MMA Futures Betting Picks: Who Will Be Men’s UFC Champions at the End of 2022?

UFC 2022 Champion Predictions

Betonline.ag and other betting sites have released this year’s MMA futures betting odds for who the champion of each division will be by the end of 2022 . We’ll be looking closely at each weight class, offering you odds, fighter stats and our top betting pick. There are twelve UFC weight classes available for betting. We’ll list the odds for each and a quick breakdown of our top picks.

UFC Men’s Flyweight Champion Betting Pick and Latest Odds

Our first division has all ten fighters to choose from. This MMA future has no prop odds, so you can only bet on a fighter’s moneyline.

With each bout:
We’ll select a favorite, but also offer justifications for other bets, and point out fighters you should steer clear of.

Last year, there was only one title fight in the Flyweight division, and two in 2020. This means that if Moreno maintains the title twice, he’s likely to keep it through 2022.

UFC Flyweight Futures Betting Odds

Fighter Betting Odds
Brandon Moreno +190
Deivison Figueiredo +350
Askar Askarov +350
Henry Cejudo +700
Alex Perez +800
Alexandre Pantoja +800
Brandon Royval +1200
Kay Kara France +1200
Rogerio Bontorin +1400
Matheus Nicolau +2000

New champion Brandon Moreno is leading the pack. Of the ten fighters on this list, Moreno has defeated Figueiredo, Royval, and Kara France. He fought Askarov to a draw lost to Alexandre Pantoja in 2018.

Moreno is scheduled to fight Figueiredo in late January on the Ngannou Gane card.

Will Henry Cejudo Return to the UFC?

If Cejudo returned, I’m unsure he would win. Remember that he only defended his title once, and lost to Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson (now with ONE FC.)

Cejudo has stated that the fight to take will be Alexander Volkanovski, a featherweight title bout. While Cejudo was a quality champion, but he hasn’t defeated any of the other fighters on this list. Cejudo has lost twice in the UFC, both times at Flyweight.  Benavidez, one of the men that defeated Cejudo, has been defeated by both Figueiredo and Askarov.

You’re betting on his returning to the UFC this year, returning to the flyweight division, and being able to beat a new class of fighters at 34 years old after three years retired. It looks unlikely. In fact, Cejudo would be among my lowest quality bets for this division.

UFC Stat Comparison

Let’s compare the stats on a few of my top picks.

Fighter Brandon Moreno Askar Askarov Alexandre Pentoja
Average strikes Landed/Absorbed per Minute 3.4, 3.29 3.3, 2.6 4.2, 3.3
Takedowns per Fight 2.05 2.75 1.26
Takedown Offense/Defense percentages 47%, 65% 28%, 64% 38%, 67%
Total UFC Finishes 4 0 5

Moreno, the current champion, has the worst strike absorption compared to his striking defense. Askarov has the best takedowns of the three by far, and none of these fighters have strong takedown defense.

What Askarov lacks in finishing power, he makes up for in control time.

Askar scored between four and five minutes of control during each UFC bout. Askarav went to a draw with Moreno, and beat Pentoja.

The Pantoja vs Moreno Fight Stats

Moreno scored two takedowns, but was out struck 79 to 45. Pantoja’s style is at times slow, but he landed more punches every round at a 47% striking accuracy. I have no reason to think Pantoja can’t do it again, but I worry the UFC may snub him for the title shot based on style.

Which Fighters Should I Avoid Betting for UFC Futures?

Alex Perez is a crowd favorite that hasn’t beaten anyone on this list. His loss to Figueiredo was a definitive first round submission. I don’t see him breaking the top four.

Nicolau, France and Bontroin are too far down the UFC roster to climb in in time to make a title shot happen, especially for the historically slow flyweight division.

Royval has lost his last two, and I struggle to see why he’s ranked #6 in the division. His wins over France and Eliott were fantastic submissions, but he should fall behind Nicolau and Bontroin in my opinion.

