While the UFC saw several of its fighters climb their way to the peak of the MMA mountain in 2022, that was not the reality for everyone. Other than Khabib Nurmagomedov, no fighter wins throughout their entire career. Fighters encounter the occasional roadblock during their MMA journey.
However, these roadblocks rarely constitute disappointment. Sometimes a fighter is simply caught on the wrong end of a striking exchange and they become the victim of a flash KO. In other instances, fighters might simply encounter a bad stylistic matchup. This, however, rarely comes at the cost of a fighter's reputation.
Unfortunately, 2022 has had some disappointing performances from UFC stars. The manner in which they performed and the context surrounding the bout or series of bouts must be taken into account, but this list details five of the most disappointing stars from 2022.
#5. Rose Namajunas, UFC strawweight
Rose Namajunas has had a 2022 that she is likely keen to forget. The former UFC strawweight titleholder faced Carla Esparza at UFC 274 in a rematch that was nearly eight years in the making. Both fighters underwent significant improvements since their initial clash, and 'Thug Rose' was expected to win.
What ensued was a fight that both fans and analysts decried as one of the most boring fights in MMA history. The two women refused to engage, causing them to set a record for the lowest number of combined strikes in a five-round fight. Namajunas, a beloved WMMA star, landed 38 strikes in a losing effort.
Meanwhile, Esparza landed 30 strikes of her own. It was especially grating for fans given 'Thug Rose's' clear ability to counter her foe's wrestling. Even so, she allowed her fear of the takedown to freeze her into inaction. Her conduct after the bout infuriated fans as she claimed she should have won due to good defense.
#4. Paddy Pimblett, UFC lightweight
Paddy Pimblett fought thrice in 2022. His efforts in his two opening bouts received widespread praise due to his exciting fighting style. However, there were still some concerns. Despite being a finisher, 'The Baddy' always seems to be at risk of being finished due to his poor defensive striking.
He often keeps his hands low and his chin overexposed. Towards the end of the year at UFC 282, the Scouser faced Jared Gordon. As a fighter who many hope will become a top contender in the lightweight division, 'The Baddy' was expected to defeat his foe.
Instead, Pimblett was outstruck and outgrappled by an unranked opponent. His limitations as a fighter were on full display as he ran into countless check hooks. It was not the look of a future champion in the promotion. Yet, the judges somehow scored the bout in his favor, stunning both fans and fighters alike.
Not only was Pimblett awarded the win, he was awarded a unanimous decision. Cries of a robbery were abundant, but 'The Baddy' scoffed at any claims that the fight was closely contested, let alone controversial. It soured the fans as talk of him being delusional became abundant in what became an unfitting end to his year.
#3. Tony Ferguson, UFC lightweight
Tony Ferguson has been on the decline for two years now. At 38 years old, in one of the most stacked divisions in the UFC, it's only natural. It happens to everyone and it's simply a product of the aging process that everyone undergoes at some point. But it's been heartbreaking for fans to watch.
The owner of one of the longest win streaks in lightweight history is suddenly incapable of securing a single win. At UFC 274, it looked like he turned back the clock against Michael Chandler only to suffer the first KO of his career. He became part of the former Bellator fighter's highlight reel.
Given the UFC's perceived superiority over Bellator, it must have stung the former UFC interim lightweight champion. Then at UFC 279, he lost to Nate Diaz. While both fighters were over-the-hill, 'El Cucuy' should have never lost to Stockton's finest. At their peak, both men were on completely different levels.
Yet, at UFC 279, he suffered his first-ever submission loss in the promotion to a fighter who hadn't previously tasted victory since 2019. Now on a five-fight losing streak, it was more than a disappointing year for Ferguson.
#2. Jorge Masvidal, UFC welterweight
Jorge Masvidal has eroded all of the goodwill he once had with fans. In 2022, he became everything he once accused Conor McGregor of being. His only fight this year was against former best friend Colby Covington. At one point, the two men trained under Dan Lambert on the American Top Team.
However, after a rift developed, there was no turning back. At UFC 272, they sought to settle their differences. While 'Gamebred' managed to drop his foe towards the end of the bout, he was dominated by 'Chaos' for most of it. He was gasping for air and too exhausted to do much else.
Covington was declared the winner and Masvidal was handed his third consecutive loss. After the bout, he was arrested for suckerpunching his foe, a man that he once described as cowardly. The irony of the incident received significant mockery from fans.
Afterwards, 'Gamebred' began rejecting fight offers despite calling out certain foes. Furthermore, he began demanding a title fight from newly crowned champion Leon Edwards despite being on a three-fight losing streak. He used his history with 'Rocky' as justification for the bout.
This was especially egregious given his prior refusal to fight Edwards despite multiple challenges from the latter. It's been an enormous fall from grace for a fighter that had incredible starpower just three years ago.
#1. Darren Till, UFC middleweight
Darren Till is in a tough spot. He went from being a title challenger in the welterweight division to losing so frequently he's now the No.15-ranked fighter at middleweight. It's an enormous decline that has nothing to do with age. The Englishman has dealt with a slew of injury problems.
They've kept him from competing regularly. Whenever he does fight, he looks like a shell of his former self, likely due to his poor lifestyle choices. He has lost five of his last six fights, with his only win coming against Kelvin Gastelum. Unfortunately, Kelvin Gastelum is no longer a quality win, as he has also lost five of his last six.
After bout cancelations due to yet more injury plagues, 'The Gorilla' finally stepped inside the octagon after a yearlong absence. His opponent was Dricuss du Plessis. Prior to the bout, the former EFC middleweight champion had a takedown success rate of 18%.
But against Darren Till, he completed every single one of his takedowns en route to defeating him with a face crank. Following the disappointing loss, there seems to be no other route for 'The Gorilla' other than to start facing unranked foes.