2022 already promises to be a classic year for MMA fans, and one of the main reasons for that is the emergence of some excellent fighters.
Which of the newcomers are likely to be making the biggest headlines in the coming year?
Known as The Future, Ian Garry is an Irish fighter, so it’s no surprise to see that he’s already been compared to the legendary Conor McGregor. Garry has started his career with eight straight wins, and his next bout comes in UFC 273. He’ll take on Darian Weeks on April 9 at this major event, which could see him move up to the next level and become a constant favorite in the MMA online sports betting websites.
The last time we saw the fighter from Dublin, he secured a dramatic win against Jordan Williams at UFC 268, thanks to a last-second knockout. At 24 years old, Garry is confident about his power and could be set to make his way up the MMA ladder. He’s already said that he wants to “earn every single step” on his way to winning the world title.
This lightweight fighter arguably broke through in 2021, but MMA fans feel that 2022 could see him genuinely become one of the sport’s biggest names. Islam Makhachev has already put together an impressive record of 21 wins and a single loss so far in his highly-promising career.
Makhachev was born in Dagestan, Russia, and this has led to comparisons with his training partner, Khabib Nurmagomedov. However, 2021 saw him make a mark in the world of competitive fighting in his own right, as he defeated Drew Dober, Thiago Moises, and Dan Hooker. Aged 30, Makhachev isn’t the youngest of the upcoming MMA stars, but he still has time on his side as he attempts to become one of the biggest names in the sport.
English heavyweight fighter Tom Aspinall has climbed up to 11th in the world rankings for his weight, with an impressive record of 11 wins and just a couple of losses. It’s easy to see why some analysts think that 2022 will be the year when he becomes a household name across the planet.
Aspinall has been fighting in mixed martial arts since he was seven years old and had a spell as a boxer, winning his only pro bout before going back to MMA. He had a successful period with Cage Warriors before making his UFC debut in 2020. At 6’ 5” tall, Aspinall is an imposing presence, and he should soon be getting fights against the biggest names in the sport.
This bantamweight fighter is another who hails from Dagestan, but he arrived in the UK as a 12-year old refugee. Known as The Punisher, Muhammad Mokaev has a record of six wins and no losses to date. Before turning pro, he had 32 undefeated fights as an amateur and won the IMMAF World Championship a couple of times.
He is one of the youngest UFC fighters just now, having recently joined the circuit at the end of 2021. While his record in the UFC is currently sitting at 0-0, his first real test will come on March 19 with a bout against Cody Durden at the UFC Fight Night event. This should help to show if he’s ready to break out in 2022.
Born in Scotland but now living in Australia, Casey O’Neill is one of the most promising female MMA fighters. She had a total of three wins in 2021 and has started 2022 with a split decision win over Roxanne Modafferi at UFC 271, giving her a 9-0 record in her pro career so far.
O’Neill started kickboxing at just four years old and has spent time training in Thailand before moving into the world of pro MMA fights. 5’ 6” tall, she is currently ranked as the 12th best female flyweight and will be looking to step up further during 2022 by adding to her winning streak.
This Welsh fighter has an exciting 15-0 record in his career and looks set to climb the rankings in 2022. Jack Shore is a bantamweight who was a Cage Warriors champion at this weight before moving to the UFC in 2019. Since then, he’s won all four fights, including a couple in 2021.
Trained by his father after he started kickboxing at the age of four, Shore was last seen at UFC Fight Night 191 in September 2021. He beat Liudvik Sholinian by a unanimous decision on that occasion, and his next fight will be against Timur Valiev at UFC Fight Night 204, due to be held on March 19 this year. If Shore extends his winning record to 16 fights, then he’s going to be talked about alongside some of the sport’s biggest names.