Our Top Betting Pick

Moreno is likely to retain his title against Figueiredo. He’s younger and has taken far less career damage. Figueiredo will struggle to stay relevant to the title after this bout, but I believe he can gate keep the top four with ease.

I think Moreno will beat Figueiredo then be forced into a rematch with Askarov. Askarov will either win the title, or win an interim title with Perez, whom he would beat easily, or Pantoja- a fighter he’s already beaten.

My final pick is Askar Askarov at +350, a $3.50 payout per dollar wager.

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!

UFC Men’s Bantamweight Champion Betting Pick and Latest Odds

Petr is the twice interim champion, gaining the interim belt, losing it, and regaining it in October. Last year, Petr was a part of all three title fights versus three different opponents. Cejudo vacated the belt in 2020, defending it only once in two years.

Fighter Betting Odds
Petr Yan -170
Aljamain Sterling +450
TJ Dillashaw +700
Jose Aldo +1000
Henry Cejudo +1000
Meran Dvalishvili +1200
Cory Sandhagen +1400
Sean O’Malley +2200
Dominick Cruz +2500
Rob Font +2500
Marlon Vera +2800

Petr Yan is a favorite in this division and with good reason. Yan has defeated Aldo and Sandhagen, and was winning the bout with Sterling when he DQ’d himself with an illegal knee.

Sterling is good, but seemed lightyears from beating Yan in their 2021 bout.

Should You Bet on UFC Fan Favorites?

Sean O’Malley lost to Marlon Vera but still ranks above him in the list for no other reason than fan support. O’Malley hasn’t defeated anyone notable or relevant to title contention. Even Dana White himself has noted that Sean is “Not ready for top UFC competition.”

Cruz defeated Munhoz and Kenny last year, putting him at #7 in the division. While I can see Cruz climbing the ranks, his losses to Garbrandt and Cejudo were definitive. I’ll be interested to see what he looks like against the top five, but his rise to the title will take at least another two years.

Marlon Vera lost to Aldo in a narrow decision. Vera can derail a hype train, but is still two or three good wins from a title shot.

Other Fighters to Avoid Betting On for UFC 2022 Champion

T.J Dillashaw

T.J Dillashaw has had only one fight since his PED suspension in 2019. His first fight back was a great performance against Sandhagen, but Dillashaw is now 36. He’s struggled to agree on more than one fight per year, fighting only once in 2017-2019 as champion, and four times in three years during his first time as title holder.

Expect T.J. to move too slow to get the title this year.

Jose Aldo

Aldo is one of my favorite fighters. He’s had twelve UFC title fights, but his losses to Yan and Moraes show us that he’s going to struggle at the top of the division. I don’t see him out striking Yan, who landed three times as many strikes in their five round fight in 2020.  I’m not banking on Yan being out on injury.

UFC Stat Comparison for 2022 UFC Bantamweight Champion

I’m comparing the top two athletes and my bantamweight dark horse, Meran.

Fighter #2 Petr Yan #1 Aljamain Sterling #6 Meran Dvalishvili
Average strikes Landed/Absorbed per Minute 5.9, 4.1 4.8, 2.2 4.2, 2.28
Takedowns per Fight 1.75 1.7 7.3
Takedown Offense/Defense percentages 61%, 89% 24%, 41% 45%, 78%
Total UFC Finishes 5 5 1

Petr Yan is likely to beat Sterling in their rematch, which is set for early 2022. Yan’s takedown defense shows us that Sterling will yet again be pulling guard. It’s important to know that UFC striking stats also include ground strikes, raising Sterling’s and Meran’s numbers significantly.

Sterling has beaten only one of the other eleven fighters on this list, while Yan has bested only two.

Meran hasn’t beaten any, but he is on a seven fight winning streak, giving up no rounds in three years.

Final Betting Pick

I see Yan retaining the title, and Aljamain losing to Meran later in the year. Yan may have to defend against Dillashaw, whom he will destroy. Expect a late 2022 or early 2023 match with Meran Dvalishvili, where I think Yan will win a very close decision.

Bet Petr Yan at -170, a $0.59 per dollar wagered payout. Remember that the Cejudo return is likely to be at featherweight if at all.

