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Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic to fight in March

The UFC light heavyweight division has got a huge main event set for 2022 after former champion Jan Blachowicz was matched up with Aleksandar Rakic.

Blachowicz was the champion until his most recent bout, where he was submitted in the second-round by Glover Teixeira at UFC 267. He will look to bounce back immediately against the number three ranked Rakic, who is currently on a two-fight win streak.

The two have agreed to a main event bout on March 26th 2022, in a location yet to be determined.

Blachowicz will be looking to get back to winning ways after seeing his title reign and five-fight win streak snapped in October.

He had beaten top contenders Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza, Corey Anderson, Dominick Reyes to win the title at UFC 253 and then Israel Adesanya in his only successful title defence before the defeat at UFC 259.

Rakic on the other hand has won 14 of his last 15 bouts, with the only blemish in that run coming in a split decision defeat to Volkan Oezdemir. Most recently he has seen off the threat of Anthony Smith at UFC Vegas 8 and Thiago Santos at UFC 259.

He was scheduled to face Smith in a rematch at UFC 269 this month, but Smith was forced to withdraw with an injury.

He will now get the chance to beat the former champion and cement himself as the number one contender for the title, with Teixeira expected to make his first title defence against Jiri Prochazka at some point in the second quarter of 2022.

Ariel Helwani was the first to report the bout agreement.

The bout will take place as a five-round main event bout on a Fight Night card. Those events have taken place exclusively at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas since the beginning of the pandemic, but it’s possible that could change between now and the fight happening in March 2022.

Kevin Lee released by the UFC

Former lightweight interim title contender Kevin Lee has been released from his UFC contract after eight years with the company.

Lee has lost his last two fights and four of his last five, with his only win since May 2018 coming via a head-kick knockout against the then-undefeated Gregor Gillespie at UFC 244.

‘The Motown Phenom’ was recently suspended for six months by USADA after failing a drug test, which he attributed to medication he takes for ADHD.

Lee was a popular figure on his rise through the promotion, racking up a record of 16-2 at one point with notable victories of Francisco Trinaldo and Michael Chiesa via submission.

Those victories earned him a lightweight title fight against Tony Ferguson at UFC 216, where he was submitted in round three after coming into the bout with a staph infection.

He bounced back from that with a win over Edson Barboza in a main event bout, but his poor run followed that. His most recent appearance came at UFC Vegas 35 where he was beaten via unanimous decision in a welterweight bout by Daniel Rodriguez.

Lee’s inactivity in recent years has been an issue, fighting just four times since 2019 and just once in each of the last two years.

The decision to release him from his contract certainly comes as a shock to many, but at 29-years-old he still has plenty of time to rejuvenate his career elsewhere and potentially make a return.

His name still has star power and somewhere like Bellator or ONE Championship will surely be interested in bringing him in now that he is a free agent.

Conor McGregor reveals expected return date

The UFC won’t be without the Notorious one for much longer, after Conor McGregor revealed when he expects to be able to compete once again.

The former two-weight world champion is coming off the back of successive losses for the first time in his career, following defeats to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 and UFC 264 in July.

However the most recent loss was marred by a gruesome leg injury at the end of the first round which forced the fight to be stopped by doctors.

McGregor landed a kick to the body of Poirier but his shin caught the elbow of ‘Diamond’. As he placed his foot back down to throw a strike, his leg broke under his weight and he collapsed to the canvas in pain.

The doctor stopped the fight but McGregor was adamant that he would return for revenge against Poirier, who made it 2-1 in their trilogy after previously earning a KO win in January.

After months of back and forth with several people on social media, McGregor was now revealed that he expects to be cleared for full sparring in April and should be able to return to action soon after.

The 33-year-old had immediately been earmarked for a return in the summer of 2022 following his injury, but there had been reports that his recovery had been going better than expected.

It now seems that those reports were wide of the mark though, with the timeline for his recovery seemingly in line with initial expectations.

His next fight is up in the air though. His wish for an immediate fourth bout with Poirier seems unlikely given that he will be challenging for the lightweight championship on December 11th, while Justin Gaethje is already essentially confirmed as being next in line for the winner of that fight with Charles Oliveira.

Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev are confirmed to be fighting each other in February now, which leaves open potential bouts against Michael Chandler or even Max Holloway for the summer.

Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev agree to main event bout

The UFC lightweight division has been given a huge fight early on in 2022 as Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev have agreed to fight.

