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Yearly Roundup - 2022 In MMA

Part One - January 1 to June 30, 2022

Part Two - July 1 to December 31, 2022 (click here)


2022 was another chaotic and violent year in the sport we call mixed martial arts; it was filled with memorable moments, vicious knockouts, epic title fights, legends retiring, and unfortunately, it was back-loaded with tragic endings.


The Rant's annual Yearly Roundup brings you all the biggest fights and stories from the past year in the sport, along with links to gifs/video clips of virtually every violent finish that happened, all in one convenient location.


Year-end award shows bring plenty of fond memories as fans reflect on their favourite moments from their beloved pastimes, but because they are limited to certain categories many other highlights and big stories are forgotten. In terms of MMA, typically only a handful of bouts/fighters per category are highlighted as fans and pundits reflect on the year that was, with plenty of the biggest fights and finishes forgotten about or overlooked as a result.


With The Rant's Yearly Roundup, not only can you relive all the MMA action and the biggest stories from the past year, but you can discover other brutal finishes from various promotions you may have missed entirely.


This piece is broken up by month, with the biggest stories and fights being highlighted in short form, followed by a listing of other notable finishes that happened that month. As always, all links lead to gifs or video clips and are highlighted in red.


For bouts listed under "Notable Finishes" for each month, they are (roughly) presented in chronological order rather than using any sort of ranking system.


Finishes listed without a preceeding letter occurred under the UFC banner; finishes that happened in other promotions are listed with a preceeding letter in bold that indicates where the fight occurred as follows:

  • B: Bellator MMA

  • 1: ONE Fighting Championship

  • P: Professional Fighters League (PFL)

  • R: RIZIN Fighting Championship

  • Z: all other organizations

A special thanks goes out to caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) for his end of year threads that compiled regional MMA knockouts as they provided plenty of extra fireworks for the finish sections.


This year, the roundup will be split into two parts to get things out quicker as it's still being worked on - below is for the months of January up until July, and the remaining months will be added when part two drops sometime next week.


January


Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze Go to War

@ UFC on ESPN 32 in Las Vegas, Nevada


January got off to a slow start thanks to the holiday break, but when the UFC action returned on the 15th of the month, the first main event of the year made up for lost time.


The rest of the card may have been a forgettable decision-fest, but as is regularly the case when elite featherweights are paired up, Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze stole the show and put on a war for the starving MMA fans after weeks without any action inside the Octagon.


The talented kickboxer Chikadze certainly had plenty of success as the two exchanged, but ultimately Kattar's slick boxing and extremely high pace led to him picking up rounds and wearing down the surging prospect as the two engaged in a back-and-forth war of attrition.


After putting a stamp on his performance in the final seconds, Kattar's hand was raised as the rightful victor after the 25-minute slugfest concluded and started 2022 off with a banger.


Deiveson Figueiredo Earns Back His Title in Another Thrilling Scrap with Brandon Moreno

@ UFC 270 in Anaheim, California


The first pay-per-view of 2022 was filled with action from top to bottom and was headlined by two title fights, the first being a trilogy fight at flyweight between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo.


With their first fight ending in a draw following an epic back-and-forth brawl to close out 2020, Moreno stunned the Brazilian champion in their rematch in 2021 with a dominant third round submission victory that earned the Mexican the flyweight title.


Coming into their third match-up, Figueiredo promised a much different outcome from their last meeting and he certainly delivered, with their third fight more closely resembling the first time the two met inside the cage.


The two once again delighted fans with their skill and willingness to engage, trading everything from leg kicks and Hug tornados to takedowns, wild scrambles and even knockdowns.


This time, Figueiredo would tie up the series courtesy of a unanimous decision in the tightly contested affair, with his power being a major factor as he scored clean knockdowns in both the third and fifth rounds that helped him secure victory.


Given the two were now dead even at 1-1-1 over the course of the epic trilogy, fans called for a rare quadrilogy booking which wouldn't immediately come to fruition due to a Figueiredo injury (it is however booked for later this month at UFC 283).

Francis Ngannou Beats Ciryl Gane...by Wrestling?

@ UFC 270 in Anaheim, California


If you predicted that Francis Ngannou would defend his UFC heavyweight title by way of his underrated wrestling skills, congratulations: you are a liar.


The highly anticipated clash between former training partners Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane went down at UFC 270 and it was expected to be a striking affair given their respective skillsets - the heaviest hitter in heavyweight history against one of the most athletic and technical strikers the division had ever seen.


In the early going, Gane did what many thought he would do and was able to keep Ngannou at an extended range thanks to his movement and kicks, and outside of a few moments where Ngannou was able to close the distance or tie up the Frenchman, Gane was doing extremely well against the reigning champion.


Smart money after all had bet that the French striker would be able to pick apart the heavier man, and after rumours swirled of an Ngannou knee injury (which would later be confirmed by the man himself and highlighted by his wearing of knee sleeves in the cage), it seemed destined that the first French-born champion of the UFC would be crowned at UFC 270.


With Ngannou compromised, Gane rather clearly picked up the first two rounds on the scorecards - but then, in round three, "The Predator" decided he had enough of Gane's dancing and threw (quite literally) the contender to the mat.


Although neither man showed truly elite skill in the grappling department, Ngannou's size and takedown ability gave him a clear edge that he would exploit for the next two rounds as well. In the fifth however, the round that would ultimately decide the fight given they both clearly had two rounds in the bag, Gane made a truly baffling decision that made many fans and pundits regret praising the Frenchman's "high fight IQ" heading into their matchup.


After successfully scoring a takedown of his own and getting the bigger man down, Gane had plenty of time to work and or even simply hold on to secure the victory. Instead, the inexperienced grappler opted to give up top position in order to pursue a sloppy leglock attempt, which Francis was easily able to defend and ultimately gained a dominant position as a result, which he smartly used to would secure himself a win on the judges' scorecards.