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!

UFC Men’s Featherweight Champion Betting Pick and Latest Odds

With Volkanovski looking nearly unstoppable, it’s surprising to see longshot wagers like Topuria in the running. Ironically, Cejudo isn’t even an option in this division, despite having stated that he will only return in a title fight at Featherweight

Fighter Betting Odds
Alexander Volkanovski -180
Max Holloway +350
Chan Sung Jung +675
Giga Chikadze +1100
Calvin Kattar +1600
Josh Emmett +1600
Arnold Allen +2200
Brian Ortega +2500
Bryce Mitchell +2800
Dan Ige +2800
Movsar Evloev +3300
Ilia Topuria +3300

Volkanovski has defeated only two of the eleven fighters listed. The 145 pounds talent pool is very deep, and there are some fighters with the right skill set to take it to the champion. Volkanovski defended the title only once in 2020 and 2021, earning the title in 2019. If Volkanovski can defend even once, he’ll stay champion through the end of the year. This is unfortunate, and I think the UFC should pressure champions to fight twice.

Volkanovski vs Holloway 3

This is the next featherweight title fight on the docket, scheduled for mid 2022. Volk defeated Holloway twice, winning by unanimous decision. Volkanovski fought a close fight in their 2019 bout, landing 157 to his 134 strikes.

In 2020:
Volkanovski scored three takedowns, landing 137 to Max’s 102 strikes, alongside 1:26 of control across 25 minutes. In both bouts Volkanovski landed far more significant strikes.

In my opinion, this isn’t the right next bout, and Volkanovski should face another contender. It’s far too soon, and there are plenty of fighters for Holloway to face, especially after the close fight with Yair.

Which Fighters Should I Avoid Betting for UFC Futures?

Let’s rule out some of the longshot fights.

Ige has lost to three fighters on this list over the last two years. Emmett has only defeated Dan Ige and the likelihood of fighting enough contenders to make a title shot real in one year is very low. He’s ranked #6, but should be closer to #8.

Evloev is very exciting.
He’s undefeated and has five UFC wins. He also hasn’t faced anyone in the top fifteen.

Ilia Topuria is also undefeated, and facing Evloev in January.  Whoever wins between these two will likely face Bryce Mitchell or Barboza mid year. They just don’t have enough momentum to fight for the title in 2022. By 2024, one of these two men will fight for the title or interim belt.

Calvin Kattar, Yair Rodriguez, Chan Sung Jung, and Bryan Ortega

Calvin’s loss to Holloway solidified his weaknesses in striking. Giga will defeat him in January, and he’ll fall in the rankings. He’s never actually defeated a top five fighter in the UFC, he’s simply beat enough lower ranked contenders to take losses to Zabit, Holloway and Moicano.

Yair’s #5 spot is spurious. He’s only won two fights in three years, beating now sidelined Jeremy Stephens and #4 Chan Sung Jung, a stunning upset in a fight he was losing. I expect Yair to have a rough 2022. Ortega lost the last title fight and lost to Holloway and Volkanovski. If he does get a third shot at the title, it will be because it changed hands. A lot has to go right for an Ortega title shot in 2022. He wins his next unscheduled bout, likely to the winner of Giga vs Kattar, and then the title gets traded to someone who isn’t Holloway or Volkanovski.

The Korean Zombie has lost to Yair, Ortega and Aldo in his last seven fights. His win over Ige means little toward a title shot. Ortega out struck Jung with ease, scoring two knockdowns. Now Jung would need to beat Holloway, who is a far better striker than Ortega, or Volkanovski, who’s arguably the better fighter. It looks rare.

UFC Stats Comparison

Fighter Alexander Volkanovski Max Holloway Giga Chikadze
Average strikes Landed/Absorbed per Minute 6.4, 3.3 7.3, 4.6 3.76, 2.69
Takedowns per Fight 1.7 .31 .33
Takedown Offense/Defense percentages 34%, 70% 66%, 84% 33%, 66%
Total UFC Finishes 3 11 3

I think we will see a 2022 Giga Chikadze title opportunity. He’s knocked out his last three opponent’s, he’s learned to wrestle, and he was one of the most exciting fighters in 2021.

