The UFC has had a really nice five-month stretch to start the calendar year in 2022. From a PPV perspective, we started the year with Francis Ngannou unifying the heavyweight title by defeating former training partner and the previously unbeaten Ciryl Gane.
At UFC 271, we saw Israel Adesanya edge out Robert Whittaker in their highly anticipated rematch. Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal finally met in the octagon at UFC 272 and Covington dominated Gamebred to win a decision.
UFC 273 saw Alexander Volkanovski continue his reign by dominating The Korean Zombie. Aljamain Sterling legitimized his bantamweight championship and Khamzat Chimaev showed that his hype was real with a gutsy win over Gilbert Burns.
Just a few weeks ago, Charles Oliveira lost his lightweight title on the scale by missing weight by .5 pounds. However, he showed everyone he’s still the best lightweight in the world after finishing Justin Gaethje in the first round.
So many great fights and great moments through the first five months of the year. However, the UFC is just getting started for 2022 and there’s plenty of big fights to come. While there’s already some big fights announced, let’s dive into some that aren’t confirmed but need to happen before the end of the year.
UFC Fights to Make
Jon Jones – Stipe Miocic
Let’s start with an obvious one here. Before the year is over, we need to see Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) in the heavyweight division. Arguably the greatest of all time, Jones has been preparing for his heavyweight debut for over two years now.
Francis Ngannou is not available due to recovering from knee surgery, so Jones cannot fight for the undisputed heavyweight title. However, he can fight the greatest heavyweight of all time for the interim UFC heavyweight title.
Stipe Miocic (20-4) has been wanting his rematch with Francis Ngannou. They’ve fought twice and he’s 1-1 with the champion. However, with Ngannou not available, Miocic wants to fight the best. Well, it doesn’t get much better than Jon Jones.
At the moment, the UFC is currently looking at September for an interim title fight with Jones and Miocic. This would be a massive fight and whoever wins could fight Ngannou after the first of the year or by the end of the year for the undisputed heavyweight crown.
Conor McGregor – Michael Chandler
Love him or hate him, Conor McGregor (22-6) is still the biggest star in the UFC. The former two-division champion is ramping up his rehab with plans to make his return to the octagon by the end of the year. McGregor has been recovering from a broken leg he suffered in his last bout.
Many have been wondering who will face McGregor upon his return. McGregor has hinted that he wants to fight at 170 pounds when he comes back. There is a fellow lightweight that’s already called for a fight at 170 pounds with him and it’s a fight fans should love.
I really think that Michael Chandler (23-7) is a perfect opponent for McGregor. Chandler will bang with McGregor, but he also brings a wrestling base that could challenge him in his return to the cage. After Chandler knocked out Tony Ferguson, he called for the fight and McGregor expressed interest.
To me, there’s really no wrong answer in terms of booking Conor McGregor. The man will sell the event by himself. However, if I had it my way, I would love to see him take on Michael Chandler.
Dustin Poirier – Nate Diaz
The fact that this fight hasn’t already been booked by the UFC upsets me. For months, Dustin Poirier (28-7, 1 NC) and Nate Diaz (20-13) have been calling to fight each other. It’s a fight that fans are begging for and the stars want it. So, why isn’t the fight being made?
Well that has to do with Diaz and his contract with the UFC. Diaz currently has one fight left on his contract. With his recent comments, he’s seemingly indicated that he isn’t interested in resigning with the promotion after his contract expires.
With that, the UFC has been trying to book him against Khamzat Chimaev. Chimaev is a nightmare opponent for Diaz and would not be great for his brand as he exits. Diaz has declined Chimaev and with UFC contracts, if you decline opponents after they are formally offered, your contract extends.
Because of this, Diaz is in limbo. I wish these things didn’t play a role in it, but it does. My hope is that a middle ground can be found and we finally get the fight we’ve wanted between Diaz and Poirier. However, I’m not holding my breath at this point.
Charles Oliveira – Islam Makhachev
Finally we can hear people stop talking because we will get to see this fight to determine the best lightweight in the UFC. Make no mistake about it, Charles Oliveira (33-8, 1 NC) is the best lightweight in the UFC. He might not be the champion due to him missing weight, but he’s the best.
Yet, there’s a large group of people out there who claim that Islam Makhachev (22-1) is the best. The protege of former lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov has won ten fights in a row. Granted, it’s not the sexiest list of opponents. His best win in the UFC is Dan Hooker which really isn’t saying much at the moment.
Despite that, many view him as the best. Oliveira’s last four wins have come against Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, and Tony Ferguson. At the moment, it looks like the UFC is going to potentially book Oliveira – Makhachev in the fall.
Whenever they finally fight, we will finally get some clarity and the world can settle down in terms of the debate between Oliveira and Makhachev.