It certainly wasn't as exciting as most had hoped for, and combined with Ngannou's ACL injury, it made the lone official UFC heavyweight title fight in 2022 a bit of a letdown.


Notable Violent Finishes in January:


February


Israel Adesanya Defeats Robert Whittaker in their Rematch

@ UFC 271 in Houston, Texas


It may not have been the most exciting fight in the world, but Israel Adesanya once again defeated "The Reaper" Robert Whittaker to retain his middleweight title.


The fight was a much more tepid affair than their first meeting as "Bobby Knuckles" opted for a far more cautious approach after suffering a knockout loss in their first encounter back in 2019.


The two largely exchanged at range with low kicks and the occasional shot upstairs while Whittaker even mixed in the occasional takedown; the lone knockdown of the fight however came in the opening round courtesy of an Adesanya left straight from the southpaw stance, scoring him the most significant moment of the fight.


Ultimately Adesanya was declared the winner on all three judges' scorecards; though some believed Whittaker did enough to win, the fight was extremely close and you could justify scoring it either way, with neither man really doing anything to set themselves apart from the other.


Johnny Walker Does His Best Impression of an Inflatable Tube Man Against Jamahal Hill

@ UFC on ESPN+ 59 in Las Vegas, Nevada


Does anyone know how to get knocked out as dramatically as Johnny Walker?


It seems like every time he gets KOd, it's in infinitely meme-able fashion, from the time he was knocked out three times in 18 seconds back in Jungle Fight to the time he was wobbling around like a drunk on the dance floor against Corey Anderson.


After having lost his last outing in an extremely dull fight against Thiago Santos, Walker was in serious need of a win when he was paired up with rising contender Jamahal Hill, who was coming off of a surprising 48-second knockout over Jimmy Crute.


Unfortunately for Walker, he would get knocked out cold in rather vicious fashion less than three minutes into his second-ever UFC main event.


The way he fell can best be described as the way an inflatable tube man falls over when it encounters a strong gust of wind, which of course led to Walker being the brunt of plenty of memes from MMA fans.


Fans may be harsh, but perhaps the tough love will teach him to work on his defense?


Cain Velasquez Gets a (Justified) Attempted Murder Charge

in Santa Clara County, California


The first tragic news of 2022 came from an unexpected source in former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez's arrest.


The retired MMA legend had been keeping busy on the professional wrestling scene when his name made headlines for all the wrong reasons - he was arrested in Santa Clara County, California for attempted murder.


The news certainly came as a shock to fans and anyone that knew the highly respected Velasquez, but when additional information came to light surrounding the details of the case, the outrage quickly turned to sympathy.


The tragic saga began when Cain's four year old son was allegedly molested by one Harry Goularte Jr. at a daycare owned by Goularte's family. After being arrested, Goularte was immediately released (on an extremely small bond, because California) which justifiably enraged the former Baddest Man on the Planet, to the point where he grabbed his sidearm and set out in his pickup truck to look for his son's abuser.


In a fit of rage Cain found Goularte, who was in a vehicle driven by his step-father, and rammed into them repeatedly, firing multiple shots at Goularte in the process. Unfortunately, Cain did not hit the alleged molester and instead shot Goularte's step-father in the arm during the incident before he was arrested.


Velasquez was charged with multiple felonies which included attempted murder, shooting at a motor vehicle, and assault with a deadly weapon.


After the details of the incident came to light, the MMA community and much of the world showed their support for Cain and his family, with "Free Cain" T-shirts being sold to raise legal funds for Velasquez and protests erupting surrounding the court's decision to deny the devoted father and upstanding citizen bail on multiple occasions.


Following over six months in prison, a new judge finally granted Cain bail and Velasquez was released in November as he awaits trial.


In a just world, Velasquez would get a plea deal that gave him time served; since the incident happened in California however, he'll likely get a life sentence while the child molester gets a free pass and a teaching gig at a prestigious university.


Notable Violent Finishes in February:

March


Another Jorge Masvidal Grudge Match Fizzles Out, Later Results in Criminal Charges

@ UFC 272 in Las Vegas, Nevada


By the time Jorge "Gamebred" Masvidal squared off with Colby Covington in their long awaited grudge match at UFC 272, Masvidal's mainstream appeal had already started to lose its luster.


After all, it's hard to claim you're the "Baddest Mother Fucker" on the planet when your rival dominates you for five boring rounds before knocking you into another dimension in a rematch.


Facing off against his former teammate and friend Colby Covington, it came as no surprise to hardcore fans that Masvidal would once again find himself being grinded out against the fence by an elite wrestler.


Outside of a few shots here and there by Gamebred, the fight became a lopsided affair as Colby's grinding wrestling and furious pace overwhelmed Masvidal, with the only drama in the Octagon occuring late in the fourth round when a right hook from Jorge dropped Covington to a knee.


Ultimately Covington won the fight in a lopsided decision and given how clear the result was, few expected the rivalry to make headlines again anytime soon.


That is, until a few weeks later on March 22nd, when Jorge Masvidal was arrested for assaulting Covington as he was leaving a restaurant.


The cowardly act was (somewhat) caught on video and it shows Colby leaving the restaurant with the man he was having lunch with; he is then pursued and attacked by someone in a hoodie, who Covington and multiple witnesses claim punched Covington multiple times, resulting in Covington suffering a broken tooth and a damaged Rolex.


Despite his "attempt" to conceal his identity by having his hood up and wearing a facemask, Masvidal was easily identified (and stupidly took credit for the assault on social media, further proving how dumb he was in this incident), leading to his arrest in Miami on charges of aggravated battery and criminal mischief.


