They Might Have Reached the Top… But Now They Have to Stay There… Let’s Take a Look at the Three UFC Champions Who Are Facing Very Difficult Challenges in 2019…
Becoming a champion in any UFC weight division is one of the most difficult challenges in MMA. Arguably, even more, difficult than this is defending your title, because suddenly you have a target on your back. Not only is there the psychological pressure of this, but it’s also massively significant from a financial perspective. If you’re a champion you get a tonne more exposure than most other fighters, and that means more money.
Depending on the division, some fighters will have an easier road than others in 2019. Max Holloway, for example, has effectively cleared out the featherweight division. While he might move up a weight, you wouldn’t bet against him still being champion at the end of the year. The same goes for the likes of Jon Jones, Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko. They could be champions until they retire if they carry on their momentum.
In this article we’ve picked out the three current champions who we think will have the toughest 2019s. Let’s take a look at them now.
Rose Namajunas is immensely popular amongst fans, even though she’s been arguably underpromoted by the UFC. She ended the reign of one of the most successful and feared champions in the sport, by knockout, and then efficiently defended her title.
However, she faces some immense challenges to retain her belt. First of all, she must fight Jessica Andrade in Brazil on May 9th. If you saw how the female Wanderlei Silva knocked out Karolina Kowalkiewicz, you can imagine why this is a nightmare matchup. Then if she gets past Andrade, there’s an even more ominous obstacle to get past. Tatiana Suarez is being called the ‘female Khabib’ for good reason. There’s a very rough road ahead for ‘Thug’ Rose.
Woodley’s biggest problem is that Dana White doesn’t like him. Because of this, ‘T-Wood’ has missed out on the super fight that he so badly craves. While he is definitely the most complete fighter at welterweight right now, he faces a literal nightmare in Kamaru Usman. This fight against ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ is unlikely to be very fan-friendly because of Usman’s wrestling.
The biggest problem for Woodley is that he’s 36 years old and desperately wants a massive payday. It doesn’t look like he’s going to get that anytime soon.
How about this for pressure? If Henry Cejudo loses to T.J Dillashaw the entire flyweight division could be done and dusted before the summer. Even if he retains his title, he’s just going to be treading water until the UFC decides to scrap the division – a decision that is inevitably coming.
What will happen then for the former Olympic champion? If he beats T.J, a rematch could take place at bantamweight. Cejudo will do well to end the year with any belt around his waist. He might not even have a division.