A few weeks without MMA makes time move slower. This week there’s a different energy in the air though. There are fights this weekend. Good ones too. When the first card of the year rolls around, you cross your fingers and wish for a lot. After all, this is the one that sets the tone. Without further stalling, let’s get into what should be on every fight fan’s wishlist for this upcoming year.
No Crossover Fights
Ever since Floyd and Conor had their massive boxing match, MMA fighters have been very open to the idea of boxing. The idea is simple; box in one big fight, and win or lose you get incredibly rich. The reality of the situation is that not everybody is Conor McGregor, and instead of making millions you can find yourself face down on the canvas after getting bodied by the Disney kid.
The crossover most likely to happen for 2022 would be Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou. MMA fans should not want to see that fight happen in a boxing ring. If Ngannou were allowed to wrestle and kick he would make easy work of Fury. That’s too obvious though, they would not fight in MMA. They would fight with some type of modified boxing rules and Fury would batter Ngannou from pillar to post. It’s a bad look for the sport when this stuff happens. It causes people who don’t know any better to look down on MMA. The only crossover fight you should want to see is Mike Perry vs Jake Paul, but that’s a conversation for a different time.
Anybody But Conor McGregor Getting The Next Title Shot at 155
Not everybody agrees on who should be next to challenge for the lightweight throne, but there is one thing that most sane people agree on: Conor McGregor does not deserve a title shot. 365 days ago, Conor McGregor’s 2021 return was the biggest MMA story you could find. Conor popped in during January 2020 to smash Cowboy Cerrone and was promptly left out of action for another year and a half. McGregor returned in July of 2021, only to be KO’d in the second round by Dustin Poirier. Conor would be gifted a rematch with Poirier, and he would break his leg at the end of round 1 after being on the receiving end of a beating for the entire fight prior.
Two straight losses and an unimpressive win over Cowboy do not scream title material. If the UFC makes this fight it shows a lack of respect to the other fighters in title contention at 155, and also a lack of respect to the sport in general. There isn’t any justification for Charles Oliveria vs Conor McGregor besides “it makes a lot of money”. The sad part is the UFC does not need a belt on the line to sell a Conor McGregor fight, yet it still seems possible that they force-feed MMA fans a fight we don’t want to see.
Jon Jones Fighting At Heavyweight
Death, taxes, and Jon Jones saying things he doesn’t truly mean are the only things that remain consistent in this lifetime. Jon Jones has been teasing a heavyweight move for nearly a decade now but after his 2020 fight with Dominick Reyes, he committed to it HARD. Jon has been doing this song and dance where he posts videos of him in the gym sprinting and lifting pretty much since the Reyes fight (just about 2 years ago now). Should you buy this? No, you shouldn’t. Jon Jones is one of the biggest liars in all of the sports.
Nobody should be shocked if he retires 0-0 at heavyweight. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t want to see him fight up there though. If you’re a fan of Jones this is a chance for you to see your favorite fighter achieve great heights and solidify himself as the undisputed greatest fighter of all time. If you are normal and smart, you want to see Francis Ngannou rip Jon’s head off and roll it down the temple stairs like an Aztec god. Whether you want to see him shut the haters up once and for all, or if you are one of those haters, you want to see heavyweight Jones in 2022.
Prospects Become Contenders
Right now the UFC has a lot of exciting prospects that are on the cusp of greatness. The most obvious of this bunch are Sean O’Malley, Khamzat Chimaev, and Paddy Pimblett. We are at the tail end of Conor McGregor’s career, meaning there is room for a new star to fill the void he will leave behind. If O’Malley, Chimaev, and Pimblett can continue their winning ways, they could be some of the biggest stars we have ever seen.
Whether or not they are capable of reaching the heights Conor did is yet to be seen. What we do know is that all three of them are stars already, despite having fought no top-ten opponents. A new crop of athletes has arrived in the UFC and in 2022 we will see who belongs. Here’s to hoping none of our favorite prospects are pursuing an HVAC certification 365 days from now.
Grounded Knees In America
The argument against grounded knees and soccer kicks makes a lot of sense on the surface. Watching an already concussed fighter get smashed with a kick to the face isn’t exactly marketable to the masses. You don’t need soccer kicks AND grounded knees though. Just the grounded knees would suffice. This is the ruleset ONE uses and it would work really well in the UFC. It opens up ways to fight off of your back more effectively, and it also would put an end to stalling.
Think about how many boring fights we would be spared from if MMA fighters weren’t safe on one knee. Boring fights are just as bad for marketing as over-the-top violence, so from a marketing perspective, grounded knees are actually the perfect middle ground. Though, the biggest selling point for grounded knees is Aljamain Sterling’s title reign. Sterling has held the belt for nearly a year after “winning” it. He “won” said belt by eating an illegal knee from Petr Yan during a fight he was losing handily. This has stalled the division pretty badly since this fight happened. Aljamain decided that even though his neck was fine for the first fight, that he should get surgery that would cause him to be out long term due to a lingering issue. This also just so happened to give Sterling more time to walk around with the belt and act like he was going to beat Yan until Yan “cheated”. It took almost a full year to finally get Aljamain Sterling into a rematch with Petr Yan, and guess what?
If grounded knees were legal, we would have never been subjected to any of this. We never would’ve had to see Aljamain pretend to be concussed and fake cry the night of the fight, and we never would have had to deal with the painfully unfunny trolling from his Twitter account. Legalize grounded knees to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.
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