We don’t know much about UFC 256 just yet. But, in what will likely be the final pay-per-view of 2020 for the promotion, there are plenty of interesting main event options.
Right now, we don’t know where or when UFC 256 will take place. Odds are, it’ll be sometime in mid-December (like UFC 245 last year), and be held in Las Vegas. Abu Dhabi is likely an option as well, as both locations have proven to be able to handle holding an event under the current COVID-related guidelines.
What we do know: the run of UFC pay-per-view main events to close out the second-half of the year is fantastic. High-profile champions facing tough contenders on a monthly basis has kept the promotion on track during a difficult time for all sports leagues, and they don’t seem to be slowing down as the year comes to a close.
Despite the top-notch title fights taking place throughout the next few months, Dana White and co. have some solid options for how they want to round out 2020.
UPDATE: According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, UFC 256 will take place on December 12th, and feature a women’s featherweight title bout.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) August 21, 2020
While we’ve seen crazier things, especially in MMA, don’t expect any of the fighters competing in title-fights in the few months ahead of UFC 256 to be ready and available by December.
So, we can rule out the winner of Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa’s middleweight title fight, and Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz’s light heavyweight title fight, as they’ll be fighting at UFC 253 in September.
We can say the same about Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje, who will fight for the lightweight belt at UFC 254 in October. Deiveson Figueiredo, Cody Garbrandt, Valentina Shevchenko, and Jennifer Maia all belong in this group as well, as they’ll be fighting for the men’s and women’s flyweight championships at UFC 255 in November.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) August 7, 2020
Women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes is taking the rest of 2020 off. Following yet another title defense in June against Felicia Spencer, Nunes is preparing for motherhood with wife and fellow fighter Nina Ansaroff, who is pregnant.
UPDATE: As is usually the case, things change! Nunes will now fight at UFC 256, defending her featherweight belt against Megan Anderson. Whether or not that ends up being the main event remains to be seen.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) August 21, 2020
Not to mention, there’s not a lot going on at the top of either the promotion’s women’s bantamweight or featherweight divisions. Some time for a contender to emerge will do everyone some good.
And then there’s Jon Jones. The now-former (again) light heavyweight champion vacated his title, and is headed for heavyweight. A title-shot lies ahead for the all-time UFC great, but he’ll have to wait his turn. Which means that Jones is likely spending the rest of 2020 bulking up and preparing for the winner of Miocic-Ngannou 2 sometime in 2021.
Oh, and the obligatory Conor McGregor mention. He’s currently ‘retired’, and while nobody believes that’s actually the case, Dana White doesn’t expect the Irishman to return to the Octagon this year. Whenever he returns, bouts with Tony Ferguson or Dustin Poirier sound fun.
As mentioned above, Jon Jones is going to have to wait for the Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou rematch that seems to be next on the docket for the heavyweight title. Whether or not Miocic is ready and willing to fight again by the end of the year remains to be seen, but with four-ish months, and a match-up ready to go, Miocic-Ngannou 2 is definitely on the table for UFC 256.
Then, there’s the options available from UFC 251 in July.
Kamaru Usman was initially slated to defend his welterweight title against Gilbert Burns earlier this summer. While he instead defeated Jorge Masvidal on short-notice, Burns has said that a November or December date has been targeted for the bout with Usman. With November now taken, the final PPV of the year sounds like a solid landing place for Usman-Burns.
Featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski could defend his belt at UFC 256, but he might not like the opponent. Apart from a trilogy bout with Max Holloway, there aren’t many other options at 145-pounds, as the other top contenders (Brian Ortega-Chan Sung Jung, Zabit Magomedsharipov-Yair Rodriguez) are all scheduled to fight each other before the end of the year.
Newly-crowned bantamweight champ Petr Yan’s upcoming match-up with Aljamain Sterling needs a landing spot. Yan has previously said October worked for him, and if there’s room on UFC 254 it would fit well with Khabib-Gaethje, but if not, UFC 256 makes sense. Both guys most recently fought over the summer, with Sterling submitting Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250 in June.
Another title fight that could feature on the card, but likely as the co-main event, is Weili Zhang’s next strawweight championship defense. Following her Fight of the Year candidate with Joanna Jedrzejczyk in March, some time off makes sense. She has a contender ready and waiting in former champion Rose Namajunas, who defeated former champion Jessica Andrade in their rematch at UFC 251.
Let us know who you think will be featured in the main event of UFC 256, and who you want to see atop the final PPV of 2020! There’s no shortage of options, and it’s looking like we’ll be seeing some of the fighters featured at UFC 251 in July again in December.