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Highlights

The Fighters | 2022 Half-Year Awards

The highly unofficial half-year awards season concludes with our picks for the best fighters of the first half of 2022…

5 (Tie) - Khamzat Chimaev

Khamzat Chimaev of Russia reacts after his decision victory over Gilbert Burns of Brazil in their welterweight fight during the UFC 273 event

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - APRIL 09: Khamzat Chimaev of Russia reacts after his decision victory over Gilbert Burns of Brazil in their welterweight fight during the UFC 273 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 09, 2022 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC


One of the most talked about fighters to hit the Octagon in years, Khamzat Chimaev tore through his first four UFC opponents in a brutally efficient manner. Then Gilbert Burns showed up and their UFC 273 bout wasn’t just one of the best fights of 2022, but proof that “Borz” wasn’t just a frontrunner, but a fighter who could dig deep when he needed to. And he got to keep his perfect pro record in the process.

5 (Tie) – Kevin Holland

Kevin Holland prepares to fight Alex Oliveira of Brazil in their welterweight fight during the UFC 272 event on March 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 05: Kevin Holland prepares to fight Alex Oliveira of Brazil in their welterweight fight during the UFC 272 event on March 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


After a rough end to his run at middleweight that saw him go 0-2 with 1 no contest, Kevin Holland needed a change. He found it 15 pounds south in the welterweight division, where he scored a pair of Performance of the Night finishes over Alex Oliveira and Tim Means in 2022.

4 – Shavkat Rakhmonov

Shavkat Rakhmonov of Kazakhstan celebrates his victory over Alex Oliveira of Brazil in their welterweight bout during the UFC 254 event on October 24, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 24: Shavkat Rakhmonov of Kazakhstan celebrates his victory over Alex Oliveira of Brazil in their welterweight bout during the UFC 254 event on October 24, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)


It’s hard to come out of nowhere when you have a 16-0 pro record that includes four UFC wins (and finishes), but that’s just what Shavkat Rakhmonov has done this year thanks to a highlight reel knockout of Carlston Harris and a submission of veteran contender Neil Magny. Those victories earned “Nomad” two Performance of the Night bonuses and elite status in the welterweight division.

3 – Alexander Volkanovski

Alexander Volkanovski of Australia celebrates his win in the UFC featherweight championship fight during the UFC 276 event

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 02: Alexander Volkanovski of Australia celebrates his win in the UFC featherweight championship fight during the UFC 276 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 02, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


While he’s number three here, Alexander Volkanovski has to be seen as the frontrunner for 2022 Fighter of the Year after a win over Max Holloway that came in after the cutoff for these half-year awards. So why is the featherweight champ here? Only an MMA Master Class against Chan Sung Jung in April. If you’re still doubting Alexander “The Great,” you’re just not paying attention.

2 – Jiri Prochazka

Jiri Prochazka knees Glover Teixeira at UFC 275

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - JUNE 12: (R-L) Jiri Prochazka of Czech Republic knees Glover Teixeira of Brazil in the UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 275 event at Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 12, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


To get a title shot in your third UFC fight is impressive. To win that title puts you on this list, and that’s just what Jiri Prochazka did at UFC 275, winning one of the best championship fights you’re going to see against Glover Teixeira. It was a fight that showed Prochazka isn’t just a knockout artist, but an MMA fighter with grit, determination, and the ability to stay on top for a long time.

1 – Charles Oliveira

Charles Oliveira of Brazil prepares to fight Justin Gaethje in the UFC lightweight championship fight during the UFC 274 event

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - MAY 07: Charles Oliveira of Brazil prepares to fight Justin Gaethje in the UFC lightweight championship fight during the UFC 274 event at Footprint Center on May 07, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


Just like Alexander Volkanovski, Charles Oliveira has had plenty of doubters circling him since he won the UFC lightweight title in 2021, and while “Do Bronx” doesn’t have that belt anymore because he missed weight for his UFC 274 title defense against Justin Gaethje, by submitting Gaethje in the first round that May night in Phoenix, he proved that at 155 pounds, he is still the king…even without a crown.

VOTERS – James Cooney, Thomas Gerbasi, Christoph Goessing, E. Spencer Kyte, Steve Latrell, Zac Pacleb, Gavin Porter