Although January only features two UFC events -- UFC Vegas 46 and UFC 270, respectively -- the first month on the promotion's 2022 schedule offers quite a few must-see matchups for hardcore and casual fans alike. Including title fights in the UFC's heaviest and lightest men's divisions.
However, knowing which matchup is truly worth your oh-so-valuable time is important. With that in mind, here is a ranking of the six UFC fights you need to see in Jan.
The 6 must-see UFC fights in January
6. Katlyn Chookagian (16-4) vs Jennifer Maia (19-7-1)
Katlyn Chookagian and Jennifer Maia aren't beloved talents known for putting on spectacles of excitement in their fights, but nevertheless, they are two of the best female flyweights on the planet. They are also two former title challengers who are members of champion Valentina Shevchenko's title run hit list. The second and fourth-ranked 125-pounders need to win this fight if they ever hope for a second crack at "Bullet." With this being a rematch and both having recent losses, along with their failures to our women's UFC pound-for-pound #1, the loser may never get back to a title fight while Shevchenko is champion.
Prediction: Chookagian by decision
5. Greg Hardy (7-4) vs Aleksei Oleinik (59-16-1)
Greg Hardy vs Aleksei Oleinik has one of the widest experience gaps you're likely to see in a UFC fight -- 76 fights to 11. Along with a massive divide in cage time, there are major differences in how these men win fights. If this thing stays on the feet, it is just a matter of time before "The Prince of War's" power and athleticism run a muck on the 44-year-old Oleinik. However, if the former NFL linebacker finds himself in deep waters on the ground with a submission shark, he's going to drown fast. It's matchmaking with two absurdly different heavyweights, that's not built to last long.
Prediction: Hardy by KO, round 1
4. Movsar Evloev (15-0) vs llia Topuria (11-0)
Maybe it's the holidays, or looking back on an incredible year of fights in 2021, or perhaps we need to get closer to fight week, but Movsar Evloev vs Ilia Topuria has been criminally underappreciated. What is not to like about a battle of the two best prospects at featherweight competing to decide the next big talent in a division that desperately needs new faces at the top. Somebody's O has to go, and it will be a joy to watch as a couple of talented twenty-somethings look to take a major step forward in their careers.
Prediction: Topuria by unanimous decision
3. Calvin Kattar (22-5) vs Giga Chikadze (14-2)
Beyond Calvin Kattar vs Giga Chikadze being the UFC Vegas 46 headliner, a win is badly needed for both and for very different reasons. Kattar is out of the title picture, but he has to prove he has recovered from a historic beating at the hands of Max Holloway a year ago. If he is, he can make 2022 the build-back better run and reclaim his place as one of the 145-pound elite.
Chikadze has won nine straight, with seven coming in the Octagon. If he can beat a fighter the caliber of Kattar, in a second straight UFC main event slot, he could very well be competing for the featherweight belt in the summer. A loss won't crush their careers, but both men could really use this W.
Prediction: Kattar by split-decision
2. Brandon Moreno (19-5-2) vs Deiveson Figueiredo (20-2-1)
If you don't dig Brandon Moreno's journey to UFC flyweight champion you are a hater of the highest order, and you need to talk to a professional. For everyone else, seeing if "The Assassin Baby" can keep the magic going and beat Deiveson Figueiredo a second time is one of the most intriguing stories of the new year. However, seeing if "Deus da Guerra" truly is a pound-for-pound talent and can bounce back from just the second loss of what has been an impressive career is a fascinating narrative all its own.
Prediction: Moreno by submission, round 4
1. Ngannou (16-3) vs Gane (10-0)
Simply put, this is the most anticipated heavyweight title fight since Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos II. Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane are two of the most physically gifted fighters of their size to ever compete in the Octagon. "Bon Gamin" is the immovable object who has the technical acumen and gas tank of a welterweight. Ngannou is the always evolving unstoppable force with the sort of power that can fold up an elephant. It's one of the biggest fights of the year, in the heaviest division, and UFC gold is on the line. You can't miss it.
Prediction: Ngannou by TKO, round 2