The UFC has released the nominees for the promotion’s 2022 Event of the Year, which gives fight fans the perfect chance to remember some of the best UFC events from the last year and consider which one stands out above the rest.
UFC London: Aspinall Vs. Volkov
The UFC made two trips to London’s O2 Arena in 2022 after last visiting England in 2019. The first of those events was in March and featured some wild submissions, sensational knockouts, and a few tremendous performances from local talent.
The event included the debut of top prospect Muhammad Mokaev and the second UFC appearance from Paddy Pimblett, both of whom impressed with first-round submissions. Paul Craig (triangle choke) and Makwan Amirkhani (anaconda choke) also finished their opponents inside the first round with what have seemingly become their signature chokes.
Ilia Topuria kicked off the main card when he moved up in weight and knocked out Jai Herbert, but it was Molly “Meatball” McCann that stole the show when she finished Luana Carolina with a spinning back elbow. In the main event, Tom Aspinall sent the English crowd into a frenzy when he submitted Alexander Volkov with an armlock in the first round.
UFC Vegas 59: Santos Vs. Hill
The UFC spent less time in Las Vegas this year as the promotion started to resume a more regular travel schedule, but UFC Vegas 59 proved that the UFC Apex can still host fantastic events without a massive crowd.
The 10-fight card opened with a pair of submissions from Mayra Bueno Silva and Cory McKenna, which set the tone for an event that didn’t see a single decision. Bryan Battle landed a sensational head kick in less than a minute against Takashi Sato, and Michał Oleksiejczuk closed out the prelims when he finished Sam Alvey in what turned out to be the latter’s swan song in the UFC.
The event’s torrid pace continued with finishes from Serghei Spivak and Terrance McKinney to kick off the main card, then Julianna Miller and Mohammad Usman both stopped their opponents to become the winners of The Ultimate Fighter Season 30.
Top welterweights Geoff Neal and Vicente Luque met in the co-main event where Neal became the first man since 2013 to finish the Brazilian, and the light heavyweight main event between Thiago Santos and Jamahal Hill ended up providing a Fight of the Night to conclude the action-packed evening.
UFC Paris: Gane Vs. Tuivasa
One of the UFC’s landmark events of 2022 was the promotion’s first visit to France, which didn’t include the outrageous number of finishes that UFC Vegas 59 had but was nonetheless a fantastic event made all the more exciting thanks to a raucous French crowd.
The first French fighter on the card made sure to deliver for the fans in his home country, as Benoit Saint-Denis scored his first UFC victory by stopping Gabriel Miranda early in the second round. Fares Ziam followed with another win for France, and the final prelim of the night provided arguably the event’s best finish when Abus Madomedov front kicked Dustin Stoltzfus and followed up with punches for a 19-second victory.
Roman Kopylov’s third-round finish of Alessio Di Chirico and Robert Whittaker’s co-main event performance against Marvin Vettori stood out as main card highlights, but it was the main event between heavyweight Tai Tuivasa and Ciryl Gane that ended up being the clear Fight of the Night.
Gane stopped “Bam Bam” in the third round to end Tuivasa’s five-fight win streak, and the Parisian crowd responded to the French heavyweight’s win accordingly.
UFC 281: Adesanya Vs. Pereira
Even if the previous three nominees all prove that Fight Night events can deliver great action, few things can match the excitement of a major UFC Pay-Per-view such as Madison Square Garden’s UFC 281.
In a sign of things to come for the rest of the card, three of the first five prelim fights ended in first-round knockouts. The final three prelim fights all ended inside the first round as well and included Erin Blanchfield submitting Molly McCann, Ryan Spann brutalizing former title challenger Dominick Reyes, and Renato Moicano submitting Brad Riddell before delivering a fantastic post-fight interview.
The main card had a lot to live up to after the excitement of the prelims, and the judges didn’t end up being needed for the rest of the night. Dan Hooker returned to lightweight and stopped Claudio Puelles with a body kick, Chris Gutierrez retired Frankie Edgar, and Dustin Poirier went to war with Michael Chandler in one of the front-runners for Fight of the Year.
Weili Zhang impressed in the co-main event when she reclaimed the strawweight title from Carla Esparza, but nothing could top the drama of the main event between former kickboxing rivals Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira. With Adesanya seemingly poised to retain his middleweight title on the scorecards, “Poatan” turned things up in the final round and stopped Adesanya to become the UFC’s new middleweight champion.
Watch the full UFC Event of the Year nominees below.