Despite having twenty-five minutes to fight Covington and coming up short, Masvidal sucker-punched his rival in public and somewhat hilariously failed to drop his unaware victim, which isn't exactly a good look for the fighter who seems to be learning from Dillon Danis in how to rack up L's lately.


In April the charges were updated to state that Colby suffered a brain injury from the incident, likely meaning Masvidal's assault gave him a concussion; it's also worth noting Colby hasn't fought since the incident and he has very strong grounds for a civil lawsuit should he pursue one.


Given that Masvidal does have multiple criminal charges from his past (the most recent being in 2005) that include grand theft auto and illegal possession of a concealed firearm, combined with the injuries Colby sustained, it's very likely that Masvidal could be looking at serious jail time for the classless stunt. A pre-trial hearing and the trial are expected to take place in February 2023.

John Lineker Captures ONE FC Gold in a Barnburner with Bibiano Fernandes

@ ONE: Lights Out in Kailang, Singapore


John Lineker may just be the most terrifying human being under 5'4 in history.


A whirling dervish of violence, Lineker plods relentlessly forward against his opponents, slingling haymakers at both their head and midsection with his oversized fists and ceaselessly wading through whatever they throw back at him.


Since his exodus from the UFC, the former flyweight has terrorized the bantamweight division over in ONE FC and he earned his first crack at a major MMA title at ONE: Light's Out in March.


There, he squared off with longtime ONE champion Bibiano Fernandes, who had defended his crown eight times with the promotion and had just a single loss (which he avenged) in the past decade.


In Fernandes, Lineker found a willing participant in his thrilling game of trading bombs until one man falls over, and surprisingly it was the granite-chinned Lineker who first tasted the canvas.


Midway through a frenetic first round, Fernandes tagged Lineker with a left hook as he loaded up to deliver a left of his own, with Lineker being sat down as a result. Despite being dropped, Lineker got right back to his high-pressure slugging and the ridiculous onslaught soon began to wear on the longtime champion.


The second round saw Lineker take over thanks to his relentless approach and damaging blows, before "Hands of Stone" delivered a final, nasty left hook that slept Fernandes and earned Lineker a shiny gold belt.


The two-round firefight was certainly one any fan of a good banger should seek out online, and the vicious finish also earned Lineker the inaugural Best Left Hook of the Year in the 2022 MMA Awards.


Song Yadong Lights Up Marlon Moraes, Sends Him into (a) Retirement

@ UFC on ESPN+ 61 in Las Vegas, Nevada


Marlon Moraes was once one of the most feared knockout artists of the lower weight classes and a staple in the top end of the bantamweight division.


The former longtime World Series of Fighting champion and once UFC title challenger has fallen on tough times in recent years however, and 2022 was certainly a rough year for "Magic" Marlon.


With his last win coming via a highly controversial decision over Jose Aldo in 2019, Moraes had since been knocked out in three straight outings; first against fellow contender Cory Sandhagen, then by a surging Rob Font, and then came what looked to be a solid bounceback performance early against Merab Dvalishvili as he rocked, dropped and had the Georgian in all sorts of trouble.


Though many had pointed to his failing chin as the reason for his decline, his cardio was equally failing him and had done him in not only against Font but in his title bid against Henry Cejudo as well, and in his last few outings had looked even worse. With Merab surviving the early onslaught, he took over to end the round and pounded on the exhausted Brazilian late, eventually earning a TKO stoppage in the second.


Given just how close Moraes was to a highlight reel finish, one couldn't help but feel sorry for the fallen contender as he sought to make his final stand, moving his camp and re-dedicating himself to attempt a final run inside the Octagon.


Unfortunately, the UFC wanted the poor man dead and paired him up with Song Yadong, a young and extremely talented striker with tons of power and plenty of durability that Moraes could simply no longer deal with.


It only took about two minutes for Yadong to show Moraes the door, finishing the aging vet with a nasty uppercut to complete a powerful combination.


Luckily the referee jumped in to prevent Moraes from getting put out completely, but with four straight losses where he sustained plenty of damage and was stopped in each, it was time for Moraes to call it a career.


That is, at least for a few months, as Moraes would announce an end to his retirement barely a month later. After leaving th UFC, he signed to fight with the PFL and moved up to featherweight, which is where he fought in November...though he looked good for the first two rounds against a lower level of competition in Sheymon Moraes, Marlon was again finished via strikes to mark his fifth straight TKO loss. Please, retire for real this time Marlon, five is enough.


Meatball Molly Turns into a Star in England

@ UFC on ESPN+ 62 in London, England


With longtime British star Michael Bisping having retired and the Irish superstar Conor McGregor spending far more time drunk-tweeting than fighting, Paddy "The Baddy" Pimblett has been chosen as the next big star for the UK.


Though his skills put him far from the top fifteen of the stacked lightweight division, the promotional push the proud bowl-cut wearer has received is staggering, and he certainly entertained his home crowd when he submitted Kazula Vargas (who? exactly!) at the O2 Arena in London.


That night however, the show was stolen by his close friend and teammate, "Meatball" Molly McCann.


Facing off against Brazilian Luana Carolina, Meatball relentlessly pursued the finish as she battered her opponent with extended combinations, her native London crowd drunkenly cheering her on.


After a ten minute beatdown, Carolina finally showed some signs of life as McCann's reckless pace slowed, though given McCann's toughness it seemed inevitable that Carolina would lose a lopsided decision even if she managed to pick up the final round.


But then, out of nowhere, spinning shit happened.


After engaging in the clinch, Meatball opted to spin out of the in-fight and as she did so came around with a back-elbow that landed cleanly across Luana's cheek.


The vicious strike instantly shut Carolina's lights off and sent her lifeless body crashing to the canvas, igniting the London crowd and turning the eight-fight UFC veteran into a star in her native England.


