4 UFC fights to look forward to in June and July
The UFC’s schedule appears to be back in full swing. After an eight-week hiatus due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the UFC returned to action in early May with three events over the course of one week in Jacksonville, FL.
Throughout June and into July, the UFC’s schedule remains busy with events scheduled for nearly every weekend, all tentatively planned to take place in Las Vegas at the UFC Apex or the mysterious “Fight Island.” From a bantamweight fight with huge title implications to a guaranteed banger in the lightweight division, fight fans have plenty to look forward to in the coming months.
The four best fights scheduled for this summer (so far)
Cory Sandhagen vs. Aljamain Sterling, June 6, 2020
After (now former) bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo announced his retirement from MMA, UFC president Dana White announced that the no. 3-ranked contender Petr Yan would make up one half of a title fight for the vacant bantamweight belt. While many fans assumed that Yan would square off with fellow top contenders Cory Sandhagen or Alajamain Sterling, the UFC had other plans, matching Sandhagen and Sterling against each other in a bout scheduled for June 6. In all likelihood, the winner of this fight would then challenge for the bantamweight title, either against Yan or whoever holds the belt at that time.
Beyond just the divisional importance of this bout, it should deliver fantastic in-cage action. Both Sandhagen and Sterling are in their athletic primes and have impressed in recent performances. Sandhagen is a perfect 5-0 in the UFC and is coming off a commanding decision win over long-time elite bantamweight Raphael Assuncao. For his part, Sterling has won four fights in a row, all against top competition, since losing to former title challenger Marlon Moraes in 2017.
Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker, June 27, 2020
At this time, the Poirier-Hooker fight is not completely official and is largely dependent on Hooker’s ability to enter the United States, but the UFC is nonetheless planning for this bout that was originally scheduled for the canceled UFC San Diego.
Both Poirier and Hooker are two of the division’s most reliable action fighters. While both have skills in all areas, they tend to do their best work on their feet, where they have both shown fight-ending power as well as elite durability, and a willingness to engage from bell to bell. In short, Poirier vs. Hooker is a recipe for a banger.
Pedro Munhoz vs. Frankie Edgar, July 11, 2020
Even though it has been a decade since Frankie Edgar shocked the world to win the lightweight title from BJ Penn, and even though he has lost two fights in a row and three of his last four, every Edgar fight seems to feel special. On July 11, Edgar will make his bantamweight debut against the no. 7-ranked Pedro Munhoz.
While Edgar’s recent run has seen more losses than wins, it’s important to note that those losses came against the absolute top of the featherweight division. Now as he drops to his third weight class — and one that many believe is his natural weight class — Edgar will look to find success again. He’ll have his hands full against Munhoz, who is largely known as a guillotine specialist, but earned back-to-back knockout victories over Bryan Caraway and Cody Garbrandt before dropping a decision to Sterling in his last bout.
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Benavidez 2, July 18, 2020
Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez’s first fight for the vacant flyweight title ended in some controversy. Figueiredo earned the first-round finish over Benavidez, but only after an inadvertent clash of heads that Benavidez maintains changed the complexion of the fight. And to complicate matters more, Figueiredo missed weight, making him ineligible to capture the title, even in victory. The pair are scheduled for an immediate rematch on July 18.
Although their first meeting lasted just under a round and a half, it delivered the high-paced action that fans love about the flyweight division. The ground exchanges were fun and explosive, and on the feet, both men threw and landed heavy punches. There’s simply no reason not to expect the rematch, again for the vacant flyweight title, to be any different.