This is one of those months where doing a series like this is extremely difficult because there are too many outstanding matchups and intriguing pairings on tap.
I don’t say that in a “please feel sorry for me having to choose” sense, but rather that I would genuinely like to be able to acknowledge every single fight that piques my interest over the month ahead, and to do so would turn The 10 into The 37 or The 42 and that’s just too big of a piece.
The one saving grace here is that early in the build to each of these fight cards, you’ll get the Fight-By-Fight Preview, which goes in-depth on all the bouts slated to hit the Octagon that week, so in addition to spotlighting the cream of the crop here, we’ve got you covered ahead of each individual card as well.
Order UFC 276: Adesanya vs Cannonier | How To Watch In Your Country
I feel like we’re going to have some magical moments over the next five events, and these are the fights with the greatest likelihood of leaving you gobsmacked and giddy about what transpires.
This is the July 2022 edition of The 10.
UFC 276 (Saturday, July 2 — Las Vegas, NV)
Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier
Adesanya is the middleweight champion, undefeated within the division, and sporting just a single loss over the course of his career, which came when he ventured up in weight to challenge for the UFC light heavyweight title.
Main Event Preview | UFC 276: Adesanya vs Cannonier
Main Event Preview | UFC 276: Adesanya vs Cannonier
Cannonier is a former heavyweight who made a pit stop at light heavyweight before settling into the 185-pound ranks and fighting his way to the top of the list of contenders. He’s explosive, powerful, and intensely focused, and will look to do what five men before him could not on Saturday night: dethrone “The Stylebender.”
This is one of those fascinating fights that could genuinely play out in any number of ways, none of which would be surprising. We say that all the time in the build to fights, but there are usually only a couple ways each matchup will shake out, but with this one? Everything is on the table — a flash knockout on either side early, a technical master class from the champion, a grueling dogfight forced by the challenger, and everything in between.
MORE UFC 276: Fight by Fight Preview | Fully Loaded | Significant Stats | Fighters On The Rise | Five Reasons To Watch UFC 276Do not miss this fight on Saturday night!
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway
Some trilogies are good. Some trilogies are bad. This one has the chance to go down as the greatest of all-time…
Volkanovski has landed on the favorable side of the results in each of his first two encounters with Holloway, winning the title from the Hawaiian by unanimous decision at UFC 245 before retaining the strap with a split decision win at UFC 251. Since then, he’s turned in dominant title defenses against top contenders Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung to solidify his place atop the featherweight division.
All Holloway has done since that frustrating, narrow defeat on Fight Island is hand high-volume beatings to Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez to force this third date with Volkanovski. “Blessed” (and many others) believes he’s still the best in the 145-pound ranks, and you can be sure he’s going to look to prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt this weekend.
There is no way this fight disappoints; the first two were too good and the rivals are just too focused on making it clear, once and for all, that they are the better man. This one could be a Fight of the Year contender once it’s all said and done.
Pedro Munhoz vs. Sean O’Malley
Since he burst onto the scene with his highlight reel win on the inaugural season of Dana White’s Contender Series, people have been tuning in to watch “The Sugar Show” and thus far, O’Malley has largely delivered.
With seven wins in eight appearances, including three straight victories heading into this one, the 27-year-old emerging bantamweight has patiently worked his way into the Top 15 in arguably the deepest division in the UFC, working behind a strong blend of striking and movement that has produced a Performance of the Night bonus in each of his last five victories.
But the question has always been “How will he do once he faces a real step-up in competition?” and that’s exactly what Munhoz represents.
UFC EMBEDDED: Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5
The 35-year-old Brazilian has been a Top 15 fixture for the majority of his UFC career, holds victories over former champ Cody Garbrandt, Rob Font, and Jimmie Rivera, and carries a full toolbox with him into the Octagon at all times. Though he’s coming in off consecutive losses, those were against top contenders, and he remains the most experienced and dangerous opponent O’Malley has faced to date.
This one should provide some clarity as to where the flamboyant finisher fits within the bantamweight ranks at the moment, and has the potential to be a volatile affair on Saturday’s pay-per-view main card.
