UFC 2022: The Top 5 Most Shocking Moments
Francis N'Gannou vs. Ciryl Gane
On January 22, 2022, UFC 270 featured the most anticipated heavyweight fight in recent years. Ciryl Gane vs. Francis N’Gannou was supposed to answer the age-old question, can otherworldly punching power defeat speed and technique. N’Gannou, a man who is known for sending opponents to another dimension with one punch, was a +125 underdog in this matchup.
Once friends and training partners turned to a subtle hostility, with both fighters throwing light jabs at each other in interviews. Mostly surrounding leaked footage of sparring sessions between the two. Fighters and UFC analysts describe Gane as the future of the heavyweight division and believed his footwork and technical striking would get the better of N’Gannou.
On fight night, N’Gannou shocked the MMA world by employing a grappled heavy game plan, giving him a fifth-round unanimous decision.
Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan II
March 6, 2021, is a day Aljamain Sterling will certainly remember when he became the new Bantamweight champion at UFC 259. Petr Yan hit Sterling with an illegal knee in round 4, resulting in the controversial win. Considering how the fight ended, a rematch was scheduled. Following Sterling's first fight with Yan, everyone thought Sterling would lose the rematch. After having neck surgery and rehab, Sterling was ready to face his toughest challenge just a year later.
In the co-main event of UFC 273: Volkanovski vs. Korean Zombie, Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan faced off once again for the 135 lb. championship. Before the fight, Yan was a heavy favorite to win at -450. Sterling didn’t let being a +340 underdog distract him from what needed to be done. He was determined to upset sports betters and did just that, by taking Yan to the ground and out grappling him. Sterling took Yan’s back and controlled the fight for the most part to get a split decision.
Sterling then followed this up with another controversial win over T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 280 on October 22. Dillashaw went into the fight with an undisclosed shoulder injury that puts an asterisk next to another Sterling victory. Some are proclaiming Aljamain Sterling is the greatest bantamweight of all time, while others are saying not so fast.
In order for him to be granted such a title, he must have a definitive win over another great. It just so happens that former Champion "Triple C" Henry Cejudo has just called the fight. It will be hard to question Sterling's status as one of the top bantamweights of all time if he accepts this fight and gets a decisive victory over Henry Cejudo.
Petr Yan vs. Sean O'Malley
Early last year, Sean O’Malley’s decision to pursue a fight with Petr Yan appeared to be both premature and insane. O’Malley was on a slow but steady pace to the title, finishing most of his opponents by knockout. So why would an unproven fighter ask for such an increase in competition? That's just crazy, right? Number 11 ranked O'Malley didn’t think so. He was confident about his chances of beating number 1 ranked Petr Yan.
On October 22, Yan and O’Malley put on an spectacular fight for the fans at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi. Both fighters landing big shots and overcame being rocked in the fight. Yan, managed to get six takedowns on O’Malley and controlled the taller fighter for nearly six minutes. Even with Yan's takedowns on O'Malley, the 84 significant strikes by O'Malley appeared to get him the nod in a controversial split decision.
Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira
Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira was the king at 155 lbs. He went undefeated for five years on his way to an 11-fight win streak. Do Bronx went from someone who was considered a quitter in the octagon to a stone cold assassin as he finished opponent after opponent. He currently has the record for the most submissions in the UFC and was poised to stay on top of a division where he’s already beaten the top fighters.
Islam Makhachev, UFC rising star and a protégé of Khabib Nurmagomedov, dreamed to continue the legacy of team Khabib. He believed whole heartedly that he could easily defeat the best submission fighter in the UFC. In the lead-up to UFC 280's main event on October 22, Makhachev was a slight favorite at -190, while Oliveira came in at +170.
In the end, none of that mattered as Makhachev plowed through Charles Oliveira. He showed no fear of the former Champion’s ground game as he willingly followed Do Bronx to the mat. In the second round he dropped Oliveira, then quickly followed him to the ground to secure a submission of his own. Makhachev capped the night off with a spectacular finish over Oliveira with a head and arm choke, continuing the Dagestan reign in the 155 lb. division.
Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards II
Probably the most shocking moment on this list came on August 20th in the rematch between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman at UFC 278. Usman, the pound for pound King at the time had beaten Edwards in their first fight using his wrestling to neutralize the brilliant standup of Edwards. The second fight was going pretty much the same way until….
During the fight Usman stuck to what he does best and took Edwards to the ground and controlled him for the majority of the fight. Leon’s coaches were frantic in the corner and it appeared he had checked out of the fight. In what appeared to be another dominant win by the Nigerian Nightmare, Leon Edwards threw the most beautiful, yet unexpected head kick of his career. The kick caught Usman flush and knocked the Champion out cold.
After years of waiting, Leon finally got his shot and seized the opportunity. Despite Covid travel restrictions and UFC politics, he has now claimed the title of welterweight king. A rubber match between Usman and Edwards is said to be in the works but no date has been set as of now.
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