  • Volkanovski lands the most takedowns of the group.
  • Holloway has the best takedown defense but was still bested by Volkanovski.

One thing that I’d take note of is the punches absorbed. Giga is the most defensively apt by one strike per minute. It’s my belief that if Holloway or Volkanovski can’t win the takedown, Giga can beat either man in a stand up battle.

Final Betting Pick

The safe bet is Alexander Volkanovski, but I’m going to go out on a limb and predict Giga Chikadze. Alex will beat Holloway in their upcoming trilogy, Giga will stomp Kattar and people will be clamoring for a fight with Giga versus a top five fighter. During his kickboxing career, it would be nothing for Giga to fight five or six times in a year. He fought four times in 2020 for the UFC. A late 2022 fight with Volkanovski could spell one of the bigger longshots of this MMA futures prediction. Bet Chikadze at +1100, an eleven times your money payout for the featherweight division’s most technical knockout artist.

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!

UFC Men’s Lightweight Champion Betting Pick and Latest Odds

This stacked division offers ten fighters, despite half of them being outside the top ten. Dan Hooker and Tony Ferguson are still in the running but completely snubbed by this list. McGregor holds a top spot despite not defeating a top ten lightweight since Eddie Alvarez in 2016.

Oliveira fought twice in 2021, so we can expect two title defenses.
Fighter Betting Odds
Charles Oliveira +200
Islam Makachev +200
Beneil Dariush +400
Justin Gaethje +600
Dustin Poirier +900
Conor McGregor +900
Michael Chandler +1150
Rafael Dos Anjos +2000
Gregor Gillespie +2500
Rafael Fiziev +2800

It’s interesting to see how far the betting odds vere from the top ten rankings. Our champion has won ten fights in a row, defeating two men on this list in his last two fights.

Fighters like McGregor and Rafael Dos Anjos have moved to Welterweight, but have threatened moving back to lightweight to run away from Usman.

You can dismiss the majority of these wagers as hopeful fan bets.

Dustin Poirier vs Oliveira 1

Despite Dustin’s one knockdown, Oliveira controlled the majority of the fight. He out struck Dustin by 30%, putting up five minutes of control time and a definitive submission finish. Dustin has work to do, and while I believe he’ll receive a rematch, it could be as late as 2022. Gaethje should be the next title challenger, someone I believe Oliveira will handle with relative ease. I think Dustin is out of the running with so many exciting lightweights moving up the ranks.

Which UFC Lightweights should I Avoid Betting On?

McGregor and Dos Anjos are out for me, due to weight concerns and a low likelihood of returning.

Gaethje had a hell of a fight with Chandler, but Chandler was finished at the championship level.

We should look at their stat matchup, because this is likely Oliveira’s next opponent.

Fiziev is good, but is too far from a title fight to consider. Even if he somehow becomes the interim champ, I don’t believe that fulfills the win conditions of the bet.

UFC Stat Comparison for Lightweight MMA Futures

These are the four fighters I believe can be champion, based on who has the best chances of beating Oliveira.

Fighter Charles Oliveira Gregor Gillespie Islam Makachev Beniel Dariush
Average strikes Landed/Absorbed per Minute 3.4, 3.1 3.7, 2.3 2.21, .79 3.8, 2.5
Takedowns per Fight (15 minutes) 2.5 6.8 3.37 2.11
Takedown Offense/Defense percentages 41%, 57% 48%, 100% 66%, 88% 34% 81%
Total UFC Finishes 18 6 6 8
Times finished in the UFC 7 1 1 4

Oliveira has the most finishes, but far more fights than the other fighters combined. Oliveira’s takedown defense is concerning, but his submission rate should leave most fighters threatened to the point of being tentative on shooting doubles and singles.

Charles isn’t invincible.
He was last finished in 2017, and seemed to find his rhythm shortly there after. Dariush has been finished in two first round knockouts.

