Conor McGregor Updates On Injury Recovery, Likelihood Of Diaz Trilogy, Kamaru Usmans Many Holes

Predictions either leave you looking like a mystic or a moron but Sportsmail have decided to take the risk... 

In the chaotic and at times erratic world of the UFC, it could be even more of a fool's errand but who knows, one or two might even come off. 

So what will 2022 bring? Can Britain fill the Michael Bisping-shaped hole with a second champion from these shores? Is Conor McGregor going to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and will Kamaru Usman stay on top of the mountain as pound-for-pound No 1?  

 

Who will be the breakthrough star? 

In this category I am discounting fighters already making a name for themselves in the UFC, the likes of Tom Aspinall, who could have a huge 2022 but is already on the radar of most fight fans. 

Ian Garry, with his first round KO to back up the hype on debut is also worth an honorable mention but his exposure at Madison Square Garden means he has already 'broken through' to some extent. 

Muhammad Mokaev could well be the man. 

Muhammad Mokaev could be the man to make a real name for himself in the next year

Muhammad Mokaev could be the man to make a real name for himself in the next year

The Dagestani-born, Wigan-raised prospect recently signed with the UFC and many believe he could go all the way in the flyweight division. 

He has tremendous amateur experience, remains undefeated in the pro ranks and combines the great wrestling base you'd expect from any Dagestani with some high quality striking. 

Mokaev is still just 21 years-old and regards himself as a smaller version of Khabib Nurmagomedov. 

He is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster and that says a great deal about the talent and potential here. 

A debut is yet to be announced but with the UFC returning to London in March - Covid permitting - it seems likely that the rising star will make his first appearance there.  

Mokaev (left) has the striking and wrestling abilities to trouble anyone in the cage

Mokaev (left) has the striking and wrestling abilities to trouble anyone in the cage

 

Which champions will be dethroned?

Glover Teixeira looks vulnerable having become the second oldest UFC champion in history by beating Jan Blachowicz to the light-heavyweight crown. 

The Brazilian capped off an incredible story by having gold wrapped around his waist but surely, at 42 and having acheived his dream, time has to catch up at some point. 

There are young, hungry contenders such as Jiri Prochazka coming through and I'm backing the powerful 29-year-old Czech to end next year as the champion.

Glover Teixeira became champion aged 42 but it is a tough ask to stay at the top for him

Glover Teixeira became champion aged 42 but it is a tough ask to stay at the top for him 

It seems mad to back against Francis Ngannou at heavyweight but I'm doing just that. If Ciryl Gane doesn't get him in January, one of Stipe Miocic or Jon Jones will. 

Gane knows him inside out from their time as sparring partners, Miocic knows exactly what he did wrong last time and is desperate for a trilogy and Jones, arguably the greatest ever, is waiting in the wings for his heavyweight debut. 

If Ngannou can come through all that he'll seem indestructible. 

Aljamain Sterling will lose his belt to Petr Yan, with the formidable Russian just too slick an operator not to regain his title after the disqualification earlier this year. 

And Brandon Moreno is not going to summit his Everest a second time. Deiveson Figueiredo will exact revenge on the UFC 270 card at the start of the year. 

Aljamain Sterling (left) won the belt after Petr Yan (right) was disqualified in March this year

Aljamain Sterling (left) won the belt after Petr Yan (right) was disqualified in March this year 

 

Redemption for McGregor?

The Irishman has admitted this year has been the toughest, specifically being forced to watch from the sidelines as he recovers from a broken leg. 

But this is not the end for McGregor, not even close. There are those who would have you believe he will only be matched with the likes of Nate Diaz now, so called 'soft' fights rather than the crème de la crème at lightweight. 

The competitive animal that he is, McGregor won't allow that to be the lasting memory from his career but he is undoubtedly at a crossroads. 

Conor McGregor is battling the long road back from breaking his leg in July

Conor McGregor is battling the long road back from breaking his leg in July 

There are of course huge fights out there and he is only ever one fight from a title shot, despite being ranked No 9. 

Michael Chandler seems the most likely opponent for his return. It would be a hugely dangerous fight in all areas but a win there would show there is still life in the old dog yet. 

It would be no surprise at all to see McGregor, embarrassed by his two defeats by Poirier, secure a third fight with 'Diamond', this time for the belt. 

What a story that would be but Islam Makhachev is likely to get in the way. The Dagestani will end next year as the champion...

McGregor has pledged a comeback next spring and thinks he will fight for the title

McGregor has pledged a comeback next spring and thinks he will fight for the title

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King Kamaru to stay at No 1? 

