The new UFC champions in 2022
A chronological look at the UFC championship belts that changed hands in 2022 across the promotion's 12 different weight classes.
UFC flyweight champion: Deiveson Figueiredo
If you're wondering if anyone other than Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno has fought for the UFC undisputed flyweight title since late 2020, the answer is no. But at least they continue to entertain everyone, with their third bout at UFC 270 on Jan. 22 being no exception. In a back-and-forth fight, it was Figueiredo taking back the title via unanimous decision. All three judges scored it 48-47 for Figueiredo, the first fighter to win back the UFC flyweight title after losing it once before.
UFC women's strawweight champion: Carla Esparza
Eight years of losing her strawweight title, Carla Esparza regained it with a split decision over Rose Namajunas at UFC 274 on May 7 in Phoenix. Esparza and Namajunas had what some called a boring fight and others called strategic. In the eyes of enough judges, Esparza's collective effort earned her the title, 49-46, 47-48, 48-47.
UFC light heavyweight champion: Jiri Prochazka
Jiri Prochazka survived nearly five rounds of punishment from the ageless Glover Teixeira. But with 28 seconds left in the final round, Prochazka was able to submit Teixeira at UFC 275 on June 11 in Singapore to become the light heavyweight champion.
UFC women's bantamweight champion: Amanda Nunes
Amanda Nunes regained her 135-pound title from the woman she lost it to last year, Julianna Pena, on July 30 at UFC 277 in Dallas. Nunes dominated Pena for five rounds, pitching a shutout as the judges scored ot 50-45, 50-44, 50-43.
UFC interim flyweight champion: Brandon Moreno
Also at UFC 277, Brandon Moreno became the interim flyweight champion with a third-round TKO win over Kai Kara-France. Moreno, with a deep cut under his right eye, landed a liver kick that dropped Kara-France, and several strikes later, referee Herb Dean ended the bout. Deiveson Figueiredo, the reigning flyweight champion, could not defend his title because of a hand injury, resulting in UFC creating this interim title fight.
UFC welterweight champion: Leon Edwards
With a minute left in the fifth and final round, and Leon Edwards (and everyone else watching) knowing he was trailing on the scorecards, he delivered a decisive blow. Edwards floored Kamaru Usman with a headkick knockout to win the welterweight championship at UFC 278 on Aug. 20 in Salt Lake City, Utah. “That crosshead kick landed perfectly,” Edwards said. Yes, it did, and Edwards won his 10th straight fight while ending Usman's 16-fight UFC win streak.
UFC lightweight champion: Islam Makhachev
With the vacant lightweight title up for grabs at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi on Oct. 22, Islam Makhachev defeated the man who vacated the belt earlier this year when he missed weight by a half-pound.
Makhachev submitted Charles Oliveira via arm triangle choke at the 3:17 mark of the second round to win the title and fulfill the championship proclamation from several years ago by his coach and former champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. It was the 11th straight win for Makhachev.