2022 Faces Of Combat; Just On The Rim

Coming up with “future stars” lists is the toughest of all predictions. Especially in MMA and boxing. However, some of the 2022 faces of combat are ready for the spotlight, and some for now are still way under the radar. To combine both into one article is splitting hairs. There’s no SMESH FACTORY or parts of a huge cog here. This is more of a little engine that could group, and here we go.

The 2022 Faces Of Combat

15- UFC Lightweight Ignacio Bahamondes. 14- Regional MMA Lightweight Lucas Clay. 13- Bellator Strawweight Danni McCormack. 12- UFC MIddleweight Bruno Silva. 11- Woman’s super featherweight boxer Terri Harper.

10- Gregory “Robocop” Rodrigues

The 29-year old’s hardly some blue-chip prospect, but; the now UFC Middleweight is 11-3. He’s riding a four-fight win streak since he got flatlined on the Dana White Contender Series. Rodrigues is a 50-50 fighter all over. He lands 50% of his punches and 50% of his takedowns. But he’s better than his stats show so far.

9- Yazmin Jauregui

This Mexican strawweight is a danger for anyone. Undefeated at 8-0; five of her six knockouts are in the opening round. The 22-year old IS the number one ranked pound-for-pound female fighter in all of Latin America. While the competition she’s facing right now isn’t the same as Top-10 in the UFC or Bellator, a shining star can shine wherever it is. And even if there’s a small layover in INVICTA first, she’ll be a household name in one-years time.

8- Daniel Zellhuber

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At 22-years old Daniel Zellhuber is more than just a fighter. He’s following in many other great Mexicans footsteps. Learning how to fight after being bullied as a child, the fighter with the Ryan Garcia looks also has a degree in physical therapy. He likes to fight at range, has quick hands, and continues to get better on the ground. By the time the smoke clears, he might just wind up being the best Mexican MMA fighter. Although being at lightweight right now is a tough division for anyone.

7- Lamont Roach

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If the super featherweight wants to hold one of the main four straps, he needs more baptisms under fire. Like the one he got against Jamel Herring, who took a unanimous decision from the 26-year old. That and his split decision loss to Orlando Cruz are his only losses. Roach has decent hand speed, and loves throwing hooks. So much so that he has at times abandoned other weapons. He had Herring in trouble twice in their fight with them, and perhaps either a Tevin Farmer or even a Chris Colbert fight could be his next step up.

6- Khasan Magomedsharipov

The younger brother of Zabit, Khasan Magomedsharipov is on his way to surpassing his siblings level. At 21, he’s in Bellator’s deepest division. So if he hopes to get into the rankings, he’ll have to steer clear of all the land mines at 145. A skilled lanky Wushu fighter has just teased Bellator fans with his kicking game. It’s as whip-like as Edson Barboza’s but comes from more angles. His striking is improving, leaving just mat action that truly needs to be focused on.

2022 Faces Of Combat; Just About Locks

5- Reymart Gaballo

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When it comes to Filipino boxers, the fact is they all have to deal with Manny Pacquaio’s shadow. Then comes the man that just beat Gaballo, Nonito Donaire. But the 25-year old “Assassin” despite that knockout is ready to take his place on that mountain. Laser fast hand speed and punches in bunches have given him 20 finishes. If he could put on a bit more size, 122 might actually be a better division for him. That’s because staying at bantamweight, eventually he’ll have to face Naoya Inoue. While exciting, that may not end well for him.

4- Keyshawn Davis

Part of a three-brother team; Keyshawn Davis is only four-fights into his career. But another young stud for Bob Arum has the tools to collect gold. And lots of it. He already has an Olympic silver, and quickly in his pro career he’s brought the fast power combo’s that he had in Tokyo. Although his left hand is his true power source. Arum won’t rush things with him, because if for no other reason lightweight at the top, and throughout the rankings are filled with killers. Way too much for a 22-year old to deal with.

2022 Faces Of Combat; The Three On The Podium

3- Umar Salamov

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Coming off of a tough unanimous decision loss to Dmitry Bivol in the tough light heavyweight division Umar Salamov may need to take a slight back step. There’s no denying his immense talent thanks to a pin point right hand and his work to the body. However, keeping in mind everyone’s goals are wearing the gold; that might be the smart move. And he’s made smart moves in the past. He brought his training to Vegas for one. And the division will tighten up 100-fold should Canelo Alvarez plop down in it. Perhaps an Anthony Dirrell or or Badou Jack might be where his 2022 start.

2- Jacqueline Amorim

While Jaqueline Amorim is no “spring chicken” at 26-years old; this strawweight has four-finishes, all before two-minutes into a fight. The far majority of her adult life she’s spent in the grappling world. The BJJ black-belt picked it up from Mestre Pina, an icon in that world. She’s part of the Gracie lineage tree. While moving to the States has helped her expand her ground game, maybe a move to a larger team will round out her stand up. And that’ll be the key to her latching on with one of the big four organizations.

1- Xander Zayas

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Say what you will about Bob Arum, but Top Rank is littered with serious future talent. And the prospect of the year, Xander Zayas leads the pack. And what’s really scary is he’s only 19-years old. The quiet away from the ring Puerto Rican is going to be brought along slowly by Arum. Because when all is said and done, we may very well have an all-time great in the making here. With a precision left hand, and a right hook he won’t see gold in 2022, but by mid-’23 he’ll be on the doorstep. And what makes him truly special is while going through an inactive spell, instead of being on social media, he trained with and sparred his stablemates.

2022 faces Of Combat Wrapped

Not even Nostradamus could predict combat sports. However, this group of 15 will make their voices heard. Are they the best overall? Probably not. But they are hungry. So we’ll just have to see where they sit in 365-days from now.

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About Author

Cyclone

Cyclone, considers himself the Chris "MadDog" Russo of combat sports. He got the nickname in 1984 after riding the roller coaster multiple times, and then made it his professional name. He's been officially covering combat sports since January 2017 when Chael Sonnen fought Tito Ortiz. Cyclone's been lucky enough to do some regional mma play-by-play. Loving to entertain since childhood, he continues to round out his schedule as a comedian, actor, producer, and show host. Away from the "bright lights", he enjoys cooking, fishing, and gambling. A lover of animals Cyclone hopes to one day return to working at an animal shelter.

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