The two top-five lightweight contenders have both been making their own individual claims for a potential title shot in their next fight, but it seems they’ve been told another win is needed to make that happen.

Now Dariush and Makhachev will face off on February 26th 2022 in a main-event bout to decide who deserves the next title shot between the two of them.

Dariush has been on a killer win-streak as of late, racking up a seven-fight win streak with victories over the likes of Thiago Moises, Drew Dober, Drakkar Klose, Carlos Diego Ferreira and most recently Tony Ferguson in a dominant performance at UFC 262.

Makhachev’s win streak is even more impressive, racking up an incredible ten-fight run which includes stoppage wins over Dober, Moises and Dan Hooker most recently at UFC 267.

The bout being made between the two of them almost guarantees that Justin Gaethje will get the next title shot, following his win over Michael Chandler at UFC 267 in a brilliant performance.

Dustin Poirier is currently scheduled to face Charles Oliveira at UFC 269 for the 155lbs title on December 11th, and the winner is expected to defend against Gaethje at some point in 2022.

The winner of this Dariush vs Makhachev bout would then be firmly placed to challenge the winner of that fight, having extended their win streak and added a top-five ranked opponent to their resumé.

Ali Abdelaziz, who manages both fighters, was quoted by ESPN as stating this would be a number one contender fight.

“I don’t like it when two guys who I really love have to fight, but these two have worked their whole lives to become a champion and this is a No. 1 contender match,” Abdelaziz said.

“Whoever wins this fight will fight for the title, so who am I to tell them not to fight? They’re at the top and I wish both guys the best of luck.”

Abdelaziz also confirmed that both fighters had agreed and signed new contracts with the UFC as part of the negotiations for this fight.

Dan Hooker looking to move back to Featherweight

Dan Hooker has revealed that he is planning to move back down to featherweight after a test run to make weight.

Hooker is currently a top-ten ranked lightweight contender but has last three of his last four bouts in the division after initially going on a run at 155lbs.

‘Hangman’ has previously competed at 145lbs but moved up after suffering defeats to Yair Rodriguez and Jason Knight. He eventually went on a run of seven wins in eight bouts at lightweight, before his most recent run of results.

After wins against all of Ross Pearson, Marc Diakiese, Jim Miller and Gilbert Burns he was defeated by Edson Barboza in 2018. He bounced back from that with wins over James Vick, Al Iaquinta and Paul Felder to enter the top five of the division.

However against the top fighters in the division Hooker has struggled, suffering a decision defeat to Dustin Poirier at UFC Vegas 4 before a first-round KO defeat to Michael Chandler at UFC 257.

He returned to winning ways against Nasrat Haqparast via decision at UFC 266, but took a short-notice bout against Islam Makhachev at UFC 267 and was dominated en route to a first-round submission defeat.

Those defeats have seemingly convinced him to take a look back down at 145lbs, as he revealed in a tweet that he had made the 146lbs limit during a test cut.

The move down to 145lbs could set up a number of top fights for the primary striker with the likes of Max Holloway, Yair Rodriguez, Korean Zombie, Brian Ortega and Calvin Kattar making up the top five behind current champion and teammate Alexander Volkanovski.

Hooker would likely enter against one of those top opponents should he make the final decision to move down in weight again, considering his current ranking in the weight class above.

Holloway looks certain to take on Volkanovski in his next bout for their trilogy title fight, while Ortega and Yair Rodriguez could be matched up having both suffered defeat in amazing bouts against the two top guys in their last outings.

Kattar is scheduled to fight Giga Chikhadze in January, so it’s possible that Hooker could re-debut in the division against the Korean Zombie, who was well beaten by Ortega before dominating Dan Ige last time out. Arnold Allen would also offer up a potential opponent.

2022 looks set to be the start of a new chapter for ‘Hangman’, and one that could have title implications for the New Zealander.

Magomed Ankalaev to fight Thiago Santos in March main event

The UFC have announced a light heavyweight title contention bout for the first quarter of 2022 as Thiago Santos takes on Magomed Ankalaev in a five-round main event.

The 205lbs division recently crowned a new champion after Glover Teixeira defeat Jan Blachowicz at UFC 267 last month, and the next contender seems to be settled at Jiri Prochazka.

But beyond that, the top of the division is wide open and these two top six fighters will now be looking to enter their name into the conversation for the belt.

Santos previously had a title shot back at UFC 239 where he lost a split decision to Jon Jones, before two more back-to-back defeats against Glover Teixeira at UFC Vegas 13 and then Aleksandar Rakic at UFC 259.

