5 best UFC fights of January 2022

C. Naik
Michael Pereira vs. Andre Fialho [Image courtesy of @ufc on Twitter]
Michael Pereira vs. Andre Fialho [Image courtesy of @ufc on Twitter]

The UFC kicked off 2022 in style following a tremendously successful run in 2021.

The first event of the year was underway at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, where top featherweight contenders Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze locked horns in the main event.

The promotion's first pay-per-view of the year went down a week later at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, where two championship fights were contested. Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane clashed in a title-unification bout in the main event. The co-main event saw a trilogy bout between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo.

January produced some sensational fights. Here are the five best bouts of the month.

#5. Michel Pereira vs. Andre Fialho – UFC 270

Michel Pereira was initially scheduled to fight ranked welterweight contender Muslim Salikhov at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Salikhov was forced to pull out of the bout and was subsequently replaced by promotional newcomer Andre Fialho. Pereira and Fialho put on an incredible back-and-forth bout on the main card of UFC 270.

We're ready for the rollercoaster! 🎒 [ #UFC270 | Main Card LIVE on E+ PPV: ]

Pereira, who is known for his unorthodox and wildly entertaining style of fighting, was stifled by Fialho's sharp boxing. The Brazilian was dominated by the UFC debutant in the first round and looked quite tired going into the second.

Pereira managed to push the pace thereafter and even pulled out some his signature Capoeira moves. He pieced up his Portuguese counterpart in the next two rounds to come away with a unanimous decision victory.

This fight is NUTS 🀯 #UFC270

Michel Pereira will be hoping for a ranked opponent in his next bout. Additionally, the Brazilian wildman is guaranteed to produce fireworks every time he fights and has quickly become a fan-favorite.

Meanwhile, Andre Fialho showcased a decent set of skills and heart considering he took the fight on short-notice. It'll be interesting to see how the Portuguese fighter performs with a full fight camp behind him.

#4. Brandon Moreno vs. Deiveson Figueiredo 3 – UFC 270

Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo clashed for a third time in the co-main event of UFC 270 with the flyweight title on the line. Both fighters went toe-to-toe from the very first round, putting on a technical masterclass over 25 minutes.

While Moreno outlanded Figueiredo in the first two rounds, the Brazilian knocked him down twice in the third and once more in the fifth. Ultimately, 'Deus da Guerra' picked up a unanimous decision victory after the closely contested championship rounds.

Their five-round affair was awarded the 'Fight of the Night' bonus on the night.

Without question πŸ‘ @TheAssassinBaby & @Daico_Deiveson earn your FOTN honors. [ #UFC270 | B2YB @ToyoTires ]

Interestingly, Brandon Moreno had the upper hand over Deiveson Figueiredo when it comes to total significant strikes by a small margin. Sports betting writer Adam Martin believes the three knockdowns made the difference for the new titleholder. Martin tweeted:

"Official stats for Moreno vs. Figueiredo. Moreno did land more strikes, BUT Figgy had 3 knockdowns. In a very close fight otherwise, it appears those knockdowns were the difference."

Looking visibly disappointed, Moreno spoke to Joe Rogan after his devastating championship loss and shared his thoughts about the exciting trilogy. He said:

"Man, I feel like I landed better combinations. Maybe, he connected with more power but I don't know... It is what it is... I feel like he did a better gameplan this time... I was putting the better pace in the fight but I've to go back home and watch the fight again."

#3. Matt Frevola vs. Genaro Valdez – UFC 270

This bout on the preliminary card of UFC 270 between lightweights Matt Frevola and Genaro Valdez was was one of the best fights of the month, for as long as it lasted.

Both fighters came out guns blazing from the opening bell. Frevola was able to land more meaningful shots in the opening exchanges. including a heavy leg kick and a spinning back kick.

Frevola then landed a massive right hand, causing the first knockdown of the fight. Valdez refused to stay down and bounced back to his feet. The duo engaged in a few more striking exchanges before the Mexican was dropped again.

Frevola was credited with four knockdowns in the round, with Valdez fighting back to his feet over and over. Eventually, the pressure was simply too much and the American was able to take his Mexican counterpart's back. He fired away with punches until the referee was forced to call a halt to the action, four minutes into the first round.

Valdez came into the fight with a perfect 10-0 record, having finished all of his opponents so far. His loss at UFC 270 is the first of his career.

Meanwhile, Frevola snapped a two-fight losing skid with the TKO victory, getting back in the win column after suffering a seven-second KO defeat in his previous octagon outing.

#2. Raoni Barcelos vs. Victor Henry – UFC 270

Raoni Barcelos is being tipped by many as the dark horse of the UFC bantamweight division.

Barcelos was looking to get back on track after having his nine-fight win streak snapped by Timur Valiev last year. Prior to that, the Brazilian picked up five octagon victories, including wins over Khalid Taha and Said Nurmagomedov. He took on promotional newcomer Victor Henry on the preliminary card of UFC 270. Henry took the fight on two weeks' notice.

The duo put on a barnburner that comprised of non-stop back-and-forth action for three full rounds. Both fighters maintained an incredible pace, with Henry eventually out striking his Brazilian counterpart. The UFC debutant came away with a unanimous decision victory.

Two weeks notice? Not a problem 😀 @VictorHenryMMA takes home the W after an impressive debut! #UFC270

Their bout set a new promotional record as well. With a total of 315, Henry and Barcelos set the record for most significant strikes in a three-round bantamweight fight. UFC 267's five-round co-main event between Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen holds the record in the bantamweight division with 318.

MMA Fighting deputy editor Shaheen Al-Shatti retweeted UFC research analyst Michael Carroll's post to share the news of the record on Twitter.

"Victor Henry and Raoni Barcelos' combined 315 significant strikes were apparently the most for a three-round bantamweight fight in UFC history."

#1. Calvin Kattar vs. Giga Chikadze – UFC Vegas 46

Many believed Calvin Kattar would never be the same again following his unanimous decision loss to Max Holloway last year.

One-sided beatdowns like the one he endured against Holloway tend to leave a lasting impression on a fighter. The likes of Cody Garbrandt, Donald Cerrone, Tony Ferguson and Dominick Reyes have struggled to return to winning ways after taking a lot of damage in previous bouts.

Kattar smartly opted to take a year-long layoff following the bout. He returned to the octagon at UFC Vegas 46 to take on rising featherweight Giga Chikadze in the first main event of 2022. Chikadze was riding a seven-fight win streak and was fresh off a sensational TKO victory over Edson Barboza.

The general consensus was that this was an extremely unfavorable matchup for Kattar.

As such, he was listed on multiple betting sites as the underdog. Nevertheless, he silenced his doubters with a spectacular domination of Chikadze. The 33-year-old somewhat surprisingly outstruck his Georgian counterpart, who's an experienced kickboxer and excellent striker.

Chikadze's toughness ensured that fans were treated to a spectacular five-round stand-up war to kick off 2022. The judges scored the contest 50-44, 50-45 and 50-45 in favor of Kattar, who earned an impressive victory in what was arguably his strongest performance yet.

Doubters = π˜šπ˜π˜“π˜Œπ˜•π˜Šπ˜Œπ˜‹ 😀[ @CalvinKattar | #UFCVegas46 ]

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Edited by David Andrew
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