Dana White and his market-leading UFC always pull out all the stops when the summer rolls around. Matchups such as Poirer vs McGregor 3, Usman vs Masvidal, Cormier vs Miocic and Cormier vs Jones 2 have all headlined throughout the summer months in recent years, with this summer set to be on a similar level. Israel Adesanya vs Jarrod Cannonier, Julianna Pena vs Amanda Nunes and Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards are the moneyspinning main events that have already been announced, and that’s just the pay-per-views. Online bookmakers such as William Hill, who present free offers on UFC matchups, will also be providing betting on a wealth of Fight Nights.
Those PPV headliners sell themselves. For all of his critics, Dana White has continually ensured that the best fight the best throughout his tenure as the UFC’s head honcho, contrary to sports such as boxing. For that, he should be commended, and these next few months will be no different. But what are the major talking points ahead of a blockbuster summer?
Will we finally see a definitive conclusion to the Volkanovski/Holloway saga?
Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway have twice shared the Octagon together already, and both times the fighters could barely be separated. Prior to UFC 245, Holloway was being lauded as perhaps the greatest featherweight champion of all time. His size, speed and output volume led him to a six-year undefeated streak at the weight, defeating a murderer’s row of opponents on the way. Jose Aldo (twice), Anthony Pettis, Charles Oliveira, Brian Ortega and Frankie Edgar all succumbed to the Blessed One, who had cracked the pound-for-pound rankings before he ran into The Great.
Through a clever combination of leg kicks and counter strikes, Volkanovski shocked the world when he became champion back in 2019 via a razor-thin but deserved unanimous decision. Deserving, however, is a word that fight fans could not use in their rematch seven months afterwards. Many thought that the challenger did enough to regain his title at Fight Island, however, the judges once again favoured the Australian. Dana White was dismayed at the decision, but it has taken two years to run it back. The trilogy fight will take place at UFC 276 on July 3rd and fans will be hoping for a definitive winner.
Britain’s Big Month
Not since Michael Bisping sent Luke Rockhold to another dimension six years ago has the United Kingdom had a UFC World Champion. That victory at UFC 199 came on just 17 days’ notice and was the culmination of a 25-fight period spanning ten years; on August 21st, another Brit will have his chance on the global stage. Leon Edwards – who hasn’t lost since his compatriot was champion back in 2016 – is on a nine-fight winning streak. He’s beaten names such as Nate Diaz, Rafael Dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone and he will finally get his shot at the UFC Welterweight Championship this summer.
The problem which Rocky has, however, is that the last man who beat him was the reigning champion, who is now on the run of his life. Kamaru Usman is known as The Nigerian Nightmare for a reason. In his last five fights, he has knocked out Colby Covington, Jorge Masvidal and Gilbert Burns. And he’s looked otherworldly in doing so. Back in November, Covington did make the champ look human, however, he fell short of usurping him at the top of the division and now it is Edwards who is next in line. He will go into the fight as a massive underdog, but his country will be spurring him on to become their second-ever World Champion.
But it isn’t just the Kingston-born fighter who has a big night ahead of him. The UK’s next great heavyweight hope Tom Aspinall – coming off the back of an impressive victory over Alexander Volkov – will face Curtis Blaydes on July 23rd. He will be supported on the undercard by former welterweight title contender Darren Till, who faces Jack Hermansson at London’s O2 Arena and both will be hoping to secure big victories to bring them back into title contention.