2017 has been a hell of a ride for hardcore fight fans.
We didn’t get the spectacle of a McGregor main event, or the shock of a Ronda Rousey defeat, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t a lot of entertaining scraps.
From the overall feast of fights that UFC 217 provided to Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson cementing his status as the pound-for-pound #1 in stunning fashion, people are going as far as to call 2017 the best year in the history of MMA for the standard of fights.
Of course, there’s still a whole month left of fights to confirm that with UFC. Bellator, BAMMA and RIZIN all holding a number of events to keep fight fans happy.
With plenty to look forward to, we’ve compiled a list of the five must-see fights not to miss this December.
Max Holloway vs. Jose Aldo – Dec. 2nd – UFC 218
Originally scheduled to be Max Holloway vs Frankie Edgar, those disappointed to hear of Edgar’s injury were quickly cheered up when news of this colossal rematch emerged.
Winning the title by becoming the first man not named Conor McGregor to beat Aldo in 10 years, he’ll have to stop the former king of the Featherweight division again at UFC 219.
People used to seeing Aldo at the top of the division for so long may be surprised to hear that expert analysts at My Top Sportsbooks have the Brazilian a heavy underdog.
This could be due to him taking the fight on short notice, or just an acknowledgement of the methodical fashion in which Holloway finished him in the third round during their first encounter.
Regardless of this, only a fool would say Aldo doesn’t have a chance here, and either way we’re privileged to see two of the most talented featherweights in MMA lock horns once more.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje – Dec. 2nd – UFC 218
Also featured on the main card of UFC 219, former UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez and former WSOF Lightweight Champion Justin Gaethje will be looking to rob Fight of the Night accolades from Holloway and Aldo when they square off.
Their similar styles are looking to result in an explosive power, with both men known for their decorated wrestling backgrounds and explosive striking styles.
While Gaethje will go into the fight fully confident in his undefeated 18-0 record, and a recent win over Lightweight contender Michael Johnson, Alvarez will be by far his most experienced and skilled opponent to date.
With both men having already proven they’re willing to get into a brawl, and a win for either of them immediately inserting them in the queue for a title shot, fireworks are expected for this one.
Brandon Girtz vs. Luka Jelcic – Dec. 9th – Bellator 190
This may be a fight far away from the glitz and glamour of the UFC, but definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of Irish MMA.
Croatian Luka Jelcic has been fighting under the tutelage of SBG Ireland’s John Kavanagh for years now, quietly amassing an impressive 10-2 record throughout the European regional circuits.
He will likely have Irish support as he makes his debut for an international promotion, stepping into the Bellator cage in Italy next month to take on Bellator veteran Brandon Girtz.
With impressive wins over Melvin Guillard and Derek Campos, the American will be hoping to bounce back from a 3 fight losing streak.
Jelcic meanwhile will be hoping to utilise his fearsome striking and well rounded submission game to neutralise the American’s wrestling. A must see fight for anyone interested in seeing the evolution of one of SBG’s most promising prospects.
Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega – Dec. 9th – UFC Fight Night 123
Whenever Cub Swanson fights, fans are going to get their money’s worth. Fight of the night awards for his last two wins over Doo Ho Choi and Artem Lobov prove that.
This month, we’re lucky enough to see him once more in the main event of UFC Fight Night 123 when he takes one Featherweight prospect Brian Ortega in the main event.
Disappointed over not being selected to replace Frankie Edgar in the main event championship bout vs. Max Holloway, speculation has grown over whether this will be Cub’s last fight in the Octagon having already said it is the last fight under his current contract.
Meanwhile, Ortega is simply hoping to continue to add to an already impressive 12-0 undefeated record and establish himself as a real contender in a stacked division.
It’s bound to be a fascinating main event and while the bookies say that Swanson is a slight favourite, it seems almost impossible to predict who will walk out with their hand raised.
Edson Barboza vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov – Dec. 30th – UFC 219
Anyone who’s kept up with Conor McGregor and the Lightweight is bound to have heard of Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov.
The fearsome, undefeated Russian wrestler has been on the verge of championship opportunities for years now, but injury and weight issues have always kept him from realising these.
On December 30th, he’ll have a chance to reintroduce himself to the title picture once again should he get past Brazilian Edson Barboza.
One of the most talented strikers in the entire UFC, Barboza will be hoping to use his infamous leg kicks and long-range striking to keep the Russian’s takedowns at bay.
A throwback to the old days and the classic ‘striker vs. wrestler’ contest, we can expect nothing but a heated showdown between these two at the end of the year.