By Ken Andrew
In what has been an amazing year for the company, the UFC has produced some of the greatest moments in sports this year thanks to some vicious knockouts, comeback victories and world class fights. With an extremely long list to choose from, here are some of the biggest moments from the UFC this year.
5. Nate Diaz completes UFC contract
Nate Diaz has been one of the biggest stars in the UFC for the past decade. Many would argue only Conor McGregor sits ahead of him in terms of star power not only in the UFC but in the MMA world in general. He had his final fight in the organization on the 11th of September at UFC 279. Nate was initially scheduled to fight Khamzat Chimaev but a late change saw him meet another all time great, Tony Ferguson, in the octagon. Nate finished Tony in the 4th round in his last appearance in the UFC.
His fights, and back and forth with Conor McGregor will forever be part of the UFC’s history.
4. UFC London delivers
The UFC held events in London, England for the first time since the pandemic hit. They visited the city twice in 2022 and both shows were of high quality. Paddy Pimblett and Molly McCann were the biggest stars of both shows, with each finishing their opponents on both cards. UFC London has been described as event of the year due to the great performances and number of finishes on both cards. The UFC returns to the UK in 2023 with a numbered event UFC 286, which is likely to feature welterweight champion, Leon Edwards.
3. Islam Makhachev finally wins gold
A cousin to one of the all time greats, Khabib Nurmagomedov, many foresaw Islam Makhachev’s lightweight title victory when he finally got the title shot. Islam faced Charles Oliveira for the gold in Abu Dhabi at UFC 280. Charles was the man to beat as he had beaten all contenders before Islam stepped up. Islam submitted Charles in the second round, winning the lightweight title and following in his cousin’s footsteps. He will face featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski next in Perth, Australia at UFC 284. The winner of the fight will be crowned the number 1 pound for pound fighter in the world.
2. Alex Pereira finishes Israel Adesanya once again
Israel Adesanya was a very dominant and busy champion in the UFC middleweight division. In 2021, a man who had beaten him twice in his kick boxing days joined the company. Alex Pereira is that man and it did not take long for him to earn the title shot. Despite Izzy dominating proceedings in all four rounds, a late flurry in the fifth round from Pereira earned him a TKO win over the Izzy. His victory was one of the three late fifth round finishes in title fights. The two look set to meet again in the UFC, with this probably being Izzy’s last chance at vanquishing Pereira.
1. Leon Edwards finishes Kamaru Usman and wins the welterweight title
Many times in the past, Leon Edwards has been branded the unluckiest fighter in the UFC. He had been inactive since 2019 which led to his dropping from the rankings at one point. He then had an unfortunate return in 2021 after an eye poke prematurely ended his fight against Belal Muhammad. Edwards then produced a world class performance against Nate Diaz, earning him the title shot.
When they met earlier in their careers, Kamaru Usman emerged victorious after a brilliant wrestling display. The second time was more tantalizing as both men had made significant improvements in their game. Despite Edwards being the first fighter to take Usman down in the UFC, Usman dominated the 2nd, 3rd and 4th round. In the fifth, everyone thought it was all over for Leon until he landed a vicious head kick in the dying moments of the round, knocking Usman out cold. Edwards managed to win a title he was far from winning a year back. Knocking out Usman is truly a fete that deserves to be number one on all lists!