We’re past the Christmas holiday now and hopefully, all of your presents under the tree were gifts that you really wanted this past year.
Now, the focus shifts from Santa Claus and his fleet of eight reindeer to ball drops and celebrations heralding a new year this Friday night and Saturday– and at this time, with the holiday break in MMA continuing for the next two weeks (the first live show in the cage for 2022 won’t be until Wednesday, Jan. 12 when INVICTA Fighting Championships returns for INVICTA FC 45 on YouTube), predictions will be the order of the day.
Predicting MMA in 2022
Actually, predictions will be the order of two days, as this will be the first of a two-part series of prognosticating what may happen inside the cage and out over the next 12 months.
Part two will come your way next week, so stay tuned to Overtime Heroics for that installment of the series– but let’s get going on the first half of the predictions.
Let me just get out the crystal ball that my father gave me for Christmas this year. I didn’t think I’d be getting to use this crystal ball this quickly.
Derrick Lewis Will Challenge For the UFC Heavyweight Championship– And Win
A few weeks from now on Jan. 22, the UFC 270 main event will pit interim champion Ciryl Gane (10-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) against permanent champion Francis Ngannou (16-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) in a unification battle for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
Whoever wins the 265-lb. strap during the first UFC pay-per-view of the new year, you can bet that No. 3 contender Derrick Lewis (26-8, 1 NC MMA, 16-7 UFC) will be watching with some interest on the fourth Saturday night of 2022 as there might be a chance that he gets a shot at a rematch against the victor later on in the year.
In Lewis’s UFC tenure, he is a combined 1-1 against both Ngannou and Gane, scoring a unanimous decision versus “The Predator” nearly three and a half years ago during UFC 226’s co-headliner in Las Vegas, followed up just this past August during UFC 265 with a third-round knockout defeat (ground and pound shots) versus Gane.
Although John McCarthy begs to differ on Lewis’ future as it pertains to his hopes for a UFC title; 2022 will be Derrick Lewis’ year to break through and become The Baddest Man on the Planet at long last.
Bellator MMA Will Broadcast a Card on CBS
2022 will mark the second year of Bellator MMA’s current television pact with the Showtime premium cable network, which, like its previous television home, is owned and operated under the ViacomCBS banner.
Thus, it’s well within the realms of both possibility and reality that at some point during the next calendar year that at least one Bellator card will be shown over-the-air on CBS– and it’s something that Bellator President Scott Coker wants to shoot for, as well.
Coker Wants Bellator on CBS in 2022
In August of this past year, Coker spoke of the possibility that current Bellator Featherweight Champion AJ McKee (18-0 MMA, 18-0 Bellator) would one day fight on CBS.
“Next year, we are looking to do some specials with CBS and their parent network, but right now I just want to enjoy this moment and AJ enjoy this moment,” Coker said during the Bellator 263 post-fight press conference, “but him fighting on big CBS, I’m sure CBS would love it. I’m sure AJ would love it. I’m sure it would be good for everybody.”
AJ McKee is one of Bellator MMA’s top draws, if not the promotion’s top draw altogether.
Having AJ McKee headline a Bellator show on a major broadcast network would be a win-win situation for Coker and Bellator, CBS, and most importantly, McKee himself.
CBS could easily plug in a Bellator show with McKee defending his 145-lb. championship in the headlining fight on a Saturday evening– a night that’s given television viewers a steady diet of reruns nearly across the board, with the lone first-run program on English-language television in America each Saturday being CBS’ investigative journalism series 48 Hours.
If Bellator airs a card on CBS, 48 Hours can easily take that Saturday night off and return the next week– and if McKee would happen to win, the gamble will have paid off for CBS in full.
Conor McGregor Will Only Fight Twice (At Most) Next Year
Finally in part one, throughout recent years, MMA fans have noticed a trend as it pertains to one of the UFC’s most-popular competitors:
Upon a now-infamous post-fight fracas after his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October of 2018 and the lengthy suspensions for both men that came, as a result, notice the varying gap between fights for Conor McGregor:
- 2019: McGregor suspended.
- Jan. 18, 2020: McGregor scores first-round knockout of Donald Cerrone in UFC 246 main event.
- Jan. 23, 2021: McGregor sustains first-round knockout by Dustin Poirier in UFC 257 main event.
- July 10, 2021: In trilogy fight vs. Poirier, bout stopped by doctor after McGregor breaks leg in UFC 264 main event.
Since the end of 2018, McGregor has only made three UFC appearances, going 1-2 in that span, with both defeats coming inside this past calendar year.
Although Conor McGregor was wooed by Charles Oliveira for a May contest a few weeks ago, he’s in the twilight of his career as a fighter (he will turn 34 years old next July 14) and one has to wonder if “The Notorious” is only still in the UFC for the money now.
It’s possible that McGregor only appears a maximum of two times in the Octagon during the new year, but then again, anything is possible with him, as he has already staged three retirements, all of which were quickly walked back, in the last five years.
Happy New Year!
From all of us at Overtime Heroics, please have a safe and happy new year. Don’t drink and drive, because we need you around for the fights in 2022.
Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images