The shocking finish was easily amongst the best knockouts in the sport in 2022, and earned The Rant's inaugural Best "Spinning Shit" Knockout of the Year, as well as a spot amongst the top 10 most brutal knockouts in women's UFC history. Not bad for a Meatball.


Notable Violent Finishes in March:


April

Gilbert Burns and Khamzat Chimaev Steal the Show

@ UFC 273 in Jacksonville, Florida


It's rare that a fight with an absurd amount of hype behind it like Burns vs. Chimaev truly lives up to the expectations, but thankfully this was one of those times where a fight delivered in spades.


Top prospect Khamzat Chimaev of course was being crowned as the next champion by fans and pundits alike despite never facing elite competition (or a decent wrestler), but he certainly did show plenty to be excited about and deserved a chance to prove himself against an elite opponent.


Always a man that lives up to the "anyone, anytime, anywhere" mantra, Gilbert "Durinho" Burns gladly accepted the challenge and put his #3 ranking on the line, boldly stating his intent to spoil Chimaev's title plans.


The fight captivated the MMA world and would seek to answer all of the questions surrounding Chimaev thanks to Burns' overall skill and ability - after all, Burns is one of the most accomplished Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in the sport which would make for a highly interesting match-up on the ground (if Chimaev didn't avoid grappling entirely like most of Burns' opponents), while also being one of the slickest and most powerful strikers in the welterweight division that would surely be able to push Chimaev on th feet.


UFC 273 may have had two title fights at the top of the card, but the people's main event was surely Burns-Chimaev, and right from their electric entrances it delivered.


Burns welcomed Chimaev to the deep end of the welterweight division by scoring early in the striking department, landing solid leg kicks and utilizing slick boxing and crisp counters to frustrate the Chechen.


Near the end of the opening round however, Chimaev began pouring it on and ultimately dropped Burns with a stinging jab in the final minute, landing vicious ground and pound in an effort to stop the fight until Burns threw up an armbar attempt and dissuaded Chimaev from staying on the floor with a BJJ ace of his magnitude.


The second round was all out war as both Burns and Chimaev landed big shots in the technical striking battle, with Burns having his best round by scoring in flurries and even dropping the Chechen in the final seconds of the round with a pair of right hands.


The third round was more of the same as the two welterweights slugged it out in the Octagon, with Burns seeming to slow down thanks to the frantic pace which allowed Chimaev to pile on the points late, but Burns continued to score plenty of shots of his own.


After fifteen minutes of all-out action, the only complaint anyone could muster was that we didn't get to see two more rounds of mayhem.


Ultimately, Chimaev picked up the close decision victory and proved he certainly belonged with the elites of the division, while Burns showed why he's a fan favourite and lost nothing given how epic and razor-close the fight was.


Alexander Volkanovski Trounces the Zombie

@ UFC 273 in Jacksonville, Florida


Continuing along the stacked card in Florida, the night's co-main event saw Aljamain Sterling back-pack his way to a decision victory over Petr Yan in their highly anticipated rematch, which although made for a frustrating watch at times, was still impressive nonetheless from the now rightful champion.


The main event on the other hand saw a title fight that many didn't want to see given that it was pretty much destined to be a one-sided beatdown when Alexander Volkanovski took on the "Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung.


The match-up would have been hotly anticipated had it occurred a few years ago, but the aging Korean Zombie simply didn't have the speed to compete with the top five fighters at featherweight anymore.


His last outing was a thumping over Dan Ige who was further down the rankings, but previously he had been battered for five rounds by Brian Ortega and despite still having an iron chin and ridiculous toughness, he just wasn't the same Zombie that had contended for the title some nine years earlier.


Volkanovski of course proved at UFC 273 that he was far and away the superior fighter in 2022, his extreme speed advantage leading him to simply batter Jung (who is somehow only one year older than the champion) at every turn. Though the Zombie refused to stop coming forward and did his best to land his shots, he was simply outclassed and by the end of the third round was getting hurt badly.


Arguably his corner should have stepped in at that point, but Jung came out for the fourth round and after getting wobbled by a one-two, Herb Dean finally said enough was enough and stopped the one-sided drubbing.


Though Jung hasn't announced his retirement, it's clear his time as a contender is over; if he does return to the Octagon, hopefully it's to take entertaining fights rather than returning to face the top talent that has simply passed him by at this point in his career.


Chito Vera Continues his Run Toward a Title, Batters Rob Font

@ UFC on ESPN 35 in Las Vegas, Nevada


Marlon "Chito" Vera proved himself a real title contender when he battered Rob Font in his first UFC main event slot this past April.


He may often start slow, as he did against Font (who also missed weight by 2.5 pounds), but once he gets going, he is a wrecking ball that poses problems for everyone in the stacked bantamweight division.


Font began their match-up well by utilizing his volume striking to pick up points, while Vera stayed composed and limited the damage he received while looking to land power shots in return.


With Chito's granite chin and subtle defensive prowess, Vera simply bided his time and soon his power made all the difference in the clash of top ranked 135 pounders as he dropped Font for the first time late in the second stanza.


The third again saw Font doing well as the two exchanged, only for Vera to drop and nearly finish Font again near the end of the round, this time with a nasty knee followed by some brutal ground and pound.


The fourth? You guessed it, Font was doing well until he got dropped by some sweet chin music.


The fifth saw Font go into desperation mode as he needed a finish in order to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but he simply couldn't seem to land anything that phased Marlon no matter how often he landed. Though Chito seemed to want to go the full five rounds rather than properly pursuing the finish that he likely could have gotten (which is especially odd given his affinity for finishing fights), after twenty-five minutes he barely had a mark on him while Font's face was a battered mask of blood and bruising.


It was an impressive showing and once again delivered another excellent fight in the UFC's stacked bantamweight division.


