5 Fights We Need to See After UFC on ESPN 32 | Bleacher Report

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      The UFC’s first event of 2022 went down Saturday night in Las Vegas. It’s safe to say the promotion started the year with the bang.

      UFC on ESPN 32 was headlined by a featherweight scrap between Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze, the division’s No. 6- and No. 8-ranked contenders, respectively. Kattar won the fight by unanimous decision, but Chikadze did not make it easy. By the time the fifth round was over, the fighters had landed more than 120 strikes apiece. 

      In the penultimate bout of the night, former middleweight Jake Collier picked up yet another win in the heavyweight division, this time submitting the experienced Chase Sherman in the first round. Before that, we witnessed similarly impressive victories from Katlyn Chookagian, Court McGee and Viacheslav Borshchev. 

      As is so often the case, the event opened the door to some excellent matchmaking opportunities. It remains to be seen how the UFC will book the card’s winners and losers, but keep reading for the fights we’re hoping to see once the dust has settled.

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      In January 2021, Calvin Kattar found himself on the receiving end of a dizzying, five-round beatdown courtesy of Max Holloway. Almost exactly a year later, in the main event of UFC on ESPN 32, Kattar dished out a five-round beating of his own to Georgian featherweight contender Giga Chikadze.

      Having bounced back from his loss to Holloway in such impressive fashion, Kattar can look forward to a big fight next time out. He has a bunch of great options, but we’re hoping to see him take on two-time featherweight title challenger Brian Ortega.

      Ortega hasn’t fought since September, when he came up short against featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski in one of the best fights of 2021. He’ll soon be looking for the opportunity to get back on track. When Kattar’s healed up, that’s the fight to make.

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      Giga Chikadze came up short against Calvin Kattar in the UFC on ESPN 32 main event, but the toughness he showed in the fight guarantees that he won’t lose too much ground in defeat. Another win or two, and he will be banging on the door of the featherweight top five again.

      We would like to see him start his journey back against Dan Ige. The Hawaiian is in a similar position to Chikadze. While he’s proved himself as one of the best fighters in the world, he’s struggled to break into the division’s top tier.

      Pitting Chikadze and Ige against each other should give us a real sense of whether the two fighters are destined to challenge for the championship or doomed to gatekeeper status.

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      Jake Collier used to fight in the 185-pound middleweight division. Now he’s taking on the titans of the heavyweight division—and winning. The 33-year-old Missourian’s latest heavyweight win came on the UFC on ESPN 32 main card, when he choked out Chase Sherman.

      The victory separated Collier from a split-decision loss to Carlos Felipe, and it will be interesting to see whether he can turn it into a win streak—a difficult thing to build at heavyweight. We’re hoping to see him try against Marcos Rogerio de Lima.

      The Brazilian is riding back-to-back wins over Maurice Greene and Ben Rothwell but, like Collier, has struggled too much with consistency to be considered a contender. Pit them against each other to see whether either man can finally take things to the next level.

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      Katlyn Chookagian moved on to a three-fight streak on the UFC on ESPN 32 main card in defeating fellow former title challenger Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision.

      The win reaffirmed that Chookagian has few equals at flyweight. Unfortunately, she’s going to have to move mountains to get another crack at the division’s long-reigning queen, Valentina Shevchenko, thanks to the heinous beating she took the first time they met. That leaves her with little choice but to settle into gatekeeper status for the time being.

      We would like to see whether she can slow the rise of Andrea Lee, who, after a trio of losses, has surged up the ranks with stoppage wins over Antonina Shevchenko and Cynthia Calvillo. The pair actually met on the amateur circuit, with Chookagian winning, so there’s even a bit of history between them.

      There is a wrinkle, however. Chookagian reportedly became a free agent after Saturday’s event. The UFC may elect to re-sign her, but given that she’s seemingly no match for her division’s champion and that her fights are typically a little underwhelming, it’s also possible she will be let go to make room for new talent. Time will tell.

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      At this point, it seems unlikely that 37-year-old Ultimate Fighter winner Court McGee will ever be a UFC champion. But don’t go counting him out in any fights just yet.

      McGee reminded the world not to take him lightly on the UFC on ESPN 32 undercard, thumping the 29-year-old Ramiz Brahimaj en route to a unanimous-decision win. He’s now on a two-fight streak, having also beaten Claudio Silva by decision in May, and he should be rewarded with a decent name next time out. We’re hoping he’s matched up with Max Griffin.

      Griffin is on a three-fight streak, which happens to feature a stoppage win over Brahimaj. Lock him in the Octagon with McGee on an upcoming Fight Night card and see which man can keep his streak alive.

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