Pretty simple premise, basically which division do you think will be the most competitive and or exciting throughout 2021 all the way down to which on you think will be the worst. (Women's Featherweight is excluded for obvious reasons)
I will start us off with my own predictions but look forward to seeing yours
Like a glittering star above all other divisions Lightweight really does stand out as an easy choice for first place. I feel like you could pick any two names out of the top 15 and they would make for a potentially amazing fight or at the very least a fight you would greatly enjoy watching. There are just so many exciting questions at this weight class as well. Who will become the new champion should Khabib stay retired? Will Chandler be able to match the elite of the UFC? Is Conor's return serious? Plus all the exciting up and comers like Fiziev, Azaitar and Alvarez.
LW stood out so much that I don't want to say this was a close second but it was a definite second in my opinion. I feel Bantamweight just has that perfect mix of guys just hitting or close to their peaks like Yan, Sterling and Font. Future HOF's who are still good enough where any fight with them is interesting like Cruz, Aldo & Edgar. Breakthrough younger talent like Sandhagen, O'Malley & Kenney. And other great fighters who there are a lot of questions on whether they're declining or have they just hit a bad skid like Moraes, Munhoz and Assuncao.
The distinction between this and Bantamweight was possibly the closest one for me. BW just edged it but I still think FW will have a fantastic year. I think the real highlight could be the battle between the top 3 guys Volkanovski, Holloway & Oretga. I could see the title swapping hands between those guys almost every time they fight. Also the likes of Zabit & Emmett who I think are really just one more win each from pushing themselves in to that group as well. Another thing that sells me on Featherweight likely having a great year is the new blood in the top 15. We are likely going to ge some sort of idea just how good the likes of Allen, Hall, Mitchell, Ige, Burgos and Yusuff truly are.
Win or lose against Jan I still think with Adesanya at the helm MW still has a good looking 2021. While at the moment there are no fresh title match-ups on the horizon (Till & Holland have potential but are still a few wins off) this is one division where rematches against Whittaker & Vettori are actually pretty attractive to me. I also think this could the division with the biggest changes in the top 15 by the end of 2021 as I could see the likes of Soriano, Breese, Sanchez, Robertson & Viera all having a big year.
Close to Middleweight the potential rematch with Colby (which surely can't be as good as the first), the showdown with Burns which I think could be very close, the Chimaev experiment and seeing just how far he can go. Permutations of fights between Colby, Burns, Masvidal and Edwards all are very exciting on paper. I do think at WW there is quite a big gap between most of the bottom half of the top 15 and the top but there are even plenty of fun fights to make between those guys who you just don't think will ever be championship material.
Honestly I would say this was the hardest division to place. Much like Khabib leaving LW you'd think Jones leaving LHW would add the same injection of excitement of the unknown that lies ahead. For me personally however it just doesn't. I could very easily be proved wrong. With Adesanya attempting to become double champ soon, new title contender like Rakic & Prochazka and the incredible revitalisation of a now 41 year old Glover on the door of a title shot the pieces are there for LHW to have a great year.
7th. W Strawweight
W Straweight still takes the title of the premier women's division in 2021 in my opinion. In terms of competition for the champ Zhang they could run back the fight of the year with Joanna, Namajunas however looks to be next in line and on paper sounds like a great fight. Her fellow countrywoman Yan will surely get a crack at her with one more win and if she can get healthy you fancy Suarez to make it to a title shot relatively quickly. They're are even some sneaky potential title challengers like Esparza and Dern who with one or two more wins you know they'd love to put in to a title fight.
Heavyweight has never really been the best division in the UFC and I don't expect 2021 to buck that trend. There is definitely a lot to look forward to with the Stipe/Francis rematch, Jones debut at his new weight class and a host of fun match-ups in the works with guys known for getting a finish. One credit I will give this year is there is potential for some new blood to emerge this year with names like Aspinall, Romanov and Daukaus looking to have some potential.
9th. W Flyweight
While at the top end there doesn't really seem to be anyone who can stop Valentina (especially if she gets passed Andrade) the division is full of fun potential fights and up and coming talent. The likes of Ribas & Mazo could crack the top 15. Lee & Barber have work to do to rebuild themselves as contenders but still have plenty time to do so. Murphy, Araujo and Santos could even end up with a title shot by the end of 2021 with a couple more wins.
While Figueiredo definitely helped elevate Flyweight last year with capture of the title, multiple finishes and one of the best Flyweight fights ever in his showdown with Moreno this is without a doubt still the least interesting of the men's divisions. Partly due to the fact that their size but also because bar Askarov (if he gets past Benavidez) there are no real viable contenders right now or even really on the horizon. This division still feels like its suffering slightly from when Dana cut a heap of the Flyweight roster.
11th. W Bantamweight
Much like picking the best was easy for me W Bantamweight was an easy pick for me as the worst division in 2021. Nunes domination and a rather stagnant top 15 have left this as a really dull division, Its none of the ladies fault themselves just really that no new talent has really broken through where you've thought they could potentially trouble the champion. Even a potential fresh match-up with Aldana was killed off leaving Holly Holm one of the most likely candidates for her 437th title shot.