Photo Credit: Lucas Noone

Flash-forward, WHOA TV look at 2019

We at WHOATV sat down and collectively took a look at 2019 and what it has in store for mixed martial arts. Here we breakdown what we are looking forward to and channel our inner Nostradamus and guess the direction of travel and implications for those of us based in Europe.

Michael Morgan, Owner and Creative Director, WHOATV

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Most anticipated match up of 2019
MVP vs Semtex is easily the most anticipated UKMMA match ups of the decade, forget the year. It’s a shame it’s taking place overseas but it does has global significance and will draw eyeballs on both side of the pond. It’s MMA’s version of Nigel Benn vs Chris Eubank in which we finally get to see who is the baddest man at welterweight in the UK.

Matchmaker to watch
Bellator’s Jude Samuel has a wealth of resources, autonomy and access to talent than any other European based matchmaker, and has now solidified his position as Europe’s number one. A clear statement of his intentions not only came with collecting all of the marbles by signing all of the available talent worth having but also spoiling the european fan base with two stacked cards which will take place in Newcastle and Dublin.

Who will be the dominant MMA promotion in Europe
The UFC has a vice like grip on the sport. Polished production values, an incredible fight roster and they have a track record for paying close attention to their priority territories. This year will be no different with the promotion keeping a close eye on the new European stalking horse, Bellator.

European mixed martial artist to watch
After an incredible run last year the UK’s Nathaniel Wood is set to do great things in 2019. With UFC London looming this really could be the coming out party for ‘The Prospect’ and hopefully the year he ditches a nickname that he has clearly outgrown.

Who will be the next mixed martial artist signed to the UFC
Brendan Loughnane is well overdue a call up. 2019 will undoubtably be the year he is enlisted to fight in the world’s number one MMA promotion. He has rinsed out all comers,  so much so that he now finds it difficult to attract opponents that will enter the cage with him.

Scott Lagdon, Contributor, WHOATV

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Most anticipated match up of 2019
Daniel Cormier v Jon Jones at Heavyweight. It is clear that Jon Jones is the best light heavyweight in the world after his previous contests against DC but at heavyweight, there are many questions that are unanswered. How will Cormier fare at his optimal weight? How will Jones look moving up a division? This is a matchup that has to happen.

Matchmaker to watch
One of the stories to watch this coming year is the impact that Bellator Europe will have on the domestic scene. Jude Samuel went after lots of homegrown talent aggressively towards the end of last year and it will be interesting to see who else he targets over the coming months. With a number of intriguing match ups announced for the Newcastle and Dublin cards and with strong financial backing, the former BAMMA matchmaker has a big opportunity to make a sizable dent in the European MMA scene.

Who will be the dominant MMA promotion in Europe
KSW. Although they put on less events than other European promotions, this helps every show feel important and allows them to promote expertly to draw in fan interest. No other European promotion can fill the arenas that KSW filled last year with a mixture of high level MMA and fan friendly fights. With KSW potentially planning to put on shows in three different countries in 2019, it looks as though their expansion will continue.

European mixed martial artist to watch
Zabit Magomedsharipov. So far in his UFC run, the Russian has pretty much outclassed every opponent he has faced. On the surface, Magomedsharipov seems to have it all. His unorthodox striking, versatile takedowns and dominating top game mean that he is a formidable foe for any competitor in the featherweight division. Currently scheduled to face number 6 ranked Jeremy Stephens in March, the 27-year-old could well earn a UFC title shot before the year is out.

Who will be the next mixed martial artist signed to the UFC
Jack Shore. Cage Warriors have done a great job at promoting their current bantamweight champion and at 10-0, the Welshman can’t be far off being called up to the big show. He currently has 9 finishes on his record which is also something that the UFC values. His first defense of the Cage Warriors bantamweight title is set for April 27th in Cardiff and with another victory at the Viola Arena, he could well pop up on a European UFC card around the summer time.

Jon Husler, Managing Editor, WHOATV

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Most anticipated match up of 2019

I’d like to see Jack Grant take on Søren Bak for the Cage Warriors lightweight belt at some point. Grant is on an upward trajectory at the moment having won all three of his fights with Cage Warriors. Expect a war if this fight happens.

Matchmaker to watch

No real surprise on this front but Jude Samuel has already had a massive part to play in the next phase of the Bellator European invasion. It was no coincidence that things started going downhill for BAMMA when Samuel joined the Bellator ranks.

Who will be the dominant MMA promotion in Europe

Depending on how many shows they have planned, I can see it being a massive year for Bellator in the European market. Other than that, Cage Warriors will also be looking to push on after a successful 2018. I’m expecting big things from both.

European mixed martial artist to watch

Without a doubt, it has to be Justin Burlinson. Currently 3-0 as a professional, Burlinson is an exciting talent to keep an eye out for in the welterweight division. This kid is going places. Burlinson can next be seen taking on Maciek Gierszewski at Bellator Newcastle next month.

Who will be the next mixed martial artist signed to the UFC

Who doesn’t want to see Brendan Loughnane get another crack in the UFC? After a year out, Loughnane kicked seven shades out of Amaury Junior on his return fight in Manchester at the end of last year. Come on Dana, give the lad a call.

Barry Tanser, Contributor, WHOATV

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Most anticipated match up of 2019

I’m really excited by Cejudo vs Dillashaw, it’s an easy answer, a superfight. Cejudo shocked the world. Bader vs Fedor is going to be electric too, Bader has gone from a slipping UFC Light Heavyweight to the cusp of winning Bellator’s Heavyweight grand Grand Prix against the legend. Moicano Aldo gets a notable mention too.

Matchmaker to watch

Bellator’s European conquests saw them pick up many of my Irish countrymen whcih excites me but not as much as what Jude Samuel is going to do with them. Queally vs Price is a great example of this, there are so many great narratives and matchups to create.

Who will be the dominant MMA promotion in Europe
KSW put on the best shows and Phil De Fries being their Heavyweight champion has a lot more people in the U.K tuning in. Bellator’s name however, Jude Samuel and the amount of European talent they’ve accumulated however I think is going to be the recipe for success in 2019.

European mixed martial artist to watch
I think this could be a big year for Terry Brazier, at Lightweight with his grinding style, I can see him breaking into the Bellator rankings rather than staying exclusively on European shows. Roberto Soldic bounced back and avenged his defeat at the hands of Dricus Du Plessis. He is a massive prospect, it could be a big year for him

Who will be the next mixed martial artist signed to the UFC
It should be Phil De Fries, he has turned his career around and is now a top level Heavyweight, the UFC’s lightest division arguably. Phil wants another bite at the big show and he should get it. It’s a compelling redemption story that would inspire many fans.

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