UFC Vegas 58 (Saturday, July 9 — Las Vegas, NV)
Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev
“The Battle of the Rafaels” is a perfect piece of matchmaking, as it offers both men the exact opportunity they need at this moment.
For the former champion Dos Anjos, who returned to the 155-pound ranks with a win over Paul Felder towards the end of 2020 and earned a quality win over Renato Moicano in March, it’s a chance to face a dangerous ascending fighter and demonstrate that he’s still very much in the thick of the chase in the division he once ruled.
On the other side of the coin, Fiziev gets the opportunity to face a former titleholder and tenured veteran, one with a wealth of experience and a pair of solid wins in his last two appearances. After dropping his promotional debut, “Ataman” has collected five straight wins, most recently stopping Brad Riddell last December, and now he gets the chance to take another step forward by facing off with Dos Anjos.
Don't Miss Any UFC Fight Night:Dos Anjos vs Fiziev
Lightweight is always one of the most active and competitive divisions in the UFC and the second half of this year should bring a lot of movement and marquee fights within the division. While the winner of this one will still need a couple more wins before challenging for championship gold, they will certainly be looking at another big-time opportunity in the back half of the 2022 campaign.
UFC Long Island (Saturday, July 16 — Elmont, NY)
Brian Ortega vs. Yair Rodriguez
A couple weeks after Volkanovski and Holloway settle things at the top of the division, these two Top 5 talents will close out the show at the new UBS Arena on Long Island and it is going to be electric.
Ortega hasn’t fought since his loss to the current champ last September, but even in a fight that ended with him getting swept on the scorecards, Ortega had a couple moments where if he was facing pretty much anyone else, he’s probably walking out with gold around his waist. His two career setbacks came against the men competing in the UFC 276 co-main event — two of the greatest featherweights of all time — and he’s shown throughout his career that he’s guaranteed excitement every time he steps into the Octagon.
Rodriguez went to battle with Holloway last November, landing on the wrong side of the results in a Fight of the Night-winning battle. He’s still only 29 years old and undeniably one of the most inventive, dynamic strikers in all of the lighter weight classes, if not the entire UFC, which makes him a perfect dance partner for the equally creative and ever-dangerous Ortega midway through the month.
Featherweight has been front and center for the last couple weeks between the Emmett-Kattar clash, the UFC 276 title bout, and then this fight (plus the one below it, too!) and what happens in this one will have a big impact on how things line up at the top of the division into the fall and winter.
Shane Burgos vs. Charles Jourdain
What happens when you put two competitors that are allergic to boring fights and looking to make a real statement in an already loaded, action-packed division in the Octagon together?
We’re going to find out when these two throw down on Strong Island!
Burgos, who was born in the Bronx and now resides in Monroe, New York, is 14-3 for his career, 7-3 in the UFC, and has banked four Fight of the Night bonuses. He’s a high-volume, high-pressure boxer who is happy to take one to land one, and has only been bested by Kattar, Emmett, and Edson Barboza.
The 26-year-old Jourdain appears to be taking a step forward after an uneven start to his UFC career. While he registered an eye-opening knockout win over Dooho Choi in South Korea in his second UFC start, Jourdain headed into his December clash with Andre Ewell sporting a 2-2-1 record in the Octagon.
Athlete Profiles: Shane Burgos | Charles Jourdain
After punctuating that performance with a “Spartan Kick” at the horn, the former two-division TKO champion made quick work of Lando Vannata last time out, locking up a nasty high-elbow guillotine to really announce his presence as one to watch in the 145-pound weight class.
Both men are hell on wheels when they’re fighting other people, so it’s only fair to assume that putting them into the Octagon together is going to produce a wonderfully chaotic affair that people won’t be able to take their eyes off.
Ricky Simon vs. Jack Shore
Bantamweight is flush with talent, and making headway in the ultra-competitive division is difficult, which is why terrific matchups between emerging Top 15 talents like this one have to be included here.
Simon has rattled off four straight victories heading into his meeting with Shore in New York, most recently earning a second-round knockout win over Raphael Assuncao that finally carried him into the rankings. The DWCS alum is 7-2 in the Octagon, holds a win over hard-charging contender Merab Dvalishvili, and has to be viewed as a dark horse in the division heading into this one.
