From Paddy Pimblett to Sean Brady, UFC newcomers in the last several years have made significant leaps as both UFC contenders and entertainers. Both 2021 and 2022 have been full of memorable performances courtesy of several UFC prospects, and as the UFC moves one step closer to closing out 2022 with a bang, here are the top UFC prospects to keep an eye on for the back half of 2022.
There are a total of six highly-notable UFC prospects who are scheduled to appear in the octagon in the coming months. Many are already ranked and will find themselves in formidable positions in their respective weight classes if they are victorious.
Of the six, the most notable is Khamzat Chimaev, who is scheduled to face fan favorite Nate Diaz at UFC 279, and is likely one win away from a UFC title shot. However, he will most likely find himself waiting for Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman to have their trilogy bout before fighting for the UFC welterweight championship.
A dominant win for Chimaev will undoubtedly launch the No. 3-ranked welterweight into newfound superstardom. Chimaev is already incredibly popular with MMA fans and has thus far proven he is capable of competing against the best welterweights in the world. His rookie cards and autos are already selling at champion level prices and will only continue to go up with every win.
September marks the appearance of another top contender in Song Yadong. The 24-year-old bantamweight prospect has compiled a three-fight win streak and is now the No. 10-ranked bantamweight in the world. Yadong will face his toughest test in Cory Sandhagen on September 17. A win over Sandhagen could possibly launch Yadong into top contender status. His rookie cards are featured in 2020 Topps UFC, but he is still relatively unknown by many collectors. For those who believe in the Chinese contender, now could be an ideal time to get into his cards.
October 22 features perhaps the most anticipated card of the year. UFC 280 features two title fights and several notable contenders including Sean O’Malley, Sean Brady, Manon Fiorot, and Mateusz Gamrot. O’Malley has been a fan favorite since his debut on Dana White’s Contender Series.
While his ceiling as a top bantamweight contender is questionable, he will certainly have the chance to prove his doubters wrong by taking on Petr Yan. Yan is the top-ranked contender and former champion at 135, and a win for O’Malley will undeniably put him on the short list for a title shot.
Brady and Gamrot will face Belal Muhammad and Beneil Dariush, respectively. Both are two of the most sought-after rookies in the 2022 UFC sets, and they continue to climb in the eyes of collectors. A win for both could lead to a top-five ranking in their respective weight classes.
Fiorot will face the top women’s flyweight in Kaitlyn Chookagian. Due to Valentina Shevchenko’s dominance, Fiorot is on the short list for potential title challengers, and a win over Chookagian will only strengthen that claim. Fiorot is also featured in the 2022 UFC sets and is widely considered one of the most notable contenders in female mixed martial arts.
Just a week later, the UFC returns to the Apex Center for a Fight Night that features one of the most prolific contenders in the featherweight division. Ilia Topuria has been nothing short of entertaining in his first four UFC fights. He’s compiled a perfect 12-0 record which includes a 91.6% finishing rate. He possesses knockout power, is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and is only 25 years old.
Topuria will face long-time contender Edson Barboza, who will be his toughest test to date. Despite Barboza’s durability and experience, Topuria’s raw power and youth could allow him to win in impressive fashion. Topuria is already one of the most sought-after rookies in 2022 releases and will only continue to rise in the eyes of collectors with a successful performance on October 29.
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