He got back to winning ways in his most recent bout though against Johnny Walker in a unanimous decision win at UFC Vegas 38.

Ankalaev currently holds a 16-1 record, with his only defeat coming against submission specialist Paul Craig via triangle in the final second of their three-round bout.

He has since won seven-in-a-row, including KO wins over Ion Cutelaba twice, Nikita Krylov at UFC Vegas 20 and then most recently against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 267.

It’s set to be the toughest challenge of Ankalaev’s career, but the Russian fighter is tipped as one of the best prospects in the division and many believe that his brilliant striking skills could see him become a future champion in the UFC.

Santos will be keen to build momentum once again with another big name win to get himself back in contention to take on potentially get one final title shot to round off his career.

The fight will take place on March 12th 2022 on a Fight Night event, but the location and start time is yet to be confirmed by the organisation.

Jorge Masvidal withdraws from Leon Edwards fight at UFC 269

One of the most hotly anticipated fights of the year is off after Jorge Masvidal withdrew from his bout with Leon Edwards at UFC 269.

The two were finally set to meet up after years of back and forth following a backstage brawl between them at UFC London back in 2019.

The bout was set to take place at UFC 269, alongside Amanda Nunes defending her bantamweight title against Julianna Pena and Dustin Poirier challenging Charles Oliveira for the lightweight title.

However the UFC have now confirmed that ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal has suffered an undisclosed injury in the build up to the fight and been forced to withdraw from the bout.

It is unclear if the UFC is looking to keep Edwards on the card with a late replacement, but the Briton seems as though he has turned his attentions to a title shot against Kamaru Usman now.

Edwards is on a ten-fight unbeaten run, with nine wins in a row disrupted only by a no-contest against Belal Muhammad at UFC Vegas 21 due to an accidental eye poke in a fight he was dominating.

Usman is reportedly interested in a bout happening in the future, having cleaned out the rest of the division. Edwards’ last defeat came against the now-champion back in 2015 via a unanimous decision.

After yet another victory over Colby Covington at UFC 268 last weekend, Usman is now looking for new contenders and Edwards could prove to be just that.

Others have thrown their name in the hat to be a late replacement for Masvidal though, with both Khamzat Chimaev and Muhammad again looking to make a match-up against the Birmingham native.

Edwards commented on his official Twitter account after the news broke calling Masvidal a ‘fraud’ and claiming he never expected the fight to happen.

Masvidal’s withdrawal comes just days after Covington called him out following his UFC 268 defeat, claiming he should pull out of the fight so they can run it back.

It seems ‘Chaos’ may have gotten his wish…

Conor McGregor agrees to fight Michael Chandler in 2022

Lightweight may have it’s next big match up for the new year after Conor McGregor verbally agreed to fight Michael Chandler in 2022.

Chandler was involved in the fight of the night, and one of the best fights of the year, at UFC 268 as he dropped a unanimous decision to Justin Gaethje to make it back-to-back defeats in the UFC.

McGregor is currently recovering from his broken leg suffered at UFC 264 as he fell to Dustin Poirier for a second time in a row at the event.

But despite the defeat on Saturday night, it seems that Chandler already has his eye on his next bout and called out McGregor on Twitter in a respectful manner on Monday.

Chandler posted a tweet that simply said ‘2022’, with a photoshopped image of himself and McGregor facing off.

With the internet buzzing about the potential match-up, McGregor logged in to verbally accept the bout. He said in a response, “I’m down at some stage for sure. Great fight the other night Mike, congrats!”

McGregor and Chandler both fought on the UFC 257 card in January, with Chandler earning a debut win against Dan Hooker via first-round knockout while ‘Notorious’ was stopped by Poirier in the second round.

The Irishman has made it clear that he wants to fight Poirier again once he is medically cleared from his freak injury, although the Louisiana native could be the lightweight champion at that point as he challenges for the belt at UFC 269 next month.

That would make an immediate rematch difficult for the UFC to make, with the likes of Justin Gaethje and Islam Makhachev both very deserving of a title fight in their own right.

It would allow the UFC to enter McGregor back into contention, with a win over Chandler likely allowing him to leapfrog some big names to set up the fight because of his status.

But after back-to-back defeats for both guys, this is a fight that would make a lot of sense for both and would absolutely get the fans excited.

Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler to open UFC 268 main card

The UFC have reshuffled their main card and stuck one of the best fights of the year at the start of UFC 268.

