With the holidays barely behind us, there has been a surprising boom in UFC rumors and Bellator fights being announced for upcoming cards. The early 2022 schedule for both brands is filling up fast, so let us catch you up on the tasty matchmaking news buffet from the top two organizations in the MMA realm.
UFC fight news
Tony Ferguson vs Michael Chandler
The wheels got churning on a possible fight between former UFC lightweight king Tony Ferguson, and Bellator 155-pound legend Michael Chandler on the first day of the new year. After “Iron Mike” responded in agreement to a tweet saying he should face Conor McGregor in his return fight, Ferguson responded in a separate tweet about a spring matchup “relayed” to him by UFC decisionmakers.
“There’s My Bitch!!! [Michael Chandler], The Brass [Dana White] @ufc Relayed Your Message Saying You Would Be Ready For Me April/June. Looks Like Your Trying To Delay That Ass-Whoopin’ I Owe Ya For Cutting In Line Kid- It’s Wrestling Season MF, Man Up- Champ,” he wrote.
The former lightweight title contender, and fifth-ranked fighter, responded to “El Cucuy” a couple of hours later. Explaining how he respects Ferguson for what he has done in the past, but not for what he’s accomplished recently.
“Oh Tony. There’s only a handful of guys in this game I truly respect…you’re one of them. Only because of your tenure, not your stature or your current presence in the division. I’ll beat you from bell to bell. Pray for a merciful ref. We shall see if this fight happens,” Chandler wrote.
Both men are on losing streaks and in desperate need of a meaningful victory to turn their fortunes around. The pairing makes a whole bunch of sense.
Cody Garbrandt vs Sean O’Malley
“Sean O’Malley, I really want to whoop his ass. That’s a fight that’s looming. Hopefully, that could possibly be my next one. I want that fight so I’d like to stay at 35. He might fight me now because I’m not in the rankings at 35 and he’s ranked so that’ll be a good fight. You got to respect his skills, he leveled up a little bit with the Raulian [Paiva] fight, caught him early on, but we know that,” Garbrandt said.
“The only way he was gonna win was catching him early on and he did that. He did his job, hats off to him. He’s now in the rankings so I have to go back up to 35 and whoop his ass, but we’ll decide, we’ll figure it out.”
Garbrandt has lost five of his last six, including his flyweight debut at UFC 269 last month. “No Love” has suffered knockout losses in four of those defeats. O’Malley was victorious by technical knockout on the same card against the aforementioned Paiva.
O’Malley has made it clear he will only take fights with top-10 talent when he is paid accordingly to do so. However, a matchup with a reeling and unranked Garbrandt would give him another non-wrestler opponent, and a major name to add to his developing resume. This fight seems likely.
Sodiq Yusuff vs Alex Caceres
“Bruce Leeroy” is on one of the best runs of his long UFC career, having won his last five fights. The most recent being a second-round submission win over Seung Woo Choi in October. “Super” will be looking to bounce back from a hard-fought loss to Arnold Allen in April at UFC on ABC 2. The setback ended a six-fight win streak and was his first loss in the Octagon.
Irene Aldana vs Aspen Ladd
Ladd has lost her last two, with the most recent being a one-fight foray at featherweight against Norma Dumont in October. The move-up came after the 26-year-old missed weight for a planned 135-pound bout against Macy Chiasson weeks before. Aldana has won three of her last four, with her lone defeat against former division queen Holly Holm in October 2020.
Bellator fight news
Fedor Emelianenko vs Ryan Bader II
MMAJunkie scored a cornucopia of Bellator fight news late last week in an exclusive chat with promotion boss Scott Coker. One of the most notable nuggets of intel was what could come next for MMA icon Fedor Emelianenko (40-6) in the final fight of his contract and career. Interestingly enough, the Russian’s future could be a requested blast from the past in Ryan Bader (28-7).
“That’s what Fedor asked me. He’s like, ‘If Ryan beats [Valentin] Moldavsky, I want to fight Ryan Bader.’ That’s what he said. I said, ‘Well, let’s talk about it and I’ll give you some other possibilities in the beginning of January, let’s see how the fight unwinds and we’ll make a business decision,” Coker said. “How about that?’ And he said, ‘OK.’ And that was it.”
Bader will defend his heavyweight title for the second time when he faces Emelianenko protege Moldasky — the interim champion — in a unification bout at Bellator 273 on Jan. 29. If the bout were made following a “Darth” victory, Emelianenko vs Bader II would be a rematch of their 2019 matchup won by Bader via knockout in 35 seconds.
Yaroslav Amosov vs MVP
In the same conversation, Coker officially announced that new welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov (26-0) will battle the red hot Michael “Venom” Page early this year. Page has won six straight, including a Bellator 261 revenge victory over former division king Douglas Lima in October.
“Believe me, a lot of people are saying well Amosov is so good and he’s — yeah he is that good and that’s why his record is undefeated. But MVP has a very unique style and he’s very hard to hit, to catch and it’s gonna be interesting to see how Amosov handles that because he’s fighting like a very awkward, karate style combatant and it’s not like your normal MMA fighter that’s just very straight forward, maybe a little bit more linear.,” said Coker. “He’s doing a lot of crazy stuff and that’s why people love him, but that fight will happen at some point in 2022 for sure.”
The bout is expected to take place in London. It will be “MVP’s” first championship opportunity after eight years in the promotion.
Cris Cyborg vs Cat Zingano
Women’s featherweight icon Cris Cyborg (25-2) is also set to make her return to the cage early in the new year. Coker announced that she will defend her Bellator gold for the fourth time when she faces one-time UFC bantamweight title contender Cat Zingano (12-4). The matchup does not have an official date but will go down at some point in the coming months.
Zingano is unbeaten after two fights in the Bellator cage as a featherweight. She finished with a 3-4 record during her run in the UFC and was released from the promotion in 2019 after losing four of five.
Which of these planned and possible fights are you most looking forward to?