2022 has started off with a bang, after almost a month of no UFC cards.
With the new year upon us, read about five bold predictions that could happen this year in Boxing and MMA.
Merab Dvalishvili will become UFC Bantamweight Champion
In the most competitive division in the UFC, a new champion will be crowned — Merab Dvalishvili. He is a great wrestler with a standup game to match. Currently ranked #6 and on a 7-fight win streak, Merab could be in line to fight the winner of Petr Yan and TJ Dillashaw barring that Yan can ever get a rematch with Aljamain Sterling.
Merab has the game to be a champion, but he must keep winning and be patient as the division is in a holding pattern right now until Aljo vs. Yan 2 officially happens.
Rose Namajunas shocks the world
Rose Namajunas defends her title against Carla Esparza and Marina Rodriguez. The fans are clamoring for Weili Zhang but the UFC has bigger ideas and decides to book the most dominant and current female UFC champions. Valentina Shevchenko continues to dominate and make her next title defenses look easy as she beats Taila Santos and possibly Viviane Araujo (although I would like to Joanna move up to 125).
Thug Rose vs. Bullet Shevchenko sets up one of the most anticipated Champ vs. Champ fights in the women’s division since Nunes vs. Cyborg. Both women are very well-rounded but I am going with the upset, Namajunas in a very closely contested fight.
Conor McGregor fights Jake Paul
Conor returns to the Octagon after his devastating injury. He has two fights left on his current UFC deal. He is demanding a title shot on social media upon his return, but he has no claim to a title fight. When he returns, he should be booked against Nate Diaz in the trilogy fight or Michael Chandler. Win or lose, the UFC says he still isn’t a title contender so he then calls out Jake Paul while defaming the UFC.
Jake Paul answers the call and Showtime books McGregor vs. Paul with an extra nugget Anderson Silva vs. Logan Paul as co-main event making this the biggest card in celebrity combat history. This would be much needed, coming off Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley 2 being reported to be a box office flop with fewer than 65,000 pay-per-view buys.
Paul and McGregor will take every chance to lash out about UFC fighter pay while also hyping up their fight.
Islam Makhachev & Khamzat Chimaev fail in title shots
Islam and Khamzat are being hyped as uncrowned champions, but I see them failing at their first chances at gold. Islam is known for his superior grappling and grade-A ground game. In a matchup against current lightweight champion Charles Oliviera, I see his ground game being neutralized by Oliviera’s top notch BJJ skills. With his number 1 weapon taken away, I see Charles dominating in a standup fight.
As far as Chimaev, currently ranked the #11 welterweight, he has some work to do to get a title shot. But with the right booking, he could get a shot by year’s end. Much like Islam, he is known for his ground game and grappling. If Usman is still the champ, I see him doing the same thing to Chimaev that Oliviera will do to Islam — defend the takedowns and make the fight a standup affair where Chimaev will not fair well.
Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic for Heavyweight Championship
I think this is the fight most MMA fans really want to see in the heavyweight division. Jon fights the winner of the Ciryl Gane vs. Francis Ngannou fight, which will be won by Gane. The UFC books Jones vs. Gane; this fight will feature two outstanding athletes who happen to be great MMA fighters too.
Jon wins a close fight to become the new HW champion. Stipe fights Derrick Lewis and looks like his old self when he was the best heavyweight in the world. After the fight he says the UFC owes him a title shot. The UFC books the best LHW champ in history, and some may even say the GOAT vs. the most dominant HW champ in UFC history.