The Fights We Can’t Wait For

Fight fans can always expect to see a busy MMA calendar but, from now until the end of 2022, the schedule is packed with some fascinating battles. Naturally, the UFC has taken center stage but there are plenty of other high-class bouts in prospect from around the divisions.

After a quiet period for sport in general, the world of mixed martial arts is clearly making up for lost time, but which are the fights that we are looking forward to most of all?

First Up

October closes out with UFC 267 which takes place at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on the 30th October. As part of the organization’s drive to take the biggest MMA show on earth into other parts of the world, they have a great bill in store for the UAE.

It’s an impressive overall card but the top fight on the bill is the light heavyweight championship clash between defending champion Jan Blachowicz and his challenger Glover Teixeira. It’s an interesting battle and one that could be extremely close, even though online betting markets are listing Blachowicz as the clear favourite, with odds of 4/3.

The tale of the tape suggests that we could be in for a thriller: both men have respectable records but neither has really set the MMA World alight since making their debuts. Reigning Champion Blachowicz will go into the contest with 28 wins from 36 fights, with eight of those wins coming via knockout.

Spoiling that record is a series of eight defeats although it’s fair to say that most of those came in the early stages of the Pole’s career. 

At the opposite end of the Octagon is the challenger Glover Teixeira: The American’s record is similar with 32 wins and seven losses from his 39 fights. There’s little to choose between them but, at 41 years of age, Teixeira is firmly in the veteran stages of his career.

Little Respite

There is precious little opportunity for fight fans to take a breath with UFC 268 coming hot on the heels of its predecessor. Just a week after Blachowicz, Teixeira and others do battle, the 268th edition will take place in the more familiar surroundings of Madison Square Garden on November 6th.

This event is being billed as Usman v Covington 2 with the UFC Welterweight Championship on the line. In the first match up between these two fighters, Kamaru Usman took on Colby Covington at UFC 245, way back in December 2019.

Usman won that bout by TKO in a titanic battle that went all the way to the fifth round. It was the latest end to a contest in UFC welterweight history and, while it would have been of little consolation to Colby Covington, it won both men the Fight of the Night award.

As the long-term champion, Usman is likely to start as a very clear favourite and his record inside the Octagon backs that up. In 20 previous MMA fights, he’s won 19 with just one defeat to spoil that run.

The challenger Coby Covington has also impressed with 16 wins and two losses. The tale of the tape is slightly balanced in favour of Kamaru Usman but, having fought out a tight contest in late 2019, this could be a close affair.

(Covington has let Usman know that revenge “is a dish best served cold”)

On the Cards

While any UFC running order will always be subject to change, the full card at UFC 268 looks to hold more interest than its predecessor in Abu Dhabi. Also on the schedules is a women’s strawweight contest between the defending champion Rose Namajunas and her challenger Zhang Weili.

Namajunas has enjoyed a long career in combat sports but is relatively new to MMA. In 14 previous fights, she’s won ten with four defeats. Challenger Zhang Weili is more experienced with 21 wins in 23 bouts and there are many who expect the championship belt to change hands here.

In Other Promotions

Away from UFC, there’s plenty to look forward to in other divisions. In the ONE Championship, the organization gives us the latest in its NextGen series which is scheduled for October 29th. 

Top of the bill on Fight Night is an intriguing battle between the experienced Stamp Fairtex and the up-and-coming Julie Mezabarba.

Over at Bellator, there are three big events coming up between now and the end of 2021. In Bellator 270, Patricky Pitbull will take on Peter Queally for the vacant Lightweight World Championship.

Bellator 271 follows in November with Cyborg vs Kavanagh before the year closes out on December 4th with Pettis against Horiguchi.

Naturally, Ultimate Fighting Championship gets most of the attention as the richest division in the sport. However, with other top events in prospect, there are great fights to look forward to in the UFC and beyond before 2021 is done

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