Notable Violent Finishes in April:


May

Michael Chandler Delivers a Devastating Knockout on Tony Ferguson

@ UFC 274 in Phoenix, Arizona


Say what you will about former three-time Bellator lightweight champ Michael Chandler, but there's no denying that his UFC run has been ridiculously entertaining.


From his electric debut where he starched Dan Hooker with ease, to his near title-winning performance against Charles Oliveira, to his ridiculous war with Justin Gaethje, there's never been a dull moment when Chandler is inside the Octagon.


When he was matched up with former interim champ and fan favourite Tony Ferguson at UFC 274, there was plenty of cause for concern; not for Chandler, who, although both fights were wildly entertaining, was on a two-fight skid and needed a win, but for Ferguson, whose legendary twelve fight winning streak was derailed when he suffered a career-altering beatdown at the hands of Justin Gaethje.


After being relentlessly battered for nearly 24 minutes by one of the hardest hitters in the division, Ferguson was then shut out and dominated in his next two appearances by Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush, looking rather lethargic in both performances and failing to win even a minute of a round in thirty minutes of action.


Matched up with another top contender, fans were justifiably concerned that the aging legend would be battered once more.


Surprisingly, the early action showed that Ferguson still had life in him as he landed some heavy shots on the favoured Chandler when the two were on the feet, with Chandler resorting to his rarely-used wrestling to try and score points after Ferguson was proving more difficult to deal with than he anticipated.


With Ferguson looking better than he had in years, fans were overjoyed at the unfolding chaos and the potential resurgence of "El Cucuy".


Unfortunately for those that thought it was Tony Time, those hopes would be dashed just moments into the second round.


The first (and only) strike thrown in the second stanza would cause one of the most brutal knockouts in UFC history and broke the hearts of thousands of hardcore MMA fans around the world in one vicious movement.


As Ferguson was circling the centre of the Octagon, Chandler stepped through with a hellacious front kick from his rear leg, the ball of his foot cracking Ferguson's granite chin and sending Tony face-first into the canvas.


Longtime fans watched in shock, both awestruck and horrified at the violence they just witnessed. It was tough to watch such a beloved fan favourite get knocked out cold for several minutes as Ferguson did, but when you stay in the game for so long and fight the killers row of fighters that Ferguson has, it was bound to happen at some point.


In 31 prior fights (19 in the UFC), Ferguson had never been knocked out, with his only stoppage via strikes coming in the afforementioned Gaethje fight where the referee stepped in (despite the beating he took that night, Ferguson stayed on his feet and wasn't dropped a single time).


Though the loss was another nail in the coffin of Ferguson's career as a top lightweight, it was Chandler's time to shine and he made the most of it in his post fight interview, delivering one of the most memorable and energetic promos in MMA history.


Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza Give Phoenix a Breather Before the Main Event

@ UFC 274 in Phoenix, Arizona


If you needed a break after watching Tony Ferguson take a nap inside the Octagon, Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza provided ample time to take one before the massive main event at UFC 274 got the adrenaline pumping once more.


The UFC strawweight title fight wasn't nearly as hotly anticipated as the fights it was sandwiched between, but it certainly wasn't expected to be less exciting than watching paint dry.


After all, it was supposed to be a layup for the strawweight queen, who although she had lost to Esparza in her fourth pro fight nearly eight years prior, Rose was a far better fighter than she was in 2014 and had established herself as a legitimate champion who had knocked out the likes of Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Weili Zhang.


Esparza on the other hand had painstakingly worked her way back into a title shot off the back of five straight wins, with three of those coming via split or majority decision in extremely close fights against lesser competition. Though a great wrestler, her size disadvantage combined with an enormous skill gap on the feet had few giving her much hope of survival in their rematch.


Instead of taking revenge on her old rival however, Rose Namajunas opted to do absolutely nothing for five whole rounds, her corner headed by groomer (uh, I mean her husband) Pat Barry encouraging her to "keep it up" and incredulously claiming she was "following the gameplan" in between rounds. If the gameplan was to lose her title in the most boring fashion possible, she certainly followed it to a tee.


Esparza didn't do much either, but she looked like she was attempting slightly more in what has been labeled the worst title fight in UFC history, and so she left the Octagon with the strawweight title wrapped around her waist. It certainly wasn't pretty, but hey, it worked?


The fight easily earned the pair the (dis)honour of 2022's Worst Fight of the Year. Luckily for viewers and fans in attendance at UFC 274, the half hour of boredom would be followed by a shot of pure violence to make up for it.

Charlie Olives Once Again Survives Being Dropped, Strangles Justin Gaethje

@ UFC 274 in Phoenix, Arizona


No matter how much energy was sucked out of the arena by the night's co-main event, you can always count on Justin Gaethje to deliver some good old fashioned action.


When paired with lightweight champion Charles "Do Bronx" Oliveira, the only thing gauranteed for UFC 274's main event was unadulterated violence.


Though drama certainly hung over the main event given Oliveira's weight miss by 0.5 pounds (his team as well as several other fighters complained about the scale being miscalibrated, which unfortunately cost him not only money but the official title of champion as the belt would be vacated with his victory), when the cage door closed the only thing that mattered was who was left standing when the dust settled.


The two lightweights delivered more excitement in the opening ten seconds than Rose and Carla did in twenty-five minutes, meeting in the middle to trade bombs in a battle of skill and wills.


Less than a minute into the fight, Oliveira had rocked his challenger with a right hand, only to be sat down by an uppercut in the ensuing exchange. Gaethje of course let the champion stand up to resume the war on the feet, and the two quickly got back to wildly exchanging combinations and leg kicks.


Both men scored plenty of devastating strikes that would have felled inferior men, with Oliveira's uppercut and Gaethje's right hand scoring repeatedly.


