2022 UFC Champions

Lennea Gregg, Reporter

It is no secret that the UFC is a fast-paced enigma, allowing for never ending entertainment and excitement, in our society, and a wildly popular one at that. Audiences of ultimate fight bouts pay an often exorbitant price to tune in, even at home. In the age of Covid-19, most fights have been reduced to sports spectators of the highest importance: coaches, family members and fellow athletes who have been confirmed as negative for the virus. With the new year recently commencing, we have seen and will continue to see the absolute best fighters in the world take position in the octagon. Surprisingly, some of them have been very unexpected. Fight fans believed that many fighters would stay in the top ranks, but many were sorely mistaken. 

Fighting has taken on a marketing force stronger than ever before. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in bets are raked in every few months by apps such as Draftkings, Fanduel and BetMGM. Some of the top fighters in the UFC: ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas, Francis Ngannou, etc. have utilized these spaces to bet on other fights in order to increase UFC engagement. This has only aided in UFC’s growth and commercial rise. With this increase in money involvement and business influence fighters have more of a reason to win, and keep winning. For most, a title belt is the obvious target, but an even more respectable feat is withholding that belt from the rest of the division. Those who achieve these continuous defending wins are the most sought after by opponents and simultaneously the most feared. Not everyone can keep their belt though, and it’s been seen time and time again that even the most talented and determined fighters eventually lose their honors. 

Amanda Nunes, a 33 year old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist, displayed this type of especially upsetting loss on December 11, 2021 in one of the last fight cards of the year, UFC 269. She faced Julianna Pena, an American professional mixed martial artist. Nunes, up until this particular fight card was the reigning UFC Bantamweight champion, having defeated many talented professionals to get there. Pena shocked the fighting community with a second round submission and Nunes lost her title in the division. Nonetheless, Nunes still holds the current title of UFC featherweight champion. Even so, the loss to Pena was a huge upset to her career, but she will still go down as one of the greatest fighters in history. It will be no surprise if there is a future rematch between the two sometime in late 2022, this has been stated by many sports websites including MMA Weekly and MMA Fighting. 

As for the men’s division, recent wins by Francis Ngannou and Kamara Usman are the most talked about. Ngannou, a French Cameroonian mixed martial artist, has been known for his accurate striking and his deadly knockouts in early rounds of fights. Recently, he shocked fans with new and improved wrestling skills displayed in his title fight against Ciryl Gane, a French mixed martial artist and a former heavyweight champion of the UFC. Ngannou won by decision in the fifth round. This was a rare occurrence for him, but one vastly appreciated by fans as they noticed his new technique. 

Kamara Usman, a Nigerian-American mixed martial artist, and the current Welterweight champion, had his latest bout where he defended his title against Colby Covington, the formerly #1 ranked Welterweight. Usman won by decision in the fifth round and was applauded for his improved striking game, as he is well known as a skilled wrestler. Usman has sent shock waves through the UFC after his jaw dropping knockout against Jorge Masvidal, on July 12, 2020. 

As we move through 2022, there is no doubt that many new UFC champions will present themselves, the same can be said for those holding belts sticking around. Current champions will be tough to beat, and with new hungry athletes coming in at a fast pace, rankings are unpredictable. The UFC promises some of its best fight cards yet this year,and fans are hoping to see returns from the ‘notorious’ himself, Conor Mcgregor, and even reigning champs ‘thug’ Rose Namajunas. Tune in to upcoming fight cards; you won’t want to miss them.