Combat sports like mixed martial arts are ultimately defined by their champions. From long-reigning UFC kings like Jon Jones to Stipe Miocic types that don't reach the mountaintop until late on in their careers, a legacy simply isn't complete without a belt strapped around your waist.
With that in mind, 2020 will be a year of opportunity in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. A number of top contenders are staring down the end of their prime years, allowing a new breed to take the promotion by storm. Let's identify four fighters that will get their first shots at a UFC title this year.
1. Jorge Masvidal
Okay, he technically won the "BMF title" against Nate Diaz back in November, but Masvidal has yet to fight for a UFC divisional belt throughout his 48-fight MMA career. With one more big win, however, the 35-year-old could be on the way to a welterweight title shot. With a feud against current champion Kamaru Usman already checkd off, Gamebred is already well on his way to giving Dana White no choice but to offer him a shot at the 170-pound crown.
2. Curtis Blaydes
Yes, we're totally buying into the hype, because a heavyweight with a wrestling background hasn't moved this well since Brock Lesnar. So what if it appears that Junior Dos Santos looks like he is on the decline of his career after back-to-back KO losses? "Razor" Blaydes has won eight of his last nine fights, five of those wins by TKO. He deserves way more respect in a suddenly loaded division, and all due respect to Jairzinho Rozenstruik, one more big win ought to earn Blaydes a shot at the winner of a possible Stipe Miocic-Daniel Cormier trilogy capper.
3. Petr Yan
Can we PLEASE garner some respect for a guy who has won his last nine fights, and 14 of his first 15 fights to begin his MMA career? It's ridiculous that despite showcasing his true talent against Urijah Faber, the UFC is disinterested in promoting Petr Yan. If Jose Aldo is truly on the bantamweight fast track despite losing his debut in the division, it's a shame, as Petr Yan is arguably the most electric guy at 135 poinds today. He deserves a chance to shine in the spotlight -- and possibly shut Henry Cejudo up, a huge favor to UFC fans if there ever was one.
4. Zabit Magomedsharipov
That is still one of the filthiest submissions ever seen in the history of the UFC. Seriously, watch that again. Simply put, Zabit Magomedsharipov hasn't lost in six years. He is 6-0 in the UFC. To not put him in the conversation as a legit featherweight title contender is simply willful ignorance. Who can match him for reach at 145 pounds when he stands at 6-foot-1? He is a logistical nightmare for anyone that stands in his way. With a superior blend of solid technique on his feet and a scary ability to secure a submission from any position, Zabit will get his moment to showcase his abilities in a title fight at some point in 2020. Bet on it.,