With the new year of MMA in full swing, it only made sense to reveal three bold predictions for 2022. After an unbelievable year of MMA in 2021, anything seems possible in 2022. Before we get into the official hot takes, one honorable mention deserves a spot in the article.
Firstly, the potential for the UFC to add a 105 division is growing. Atomweight is an entertaining division that features a combination of technique and endless conditioning. The UFC could be interested in the division if they decide to cut the featherweight division. Now that you are warmed up, it is time to get into the official hot takes for 2022.
Aljamain Sterling Will Be the Bantamweight Champion at the End of 2022
The last time we saw Aljamain Sterling, he became the champion with the knee heard around the world. Fans have continued to make their narratives and disrespect Sterling since then. Meanwhile, Sterling has been in the gym, preparing for Petr Yan. Although Sterling would have most likely lost to Yan the first time, he did evolve since his prior performances. With a great team behind him (Matt Serra and Ray Longo), proper adjustments could find fans shocked to hear AND STILL!
Let’s be honest. The Bantamweight division is stacked, but it’s hard to see the champion not being Yan or Sterling at the end of 2022. Therefore, the winner of Sterling vs. Yan 2 is the best bet to be the champion for the year. To be clear, Yan is currently the best fighter in the division and has a solid chance to beat Sterling. The problem is that fans are making personal narratives to take away from the hybrid talent that Sterling is becoming. Do not sleep on the Funk Master.
Jon Jones Becomes Heavyweight Champion
Despite the awful allegations outside of the cage, Jon Jones will forever be one of the greatest fighters of all time, easily arguable for #1. After deciding to leave the light heavyweight division, his heavyweight debut has taken longer than expected. Jones has made the right decision to take his time and grow his body into heavyweight form. During his absence, everyone in the MMA world has debated what type of success Jones will have.
If Ciryl Gane did not exist, the chance of Jones becoming champion would be higher. Francis Ngannou will also always be a threat, but Gane’s athleticism and IQ have been revolutionary at heavyweight. Jones has the tools to become champion, but Gane and Ngannou are natural heavyweights that could be Jones’s kryptonite. In the past, Jones has continued to prove the haters wrong and prevail in championship fights. 2022 will be the latest example as he becomes the king of the heavyweight division.
Bellator Destroys Personal Viewership Numbers
Since holding their first event in 2009, Bellator has come a long way. Bellator once had a reputation for being where UFC fighters go when cut. Heading into 2022, Bellator deserves that stereotype dropped because of recent roster moves such as Corey Anderson, Tofiq Musayev, Usman Nurmagomedov, and more. After showing the future at Bellator 263, expectations have been raised with my prediction that they break all personal viewership numbers, including ticket sales, social media impressions, and overall revenue.
Despite other past events being successful, Bellator 263 gave the impression that the promotion evolved. The massive hype from that card led to an even better event ending with AJ McKee winning $1 million and the featherweight championship. Instead of signing fighters out of their prime, Bellator has focused on signing international prospects and young talent. Overall, Bellator has continued to improve, and a breakout 2022 should be in store.
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