[OPINION] Fights To Make In Each UFC Division In 2022

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Going through the current UFC schedule, I’ve seen a large number of fighters without a matchup.

Here is my list of the best fights to make in each UFC division in 2022.

Women’s Strawweight

Rose Namajunas Vs Carla Esparza 2

Credit: MMAMania

Currently showing her best form to date, Carla Esparza has made her case to rematch Rose Namajunas, a rematch more than 7 years in the making.

Esparza is currently on a 5 fight win streak against Virna Jandiroba, Alexa Grasso, Michelle Waterson, Marina Rodriguez and Yan Xiaonan.

Her last fight against Xiaonan was her most impressive during the streak.

Her last loss was back in 2018 against the undefeated Tatiana Suarez, who hasn’t fought in over 2 years in the promotion due to knee and neck injuries.

The champion Namajunas has just come off her 1st title defence against Weili Zhang and needs a fresh matchup.

I know that Namajunas will want to avenge her loss to Carla Esparza and show off her improvement in all areas of the game.

The route to victory for Esparza is simple to control Namajunas on the ground and look for the finish.

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But Namajunas has far more path victory. She will have superior striking in both power and technique.

Currently showing her best form to date, Carla Esparza has made her case to rematch Rose Namajunas, a rematch more than 7 years in the making.

Esparza is currently on a 5 fight win streak against Virna Jandiroba, Alexa Grasso, Michelle Waterson, Marina Rodriguez and Yan Xiaonan.

Her last fight against Xiaonan was her most impressive during the streak.

Her last loss was back in 2018 against the undefeated Tatiana Suarez, who hasn’t fought in over 2 years in the promotion due to knee and neck injuries.

The champion Namajunas has just come off her 1st title defence against Weili Zhang and needs a fresh matchup.

I know that Namajunas will want to avenge her loss to Carla Esparza and show off her improvement in all areas of the game.

The route to victory for Esparza is simple to control Namajunas on the ground and look for the finish.

But Namajunas has far more path victory. She will have superior striking in both power and technique.

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Women’s Flyweight

Credit: BBC

Jessica Andrade Vs Taila Santos

Number 5 ranked Taila Santos is currently the ranked prospect who hasn’t fought the champion yet.

But I would like to see her have one fight before she takes on the champion.

Currently, Jessica Andrade is the only prospect ahead of Santos, who doesn’t have a matchup, besides Lauren Murphy, who just fought the champion.

Andrade is coming off a first-round TKO over Cynthia Calvillo and certainly needs another win before she can start fighting for the title again, and if she can send back the biggest divisional prospect in Santos.

She will have made her case for a rematch if Shevchenko continues defending the 125lb belt.

But that is no easy task. 

Santos has been dominant in her last 4 bouts and has shown some high-level grappling, submitting Joanne Wood in the first round in her previous fight.

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Men’s Flyweight

Credit: UFC

David Dvorak Vs Amir Albazi

Currently, men’s flyweight is pretty well matched up, with only Matheus Nicolau and Alexandre Pantoja not having a match up.

But both are on win streaks and ahead in the ranking, so it wouldn’t make sense for either of them to fight down the division.

The best matchup you could make currently is between 10th ranked David Dvorak and 11th ranked Amir Albazi, both undefeated in UFC currently.

It would be the biggest fight in both these fighters careers, and it’s a classic striking vs grappler matchup with Dvorak best way to victory through striking and Albazi best path to victory through grappling.

Both fighters bring an entertaining, fast pace style. I hope the matchup gets made.

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Women’s Bantamweight 

Credit: Mirror

Amanda Nunes Vs Juliana Pena 2

On what was the biggest upset of the year Juliana Pena handed the women’s GOAT her first loss in 7 years and broke her record 11 fight win streak.

But no doubt Nunes will be able to get a rematch if she wants to.

In the first fight, it seemed like an uncharacteristic performance for Nunes she wasn’t landing her big power shots.

She also got sucked into a dirty and ugly fight with Pena playing right into the challenger’s hands.

Which made her exhausted, and the fight ended in the second round via rear-naked choke despite Pena not having any hooks in.

I don’t even Pena and her corner was expecting this sort of performance from Nunes.

Going into this fight it seemed like any title defence for Nunes as she had already cleared the division.

Most talks were of her fighting Kayla Harisson.

But now I would like to see her rematch Pena to see if she does anything differently.

A rematch where Nunes will likely still be the favourite despite the poor previous performance.

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Men’s Bantamweight 

Credit: Insider

Aljamain Sterling Vs Petr Yan 2

The first fight is still very confusing to me I’m not sure why Yan throws that knee.

But it happened and Yan has beaten Sandhagen in the meantime.

The long-awaited fight is holding the whole division and Sterling says it would be ideal for him to have the rematch in March.

There is no argument why TJ Dillashaw should cut the line.

The fight needs to be booked ASAP.

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Featherweight 

Credit: MMAJunkie

Max Holloway Vs Josh Emmitt

Currently there a no new contenders for the champ Alexander Volkanovski, and no desire from the fans to see the third fight between him and Holloway yet.

But after the year Max Holloway had he can’t just play gatekeeper for the champion forever. But I would like to see him do one more time before he rematches Volkanovski.

Emmett is currently riding a 4 fight win streak which includes Dan Ige, and Shane Burgos.

I believe he offers the champion and Max Holloway their biggest challenges yet.

Emmitt is the hardest hitting 145lb fighter as seen against Michael Johnson and Ricardo Lamas where he knocked them both out cold.

At age 36 Emmett likely only has a few years left in the sport so I think the number 1 contender fight with him Holloway is the fight to make.

