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Watch: The biggest UFC fights of 2022

Fresh off the back of an action-packed year with plenty of upsets and new contenders emerging, we take a look at the biggest UFC fights of 2022.

Never ones to slow their schedule, UFC schemers have already lined up several huge fights in 2022, including a heavyweight title bout and the third fight in a flyweight trilogy to start the year.

There’s also the near-certainty of former two-weight champion Conor McGregor’s return, a super-size comeback for hall-of-famer Jon Jones and a showdown which has been branded the biggest women’s fight of all time by promotion president Dana White.

UFC 270: Francis Ngannou vs Ciryl Gane

Already confirmed for January 22 at the Honda Center in California, this will be Ngannou’s first heavyweight title defense since dethroning greatest-of-all-time candidate Stipe Miocic in March.

In unbeaten 10-0 Gane, the Cameroonian faces the toughest active possible challenger and there are already weird vibes between the two that could soon escalate to bad blood.

Backstage at UFC 268, Ngannou snubbed ex-teammate Gane and his former coach Fernand Lopez, who now guides the Frenchman, as he walked past them, with footage of the incident going viral.

“I’m not his mom. I’m not his dad,” explained Lopez on the MMA Hour after, calling Gane “naive” for expecting a warm reception from ‘The Predator’.

“If he wants to stop having any relationship with me, that’s fair, that’s normal. I don’t have anything to do with that.”

Jon Jones’ UFC heavyweight debut

Speaking of heavyweights, Jon Jones’ debut at 265lbs is long-awaited. It could come against the winner of Ngannou vs Gane or a rival such as Miocic to first test the waters. But it should and must happen in the next 12 months.

Come that first bout, Jones won’t have been in the octagon in almost two years since an unflattering light heavyweight title win over Dominick Reyes.

 

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Aside from the inactivity, his advancing years and the question of whether he can hang with the bigger boys, other questions over Jones’ head are how his legal troubles might have affected him.

Jones has admitted to drinking problems and had a skirmish with Las Vegas Police after allegedly assaulting his wife and headbutting a patrol car while being arrested for domestic violence.

“I have way too much trauma to consume alcohol; my brain simply can’t handle it anymore. I will leave alcohol in my past forever,” he said in the days that followed the furor.

Having left the Jackson Wink gym, he plans his foray at heavyweight from Fight Ready in Phoenix, Arizona alongside stars such as Henry Cejudo and Deiveson Figueiredo.

“Open to ideas” over who he faces first, Jones has made no secret of his intended final destination.

“I will admit Francis is a bigger one when it comes to the financial side,” he told ESPN. “But it’s all good. I want the belt, really. I want the belt. I want big money.”

Brandon Moreno vs Deiveson Figueiredo III at UFC 270

The two flyweights are about to bookend arguably the greatest trilogy the UFC has ever seen.

In their first meeting, they battled to a majority draw that was a pretty fair decision and controversy-free for a change, although Figueiredo was docked a point for low blows.

Then, in the second episode, a slicker Moreno beat the Brazilian to the punch before ending him in the third round with a rear-naked choke submission to become Mexico’s first-ever champion in the elite MMA promotion.

 

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As part of a co-headline meeting on January’s Ngannou vs Gane card, their rivalry could be settled for once and for all. Figuereido, who complained that his defeat was down to a difficult weight cut, will likely move up to 135lbs.

Aljamain Sterling vs Petr Yan II – settling the UFC grudge match

Aljamain Sterling remains bantamweight champion after Petr Yan was disqualified for an illegal knee while the Jamaican-American was grounded in their March tear-up at UFC 259.

Sterling has been sidelined after neck surgery, meaing he has neither defendedd the crown nor provided a rematch for his Russian foe, with the two instead trading insults on Twitter.

Yan became the interim champion with an impressive unanimous decision win in a gripping contest against Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267 in late October after Sterling pulled out.

That gives ‘Funk Master’ nowhere to hide, and White is likely to sanction the bout soon.

