obviously Volkanovski vs. Ortega at UFC 266 is probably the most high-level title struggle of the month on paper, however at this level we will solely pray that Shevchenko vs. Murphy offers it a run for its cash.
Shevchenko has been unstoppable since shifting to flyweight and selecting up the title. She’s already going for protection No. 6, and there doesn’t appear to be any solutions on the market. We all thought Jessica Andrade was going to pose some threats earlier this yr, nevertheless it ended up being one of many champion’s most lopsided fights.
Can Murphy convey something to the desk to check Shevchenko? On paper, Murphy is effectively rounded, sturdy as can presumably be, and is effectively conscious it is a one-time alternative in her profession that may’t be wasted. Is that sufficient of a recipe to take “The Bullet” out of her consolation zone? We shall see.
Although I don’t imagine deep in my coronary heart that is the very best precise title matchup, I do assume it options the very best fighter of any of the six title contestants in Shevchenko. She is appointment viewing, for my part, and he or she fights so brilliantly that it’s not one thing to be missed. More than possible you’re going to see her do one thing superb. And who is aware of? Maybe considered one of today she’ll slip on a banana peel and be on the mistaken finish of an all-time upset.
Crazier issues have occurred.
There may be a little bit extra cache within the UFC title fights due to these three massive letters and the very fact they’ll take atop the invoice of a pay-per-view on a Saturday night time versus on a streaming platform early within the morning, Stateside.
But though Lee’s light-weight (170 kilos) title protection in opposition to Ok at ONE Championship: Revolution won’t appear all that attractive, it’s acquired loads of tooth.
What I really like in regards to the struggle in comparison with the higher-profile UFC title scraps is that whereas Lee could also be a bonafide famous person for ONE on the opposite facet of the world from North America, it doesn’t really feel like he’s fairly hit the large time over right here simply but – though he was born in Canada and lives in Hawaii.
Make no mistake – followers right here know who Lee is. But they’re most likely not mentioning him in the identical conversations as Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal, and even Yaroslav Amosov, Douglas Lima and Michael Page.
The beauty of his struggle in opposition to a authentic menace in Ok is that it’s a possibility to look at a star like Lee proceed to rise – and probably begin his breakthrough to a bigger viewers as soon as individuals lastly understand they want to concentrate to him. We can’t get that very same feeling from Shevchenko or Volkanovski of their UFC title fights – they’re already superstars, and we already understand it.
Lee’s title struggle offers us one thing totally different: an opportunity to look at a star begin to change into a famous person.
Volkanovski vs. Ortega is a really intriguing stylistic matchup.
Tired of getting counted out, Volkanovski is keen to make a press release in opposition to a fighter in Ortega who has all-time sturdiness. After spending weeks collectively filming Season 29 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” tensions have risen between each males and with this new and improved model of Ortega, Volkanovski has his work reduce out for him.
But regardless of many considering that Max Holloway beat Volkanovski of their rematch, it’s laborious to disclaim the champion’s talent and struggle IQ. Volkanovski is nice in every single place and is nice at placing collectively the proper strategic sport plans to nullify his opponents’ strengths.
Now that Ortega has displayed a way more affected person and calculated method in opposition to Chan Sung Jung, it’ll be fascinating to see the place this struggle performs out and who has the higher hand on the toes. This is a chance for Volkanovski to silence the naysayers and for Ortega to bounce again in exceptional vogue after his lopsided title struggle loss to Holloway.