Just under three minutes into the chaotic clash of freight trains, Oliveira dropped Gaethje with a straight right hand. Being the most prolific submission artist in UFC history, Oliveira wasn't going to return the favour and let Gaethje stand up to recover and instead moved in for the kill.


After following his victim to the floor, in a wild transition from an armbar, Oliveira took his challenger's back and slipped in a rear-naked choke before Justin could even realize what was happening.


It was another thrilling victory in Oliveira's cindarella title run and even though he didn't "officially" retain the title given the weight issue, there wasn't a single person doubting Oliveira's claim to being the UFC lightweight champion after another gutsy performance like the one he turned in at UFC 274.


Paul Daley Retires with Another Savage Knockout

@ Bellator 281 in London, England


Paul Daley was the first of many high profile retirements in 2022 (technically Marlon Moraes was, but given his lasted only a few months, we'll give Daley the credit here for at least sticking to his for more than a few weeks) and unlike many of his coleagues, he managed to finish his career without suffering a string of brutal losses.


Daley was of course fighting a lower level of competition in his last couple of years in a cage, but when a fighter gets to his late thirties, that's the smart thing to do - kind of ironic given that Daley is seen as the opposite of intelligent thanks his ill-fated decision to sucker punch Josh Koscheck after the bell way back at UFC 113 in 2010. That poor choice led to Daley being kicked out of the organization for life, but Daley still managed to put on plenty of entertaining fights and deliver tons of knockouts for other promotions.


Fighting in catchweights of 175 pounds for his last three fights to make weight cuts slightly easier for his aging body, Daley was coming off a decision loss to Jason Jackson last year and wanted one final fight before riding off into the sunset. The notoriously heavy-handed slugger and proficient left hook knockout artist was given the 9-2 Wendell Giacomo as his last opponent when Bellator headed to Daley's stomping grounds in London.


Though Giacomo did well early with his grappling, Daley ended his career on a high note by delivering another classic knockout for his highlight reel, hammering his wounded opponent against the fence before a wild, sweeping right hook faceplanted his final victim in front of a roaring crowd in London.


Daley may have always struggled against wrestlers, but the British banger was a delightful striker that delivered some truly stunning knockouts over the years and unlike many of his contemporaries, didn't suffer a ton of damage or stay far too long in competition.


He finished his MMA career with a 43-18-2 record and scored a whopping 35 knockouts, with just a single loss coming via strikes in his lengthy career.


Notable Violent Finishes in May:


June


Askar Mozharov Gets into the UFC with Incredibly Fake Record, Gets Demolished

@ UFC on ESPN+ 65 in Las Vegas, Nevada


It's actually quite impressive that someone could fake their resume and use it to slip one past the world's biggest MMA organization in 2022, but Ukrainian Askar Mozharov did just that when he entered the UFC to face Alonzo Menifield at light heavyweight.


After racking up three (legitimate) knockout wins with a Ukrainian promotion in 2020, Mozharov would earn a call up from the UFC thanks in large part to his solid 25-7 record.


He was set to make his Octagon debut in June of 2022 against a proper prospect in the 11-3 Alonzo Menifield, and up until the week of his fight, nothing seemed out of the ordinary for a debuting fighter.


Thanks to the diligent record keepers at Sherdog that noticed some discrepancies with Mozharov's claimed resume, Mozharov's fight week took a very unexpected turn.


Mozharov and his management were found to have falsified many of the fights on his record, removing losses from promotions he competed in and adding wins from events that he never even attended. Though the war in Ukraine made it difficult for some of the fights to be verified or disproven, Sherdog published the receipts and adjusted his official record accordingly to a much-less appealing 18-13 before he took on Menifield.


Despite the controversy, Mozharov was still given the opportunity to compete in the UFC - after all, even if his record was bullshit, he could make the matter irrelevant by proving himself against a proven talent in Menifield. Unfortunately for Mozharov, Menifield was having none of it and easily dispatched the fraud with a first round TKO.


Mozharov was subsequently released by the UFC with a then 18-14 record - in the weeks that followed however, several of the events Sherdog was awaiting confirmation on sent their records and as a result, three more wins that never occurred were wiped from Askar's resume, leaving his actual fight record at a dismal 15-14 as of writing.


He may not have gotten much out of his fraud in the end, but at least he can legitimately claim to have come second place in the Biggest Cheater of the Year award for 2022.

Zhang Weili Retires Joanna Violence with a Spinning Back Fist

@ UFC 275 in Kailang, Singapore


UFC 275 may have been loaded with two title fights, but one of the most talked about matchups on the card was the rematch between Zhang Weili and Joanna Jędrzejczyk.


The two first met in March of 2020 in a fight for the UFC strawweight title, with Zhang defending her belt for the first time since demolishing Jessica Andrade to earn her strap and Joanna returning to 115-pounds with a vengeance after losing a decision up at flyweight to that division's champion (and her old kickboxing rival) Valentina Shevchenko.


The two put on an incredible back-and-forth war that earned them 2020's Fight of the Year, with Weili ultimately picking up the split decision victory.


Since then, Zhang lost a pair of bouts to Rose Namajunas (the first by a quick knockout, the second in a close decision, eerily reminescent of Rose's back-to-back victories over Joanna a few years prior) and was seeking a top contender to put herself right back into title contention; Joanna meanwhile had not fought since her war with Weili, opting to take time off from the sport to recharge.


At UFC 275, Joanna would return and the pair were expected to once again deliver fireworks, with Weili promising a more dominant performance while Joanna vowed revenge on Weili for taking home the title she felt she earned in their first bout.


The two got right back into the swing of things when their rematch began, with Zhang surprising her old foe by utilizing a wrestling-heavy strategy early, grounding the extremely difficult-to-hold-down striker multiple times and punishing her with flurries of punches at every turn.


