4 fights MMA fans should be thankful for this year
Four fights MMA fans should be thankful for this year.
The year 2022 has been compiled of exciting and memorable moments that have spoiled MMA fans with the urge for more after each event, every weekend. Championship fights resulting in unexpected outcomes with minutes remaining in the final round, trilogies that are instant classics, to certified wars in the cage, have been well accounted for in promotions such as the UFC, Bellator, PFL, and ONE Championship. There are numerous contenders for Fight of the Year, but only a handful stand out that the fans should be thankful for and can reflect on during the holiday.
UFC: Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards 2
What is considered one of the biggest head kicks and turns of events in MMA history, especially for a championship fight, was when Leon Edwards threw a left-hand cross to set up a left roundhouse high kick to knock out the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter at the time and UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman. Usman was dominating the majority of the fight, with a consensus of being up comfortably on the scorecards, and one costly error with less than a minute in the final round changed everything.
The head kick heard around the world setups up a trilogy for the Jamaican-born English champion against Usman early next year in a venue in England. Edwards is the second champion from the UK and the UFC will return for a pay-per-view for the first time since UFC 204 in 2016 when Michael Bisping defended his middleweight title.
Bellator: AJ McKee Jr. vs Spike Carlyle
The in-house Bellator star, AJ Mckee Jr. successfully debuted in the lightweight division when he faced Spike Carlyle in a chaotic brawl from the first round to the third round. In any promotion, this fight would heavily be considered the fight of the night considering the non-stop back-and-forth action between the two warriors. Mckee showcased that when he’s being pressured he can intertwine his striking with his wrestling and dominate the exchanges if needed. The gritty and bloody Carlyle had moments but ultimately came up short.
The former featherweight champion can now be counted as a number one contender for the featherweight belt or the lightweight belt, or be the featured bout on the main card that’s expected to deliver a highlight. Mckee is scheduled to face Rizin’s Roberto de Souza in a unique cross-promotion event held in Japan.
PFL: Clay Collard vs. Jeremy Stephens
Jeremy Stephens debuted into the PFL against the dynamic striker, Clay Collard, and this bout was destined to be a slugfest of who wanted it more, which later transitioned to who did more intangibles during their fight camp to earn the win. Atypical of Collard’s style, he went head-on and addressed the newcomer, Stephens, with pressure and volume. Stephens managed to land plenty of significant strikes of his own, but Collard in the final round pulled away and was named victorious in the barn burner.
When the PFL wants to deliver a rumble to the fans, the promotion can count on either Collard or Stephens to fulfill.
ONE Championship: Jingnan Xiong vs. Angela Lee 3
The frontrunner for women’s fight of the year and the trilogy between Jingnan Xiong and Angela Lee excelled expectations, and fans are hoping for a possible fourth fight soon. Xiong hurt Lee early in the first round and dealt the more powerful blows, but in the later rounds, Lee persevered and showed success in her striking and wrestling. Xiong consistently countered and waited for Lee to close the distance, but when she couldn’t stop Lee in her tracks she struggled in the clinch.
The two women who had previously finished each other in the fifth round continued to go back and forth until the sound of the bell, and with One championship’s unique scoring system, Xiong was awarded a unanimous decision to retain her belt.