UFC 'Fight of the Year' candidates so far in 2022
When December rolls around, and you're scrambling to remember which fights belong in the "Fight of the Year" category so you can argue with people on social media about how their picks are either right or wrong, perhaps this list that we'll add to throughout 2022 as fights warrant it will help you in your research.
We will aim for legitimate contenders with each update, not just whichever fight earned the "Fight of the Night" bonus award.
UFC Vegas 46: Calvin Kattar vs. Giga Chikadze
Don't go just by the judges' scorecards, which favored Calvin Kattar in his featherweight bout against Giga Chikadze at UFC Vegas 46 on Jan. 15, 50-44, 50-45, 50-45. Beyond those numbers were two fighters slugging it out. Kattar pressured Chikadze from the start and thoroughly picked him apart with jabs, elbows and a little grappling here and there. But Chikadze never backed down, landing plenty of clean shots of his own. Kattar held the overall advantage in significant strikes, 147-128.
UFC Vegas 49: Priscila Cachoeira vs. Ji Yeon Kim
There may not be enough cliches to throw out in describing this fight between Cachoeira and Kim. There was volume vs. power, combinations vs. haymakers, and often times both fighters displaying both. The three judges' scorecards mirrored the back-and-forth nature of the bout, with Cachoeira winning the first round, dropping the second and willing her way to the third-round win and unanimous decision. All 102 of Cachoeira's strikes landed were considered significant strikes, and Kim was 170-for-171.
UFC Columbus: Brown vs. Barbarena
A battle was expected, and that's exactly what was delivered by Matt Brown and Bryan Barbarena, two of the toughest fighters in the sport. Barbarena connected on 186 total strikes. Of his 111 significant strikes landed, 73% were to the head. Brown, 41, connected on 95 strikes, landing 46% of his 81 significant strikes to Barbarena's body. The two men were standing at fight's end, with Barbarena taking the split decision, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28.
UFC 273: Burns vs. Chimaev
Through his first four UFC fights, Khamzat Chimaev had been hit with a total of two -- 2! -- strikes. Gilbert Burns quickly matched that, doubled that, tripled that, 70-timesed that at UFC 273 on April 9. Chimaev ate them all, returned the favor nearly the same amount of time and answered every question about how he could do against ranked, top-tier talent in the UFC. Chimaev won the unanimous decision, 29-28, on all three judges' cards, but it was the type of fight where even the loser trends upward after it.