UFC FIGHT PASS athletes made for some of the biggest UFC moments in 2021. Whether it was Alex Pereira’s debut, Paddy Pimblett finally coming over to the UFC, or Chris Barnett’s wheel kick and front flip celebration, they all made a name for themselves on FIGHT PASS long before impressing the masses in the Octagon.
With so many homegrown names now in the UFC, does FIGHT PASS have any big names left?
Oh yeah. We’re barely scratching the surface. Here are some more fighters to watch for in 2022!
Charles Johnson – LFA
St. Louis standout Charles Johnson has been an LFA staple since LFA 21, all the way back in 2017. He has a 5-1 record with the promotion, with his only loss coming to UFC flyweight contender Brandon Royval, and three of his wins coming in 2021.
He’s become a finishing machine, and after stepping away from MMA to get some professional boxing matches under his belt, “InnerG” has been on a tear.
His LFA 114 win over Joao Camilo may have lacked the aggression we’re used to seeing from Johnson but he got the W and the 125-pound interim belt in the process. Expect to see Charles Johnson bounce back in much more violent fashion.
He’s the LFA flyweight champ, he’s experienced, but at 30 years old (hours away from 31 as of this publish date) it’s now or never for Johnson to turn all the right heads.
Mateusz Figlak – Cage Warriors
Poland has done it again.
Polish fighters have always seemed to fare well in MMA and Mateusz Figlak is no exception.
Figlak has some of the most blunt, painful striking in Cage Warriors and a Fight IQ that has him in dominant positions seemingly every round of every fight.
In 2021, Mateusz went from Cage Warriors prelims to a main card featured bout. In his final bout of the year, Figlak dominated from start to finish, being robbed only by not landing a single 10-8 round. Win or not, Figlak’s three-fight finish streak was broken and it’s likely he’ll be even more hungry for the finish in his first couple bouts of 2022.
Figlak’s brother Mike is also a force to be reckoned with at 7-0, but it’s Mateusz’s propensity to finish opponents that lands him a spot on the list. Keep an eye out for sibling rivalry!
Alexa Yanes – Grappling
All the talk of the UFC FIGHT PASS Invitational SuperFights was on Danielle Kelly and her #5 No-Gi ranking and Alexa Yanes seemingly came from out of nowhere and took the decision win back to San Antonio.
She may not have literally “come from out of nowhere,” as Yanes has more than a few BJJ matches to her name, but it was her first SuperFight spotlight, and while she won’t put down the Danielle Kellys of the world 10 times out of 10, expect to see Yanes do some damage to some of your favorite UFC women if the matches present themselves.
Asa Ten Pow – Titan FC
Record: 1-0 (1)
Asa Ten Pow was one of the most dominant kickboxers of all-time for GLORY Kickboxing, and he decided at 31 years old that it was time to transition from ring to cage.
Ten Pow’s MMA debut may have been a little too dominant, with the severely under-experienced and under-sized Earnest Walls stepping in short notice, only to have Ten Pow dominate the fight without trying to dominate the fight as much as he was.
He would win with ease and take a slight step up in competition at Titan FC 73 when he took on 42-year-old Chris Roman. Ten Pow landed a pair of shots miles out of Roman’s comfort zone before a pretty blatant knee to a downed opponent.
Commentators and fans both questioned the legitimacy of Roman’s inability to come back to his feet, but regardless, the night ended with Ten Pow moving to a 1-0 (1) record.
We’ve still never seen Ten Pow actually tested but with fights still left in his Titan FC contract, 2022 will be a big year for Ten Pow, who is vocal about his UFC aspirations.
Josh Wang-Kim – Cage Warriors
Just when you think you’ve seen all the UFC-ready fighters in the regional promotions, Cage Warriors goes and finds Josh Wang-Kim.
Wang-Kim pulled off the fancy anime-esque cartwheel when his name was being announced at CW 130. Eh, a lot of people do that. But what he did throughout the rest of the fight, very few people do.
Transition after transition early. Fans seemed almost happy he wasn’t able to finish the early submissions so we could see what else he was working with, and nobody left disappointed.
Wang-Kim would put on a clinic in flashy strikes and cage control. It would be beyond believable if Wang-Kim isn’t able to even find an opponent after coming from the 3-0 clouds to have all of California saying, “Who is this guy?!”
Be on the lookout for Josh Wang-Kim in 2022. It’s hard to imagine that if he’s active he won’t be an “of the Year” candidate or on the UFC roster.
Sergio Cossio – LUX Fight League
Sergio Cossio is a wildcard for the list. His entire career has been very “hot or cold” and his LUX Fight League run is a perfect example of that.
Cossio was only 1-0 in 2021 but his 6-1 LUX record tells you the kind of fighter Cossio is when he’s on.
He’s dangerous across the board with six knockouts and eleven submissions, with his LUX 016 performance being a good showing of his head movement, striking and a Demian Maia-esque guillotine in less than two minutes.
He may be riding a hot streak or he may have put it all together, but with over 30 professional fights at only 30 years old, Sergio Cossio knows exactly how to get a crowd to their feet.