The end of 2019 has plenty in store when it comes to pay-per-view bouts. While the final major fights are still getting put together, who can we expect to kick-off the 2020 PPV slate at UFC 246?
We don’t yet know where, or when, UFC 246 will take place. If the past is any indicator, January, or early-February, are solid bets. Earlier this year, the promotion ended up cancelling their January PPV, UFC 233, while debuting their deal with ESPN+ with a champion vs. champion title-fight between Henry Cejudo and TJ Dillashaw. In 2018, we were treated to Stipe Miocic’s title-defense against Francis Ngannou at UFC 220.
Now, after a couple of stacked PPVs in November and December, what’s left for the beginning of the new year? Those answers will become more clear in the coming months, once the first quarter schedule for the UFC has been released, and the cards for UFC 244 and UFC 245 are finalized.
But, based off of what we know now, we have a pretty good idea of the potential directions the promotion could head in for the main event of UFC 246.
Before we look at who could be headlining UFC 246, we know a handful of fighters and matchups that are already off of the table.
At UFC 245 in December, a couple of title-fights (and maybe one more) are already spoken for. Max Holloway will be defending his featherweight belt against Alexander Volkanovski, while two-division title-holder Amanda Nunes will defend her bantamweight belt against Germaine de Randamie. There has been talk of a potential third title-fight being added as well, which would remove another option for 2020’s first PPV.
Welterweights Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal will still likely be recovering from one of the most anticipated match-ups of the year after they main event UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden. Their respective situations would have to change quite a bit (aka Uncle Dana getting his checkbook out), in order for either of them to fight again just a couple of months later.
We’d be surprised if the winner of UFC 243’s main event between Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya in October is hurrying back to fight number-one contender Paulo Costa a few months later, too.
Don’t count on Khabib Nurmagomedov returning to the Octagon early next year, either. Arguably the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, Nurmagomedov has some options for his next title-defense. After his dominant performance against Dustin Poirier at UFC 242, both Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje have thrown their hats into the ring. There’s also that rematch with Conor McGregor, which it seems only the Irishman is interested in. Oh yeah, and that Georges St. Pierre fellow might be interested.
Regardless, the Russian hasn’t been the most active fighter over the last few years, and each of these scenarios likely requires a bit more time and effort to put together than some of the other, easier available options for the promotion to utilize at UFC 246.