Most notable is the quality of opponents across all four fighters. Charles is the only one of the four who’s beat anyone in the runnings for Lightweight Champion. Lee put Gillespie down in the first round, and Makachev will have trouble submitting Oliveira, so they’ll be in for a grinding fight.

Final Betting Pick

My prediction is that Oliveira will defeat Gathje or Poirier, (possibly both if the UFC is afraid to put two grapplers into a title fight) and will be forced to fight one of the three fighters above before the end of the year. I see Charles Oliveira retaining the belt through 2022 across 1-3 title fights. Charles pays out double your money, and has one of the most complete games in MMA today.

UFC Men’s Welterweight Champion Betting Pick and Latest Odds

Usman has been a dominant Welterweight Champion, he defended his belt three times in 2021 and is already the third most defended Welterweight title in UFC history, runner up to Matt Hughs and GSP.

We can expect Usman to defend at least twice, but I’d be surprised to see another three defense year. Jon Jones, the fighter with the all time title defense record, only defended three times in 2011. One to two defenses is to be expected.

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!

Fighter Betting Odds
Kamaru Usman -250
Khamzat Chimaev +275
Leon Edwards +900
Vinvente Luque +900
Gilbert Burns +1000
Belal Muhamad +1200
Sean Brady +1400
Colby Covington +1800
Jorge Masvidal +2500
Conor McGregor +2500
Nate Diaz +2500
Stephen Thompson +3300

It’s notable that Leon Edwards and Luque are the next two to face Usman, but like most fans, I see Chimaev as the biggest threat to the belt. Khamzat is suposted to fight weight Luque, Belal Muhammad or Magny, all of which hie should be able to defeat.

Who Will Get the Next UFC Welterweight Title Shot?

Kumaru should fight Leon Edwards, but the UFC may snub him in favor of CHimaev.

If Edwards is injured, it will fall to one of the four contenders on a winning streak; Luque, Belal Muhammad, Chimaev or Magny.

If Usman is out on injury, which never happens, Edwards will fight one of these four contenders for the Interim belt to be settled before the years out.

Which Fighters Will Not Be Welterweight Champion in 2022?

Diaz, McGregor, Masvidal, Thompson, Gilbert Burns and Covington are all fandom based choices, and have little or no path to the title in such a short time. Don’t put your money there.

Sean Brady is a fantastic fighter who hasn’t climbed the ranks enough.

He called out Stephen Thompson for April, which won’t put him in line for the title but is a fantastic next step in his career. Sean is a real contender for 2023.

Vincinte Luque

Luque has won his last four fights via finish. In 2019, he lost to Thompson in a unanimous decision, landing only 77 strikes to Thompson’s 138. Luque has also lost to Leon Edwards in the UFC. Currently, the only top contender he’s beaten is Belal Muhammad in 2016. Luque hasn’t taken the right fights, and is now two to three big wins from a title shot.

UFC Stats Comparison for Welterweight MMA Futures

Fighter Kumaru Usman Khamzat Chimaev Belal Muhamad Leon Edwards
Average strikes Landed/Absorbed per Minute 4.6, 2.5 8.6, .08 4.5, 3.1 2.6, 2.14
Takedowns per Fight (15 minutes) 3 4.65 2.2 1.4
Takedown Offense/Defense percentages 49%, 100% 66%, 100% 33%, 91% 35%, 70%
Total UFC Finishes 5 4 (of four fights) 2 3
Times finished in the UFC 0 0 1 0

First, I think it’s worth noting that this is the most competitive division in the UFC.

Chimaev has the best striking statistics, takedown accuracy, and percentage of UFC finishes. Belal is the only one to be finished, matching up with the dangerous Luque.

Edwards first loss to Usman was in 2015, a fight that should bear some weight over their rematch. When you look at more recent performances over fighters like Rafael Dos Anjos, who Usman faced in 2019 and Edwards in 2018, it’s clear that Usman is superior on multiple levels.

Belal is the only man to be finished in the UFC of the four, and has the lowest finishing percentage.

