Top 12 Most Hyped UFC Fighters for 2022

Hype Train Derailed? Which UFC Fighter is Worth the Hype?

Hype Train

In the History of combat sports there has been a long string of hyped prospects and contenders. With the UFC and MMA meteorologic rise in the last 30 years, there have been some notable hyped up fighters and for good reason. When you have a fighter who has captioned: 

  • The imagination of the fans.
  • Impressed the experts and analysts.
  • As well as having the owners/investors foaming at the mouth. With how marketability and profitability this fighter may become.

When on a role it feels like this fighter becomes an unstoppable force, a Juggernaut. However for every Connor McGregor, Israel Adesanya and Jon Jones. There’s usually a CM Punk, Darren Till and Maycee Barber who reminds you of the classic Public Enemy track ‘Don’t Believe the Hype‘. OK it was a bit low to put Till and Barber in the same sentence as CM Punk. As they are still top athletes who can find themselves back to title contention with a string of good wins. However on their original ascension when winning in the promotion you heard words, such as: “Going to beat Jon Jones record as the youngest Champion” and “going to be the next Conor McGregor”. Which are two massive shoes to feel even for Sasquatch.


Thus on the eve of UFC 276, on what might be its most stacked card of the year. On one of their most important weeks of the year. ‘International Fight Week’. I thought it would only be right to publish this post especially considering 3 fighters featured are fighting on the Main Card.


I will make a straight to the point judgement on the 12 talented fighters on this post.

How likely or unlikely are they to be Champion in 18 months time?

As well as how likely or unlikely are they to suffer a defeat in the next 12 months?

Therefore here are a list of the top 12 UFC Hype Trains of 2022:


Sean O’Malley   15 – 1 – 0


‘O’Malley!’ As Hip Hop Legend Snoop Dogg once screamed out 7 times consecutively and for good reason. From his Dana White Contender series fight audition to his most recent showings. This crowd favourite has shown originality, zestful and tenacity traits in and out the octagon. He has suffered a loss to a top Contender in the weight class Chito Vera. However due to the nature of the stoppage coming from injury. It has since felt like it has been erased from the record or swept underneath the rug at the least.


UFC Champion by December 2023?

Unlikely. Careful matchmaking might get him to the dance but the top 5 has too many seasoned Killers. In most people’s opinion, including my own, fighting in combat sports, most talent-rich weight class at 135lb.


Be defeated by July 2023?

Likely. Beating Pedro Munoz this weekend which I fancy him to win in Glorious fashion. Will firmly place him in the top 10 and make him a genuine Contender in the Division. From here it won’t be so easy to fight past their best or debut fighters.


Khamzat Chimaev   11 – 0 – 0


The Wolf, from his debut bout in Fight Island to 9 days later berserking through another Challenger. Like he should be ashamed to be breathing the same as him. He looked like an unstoppable Cyborg in his first 4 UFC bouts. Then a few months ago fought the then Welterweight rank #2 fighter Gilbert Burns. On a Fight of the Year Contender over 15 rounds where he won a razor finn split decision.


UFC Champion by December 2023?

Likely. He has the physical attributes, wrestling dominance and Bravery to become a Champion in the Welterweight or Middleweight Division.


Be defeated by July 2023?

Likely. You are probably thinking I am mad but hear me out. His fight showed he is an amazing Generational talent but he isn’t a post apocalyptic machine, he’s human. His wrestling can be neutralised and he may lack making the right decisions at key parts in the fight. I feel if he is to fight a fit Kamaru Usman in the next 12 months he will suffer his first career setback.


Paddy Pimblett   18 – 3 – 0


When it comes to marketing himself, this is a man who gets it. The ‘Baddy’ has had only 2 fights in the promotion and has already crossed over to the mainstream. With his bubbly Liverpludian charisma similar to his town mate Darren Till. His gung ho style in looking for a finish also adds to his popularity. Liverpool is a huge sports supporting city who love to get behind their own and he knows it.


UFC Champion by December 2023?

Unlikely. Two things I feel are going against Paddy here is: Firstly, his fighting style may get him into more trouble than he can handle against an elite opponent. Secondly, the top 10 if not top 15 is full of elite Beast at Lightweight. Looking at the below image, I honestly can’t see him beating more than 1, possibly 2 people in that top 15.


Be defeated by July 2023?

Unlikely. Reason for this answer I don’t think it will be in the UFC’s interest to put him in a bout where it can be a 50/50 or have him as underdog anytime soon. After his UFC London fight this month I can’t see him fighting more than 3 times in the next 12 months with an in-form top 10 contender across the Octagon from him.


