Edwards, Jones, Oliveira, Usman: 5 UFC title fights that must happen in 2022

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has already had a strong year – but we’ve got a few title fights that can help take them to the next level.

The world leader in mixed martial arts does a good job of giving the fans what they want to see. From champions defending against top contenders to rising prospects landing devastating knockout blows, it’s hard not to appreciate the kind of action we’re given on an almost-weekly basis.

Alas, the UFC can always go further, and there’s always more violence to be had.

Across this handful of title fights alone, the promotion has a few potential Fight of the Year candidates on its hands.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 19: Henry Cejudo reacts after defeating TJ Dillashaw in the first round during their UFC Flyweight title match at UFC Fight Night at Barclays Center on January 19, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Aljamain Sterling vs Henry Cejudo

Aljamain Sterling defied the odds in a big way when he managed to edge past Petr Yan in their rematch earlier this year. While TJ Dillashaw could very well be the next man in line for a shot at the crown, the return of ‘Triple C’ sounds a whole lot more appealing.

Henry Cejudo is a former two-weight UFC champion and even though his ‘cringe’ persona isn’t to everyone’s taste, it’s impossible to imagine the build-up to this fight being boring.

BOSTON, MA – JANUARY 20: Islam Makhachev celebrates his first round knockout against Gleison Tibau in their Lightweight fight during UFC 220 at TD Garden on January 20, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Charles Oliveira vs Islam Makhachev

No, Charles Oliveira isn’t officially recognised as the UFC lightweight champion anymore, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still the best 155-pounder on the planet in the eyes of MMA fans across the globe.

‘Do Bronx’ needs a top challenger to collide with and he’s going to get that if he meets Islam Makhachev. The man dubbed the next Khabib is waiting to break out of his shadow, and this is the perfect match-up to help him do that.

JACKSONVILLE, FL – APRIL 24: Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgystan celebrates after beating Jessica Andrade of Brazil during the Womens Flyweight Title bout of UFC 261 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)

Julianna Pena/Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko

Valentina Shevchenko has gone through the flyweight division like a hot knife through butter and even though Taila Santos will serve as a tough opponent for her, ‘Bullet’ is still the overwhelming favourite.

At bantamweight, though, the equation shifts ever so slightly. A trilogy showdown with Amanda Nunes is what we’d all love to see but equally, a rematch against Julianna Pena would be fascinating.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – JUNE 12: Leon Edwards of Jamaica prepares to fight Nate Diaz during their UFC 263 welterweight match at Gila River Arena on June 12, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona.

Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards

This fight is the closest to becoming reality with the UFC waiting on Kamaru Usman to recover from his hand surgery. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t include it, especially given just how elite both men are considered to be.

‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ is the pound-for-pound king but Leon Edwards is no joke. If Usman isn’t on his A-game, the focus and grit of ‘Rocky’ could easily see him claim the strap.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – AUGUST 14: In this handout image provided by UFC, Stipe Miocic poses on the scale during the UFC 252 weigh-in at UFC APEX on August 14, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Jon Jones vs Stipe Miocic

An interim title fight isn’t something we all tend to clamour for but just look at the two names at the top of the bill here.

Jon Jones has teased a move to heavyweight for years now and Stipe Miocic is the greatest heavyweight in UFC history. Those two facts add up to this being an absolute barnburner with the victor receiving the greatest, or worst, gift of all – a collision with Francis Ngannou for the undisputed belt next year.

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