The lightweight contender bout between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler was originally scheduled to be third from last on the night, just before the two title fights between Rose Namajunas and Weili Zhang, and Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington.

However the organisation have confirmed now that the bout will instead open the main card at Madison Square Garden.

After an initial report from Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, the company confirmed that the bout will now go on first in the main card rather than third at UFC 268 this Saturday night.

When asked for a reason, the UFC simply stated they wanted to start the card with a bang and that this fight basically guaranteed fireworks.

Gaethje has won 19 of his 22 career bouts via knockout, earning himself the nickname of ‘The Highlight’. In eight UFC appearances he has earned NINE performance of the night bonuses, with none of his fights since 2014 going to the judge’s scorecards.

Chandler on the other hand has only fought twice in the UFC so far but both appearances have been hugely exciting affairs.

It took him less than half a round to dispatch of Dan Hooker on his debut at UFC 257 via first-round knockout, before his lightweight title fight against Charles Oliveira at UFC 262.

Justin Gaethje reacts after knocking out Edson Barboza of Brazil in their lightweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Wells Fargo Center on...

While he lost that bout, he earned a knockdown and almost finished Oliveira in the opening round before the Brazilian was able to recover between rounds and earn a knockout of his own to capture the title.

Another reason behind the switch could be down to Gaethje’s coach Trevor Wittman, who is also the head coach for both Namajunas and Usman.

While this is purely speculation, it’s possible that the camp asked for the switch so that Wittman would have more time with his fighters before their title bouts at the top of the card.

UFC 268 will kick off live from 10pm UK time on UFC Fight Pass on Saturday November 6th, before BT Sport show the prelims live from midnight. The main card is due to begin at 2am UK time.

UFC 267: Chimaev makes weight on second attempt, one fight scrapped

UFC 267 took a small hit at the weigh-ins on Fight Island this morning after one fight was scrapped and Khamzat Chimaev missed weight on his initial attempt.

The UFC returns to Fight Island for the first time since the start of the year with two title fights headlining the card as Jan Blachowicz takes on Glover Teixeira in the light heavyweight division, while Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen go head-to-head for the interim bantamweight title.

But on a stacked 15-fight card, there was no chance it would go down with no hiccups and that was ultimately the case on Friday morning.

The returning Chimaev was the last one to take to the scale for his welterweight bout against Jingliang Li and initially weighed in half-a-pound over the 171lbs limit for the fight, seemingly touching the towel too after stripping down.

He returned shortly after and after the scale initially gave an incorrect reading, he officially weighed in at 171lbs for the fight to make it official.

At the start of the weigh-ins though there was a huge miss for the lightweight fight between Magomed Mustafaev and Damir Ismagulov.

Imsagulov, who was preparing for his fifth UFC fight having won each of his previous four, weighed in at 163.5lbs for the bout – a massive 7.5lbs over the 156lbs limit.

That means that the bout has been officially scrapped by the UFC, with Mustafaev making weight at the 156lbs limit.

Damir Ismagulov of Russia poses on the scale during the UFC 267 official weigh-in at Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island on October 29, 2021 in Abu Dhabi,...

Both title fights were made official, with all four fighters weighing in at their respective maximum limits.

UFC 267 will take place on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi on Saturday October 30th with a special start time of 15:30 BST for the early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, with BT Sport starting their coverage with the prelims from 17:00 BST.


Jan Blachowicz (205) vs Glover Teixeira (205)
Petr Yan (135) vs Cory Sandhagen (135)
Islam Makhachev (155.5) vs Dan Hooker (156)
Alexander Volkov (263) vs Marcin Tybura (249)
Li Jingliang (171) vs Khamzat Chimaev (171)**
Magomed Ankalaev (205.5) vs Volkan Oezdemir (205.5)
Amanda Ribas (115.5) vs Virna Jandiroba (116)
Ricardo Ramos (146) vs Zubaira Tukhugov (146)
Albert Duraev (186) vs Roman Kopylov (186)
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (170.5) vs Benoît St. Denis (171)
Michal Oleksiejczuk (206) vs Shamil Gamzatov (206)
Makwan Amirkhani (146) vs Lerone Murphy (146)
Hu Yaozong (186) vs Andre Petroski (185.5)
Damir Ismagulov (163.5)* vs Magomed Mustafaev (156)
Tagir Ulanbekov (125) vs Allan Nascimento (126)

* Missed weight, fight cancelled per UFC.
** Missed weight on initial attempt, made 171lbs on second attempt.