Tom Aspinall   12 – 2 – 0


Undefeated in the UFC winning all his fights with finishes. He has steadily passed all tests in the dangerous Heavyweight division and now finds himself headlining his second main event. This month in London against another top Contender Curtis Blades. A win can put him in Contention for a title eliminator bout for the title next.


UFC Champion by December 2023?

Likely. Reason for this decision is that he hasn’t shown any real holes in his game. Unlike what Kevin Lee once saw with Khabib in his interview on the Joe Rogan Experience. However it may depend on who he fights at the time: Francis Ngannou, may or may not still be in the promotion.


Be defeated by July 2023?

Unlikely. Tom Aspinall may have what it takes to beat the other top contenders of the division including former Champion Stipe Miocic. With a high chance of Francis Ngannou chasing a mega fight out of the promotion for mega pay. It makes his chances that much greater to stay undefeated in the promotion.


Alex Pereira   5 – 1 – 0


Former Glory Kickboxing Double Champ and a modern Legend of the striking sport. Even though he has a lack of experience in mixed martial arts and suffered a defeat in the regional circuit. He seems to be quickly and consistently improving, looking impressive in the Octagon thus far. He has been given the fast track to fight the dominant Champion of the division Israel Adesanya. Due to beating him twice in Kickboxing including handing him his only knockout defeat in all Combat sports.


UFC Champion by December 2023?

Unlikely. He has a tough fight tomorrow against a very game Sean Strickland. Who has it all to prove on the night to secure a title fight next. If by any chance he weather’s the storm of an offensive barrage by Strickland. His eagerly anticipated combat sports Trilogy bout with Adesanya isn’t an easy reward. With Adesanya needing to exact his revenge with more tools to add to their rematch.


Be defeated by July 2023?

Likely. As mentioned earlier he has two potentially tough matchups next. Even if he gets past Sean and Israel isn’t next he will probably have an elite level contender as an official title eliminator.


Bryce Mitchell   15 – 0 – 0


This talented grappler is currently #9 in the UFC featherweight rankings. Getting past a tough test in his last outing against elite striker Edson Barboza. He is genuinely himself which has made him popular with the fans and the UFC alike. After months of campaigning he made the Company go against their rules. To let him fight in custom camouflage shorts.


UFC Champion by December 2023?

Unlikely. Reason for this decision is there are so many fighters who may get a set at the title before him. However this is not to say he won’t get his shot from 2024 and beyond.


Be defeated by July 2023?

Unlikely. I feel he showed he isn’t a one trick pony by standing with the muay thai aggression of Barboza. He seems to be adding more layers to his game which is likely to help him in future fights.


Ian Garry   9 – 0 – 0


This alternate universe version of a kind Connor McGregor has made an instant impact joining the organisation. He again has a crowd friendly style which can get him into as much trouble as he dishes out. As well as he is confident that he is destined for MMA stardom. He, like O’Malley and Pereira, is fighting on this UFC 276 stacked card against another fighter on a 2 fight win streak in the promotion.


UFC Champion by December 2023?

Unlikely. He has a lot to improve in his game to get into the top 5 of this stacked weight class. Let alone fight for the title. However he is only 24 years young so time is on his side to build on his game.


Be defeated by July 2023?

Likely. His fighting style mixed with his perceived need to be admired by the MMA community. Seems to be the perfect recipe to lead to him making bad decisions in the 8 sided cage to receive his first career loss.


Shavkat Rakmonov   16 – 0 – 0


8 wins by knockout. 8 wins by submission. With his last submission win on top fighter Neil Magny. Showing an even high level game when looking for the win, a complete mixed martial artist. If this doesn’t breath almost Chimaev dominance I don’t know what does? 


UFC Champion by December 2023?

Unlikely. However likely in the year of 2024. This is mainly due to the high profile names like Colby Covington, Jorge Masvidal, Nate Diaz and Khamzat Chimaev. All floating around the top part of the division. You even have popular lightweights like Dustin Poirier and the biggest name ever in MMA Conor McGregor looking for notable fights at 170lbs.


Be defeated by July 2023?

Unlikely. He seems to be technically sound in multiple areas of mixed martial arts. It will take a top Contender or another rising star to hand him his first defeat. Maybe the next name on this list?


Sean Brady   15 – 0 – 0


Another undefeated fighter who has also climbed to a top 10 position in the UFC rankings. A good all rounder when it comes to the multiple disciplines in cage fighting. Who can make a serious contention to getting closer to title his dreams.


UFC Champion by December 2023?

Unlikely. Similar to Shavkat previously, he has so many high profile fighters above him. However if he can sneak a fight with a top and beat them like a Khamzat or Colby he may skip the congested queue to a title shot.