Athlete Profiles: Ricky Simon | Jack Shore
Through a dozen amateur bouts and 16 professional appearances, Shore has never lost, not once. There hasn’t been an off-night that cost him, a time he just got clipped, or a matchup that was a little too difficult for him at that moment. It’s 28 up, 28 down for the grinder from Abertillery, Wales, and if he keeps that streak intact through this clash with Simon, you’re going to hear more people talking about “that undefeated Welsh kid that looks like a real handful.”
This is one of those matchups where each man is going to have to be at his best because stylistically, they kind of cancel one another out on paper, which should lead to a competitive, back-and-forth battle once they’re standing across the Octagon from one another later this month.
UFC London (Saturday, July 23 — London, UK)
Curtis Blaydes vs. Tom Aspinall
Tom Aspinall's Win Streak | UFC London
Tom Aspinall's Win Streak | UFC London
Who doesn’t love a Top 5 heavyweight pairing?
Blaydes cemented his place in the divisional hierarchy with a second-round knockout victory over Chris Daukaus in March, giving him back-to-back wins, six victories in his last seven fights, and 16 wins in 20 career starts. His hands are quickly catching up to his already elite grappling skills, making him an even more dangerous threat, and the perfect test for the ascending British heavyweight he meets in London later this month.
All Aspinall has done to this point in his UFC career is finish fights in impressive fashion. A week before Blaydes dropped Daukaus, the Team Kaobon man tapped out Alexander Volkov in the first round, sending the crowd at the O2 Arena into hysterics and pushing his record to 5-0 with five finishes since matriculating to the UFC.
Aspinall has looked the part of a championship threat thus far, and this date with Blaydes will help clarify if he’s ready to join the division’s elite class right now or if he still needs a little more seasoning. These are two of the more dynamic talents in the division, and this should be a corker to close out the UFC’s second trip to London this year.
UFC 277 (Saturday, July 30 — Dallas, TX)
Julianna Pena vs. Amanda Nunes
Pena shocked the MMA world by securing a second-round stoppage finish over Nunes to claim the title last December, doing exactly what she said she would do en route to defeating “The Lioness.” Now she has to do it again in order to truly cement her standing as the top fighter in the 135-pound weight class.
Athlete Profiles: Julianna Peña | Amanda Nunes
Nunes started well, but faded fast in that initial encounter, gassing out and tapping out in her first bantamweight appearance in two years. She’s since severed ties with American Top Team and struck out on her own, so it will be really interesting to see whether there is some added ferocity from the former champion heading into this one as she looks to show what transpired at UFC 269 was an anomaly, and not an indicator that her best days are behind her.
These two don’t like each other, and Pena operates with a permanent chip on her shoulder, despite being the champion, which ratchets up the excitement and anticipation for this one. The first fight left people picking their jaws up off the floor and only time will tell if the second will deliver something similar.
Brandon Moreno vs. Kai Kara-France
With Deiveson Figueiredo sidelined with a finger injury, Moreno and Kara-France will share the cage at UFC 277 in a battle for the interim flyweight title.
Moreno lost the title back to Figueiredo in January, landing on the unhappy side of the scorecards in another close, competitive fight between the flyweight rivals. He parted ways with his long-time crew at Tijuana’s Entram Gym following the contest, setting up shop with James Krause and the Glory MMA & Fitness crew, which means we could see some interesting new wrinkles from the former champion this time around.
After showing why his nickname is “Don’t Blink” in 2021 with knockout wins over Rogerio Bontorin and Cody Garbrandt, Kara-France kicked off his 2022 campaign by handing Askar Askarov the first loss of his professional career in March, edging out the previously undefeated Russian contender in a competitive battle. The City Kickboxing man feels like he’s peaking at the right moment, and if he can maintain his momentum through this one, he’ll bring more championship gold back to New Zealand.
These two have already faced off with one another at UFC 245, with Moreno earning a unanimous decision win with scores of 29-28, 30-27, and 29-28. That familiarity, combined with their recent results and the championship stakes makes this a tremendously compelling penultimate pairing at UFC 277 on July 30.