UFC 2022 Preview: Rising Stars, What to Watch, and More

The UFC will encourage its very first celebration of the yr this Saturday, placing an stop to a 4-7 days lull. Saturday’s celebration, an beneath-the-radar Fight Evening headlined by featherweight contenders Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze, is not precisely a blockbuster. But it will kickstart UFC 2022, which has a packed routine of fights that probably will not sluggish down until this time subsequent yr.



As MMA admirers the entire world around hold out for the UFC’s hectic calendar to get underway, we made the decision to place together a quick primer for the yr forward. Here’s anything you require to know about the UFC this yr.

UFC 2022 Preview: What to Enjoy This Year

Recapping 2021

The UFC promoted forty three gatherings in 2021, including thirteen star-studded spend-per-views. By the time the yr was carried out, UFC president Dana White was proclaiming it the very best in the company’s historical past.

“It was the very best yr we at any time had,” White explained to the Las Vegas Overview-Journal before this month. “We’re popping on each and every metric you can think about. Sponsorship is as a result of the roof. Social media, our quantities on spend-per-watch, our quantities on tv, arena data. This enterprise is on fire.”

Now the phase is established for an remarkable 2022. The UFC has twelve divisions: eight for guys and 4 for girls. All those divisions are presently ruled by twelve undisputed champions and two interim champions. (You can watch the whole rankings on the UFC web page.)

Growing Stars to Enjoy

The UFC’s champions may be the kinds driving spend-per-watch revenue, but it is the up-and-comers who keep the promotion’s solution attention-grabbing yr right after yr. The UFC 2022 roster is packed with intriguing potential clients, and some are already currently being hailed as foreseeable future champions. Below are a couple of climbing stars to keep an eye on.

Ian Garry

Ireland’s Ian Garry (8–0) is already drawing comparisons to another Irishman you may perhaps have read of: former two-division UFC champ Conor McGregor. In actuality, right after profitable his UFC debut with a very first-round knockout of Jordan Williams at UFC 268 in November, Garry in fact borrowed a single of McGregor’s most famous soundbites.

“A sensible Irishman as soon as said before me—he stepped in this extremely cage and he said, ‘We’re not here to take portion, we’re here to take around,’” Garry explained to Daniel Cormier in his submit-combat interview. “This is the takeover portion two.”

Alex Pereira

Brazilian middleweight Alex Pereira (4–1) created a ton of buzz heading into his Octagon debut at UFC 268 in November. The 34-yr-aged is an seasoned kickboxer, and he even retains a knockout victory around reigning UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya in kickboxing levels of competition.

To say Pereira lived up to the buzz would be an understatement. The Brazilian finished up offering us a single of the very best knockouts of 2021 as he decimated his opponent, Andreas Michailidis, with a 2nd-round traveling knee.

Pereira is probably however some length from a title shot, but it feels like only a make any difference of time before he’s in that dialogue.

Erin Blanchfield

The women’s flyweight division is presently dwelling to various promising younger fighters, but none of them have a brighter foreseeable future than 22-yr-aged Erin Blanchfield (8–1). Just after a successful operate as a result of Invicta, an all-women’s MMA league, she produced a successful UFC debut in September by defeating the additional seasoned Sarah Alpar in a unanimous conclusion. Blanchfield then picked up another gain before the yr was out, dominating fellow prospect Miranda Maverick to an outstanding unanimous conclusion triumph.

Blanchfield has but to debut in the flyweight best 15 but will possibly do so if she wins her subsequent combat. From there, she’ll be just a couple of wins absent from a showdown with dominating flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.

Paddy Pimblett

Paddy Pimblett (17–3) has been a beloved between hardcore combat admirers for a decades, but he didn’t make his UFC debut until September 2021. The 27-yr-aged British light-weight could not have produced a louder statement in his debut, as he weathered some early adversity to convert the lights off on Luigi Vendramini with a swarm of very first-round hooks.

Pimblett beforehand gained the Cage Warriors featherweight championship in Europe. It will not be straightforward to repeat the feat in the UFC light-weight division—arguably the hardest division in the sport—but a lot of consider the Brit can pull it off.

Storylines to Enjoy

Conor McGregor’s Crossroads

Conor McGregor (22–6) continues to be the most important star in MMA, but his believability is hanging by a thread. The Irishman is riding back again-to-back again stoppage losses to Dustin Poirier, the 2nd of which left him with a broken leg. He’s now down to 2–3 in his previous five fights.