See the importance of takedowns for Belal and Chimaev’s style. Usman has never been taken down, though there were moments in the Covington fight that could have been considered takedowns.

Final Betting Pick for UFC Welterweight Futures

It’s tough to bet against such a dominant champion, and Chimaev is the only one of the contenders who I think can do it. The only question is, when will he get the title shot? If Usman fights Edwards next, Chimaev will have to face another contender before he makes it to the title.

Chimaev is currently #11. I see him climbing the ranks and getting a title shot in 2023. For now, Usman will retain the title, being Edwards and Luque or Belal Muhammad before the end of the year. Bet Usman at -250, a $0.40 per dollar wagered payout on the longest title holder in the UFC.

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!

UFC Men’s Middleweight Champion Betting Pick and Latest Odds

Israel Adesanya has been the champion since 2019, defending the belt four times since then, each with relative ease.

He moved up to light-heavyweight to lose to Jan Blachowicz, the now dethroned champion. It’s a struggle to predict how often a champion attempting a two division career will fight, which is frustrating for the division.

Israel only defended the belt once last year, and twice in 2020, for five total title fights over three years. He should defend twice this year, so we’ll be looking at who the top candidates are.

Fighter Betting Odds
Israel Adesanya -165
Robert Whittaker +425
Marvin Vettori +700
Jared Canonier +800
Derek Brunson +1100
Jack Hermansson +1200
Khamzat Chimaev +1600
Sean Strickland +1800
Darren Till +2200
Uriah Hall +2500

Israel showed some serious grappling deficiencies against Jan. it wasn’t just that Jan was bigger, Israel had some fundamental issues once on the ground. His takedown defense and the threat of the knockout has kept him off the canvas as a middleweight. He showed improvements against Vettori, giving up only 6:55 of control after four successful takedowns.

Who Will Get the Next UFC Middleweight Title Shot?

Robert Whittaker fights Israel in February, the last meeting in 2019. Israel won the first bout with a second round knockout. It’s possible that we’ll see a Whittaker win, but I believe Israel will maintain the belt.

Whittaker has struggled against lanky strikers, like Thompson and Israel. His 2020 win over Cannonier showed little evolution from his 2019 performance against Izzy.

Which Fighters Will Not Be Middleweight Champion in 2022?

Fighters that Israel have beaten handly, including Till, Vettori, and Hall won’t get title shots until after the winner of Cannonier vs Brunson. Vettori should fight one or two comeback fights before making another title run, possibly facing the winner of Israel vs Whittaker, meaning the fight will be scheduled for the Summer.

Sean Strickland is on a five fight winning streak after losing via TKO in 2018.

His upcoming bout against #6 Jack Hermansson is scheduled for February, meaning either fighter could fight for a top four spot by the end of the year. Strickland fought twice in 2021, moving up tin the ranks from #15 to #7.  Breaking the top spot by the end of the year would mean multiple people out with injury and an interim championship.

Will Khamzat Chimaev Get The Title Shot Against Israel Adesanya?

My instincts say no. They talked about the fight in October of 2021. Israel has one fight lined up with Whittaker. If Burnson beats Cannonier, Israel vs Brunson II is the right fight to make, however, fans may not want it.

That’s where Chimaev could sneak in and win the title. I think he can win as well! Chimaev is at a level of grappling Israel isn’t ready for, not in the slightest. However, Israel could also deny that title shot, and focus on his division.

He could easily dodge the Chimaev fight in exchange for any of the Middleweight division contenders and no one would think less of him. Chimaev may be the two division champ of 2023, but it looks like that’s a story that the hype train is not properly set up for.

UFC Stats Comparison for Middleweight MMA Futures

Fighter Israel Adesanya Robert Whittaker Jared Cannonier Derek Brunson
Average strikes Landed/Absorbed per Minute 3.9, 2.5 4.8, 3.4 3.6, 3.19 3.4, 2.6
Takedowns per Fight (15 minutes) 0 .64 .12 3.15
Takedown Offense/Defense percentages 0, 80% 34%, 83% 33%, 62% 34%, 94%
Total UFC Finishes 4 5 5 10
Times finished in the UFC 0 2 2 5

Brunson has the highest finishes and times finished of the top four contenders. I think Brunson will have an easier time with Israel than Whittaker.
Fighters are nearly even, with Israel and Brunson tying for defensive capabilities.

