UFC 2022: The 8 Finest Fights to Watch This Summer time

It appears prefer it’s going to be an action-packed summer time for UFC 2022. Whereas the Las Vegas-based MMA promotion’s summer time schedule remains to be a piece in progress, its calendar is beginning to replenish, and there’s already a lot to look forward to. The approaching months are rife with high-stakes fights of all descriptions, that includes fan-favorite veterans, rising prospects, and bona fide contenders alike.

Questioning what to look at? Listed below are the fights we’re most wanting ahead to on the UFC schedule from the tip of June by means of the tip of September.

The 8 Finest UFC Fights of Summer time 2022

1. Neil Magny vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov: June 25

By now, most UFC followers are conversant in the identify Khamzat Chimaev. The undefeated Chechen-born Swede has taken the UFC welterweight division by storm, and after a call win over Gilbert Burns final month, he’s on the cusp of a title shot towards champion Kamaru Usman. However Chimaev isn’t the one undefeated prospect making waves within the welterweight division. In truth, he may not even be one of the best one.

Whereas Chimaev has been working his strategy to the highest of the division, Kazakhstan’s Shavkat Rakhmonov (15–0) has quietly been doing the identical—and in no much less spectacular vogue. Since becoming a member of the UFC in 2020, the Kazakh has gained three fights, defeating Alex Oliveira and Michel Prazeres by submission and Carlston Harris with a highlight-reel knockout.

On June 25, Rakhmonov will take the hardest check of his profession: a combat with longtime ranked welterweight contender Neil Magny (26–8).

Magny, who has overwhelmed former UFC champions like Robbie Lawle, Carlos Condit, and Johny Hendricks, might be trying to play the spoiler. But when Rakhmonov maintains his momentum, a combat with a top-five opponent—possibly even Chimaev—might be subsequent.

2. Sean O’Malley vs. Pedro Munhoz: July 2

Arizona’s Sean O’Malley (15–1) has lengthy stood out as one of many brightest younger contenders within the UFC bantamweight division, which is among the deepest, best weight courses in the complete sport. The issue is that he was knocked out in his lone combat with a reliable contender, Marlon “Chito” Vera, and hasn’t actually fought anybody else of word.

That can lastly change at UFC 276 on July 2 in Las Vegas—the fruits of the promotion’s annual Worldwide Combat Week bonanza—when he takes on tenth-ranked bantamweight contender Pedro Munhoz (19–7, 1 NC).

It’ll be fascinating to see the betting line for this combat. O’Malley, who is understood for his slick hanging, can have all of the hype heading into the matchup, however Munhoz is a large step up in competitors for him. The Brazilian additionally appears to have all of the instruments to beat O’Malley.

Whereas O’Malley has good hanging and fight-ending knockout energy, Munhoz has freakish sturdiness that has carried him by means of 27 fights with out ever being stopped—together with fights with harmful strikers like Rob Font, John Dodson, Jose Aldo, and Cody Garbrandt. He additionally has glorious wrestling and jiu-jitsu abilities, whereas O’Malley is pretty unproven in these departments.

Will O’Malley lastly go an actual check and assert himself as a legit menace to the bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling? Will he be uncovered by a confirmed commodity in Munhoz? There’s just one strategy to discover out.

3. Sean Strickland vs. Alex Pereira: July 2

Sean Strickland has repeatedly come underneath hearth for racist and homophobic remarks and his frequent assertions that he would enjoy killing somebody. However the UFC has repeatedly proven that it doesn’t care what its fighters do or say as long as the fighter is producing income.

And Strickland, for higher or worse, has been doing simply that.

The middleweight has not solely been making headlines together with his feedback, he has additionally been profitable fights within the Octagon in spectacular vogue. He has picked up wins in his six most up-to-date fights, together with a trio of choice wins over Krzysztof Jotko, Uriah Corridor, and Jack Hermansson.

Whereas the No. 4-ranked American might be solely a win or two away from a middleweight title shot, he has agreed to an extremely dangerous combat at UFC 276 on July 2: a showdown with unranked Brazilian knockout artist Alex Pereira (5–1).

Pereira is a former kickboxing champion who famously holds a knockout win over UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Whereas he’s nonetheless pretty new to MMA, he’s already being talked about as a future title challenger. His matchup towards Strickland might be a significant alternative for him to show he’s well worth the hype.

It would both be the combat that sees Strickland, one in every of MMA’s true villains, get his comeuppance, or a combat that pushes him right into a title shot. Somehow, it’s price watching.

4. Miesha Tate vs. Lauren Murphy: July 2

Ladies’s MMA has by no means been higher, however with stars like Rose Namajunas, Valentina Shevchenko, Weili Zhang, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk all slated to compete earlier than the tip of June, the summer time itself is at the moment wanting somewhat sparse by way of ladies’s motion.

Nonetheless, there are a number of nice ladies’s bouts on the calendar for the upcoming UFC 2022 season, and for a lot of followers, none are extra compelling than Miesha Tate’s (19–8) scrap with Lauren Murphy (15–5), additionally slated for UFC 276 on July 2.

Tate is a pioneer of ladies’s MMA. Her professional profession dates again to 2007, when there have been barely any alternatives for girls to combat, not to mention receives a commission. She’s additionally a former UFC bantamweight champion, having famously choked out Holly Holm in a dramatic comeback in 2016.