After the rough start, Joanna appeared to be turning things around in the second, stuffing Zhang's takedown attempts and landing plenty of her signature long-range combinations as Weili's onslaught began to slow. It looked like fans were once again going to be treated to a back-and-forth war as the tides began turning in Joanna's direction, but Joanna Violence made the mistake of getting comfortable exchanging with the Chinese powerhouse.


Midway through the second round, Weili spun as Joanna pursued her in the pocket, landing a spinning back fist across the side of Jędrzejczyk's head. The former longtime queen of the strawweights faceplanted and her comeback story was ended as quickly as it began.


It was a beautiful knockout for Weili and earned her another crack at the title, but for Joanna it was a heartbreaking loss in what was to be her farewell performance. Joanna took off her gloves and retired from the sport in the post-fight interview, sending a heartfelt message to the fans and leaving her gloves inside the Octagon.


The legendary champion ended her career with a 16-5 record having captured and defended the strawweight title a record five times; she was also the first Polish-born champion in UFC history and holds multiple records with the promotion, including most wins in title bouts at strawweight, most consecutive wins at strawweight, and highest strike differential in a UFC title bout.


Valentina Shevchenko (Barely) Beats Taila Santos to Retain Flyweight Championship

@ UFC 275 in Kailang, Singapore


Few things in mixed martial arts are as sure as Valentina Shevchenko picking up the win against any flyweight in the world, but at UFC 275, that very nearly was upended by the unheralded Taila Santos.


Heading into her seventh title defense, Shevchenko was rightfully a heavy favourite against her Brazilian challenger, who despite her impressive 19-1 record hadn't fought the stiffest competition and had hardly looked championship worthy up to that point in her career.


At range, Valentina appeared to enjoy the striking advantage over her challenger as many suspected, however the champion (who was normally renowned for her fight IQ) opted to continuously try to take down her stronger opponent in the clinch, leading Santos to gain top control where she was largely able to control the champion and score points in the rather unexciting five round affair.


After a very close first round where both women had top control, the second and third rounds were largely controlled by Santos thanks to Valentina's tactical mistakes, forcing Shevchenko to regroup in round four and dedicate herself to keeping the fight standing, which she was able to do and clearly took the round.


In the fifth, she was finally able to succeed in the grappling department (why she didn't simply stick to her striking for the entire fight, where she had the clearest advantage, is anyone's guess) and bagged another round.


Although the championship rounds were easy to score, the first three rounds were all very close and offered little in the way of action, with Valentina landing (a few) significant strikes and Santos picking up significant control time.


Ultimately, the judges awarded Shevchenko the split decision victory, which although many fans disagreed with, it's tough to argue strongly for either fighter winning when the first three rounds were all so close and offered very few meaningful exchanges. Here's hoping Shevchenko's next defense comes with a bit more excitement.


Jiri Prochazka and Old Man Glover Put On a War for the Ages

@ UFC 275 in Kailang, Singapore


If you haven't watched it in its entirety, go watch Jiri Prochazka vs. Glover Teixeira now. We'll wait.

Done? You're welcome.


UFC 275's light heavyweight title fight was one of the best fights you'll ever see and takes the prize of greatest fight in the history of the illustrious 205-pound division.


It was absolute chaos from the opening round to the final seconds of a ridiculous comeback finish.


What many expected to happen proved unfounded, as the young destroyer in Prochazka was unable to put away the old lion Teixeira early as many feared.


The 42-year-old Glover had a truly remarkable late-career run which culminated in his title-winning performance against Jan Blachowicz in 2021, but even Glover's staunchest supporters feared what the hungry young knockout artist Jiri would do to the slower, much older champion when the two locked horns.


Glover however didn't get the memo, and instead took the fight to his hungry challenger, wasting no time in aggressively grounding the Czech striker. Jiri may have worked his way back up and was landing shots as he did so, but after another takedown and ground domination from the Brazilian, it looked like Glover may just run away with it.


Until of course Jiri found a way to end up on top and pounded his way back into the fight, letting everyone know he was there for the long haul and reminding them he wasn't afraid of getting his hands dirty.


The second round was an even more chaotic round as the two traded bombs on the feet and Jiri was more successful in staving off Teixeira's takedown attempts, although a slip found him on his back for an extended period, eating Glover's fists and elbows for his efforts.


The third round was the challenger's best round as he was able to put together some vicious combinations on the feet and stuffed most of Glover's takedown attempts, and although Glover did manage to get on top for a while, Jiri delivered by far more damage in the round and looked like he was moments away from a stoppage victory.


Despite surviving a hellacious middle round, Glover came out renewed in the fourth and once again took the fight to his challenger, dominating him on the ground for an extended period to bounce back after dropping the last stanza.


Of course, nothing was one-sided for long in this insane fight and Jiri managed to score some payback of his own later in the round, the momentum swings of their legendary war enough to make your head spin.


The fifth and final round saw Glover rock Jiri early and jump on a guillotine choke that lost him position; he then worked his way up and scored more bombs on the challenger, eventually taking him down and mounting him; Jiri then pushed off the cage to escape, ending up in top position.


With the seconds ticking away in the final minute of the fight, Jiri was down on two of the judges scorecards (one had it a draw; one had Glover up 3 rounds to 1; the third had Glover winning three rounds but gave Jiri a 10-8 for round 3, meaning Glover was ahead by just 1 point) and he had clearly been losing the rest of the fifth round. With limited time, even if he did enough to steal the round back, the best he could hope for was a draw.


Instead, against one of the best grapplers in the 205-pound division, he went for the jugular.


Jiri snatched Glover's neck and squeezed with all his might, circling himself away from Glover's hips to compensate for his lack of hooks. Thanks to exhaustion and Jiri's adrenaline-infused squeeze, Glover had no choice but to tap and relinquish his title with just 28 seconds to go on the clock.