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Lightweight

Credit: MMAFighting

Dustin Poirier Vs Michael Chandler

Personally, I’m torn about who the champion Charles Olivera should fight next.

I would happily watch both Oliveria vs Gaethje or Olivera vs the winner of Islam and Dariush.

So at the moment number 1 fight to make in the lightweight division is between Poirier and Chandler.

Which will be an absolute classic fight.

Currently, it’s unknown if Poirier is moving up to Welterweight but if he does stay at lightweight I would love to see him fight Chandler.

Both fighters will stand in the middle of the cage and leave it all on the line.

It will certainly be on par with both these fighters matches with Justin Gaethje which were absolute classics. 

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Welterweight

Credit: MMAFighting

Kamaru Usman Vs Leon Edwards 2

Currently, on a 9 fight win streak, Leon Edwards is still yet to face off against the champion Kamaru Usman.

After his cancelled bout against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 269, I see no reason for him to keep racking up wins.

I get the feeling that the UFC does not want Leon as champion.

After seeing who the UFC have matched Usman within his last three title fights.

At UFC 268 he rematch Colby Covington despite Colby only having 1 win since his first bout with the champion, and that was against an ageing Tyron Woodley who just wasn’t the same fighter he used to be.

At UFC 261 Usman rematched Jorge Masvidal, at what seemed like the request of Masvidal.

Blaming his first loss on a lack of a training camp, not a real victory.

With Masvidal saying at the press conference for UFC 261 that Usman just “rubbed my feet for 25 minutes”.

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At UFC 258 Usman fought Gilbert Burns even though Burns had only had 4 fights in the welterweight division the biggest being his main event victory over Tyron Woodley. 

Leon Edwards was always more deserving of a title shot than Burns. Masvidal and Covington.

But never even got matched up with him.

In late 2020 the UFC focused Edwards into a fight with Khamzat Chimaev suggesting if he didn’t take the fight he would be removed from the ranking.

Unfortunately, that was scrapped after multiple covid positives from both fighters.

But Edwards got back on with it in 2021 fighting Belal Muhammad and Nate Diaz. The Muhammad bout ended in an accidental eye poke and was never rescheduled.

His bout with Diaz at UFC 263 was a strong performance outclassing Diaz till the last minute of the fight.

When Diaz stunned the Brit but opted to taunt Edwards instead, going for the finish is classic Diaz Fashion.

Now with him being Usman only contender, and the fight the hardcore fans who want to see the most, it’s time to book Usman vs Edwards 2.

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Middleweight 

Credit: MMAJunkie

Andre Muniz Vs Uriah Hall

Most of the middleweight division is already matched up, except Marvin Vettori who’s stuck in limbo unless he wants to fight massively down the rankings.

Paulo Costa’s future at middleweight is in question after turning up to fight week against Vettori with no plan of making 185lb.

Refusing to fight Vettori unless it was held at light heavyweight.

So the best fight I think we can make is number 9 Uriah Hall, and number 13 Andre Muniz.

Hall would be a great fight for submission specialist Muniz, because of his strong anti-jiu-jitsu game, and kick heavy offence.

Which he showed off against Antonio Carlos Junior.

Muniz is looking like he could be a contender in this division real soon.

Currently, on a 3 fight 1st round armbar streak Muniz is making light work of the middleweight division.

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Light Heavyweight

Glover Teixeira Vs Jiri Prochazka

In what might be the biggest comeback story in the UFC Glover Teixera at 42 years old won his first UFC championship 7 years after his attempt against Jon Jones.

In 2019 Teixeira started his legendary run to the title after his first-round 1 submission over Karl Roberson.

Then followed up with 4 more victories over Ion Cutelaba, Nikita Krylov, Anthony Smith, and Thiago Santos.

At UFC 267 he had a dominant performance over Jan Blachowicz.

Blachowicz has already signed his next fight against rising contender Aleksandar Rakic.

But he has the task of taking on Jiri Prochazka.

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Who despite only having 2 UFC fights has seriously impressed fans.

He also had one of the best knockouts of 2021 against Dominick Reyes via spinning back elbow.

Prochazka is currently unbeaten since 2015 and has finished 27 of his 28 wins.

25 by KO 2 by Submission.

The path of victory is very clear for both fighters.

For the champ is whether the heavy hands of Prochazka then take him down and smash him, which has been a common theme in his previous fights.

For Prochazka, it’s to use his distance management and power striking to keep Texeira at range.

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Heavyweight

Credit: UFC

Stipe Miocic Vs Derrick Lewis

At UFC 270 the unification fight between Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane will go down, and at the moment there are no real contenders to see who will face the winner.

Derrick Lewis just knocked out the biggest prospect in Chris Daukaus, and Tom Aspinall seems to be happy to slowly fight his way up the rankings.

So it might not be the most interesting matchup but the heavyweight division just doesn’t have the depth of any of the other divisions.

But it’s one of the only fights that hasn’t yet happened in the heavyweight division.

Lewis has had fights with every top-ranked heavyweight except Jairzinho Rozenstruik but he’s coming off a loss to Curtis Blaydes.

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Stipe has spent the last 4 years fighting Francis Ngannou and Daniel Cormier.

Even if Gane wins I don’t think Stipe should be getting another title shot straight away.

So I would like to see him fight someone different before getting a title shot.

Derrick is the next highest-ranked contender in the heavyweight division.

Derrick Lewis has so much power that he can end the fight at any moment and Stipe has extremely high fight IQ and is the most well-rounded fighter in the heavyweight division.

It is the most logical fight to make.

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