Brunson’s takedown quality is notable here, landing three per fifteen minute fight on average.

Final Betting Pick

I think Israel will beat Whittaker and lose to Brunson before the end of the year. Brunson’s rushing style has been refined over the last few years. His five fight winning streak should continue through Cannonier, and Brunson will fight Strickland or Vettori in his first title defense of 2022. A bit of a longshot, but I find Israel to be one of the more vulnerable champions in the UFC. Brunson pays out at eleven times your wage.

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!

UFC Men’s Light-Heavyweight Champion Betting Pick and Latest Odds

The title has just changed hands, giving Glover Teixeira the belt. His first title defense sets him against Jiri Prohazka but has no fight date as of January 5th, 2022.

This is one of the strangest divisions, because no one has faith in the champion. It’s a result of the vacuum left by Jon Jones, the Light Heavyweight division is still in a struggle to determine who’s the best.

Fighter Betting Odds
Jiri Prohazka +275
Alexander Rakic +300
Magomed Ankalaev +300
Glover Teixeira (Current Champion) +400
Jan Blachowicz +575
Anthony Smith +1000
Thiago Santos +1000
Dominick Reyes +1400
Jamahal Hill +2000

It’s surprising to see Glover so low on the rankings. I feel that he’s the modern Randy Couture, you shouldn’t bet against him even if you think you should.

Jiri Prohazka is Glover’s next opponent, and oddsmakers believe that Jiri will win with ease.

Which Fighters Will Not Be Light Heavyweight Champion in 2022?

Jamahal Hill and Jan Blachowicz are unlikely, if only because of their lack of mainstream popularity. I also believe Blachowicz will lose to Rakic in March.

Anthony Smith’s loss to Rakic and Glover in 2020 means that he’s at least one or two big wins from a title shot. Reyes is in a similar boat, simply too far from the title. Thiago Santos is set to fight Magomed Ankalaev in March, a fight that will put the winner up for a spot against a contender, but not against the champion. Likely, they will fight either the loser of Glover vs Jiri or Rakic vs Blachowicz.

With the majority of these fighters, it’s not the ability, it’s whether or not they will get the opportunity in 2022.

UFC Stats Comparison for Light Heavyweight MMA Futures

Fighter Glover Teixeira Jiri Prochazka Aleksandar Rakic
Average strikes Landed/Absorbed per Minute 3.72, 3.8 7.19, 6.8 4.2, 2.2
Takedowns per Fight (15 minutes) 2.11 .98 .75
Takedown Offense/Defense percentages 39%, 60% 100%, 50% 25%, 90%
Total UFC Finishes 15 2 2
Times finished in the UFC 3 0 0

I’m not counting Glover out of a win over Jiri. Jiri is new to this level of competition. His takedown defense isn’t as tested as it needs to be going into this fight.

Glover will take early punishment to get the takedown. It’s also fair to look at how often Jiri gets hit. Yes, he pushes the action, but you can see why he’s been knocked out twice in his career.

Rakic is one to watch. He’s only fought one or two times a year, and with one fight scheduled, he’ll only have one shot at the title later in 2022.

Final Betting Pick

I believe Glover will beat Jiri and defend the title against Rakic or Ankalaev later in the year, both of whom he’s capable of beating. Yes, someone will dethrone Glover, but I see two title defenses as likely. Bet the champion at +400, four times your wager return.

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!

UFC Men’s Heavyweight Champion Betting Pick and Latest Odds

Ngannou fights Gane at the top of the year, but wants out of his UFC contract. If he wins, the champion clause states that he’ll be forced into another title defense or lose money. Of any division, the heavyweights offer the most ‘fan picks’ that are easily dismissed.