The Return of Henry Cejudo

Despite going at it with Yan on social media, Cejudo seemed uninterested in taking on the winner and reclaiming his 135lbs title.

After White threw cold water on his planned attempt to become the UFC’s first three-weight champ by challenging Alexander Volkanovski, though, ‘Triple C’ has teased a showdown with Jose Aldo to get him back in the swing of things at bantamweight, and his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, believes “100 percent” that his fighter will make his comeback in 2022.

“He’s not coming in for one fight,” the Egyptian told MMA Fighting. “He’s coming in for a legacy fight to get three belts but there are a lot of fights at 135 and 145, too – it’s no problem.

“He’s a competitor. As long as he’s breathing, this guy’s going to be a competitor.”

Khamzat Chimaev’s next fight: A top 10 UFC contender?

Chechen-born sensation Chimaev is currently number 11 in the welterweight rankings and is thought to have a way to go before current champion Kamaru Usman gives him the opportunity to strike eternal gold.

 

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In the here and now, as he calls out every man and his dog, it would be intriguing to see the 10-0 Sweden-based upstart face a top 10-ranked opponent before possibly cracking the top five before 2022 is out.

UFC 271: Israel Adesanya vs Robert Whittaker II

Adesanya is a long way from threatening Anderson Silva’s legacy as the middleweight champion with the most title defenses (10), which is also an MMA record. He can, however, improve his own tally to four if he manages to get past compatriot Whittaker in February when they headline UFC 270.

Remember, it was from Whittaker that the Nigerian-born Kiwi first won top honors at 185lbs in October 2019.

 

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Rebuilding his career since then, Whittaker has put together three impressive unanimous decision wins over Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum while Adesanya tasted defeat for the first time when he failed in his bid to become a two-weight king against now-ex-light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowiz at UFC 259.

Bouncing back from that blip with a dominant win over Marvin Vettori, Adesanya can make a statement and re-establish his design on dominating the division when he attempts a second win over Whittaker in Houston.

The UFC return of Conor McGregor

Last seen breaking his leg against Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 in July, a fall to 1-3 in his last four outings saw many predicting the end for Conor McGregor at the top table.

While he remains the biggest box office draw the sport has ever seen, however, plenty will line up for their “red panty night” – in other words, the biggest payday of their careers as McGregor beefs up and plans yet another redemption tale.

That is why Poirier opted to fight McGregor for a third time this summer before losing to Charles Oliveira at UFC 269 in December. The Sao Paulo native is keen to get in with the Irishman next year.

“May would be a wonderful date,” Oliveira suggested to Sherdog after winning their Fighter of the Year gong.

“Conor challenged me asking a date and tweeted Ireland vs. Brazil 2. Not only him, but also myself and all the world wants to see that fight. So let’s make it happen.

“I’m waiting for him in May. It may be at welterweight, lightweight or middleweight, with my title on the line or not. Just choose and I’ll be ready.”

Amanda Nunes vs Julianna Pena – the biggest UFC women’s fight ever?

Pena’s taming of ‘The Lioness’ at UFC 269 has been dubbed the greatest upset of all time within the promotion, but top-ranked bantamweight and reigning featherweight champion Amanda Nunes is already keen on running it back.

“You think I’m going to go out unbalanced?” she asked on social media after licking her wounds.

“I undoubtedly accept the rematch. Give me a little time to get my sh*t together and I will be back better than ever.”

Should she manage to do that and topple ‘The Venezuelan Vixen’, a potential featherweight title moneyspinner against American Top Team teammate Kayla Harrison could beckon if the PFL queen joins the UFC.

“The Pena rematch with Nunes will probably be the biggest women’s fight of all time,” White recently predicted to ESPN.

“That rematch will be the biggest women’s rematch of all time.”

Ever the hype man, White reckons the folkloric 2015 bout between Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm currently takes that title.

“Every way that it could possibly beat it, it will,” he added of Nunes seeking revenge against Pena. “I don’t think it – I know it. It will crush that fight.”

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Source:RT News

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