Be defeated by July 2023?

Unlikely. This is close and it depends on who he is matched up with in the next 12 months. Like if it is the previous hype Train then it may be likely but they are both elite talents in the division so it won’t be a shock either way who wins.


Casey O’Neill   9 – 0 – 0


We can’t do a list like this without including the ladies and Casey may prove to be a Top Girl. Even though it’s really early to see how good she really is. She is still under 25, has a win over a veteran of women MMA and has over a 100,000 followers on Instagram. Being in the Valetina Shevchenko division. Where being a fresh face and managing to get to a 5th ranking in the division can award you a title shot. She hasn’t got as much as a steep hill to get a shot at the Champion as most other fighters in different divisions.


UFC Champion by December 2023?

Unlikely. I feel we still need to see improvement if she is going to dethrone the lethal Kazakhstan Bullet. However she is really young and her ceiling may be really high too.


Be defeated by July 2023?

Likely. She may find herself fighting a top lady in the division and may come undone. However that might be a stumbling block or learning curve to take her game to new levels.


Umar Nurmagomedov   15 – 0 – 0


The great Eagle Khabib Nurmagomedov younger cousin. He also shared fighting tutelage under Khabib’s late great father. His brother Usman is in Bellator. This may make Khabib and UFC have higher aspirations for him to be a bigger star in the sport.


UFC Champion by December 2023?

Unlikely. Like Welterweight the Bantamweight has many elite fighters who carry big names to go with it. For that reason I feel he may be seen as one of the best in the division. Unfortunately will have to wait longer for his shot than others like his older cousin before him and his teammate Islam Makhachev.


Be defeated by July 2023?

Unlikely. Coming from Dagestan, it is nearly a given that he is an incredible wrestler, which he is. However in his last fight last weekend he showed excellent striking skills too. Showing off an amazing front teep kick to his opponents face. He is a Bantamweight who has the other fighters in the weight on notice.


Tai Tuivasa   15 – 3 – 0


Bam Bam, in his recent fights, has proven to be Pay Per View TV worthy. Coming from a 3 fight losing streak in the promotion. It almost seemed like he would be a fun journey man for the division. An Action Man who may be good enough to entertain you but not good enough to mount a serious challenge to the title. Hmm how many have been proven wrong. Within 15 months he has amassed 5 straight knockout wins! Which include retiring the UFC tallest fighter, the 7 foot tall Stefan Struve. To former title Challenger and KO connoisseur Derrick Lewis. Then to add to his cult following he has popularised an Australian party past time. The ‘Shoey’: Where someone pours beer into their shoe spits in it and then hands it to you to drink. Erm yeah, this has now become a global phenomenon. Well at least in the MMA hard-core circles lol.


UFC Champion by December 2023?

Likely. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I feel since his year break when he was on his 3 fight losing streak. He has ascended to a whole new level. The Champion Francis Ngannou has proven when you are weighing 265lbs. It can take a puncher’s chance to get you UFC gold around your waist. Just like the Champion, Tai has KO power!


Be defeated by July 2023?

Unlikely. If he gets past a serious Ciryl Gane, a former Hype Train who got derailed at the last Cameroon Predator stop. Then I can see him potentially having a successful 12 months.


Honourable Mentions

Now I could have made this a longer list including undefeated fighters in the UFC. However due to the lack of activity, social media presence or just that it may be too early for them to make serious noise. They just missed out on the list:

T Suarez
Tatiana Suarez 8 – 0 – 0
Muhammad Mokaev 6 – 0 – 0
Movsar Evloev 16 – 0 – 0
J Shore
Jack Shore 16 – 0 – 0
A Allen
Arnold Allen 18 – 1 – 0


Sports and Entertainment organisations and fans are always looking for that new, shiny, exciting thing. Which they can get behind or doubt all the way until that person or team shows they really are. As mentioned earlier for every failed, Derailed, hype train. You have a Francis Ngannou who was portrayed to be this unstoppable Destroyer on his first title run. To only be pacified by the then Champion Stipe, then to have a seriously lacklustre, gun shy performance against Derrick Lewis. Then with a change of coaching a pivot of mentality. He came back on a 4 fight knockout streak to knock out the same Champion who derailed him, three year previously. 

Moral of the story. If your hype is real or overhyped. Only you can determine the reality and if your Hype Train happens to be derailed off the tracks. Then like the Late, Great singer ‘Aaliyah’ once sang… ‘Try Again‘.


Did you agree with this list? 
Who would you have Added or Removed?
Feel free to let me know in the comments or feel to contact me on Twitter!


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