Fighter Betting Odds
Francis Ngannou +225
Cyril Gane +275
Curtis Blaydes +600
Stipe Miocic +650
Jon Jones +650
Derrick Lewis +700
Alexander Volkov +900
Tom Aspinall +1600
Jairzinho Rozenstruik +1800
Chris Daukaus +2500
Tai Tuivasa +2500

Ngannou and Gane fight in January, a fight that Jon Jones is allegedly fighting the winner of. I believe Jones has been fading over the years, and at least two of his wins were questionable decisions. In my mind, either Gane or Ngannou can beat Jones, especially after two years of ring rust.

Should We Consider Ngannou if He Wants Out of His Contract?

In my opinion, no. Fighters that want out of their contracts will find a way out.

Ngannou may even look to have the UFC cut him due to inactivity. I think Gane will win their upcoming bout, as Ngannou struggles with slip-heavy shoot boxers. Even if he wins, it’s tough to keep someone in a fight contract they want out of.

Which Fighters Will Not Be Heavyweight Champion in 2022?

Aspinall and Tuivasa are too far down the rankings to make it to a title shot. Neither fighter has looked solid enough to beat anyone in the top five either.

Daukaus’s loss to Derek Lewis puts him back.
He’ll need another win or two just to get back into contention. He fought three times in 2021. I don’t see him out striking Gane or Jones.

Stipe was a fantastic champion, but I think he loses to Gane, Jones, and Derrick Lewis. I don’t see an easy path to the title.

What About Volkov, Blaydes and Rozenstruik?

These three are tough not to consider. Blaydes has champion-level skills, but not a champion-level chin. He’s been knocked out three times, twice by Ngannou and once by Lewis.

I think Jones and Gane would do the same to him. Volkov already lost to Gane, Blaydes and Lewis. He’ll need some big wins to convince the UFC he deserves another fight with one of them, and he’ll need to have improved in a big way.

Rozenstruik looks good but needs a win over someone in the top five from this generation of fighters. He beat Dos Santos as JDS was on the way out, in the middle of a four fight losing streak.

UFC Stats Comparison for Heavyweight MMA Futures

Fighter Cyril Gane Jon Jones Derrick Lewis
Average strikes Landed/Absorbed per Minute 5.3, 2.4 4.3, 2.2 2.5, 2.4
Takedowns per Fight (15 minutes) .71 1.85 .48
Takedown Offense/Defense percentages 20%, 100% 44%, 95% 25%, 55%
Total UFC Finishes 4 10 13
Times finished in the UFC 0 0 6

Gane has the best stats of any heavyweight in the division. His defensive striking matches with anyone, but to blend that with such a high strikes per minute looks great. His 100% takedown defense means that across seven bouts in the UFC, no one managed to take him down.

Final Betting Pick

I think Gane beats Ngannou, and Jones fights Derrick Lewis in the Summer. The winner fights Gane for the title late in the year, and Gane retains the belt through 2022. Bet Gane at +275, for a $2.75 return per dollar wagered.

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!

What are MMA Futures?

For those unfamiliar, futures indicate that the wager will be placed whenever you bet, but the payout will not be until the event takes place. In this case, the payout is the end of the year, 2022.

Men’s UFC Champions MMA Futures Betting Wrap up

If you’re new to picking mma fights, start with our guide. Most of these bets feel like longshots. You’re betting on the fighter, but also the frequency of UFC events and matchmaking decisions. Yet, the belt can only change hands so many times. I’m confident in these betting picks, if only because the likelihood that a champion will retain their belt through the year is high, and rarely do we see upset champions across multiple divisions in the same year.

Good luck fight fans!
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Jacob Clark / Author

Jacob Clark had a 15 year career as a professional MMA fighter, coach, and Greg Jackson’s alum. Now, TikTok’s 12th most important BJJ influencer is bringing his sports and betting knowledge to you here at TheSportsGeek. He spends his time cooking vietnamese food and playing D&D with his family. You can meet him at jiu-jitsu open mats all over Indiana.

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