UFC: Three Fights to Make in 2017

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2016 has been a momentous year for the UFC. An unlikely rivalry between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz attracted mainstream hype to MMA, while bigwig corporate players seized control of the company in July. Jon Jones continued to dig a ditch for himself this year; adding more dirt to the awful smudge on his legacy. This wild year has yet to reach its end, but it's hard not to consider the marquee match-ups that 2017 might provide. Let's ponder several fights that should go down next year:

Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo 2

Conor McGregor, while capturing the imagination of the sports world and becoming a mainstream star, has amassed tremendous bargaining power in 2016. The UFC needs Conor but they can't control him -- the Irishman's wit and remarkable pugilism have afforded him the ability to call his shots and essentially do whatever suits his agenda in the realm of combat sports.

It' a high-risk proposition for McGregor to accept a rematch against Jose Aldo, who he knocked out in 13 seconds in 2015. His performance against then-champion Aldo can' be surpassed: It was quick, violent and flawless.

Inviting a redo with Aldo, either at 145 or 155, would be a demonstration of ardent fortitude for McGregor. It would show that he has even bigger balls than we thought he had.  

Furthermore, Aldo deserves a redemptive shot. His reign as featherweight champ was long and oppressive. Aldo's dazzling performances legitimized and added luster to lighter weight classes -- remember 145 and below were not entirely embraced by UFC fans after the WEC was incorporated.  

The Brazilian, time after time, proved his toughness and penchant for wicked striking. Aldo is not nearly as heralded as McGregor, but he' put in the work. Throw the dog a damn bone.      

Anderson Silva vs. Georges St.-Pierre

GSP has been shrewdly negotiating his return to the Octagon for months. It seems only a lucrative, high-profile match-up will inspire the Canadian playboy to fight again. Why not pair him with fellow legend Anderson Silva?

St.-Pierre showed interest in fighting Michael Bisping for the middleweight strap earlier this year, so he apparently has few reservations about fighting above his usual domain at welterweight. Silva is probably done contending at 185, but he has shown glimmers of his old greatness in 2016 despite his age. The Brazilian warhorse is past his prime, but still dangerous. Fighting GSP would be a perfect use of Silva's remaining value.

Demian Maia vs. Welterweight Champion

I reckon that Demian Maia's heart sank when Bruce Buffer announced the draw between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson at UFC 205. The 39-year-old doesn't have ample time to wait.

The Brazilian backpack was presumably next in line for a title shot at 170 after rattling off six straight wins against top competition, but now the champion Woodley must solidify his sovereignty against Thompson again. This means more idling for Maia and more precious time wasted. After strangling Matt Brown and Carlos Condit in succession in 2016, however, it seems age hasn't hampered the jiu-jitsu wizard's game too much.

Maia's ascendency at welterweight harkens back to the days of yore; when BJJ players like Royce Gracie bulldozed through every comer with pure grappling skill. Watching Maia plow through younger, spryer competition with his masterful submission prowess has been an incredible spectacle.

Jon enjoys long walks on the beach and a nice pair of slacks. In his free time you may find him at a concert in Brooklyn or a craft beer bar.
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© GONG, Inc. All rights reserved