To kick off 2022 we gave you a handful of the most exciting prospects in MMA to keep an eye out for. Some left, some dominated, some slumped and one even gave us UFC Fight Pass Fight of the Year honors, but the one thing none of them did was disappoint.
Check out the 2022 UFC FIGHT PASS Fighters to Watch Recap!
2022 record: 0-2
Overall record: 3-2
An 0-2 record isn’t great. 3-2 isn’t great on paper, but Josh Kuhne had one of the most exciting fights of 2022, taking away Fight of the Year at Eternal MMA 65. He fell short to Dimps Gillies, but there were no losers in the fight. It’s hard to put a fighter who’s one loss away from a .500 record back in the Fighters to Watch list, but make no mistake about it, Kuhne is always one game opponent away from another Fight of the Year award.
At the moment, there are no FIGHT PASS awards for Comeback Fighter of the Year, but you can expect Kuhne to make us wish there was.
2022 record: 1-1
Overall record: 6-1
Alfonso Leyva made the jump from UWC to LFA with mixed results. After going 5-0 in Mexico, Leyva made a splash in his LFA debut, earning himself his third consecutive main event bout, where he was caught with a body kick TKO in the first round. Good news/bad news, even when Leyva loses he goes viral.
Leyva is an exciting fighter with bright lights potential and at only 30 years old, there’s plenty of time to watch the Entram product headline your favorite promotions.
2022 record: 1-0
Overall record: 9-1
What a run it has been for Paul Hughes since his CW 119 loss to Jordan Vucenic. Hughes bounced back from the sole loss of his career with enormous decision wins over James Hendin and Morgan Charriere and Hughes made his sole walk to the cage in 2022 to take back his loss from Vucenic, as well as the Cage Warriors featherweight title.
The atmosphere the fight created led to Cage Warriors 145 bringing home Event of the Year over some events that will ultimately change the landscape of combat sports.
Bo Nickal may have won Male Fighter of the Year, but nobody is flying quite as high as Paul Hughes after 2022.
2022 record: 2-1
Overall record: 12-3
Speculation was that STL’s Charles “InnerG” Johnson was likely just a win away from making his UFC debut to kick off 2022. After defeating Charles Mota in one of the best title fights in UFC FIGHT PASS history, Johnson got the call and took on one of the most feared flyweight prospects in the sport in Muhammad Mokaev. Mokaev would go on to defeat Johnson via decision, but Johnson landed his first UFC victory less than four months later.
Anybody watching from his LFA debut at LFA 100 and beyond knew it was only a matter of time until his UFC debut. Between his opponent choices, skills in the cage and on social media, it’s as if Johnson has been in the UFC for years now. He truly was a FIGHT PASS Fighter to Watch.
2022 record: 0-1
Overall record: 7-2
It was an uncharacteristically quiet year for Figlak who came into 2022 off the heels of a 3-0 2021. With the wind at his back he waited until November to take a fight with longtime veteran Jim Wallhead, where he would get caught with a right hook to put an end to his five-fight winning streak.
Look for the 7-2 prospect to return to form in 2023.
Asa Ten Pow
2022 record: 0-0
Overall record: 6-0
Did not fight in 2022.
2022 record: 1-2
Overall record: 5-2
“Twin Dragon” Josh Wang-Kim appeared to be the best kept secret in MMA in 2021 when he made his Cage Warriors debut. He made the jump to LFA in March of 2022, where he would fall victim to a DQ loss as a result of illegal elbows. After a tune up win in May, Wang-Kim earned his shot on Dana White’s Contender Series, where he would fall to Cameron Saaiman.
Wang-Kim has largely gone quiet since August, but has a fighting style that’s tailor-made for a full resurgence.
2022 record: 2-0
Overall record: 25-8-1
2022 was more of the same for LUX’s Sergio Cossio. Coming into the year, Cossio was riding a five-fight win streak with an 80% finish rate. In May, Cossio won in the final tick of the first round against Edgar Delgado Jimenez before submitting Fernando Martinez in December. For a fighter who pulled off two finishes inside the first round, it would have been nice to see another win or two, but that might just be because we can’t get enough of the LUX lightweight champion.
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