McGregor’s superstardom suggests he can take additional losses than most fighters. Even so, he’s not immune to the consequences of a extended shedding streak. If the 33-yr-aged hopes to stay a reputable player in the activity that produced him famous, he wants to gain his subsequent combat.

It continues to be to be witnessed when he’ll combat subsequent, but he recently explained to his Twitter followers that he hopes to be sparring by April and back again in the Octagon quickly thereafter.

Francis Ngannou’s Upcoming

UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (16–3) is established to headline UFC 270 on Jan. 22. He’ll be using on the division’s interim champion Ciryl Gane—who happens to be his former teaching companion.

Every single UFC title combat is vital, but this a single is specifically important for Ngannou. The 35-yr-aged French-Cameroonian is in the midst of a heated deal dispute with the UFC, and he’s angling for additional money and the liberty to moonlight as a expert boxer.

If he defeats Gane, his negotiating energy will skyrocket. If he loses, he can wave goodbye to the deal he’s hoping for. He’s gambling on himself, and time will explain to if it pays off.

Redemption for Amanda Nunes

Amanda Nunes (21–5) looked invincible until UFC 269 in December, when she ran into Julianna Peña. In spite of moving into the cage as a gargantuan betting beloved, the 33-yr-aged Brazilian was battered to a 2nd-round submission loss, surrendering the UFC bantamweight title in the method. It was a shocking stop to a single of the most dominant championship reigns in UFC historical past.

The excellent information for Nunes is that she’s envisioned to get a opportunity at redemption against Peña quickly. Her past dominance all but assures her that option. Given that UFC 269, there has been rampant speculation that Nunes was not at her very best that night—even UFC president Dana White contributed to the rumors. Peña, meanwhile, is adamant that she’s Nunes’s top-quality.

The rematch really should remedy all those inquiries a single way or the other.

Khamzat Chimaev’s Rise

Chechen-born Swede Khamzat Chimaev (10–0) took the MMA entire world by storm in 2020 and 2021 with 4 seemingly easy victories throughout the middleweight and welterweight divisions. His previous, a very first-round submission defeat of Chinese welterweight contender Li Jingliang, was specifically outstanding, and it acquired him the No. 11 location in the welterweight rankings.

At this issue, it feels inevitable that Chimaev will stop up difficult for the UFC welterweight title, which is presently the property of Kamaru Usman. It would not be shocking to see Chimaev contend for the middleweight title sometime thereafter. Of study course, equally of all those matters count on his ongoing success in the Octagon.

Is Chimaev the real offer or a flash in the pan? 2022 really should explain to us a good deal about the UFC’s newest celebrity.

Fights We Hope to See This Year

Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz III

Conor McGregor (22–6) and Nate Diaz (20–13) have been tied with a gain apiece due to the fact 2016. Admirers have been clamoring for a tie-breaking trilogy combat at any time due to the fact McGregor gained their 2nd encounter by vast majority conclusion, but the UFC has therefore far retained it off the routine.

At the start off of 2022, the trilogy makes as much perception as at any time. McGregor is riding back again-to-back again losses to Dustin Poirier. Diaz came up shorter against Leon Edwards and Jorge Masvidal in his previous two fights. The two fellas are in desperate require of a gain and low on selections. Why hold out any extended?

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway III

UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (23–1) is 2- in fights against Max Holloway (23–6), the division’s former champ, but equally victories were being extremely competitive decisions. The 2nd was specifically close—in actuality, it was downright controversial.

These days, it is abundantly crystal clear that Volkanovski and Holloway are the two very best featherweights in the UFC. What is not crystal clear is which of them is far better. A 3rd combat would remedy that concern.

The UFC in fact experimented with to reserve that bout for UFC 272 on March five, but the combat fell as a result of right after Holloway was hurt. With any luck , the advertising can take another stab at the matchup as soon as the former champ is recovered.

Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones

There was a interval in early 2021 when all signals pointed to a titanic showdown among Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones. Ngannou, arguably the toughest puncher in battle athletics these days, had just captured the UFC heavyweight title with a star-earning knockout of Stipe Miocic. Jones, the most dominant fighter in light heavyweight historical past, had recently vacated the division’s throne with ambition to go up to heavyweight.

Regretably, the combat fizzled out before it at any time obtained off the floor. Considering Ngannou’s ongoing deal dispute with the UFC and Jones’ lawful troubles outdoors the cage, it is uncertain they’ll combat every other any time in the close to foreseeable future. But if we’re actually blessed, we may just see it before the yr is out.

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