After retiring from MMA in 2019 and spending a number of years working for Singapore-based martial arts powerhouse ONE Championship, Tate introduced her intention to return to the cage final yr. She has gone 1–1 since, first defeating Marion Reneau by TKO, then dropping a call to Ketlen Vieira.

What actually makes Tate’s combat with Murphy fascinating is that will probably be her first combat within the 125-pound flyweight division after spending her complete profession at bantamweight and featherweight—135 and 145 kilos, respectively. If she loses to the previous title challenger Murphy, her comeback could be principally written off. If she wins, she’ll instantly have a plethora of thrilling choices in a brand new weight class.

5. Curtis Blaydes vs. Tom Aspinall: July 23

Curtis Blaydes (16–3) is among the best-established contenders within the UFC heavyweight division. The wrestling specialist is at the moment ranked No. 4 within the weight class, and has overwhelmed a few of its highest fighters, together with Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, and Alexander Volkov.

On July 23, when the UFC returns to London, Blaydes might be tasked with slowing the rise of the most popular contender within the weight class: British finisher Tom Aspinall (12–2).

Aspinall has been a power of destruction since becoming a member of the UFC roster. He has rattled off 5 straight victories, all by the use of knockout or submission. Highlights of his time within the Octagon embody a second-round submission win over former heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski, a first-round TKO win over Moldovan contender Sergei Spivak, and most not too long ago, a first-round submission win over former Bellator champ Alexander Volkov.

This Blaydes vs. Aspinall combat can be a giant one underneath any circumstances, however with reigning UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou poised to go away the promotion—and vacate his title—on the finish of the yr, it’s all of the extra vital. The winner might be among the many high contenders for the vacant heavyweight throne if Ngannou does find yourself shifting on from the UFC.

6. Darren Until vs. Jack Hermansson: July 23

Blaydes vs. Aspinall isn’t the one huge combat slated for the UFC’s July 23 return to London. On the identical evening, Liverpool’s Darren Until (18–4–1)—one of many UFC’s hottest fighters—will tackle Norwegian-Swede Jack Hermansson (22–7).

It’s an important combat for each males. Whereas each are nonetheless ranked within the middleweight high 10, neither has achieved the outcomes they wished of late.

Until, a former welterweight title challenger, has gone 1–2 since shifting as much as middleweight in 2019, first defeating Kelvin Gastelum by cut up choice, then dropping a call to former champion Robert Whittaker and tapping out to a choke courtesy of grappling specialist Derek Brunson.

Hermansson has gained extra not too long ago than Until, defeating Edmen Shahbazyan by choice in 2021, however he sandwiched that victory between choice losses to Marvin Vettori and Sean Strickland.

A win might be extraordinarily worthwhile for both man. A loss might be disastrous: sufficient to push the vanquished social gathering proper out of title rivalry. When the stakes are this excessive, the result’s often an entertaining combat.

7. Derrick Lewis vs. Sergei Pavlovich: July 30

A Derrick Lewis combat is at all times must-watch tv. Not solely is the hulking Houstonian heavyweight behind some of the most iconic lines in UFC history, however he additionally holds the document for essentially the most knockout victories of any UFC fighter, previous or current.

Lewis (26–9), at the moment ranked No. 5 within the heavyweight division, will look so as to add to his lengthy checklist of knockout victories on July 30, when he takes on Russia’s Sergei Pavlovich (15–1).

The matchup with the No. 11-ranked Russian—a particular step down in competitors—is proof that Lewis is as much as combat nearly anyone. He deserves props for that, however there’s no escaping the fact: This can be a must-win combat for him.

At 37 years previous, Lewis is 2–2 in his final 4 bouts, with each of his current losses—towards Ciryl Gane and Tai Tuivasa—coming by the use of knockout. Whereas he’ll at all times be a fan favourite, one other loss would deflate what stays of his credibility as a title contender.

Beating Pavlovich gained’t be straightforward, both. The 29-year-old Russian was defeated by the good Alistair Overeem in his first UFC combat (one of many hardest debuts of all time) however has rebounded with three straight stoppage wins over Marcelo Golm, Maurice Inexperienced, and Shamil Abdurakhimov.

Youth and momentum are each on his aspect. The large query is whether or not or not he can keep away from Lewis’ explosive punches.

8. Tai Tuivasa vs. Ciryl Gane: Sept. 3

Very like Derrick Lewis, Tai Tuivasa is as beloved as a lot for his antics outdoors the Octagon as he’s for his performances inside it. And when the shooey drinking Australian knocked Lewis out with a volley of second-round elbows in his final combat, he reworked from entertaining prospect to reliable title contender. Tuivasa will look to make a last leap towards a heavyweight title shot when he takes on France’s Ciryl Gane on Sept. 3.

Gane, the previous interim heavyweight champion, might be one of the best fighter within the division outdoors of Francis Ngannou (Ngannou defeated Gane of their final matchup). The Frenchman boasts unimaginable combat IQ, world-class hanging honed over an in depth Muay Thai profession, and boundless athleticism besides.

It stays to be seen how his technical, tactical fashion matches up with Tuivasa’s hyper-aggressive and explosive strategy to preventing, nevertheless it’s most likely going to be plenty of enjoyable to look at both manner. And identical to the Blaydes vs. Aspinall winner, the victor of this combat might be proper on the cusp of a title shot.

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