After recent news confirmed UFC 256 will not feature Kamaru Usman’s scheduled welterweight title defence against #1 contender Gilbert Burns – a fight once again postponed for a later date – it now begs the question: what’s next for 2020’s final PPV card on December 12?
As reported by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Usman needs more time to recover from undisclosed injuries and the December 12 date is too early a timeline for his return.
He won via unanimous decision in a short-notice bout against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 251 in early July, which emerged as Burns was forced to pull out after testing positive for COVID-19.
Heavyweight title contender Francis Ngannou (#1) is eyeing a title rematch with Stipe Miocic, though it’s unlikely we’ll see Stipe again until 2021 – regardless of Ngannou’s recent comments.
After defending his HW strap against a retiring Daniel Cormier at UFC 252 in August, the 38-year-old stressed his eagerness to rest and recover post-fight following a gruelling five-round battle.
When exactly Jon Jones’ heavyweight debut will happen remains a mystery, with rumblings instead intensifying over a possible super-fight against middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
Adesanya outclassed Paulo Costa in his title defence at UFC 253 and wants to fight again in 2020.
He’s eyeing Jared Cannonier, should he beat former champ Robert Whittaker at UFC 254 on Oct. 24, but that’s perhaps an unrealistic turnaround if Cannonier wins and returns in mid-December.
Colby Covington excelled against Tyron Woodley last month and immediately called for a fight against Masvidal. Although it’s in the works, the fight is clearly far from finalised right now.
Conor McGregor’s proposed rematch with Dustin Poirier appears likely at some time between now and the end of 2020, but it’s also difficult to envisage that fight headling this PPV.
So, what’s actually slated for Dec. 12’s pay-per-view card right now?
What’s currently on the card?
Fresh after a dominant UD win over Felicia Spencer in early June, two-belt champion Amanda Nunes puts her featherweight strap on the line against Megan Anderson.
Highly-rated strawweight Amanda Ribas faces stiff opposition in the form of #6 ranked Carla Esparza, after racing to a R1 submission win on Fight Island against Paige VanZant.
Esparza is on a four-fight win streak for the first time in six years, having edged split decision victories against Michelle Waterson (UFC 249) and Marina Rodriguez (Whittaker-Till card).
Omari Akhmedov had his moments but was ultimately bested by former champ Chris Weidman in August. He targets a successful return to the Octagon against Marvin Vettori.
The 27-year-old Italian won Performance of the Night honours for a R1 submission on the Eye-Calvillo card in mid-June and fought to a majority draw against Omari three years ago.
More fights will be confirmed as the date draws closer.
Announced bouts as it stands
Women’s featherweight title: Amanda Nunes (c) vs Megan Anderson
Women’s strawweight bout: Carla Esparza (#6) vs Amanda Ribas (#12)
Middleweight: Omari Akhmedov (#13) vs Marvin Vettori (#14)