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

The UFC will market its initially occasion of the year this Saturday, placing an finish to a 4-week lull. Saturday’s occasion, an below-the-radar Struggle Night time headlined by featherweight contenders Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze, is not just a blockbuster. But it will kickstart UFC 2022, which has a packed timetable of fights that probable won’t sluggish down until this time upcoming year.



As MMA fans the world above wait for the UFC’s frantic calendar to get underway, we made a decision to set collectively a speedy primer for the year forward. Here’s anything you have to have to know about the UFC this year.

UFC 2022 Preview: What to Watch This Yr

Recapping 2021

The UFC promoted 43 occasions in 2021, such as 13 star-studded fork out-for each-sights. By the time the year was carried out, UFC president Dana White was proclaiming it the best in the company’s record.

“It was the best year we at any time had,” White told the Las Vegas Review-Journal earlier this month. “We’re popping on each individual metric you can think about. Sponsorship is by way of the roof. Social media, our numbers on fork out-for each-watch, our numbers on television, arena documents. This business is on fire.”

Now the phase is established for an exciting 2022. The UFC has twelve divisions: eight for adult men and 4 for gals. People divisions are at this time ruled by twelve undisputed champions and two interim champions. (You can watch the whole rankings on the UFC website.)

Rising Stars to Watch

The UFC’s champions may possibly be the kinds driving fork out-for each-watch gross sales, but it’s the up-and-comers who continue to keep the promotion’s item exciting year following year. The UFC 2022 roster is packed with intriguing potential customers, and some are already remaining hailed as upcoming champions. Below are a couple of rising stars to continue to keep an eye on.

Ian Garry

Ireland’s Ian Garry (8–0) is already drawing comparisons to yet another Irishman you might have read of: previous two-division UFC champ Conor McGregor. In fact, following successful his UFC debut with a initially-round knockout of Jordan Williams at UFC 268 in November, Garry actually borrowed 1 of McGregor’s most well known soundbites.

“A wise Irishman when reported prior to me—he stepped in this very cage and he reported, ‘We’re not listed here to consider part, we’re listed here to consider above,’” Garry told Daniel Cormier in his put up-battle interview. “This is the takeover part two.”

Alex Pereira

Brazilian middleweight Alex Pereira (4–1) generated a ton of buzz heading into his Octagon debut at UFC 268 in November. The 34-year-old is an skilled kickboxer, and he even retains a knockout victory above reigning UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya in kickboxing competitiveness.

To say Pereira lived up to the buzz would be an understatement. The Brazilian finished up providing us 1 of the best knockouts of 2021 as he decimated his opponent, Andreas Michailidis, with a next-round flying knee.

Pereira is probable still some length from a title shot, but it feels like only a make a difference of time prior to he’s in that conversation.

Erin Blanchfield

The women’s flyweight division is at this time dwelling to numerous promising youthful fighters, but none of them have a brighter upcoming than 22-year-old Erin Blanchfield (8–1). Following a effective run by way of Invicta, an all-women’s MMA league, she made a effective UFC debut in September by defeating the more skilled Sarah Alpar in a unanimous selection. Blanchfield then picked up yet another earn prior to the year was out, dominating fellow prospect Miranda Maverick to an impressive unanimous selection triumph.

Blanchfield has but to debut in the flyweight leading 15 but will likely do so if she wins her upcoming battle. From there, she’ll be just a couple of wins away from a showdown with dominating flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.

Paddy Pimblett

Paddy Pimblett (17–3) has been a preferred amongst hardcore battle fans for a a long time, but he didn’t make his UFC debut until September 2021. The 27-year-old British light-weight couldn’t have made a louder statement in his debut, as he weathered some early adversity to transform the lights off on Luigi Vendramini with a swarm of initially-round hooks.

Pimblett beforehand gained the Cage Warriors featherweight championship in Europe. It won’t be easy to repeat the feat in the UFC light-weight division—arguably the toughest division in the sport—but quite a few believe the Brit can pull it off.

Storylines to Watch

Conor McGregor’s Crossroads

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

McGregor’s superstardom means he can consider more losses than most fighters. Even so, he’s not immune to the consequences of a extended shedding streak. If the 33-year-old hopes to continue to be a genuine participant in the sport that made him well known, he needs to earn his upcoming battle.