Leon Edwards is waiting in the wings for his title shot and unless he is usurped by one of his competitors, should get it in the coming months. 

But Usman has proved himself as the pound-for-pound No 1 for a reason. His last few title defences have been on a different level to anything the Brit has faced before and he is likely to come up short. 

The only man with a really strong chance of beating Usman next year, is Khamzat Chimaev. 

Kamaru Usman is enjoying the trappings of his success at the top of the pound-for-pound list

Kamaru Usman is enjoying the trappings of his success at the top of the pound-for-pound list

The Cechen-born Swede is the real deal and matches up superbly, with great wrestling and a fearsome striking game we've only seen glimpses of. 

The UFC are struggling to find opponents for him at the moment but if everyone keeps ducking, don't be surprised if Dana White and Co give him a title shot anyway.

It is such a tough call given Usman's utter dominance... but Chimaev will end the year as champion and the UFC's next megastar.  

Khamzat Chimaev is on a seemingly unstoppable rise that will see him fight for the title

Khamzat Chimaev is on a seemingly unstoppable rise that will see him fight for the title

 

Tom Aspinall to fight for the title 

Britain could have a first heavyweight champion on their hands. 

Aspinall has been keen to play down his progress and take his route step by step as he develops along the way. 

But he has everything in his arsenal to reach the top. I would not go as far as saying that the 28-year-old will finish 2022 with the belt but it would be no surprise to see him in a title fight. 

He is currently ranked No 10 but if he fights and wins in London next March and takes another big name in the summer, there's every chance that he will be right in the mix to take on the champion, whoever that might be. 

If 2022 comes too soon, a title fight next spring in the UK would be magnificent.  

Tom Aspinall has been sensational so far and the heavyweight is ranked No 10 at the moment

Tom Aspinall has been sensational so far and the heavyweight is ranked No 10 at the moment

Aspinall's early career victims include Andrei Arlovski after their bout in February

Aspinall's early career victims include Andrei Arlovski after their bout in February

 

The best 'Ultimate Fighter' series ever

The Ultimate Fighter has been called a tired old concept by some, and it has been around for 29 seasons. 

But the entertainment largely boils down to which fighters are coaching their teams and will lock horns themselves at the end of the series. 

Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington have been widely touted as the next in line and that would promise real fireworks.  

The pair used to be close friends and team-mates before Covington left the gym and they are now bitter rivals. 

Jorge Masvidal (pictured) and Colby Covington are now rivals after they were previously training partners Covington recently lost to Usman in their rematch

Jorge Masvidal (left) and Colby Covington would be perfect coaches in The Ultimate Fighter 

Masvidal and Covington have never fought professionally but the match-up is a logical one to make now with both having lost to Kamaru Usman in the previous few months. 

They have a huge following and remain two of the UFC's biggest pay-per-view stars. 

Even though Dana White's Contender Series is the new kid on the block in terms of the UFC's reality TV output, this coaching duo could make for a classic series and reinvigorate it.   

 

A return for Jon Jones

Next February will mark two years since Jon Jones last fought. 

There have been contract disputes, legal issues and all the usual Jones activities but surely 2022 must be the year he comes back. 

He has been bulking up to heavyweight for what seems like an eternity and talking a good game on Twitter but next year will be the acid test. 

Jon Jones should make his step up to heavyweight after almost two years out of action

Jon Jones should make his step up to heavyweight after almost two years out of action 

Stipe Miocic recently revealed he will be holding talks with the UFC in the near future about upcoming opponents and this is a fight that makes sense. 

The greatest heavyweight of all time against the greatest light-heavyweight. It sells itself and the winner clearly has the next title shot. 

'Bones' could really announce himself and go on a run that leaves the argument about the greatest to ever do it beyond discussion.

If he manages to stay out of trouble, which is a monumental if, 2022 will be his year.  

Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/mma/article-10267219/Conor-McGregor-come-Kamaru-Usman-lost-title-Sportsmail-predictions-2022.html

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A 21-year-old Brit will be the breakthrough star, this is NOT the end of Conor McGregor as he prepares for another comeback, and pound-for-pound king Kamaru Usman will be ...

Source:Daily Mail

A 21-year-old Brit will be the breakthrough star, this is NOT the end of Conor McGregor as he prepares for another comeback, and pound-for-pound king Kamaru Usman will be ...

Conor McGregor’s pub in Dublin targeted with Molotov cocktails

Source:Yahoo

Conor McGregor’s pub in Dublin targeted with Molotov cocktails

Conor McGregor’s pub in Dublin targeted with Molotov cocktails

Source:Yahoo News

Conor McGregor’s pub in Dublin targeted with Molotov cocktails