It was an incredible finish and a shocking comeback in a fight where the champion was mere seconds away from winning on the scorecards. The fight was as good as MMA gets and was a fight that truly showcased everything that mixed martial arts is about - wild striking exchanges, technical wrestling, slick jiu-jitsu, heavy ground and pound, frantic scrambles, toughness and durability, pure heart and determination, and an undying will to win even when everything appears to be lost.


From MMA fans around the world, thank you Jiri and Glover for putting on the greatest fight of 2022 and one of the best fights the sport has ever seen.


Josh Emmett Beats(?) Calvin Kattar in Another Featherweight Banger

@ UFC on ESPN 37 in Austin, Texas


The heavier weight classes traditionally get more attention when it comes to top billing on a card, but the UFC has slowly been turning to more lighter-weight main events recently and thanks to the unbelievably stacked bantamweight, featherweight, and lightweight divisions, they are regularly turning in some brilliant five-round wars as a result.


Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett delivered one such war for their main event slot on ESPN, this time highlighting the superb crop of featherweights the UFC currently boasts.


If you're a fan of technical striking matches with plenty of action, Emmett vs. Kattar is one for you, as Emmett's relentless fastball swings paired well with Kattar's sharp combinations and defensive prowess.


The first round saw Emmett likely take a slight lead thanks to his level of activity and the power shots he was able to land, while the second swung clearly in Kattar's favour with his sharpshooting combinations, stinging jab, a cheeky step-in elbow, and he even managed to briefly drop Emmett with a left hook during a wild exchange late in the round.


In the third, Emmett bounced back as more of his shots snuck through Kattar's guard and found their target, and the Team Alpha Male standout carried that momentum early into the fourth, his work rate seemingly putting him ahead, but Kattar battled back and turned things into a toss-up.


That is until Kattar landed a slick spinning back elbow which somehow didn't fell the iron-chinned Emmett, only for a slick 1-2 from Kattar to nearly topple Josh as he attempted a spinning back elbow of his own. Kattar stole the momentum back and took the fourth, with most reasonable scorecards putting the fight at 2-2 through the first four.


The final round again saw both men landing shots throughout, with Kattar's accuracy and superior defense seemingly making the difference.


Despite fans and most media members scoring the fight in favour of Kattar, two of the three judges awarded Emmett the split decision victory.


The fight's result seems to be a good example of how in many cases, throwing (and missing) more than your opponent can influence judges to score rounds in your favour, even if your opponent is landing the more clean, impactful strikes, which has unfortunately been a major issue with scoring MMA fights for quite some time.


Especially if you look like you're landing heaters, judges seem to be easily misled - even if your shots are rattling off your opponent's forearms and being blocked, so long as they look powerful, judges seem to score them and will weight them more than the crisp, clean shots they're supposed to notice. This is of course nothing new when it comes to judging - longtime fans will no doubt remember someone like Leonard Garcia, who was awarded more than one bad decision by way of this style of fighting even when he was getting heavily outstruck by more technical strikers.


Arman Tsarukyan and Mateusz Gamrot Highlight Technical Depth of Lightweights

@ UFC on ESPN 38 in Las Vegas, Nevada


Speaking of bad decisions, MMA fans were treated to another controversial decision in the main event of another great fight just one week later.


Fans of the sport were certainly excited to be treated to another banger of a five-rounder, this time between two exceptionally talented European prospects in Arman Tsarukyan and Mateusz Gamrot.


Showcasing the depth of the lightweight division, both men were on the lower end of the top ten in the rankings despite their skill, and they highlighted all of their talents in their back-and-forth technical scrap in Las Vegas.


The opening round was a scramble-filled affair as the two men showed off their wrestling chops and ridiculous takedown defense, some impressive reversals and just plain exhausting grappling exchanges.


The second was almost entirely spent on the feet as neither man was able to establish a dominant position on the mat, with Tsarukyan's body kicks making the biggest impact.


Most scorecards had Tsarukyan ahead after two rounds, but the third swung in Gamrot's favour as he was finally able to secure a few takedowns and establish top control for a period of time, his grappling giving him the edge in a round that was very even on the feet.


The fourth saw Tsarukyan land a head kick early and Gamrot returned shortly after with a heavy right hand, before a spinning back fist took Mateusz off his feet midway through the round. Tsarukyan also landed several heavy body kicks, while Gamrot was able to ground Tsarukyan late and take his back, although he never threatened with a submission or much in the way of ground and pound.


The fifth was another extremely close round, with both men exchanging on the feet, but Gamrot's grappling ultimately made the difference and scored him a close fifth round.


The fourth was ultimately the swing round, as Tsarukyan edged out the first two rounds, while Gamrot took the third and fifth given that the striking was largely equal but he managed to score takedowns and control time to sway things in his favour.


The fourth however should have been a pretty easy round to score - Tsarukyan clearly landed the more impactful strikes in the round and even dropped his opponent, meaning he had a clear advantage in damage. Gamrot did secure a takedown and roughly a minute of control time, but scored no damage nor locked up any submission attempts. Under modern scoring, Tsarukyan should have easily taken the round, yet all three judges scored rounds 3, 4, and 5 for Gamrot, handing him the decision victory.


It also showed that fans still have a long way to go in scoring fights as well, as shown by MMA Verdict's fan scoring.


Though their weighted scoring system effectively made Tsarukyan the winner in their calculations since he was more clearly chosen as the winner in the rounds he picked up, the fact the majority of viewers gave the fourth to Gamrot shows it's not just the official judges who need to brush up on the scoring criteria.


The viewer score may have also been influenced by the fact the commentary team erroneously believed that the knockdown Gamrot suffered was the result of a slip, when replays clearly show he was in fact knocked down. Either way, it was another contentious decision that put a damper on what was otherwise a stellar, technical main event put on by standouts in the lighter weight classes.


Notable Violent Finishes in June:

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