It continues to be to be witnessed when he’ll battle upcoming, but he a short while ago told his Twitter followers that he hopes to be sparring by April and again in the Octagon shortly thereafter.

Francis Ngannou’s Long run

UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (16–3) is established to headline UFC 270 on Jan. 22. He’ll be taking on the division’s interim champion Ciryl Gane—who comes about to be his previous coaching spouse.

Each and every UFC title battle is vital, but this 1 is specially considerable for Ngannou. The 35-year-old French-Cameroonian is in the midst of a heated deal dispute with the UFC, and he’s angling for more funds and the independence to moonlight as a expert boxer.

If he defeats Gane, his negotiating ability will skyrocket. If he loses, he can wave goodbye to the deal he’s hoping for. He’s gambling on himself, and time will convey 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. Irrespective of moving into the cage as a gargantuan betting preferred, the 33-year-old Brazilian was battered to a next-round submission loss, surrendering the UFC bantamweight title in the method. It was a surprising finish to 1 of the most dominant championship reigns in UFC record.

The excellent information for Nunes is that she’s predicted to get a probability at redemption from Peña shortly. Her past dominance all but guarantees her that prospect. Considering the fact that UFC 269, there has been rampant speculation that Nunes wasn’t at her best that night—even UFC president Dana White contributed to the rumors. Peña, in the meantime, is adamant that she’s Nunes’s superior.

The rematch really should remedy those people inquiries 1 way or the other.

Khamzat Chimaev’s Rise

Chechen-born Swede Khamzat Chimaev (10–0) took the MMA world by storm in 2020 and 2021 with 4 seemingly easy victories across the middleweight and welterweight divisions. His very last, a initially-round submission defeat of Chinese welterweight contender Li Jingliang, was specially impressive, and it earned him the No. 11 location in the welterweight rankings.

At this stage, it feels inescapable that Chimaev will finish up demanding for the UFC welterweight title, which is at this time the residence of Kamaru Usman. It wouldn’t be astonishing to see Chimaev contend for the middleweight title sometime thereafter. Of study course, both of those of those people things count on his continued achievement in the Octagon.

Is Chimaev the real offer or a flash in the pan? 2022 really should convey to us a great deal about the UFC’s latest celebrity.

Fights We Hope to See This Yr

Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz III

Conor McGregor (22–6) and Nate Diaz (20–13) have been tied with a earn apiece considering that 2016. Enthusiasts have been clamoring for a tie-breaking trilogy battle at any time considering that McGregor gained their next encounter by bulk selection, but the UFC has consequently considerably saved it off the timetable.

At the commence of 2022, the trilogy tends to make as significantly perception as at any time. McGregor is riding again-to-again losses to Dustin Poirier. Diaz arrived up quick from Leon Edwards and Jorge Masvidal in his very last two fights. Both equally men are in determined have to have of a earn and lower on solutions. Why wait any lengthier?

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway III

UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (23–1) is two- in fights from Max Holloway (23–6), the division’s previous champ, but both of those victories had been very aggressive selections. The next was specially close—in fact, it was downright controversial.

These days, it’s abundantly very clear that Volkanovski and Holloway are the two best featherweights in the UFC. What is not very clear is which of them is much better. A 3rd battle would remedy that problem.

The UFC actually attempted to e book that bout for UFC 272 on March 5, but the battle fell by way of following Holloway was injured. Hopefully the marketing takes yet another stab at the matchup when the previous champ is recovered.

Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones

There was a interval in early 2021 when all symptoms pointed to a titanic showdown concerning Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones. Ngannou, arguably the hardest puncher in fight sporting activities these days, had just captured the UFC heavyweight title with a star-making knockout of Stipe Miocic. Jones, the most dominant fighter in mild heavyweight record, had a short while ago vacated the division’s throne with ambition to transfer up to heavyweight.

However, the battle fizzled out prior to it at any time got off the ground. Thinking about Ngannou’s ongoing deal dispute with the UFC and Jones’ legal difficulties outdoors the cage, it’s uncertain they’ll battle every other any time in the near upcoming. But if we’re actually fortunate, we may possibly just see it prior to the year is out.

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