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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.


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 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:


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:


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:


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: