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UFC 2022: The 8 Best Fights to Watch This Summer



UFC 2022: The 8 Best Fights to Watch This Summer

It looks like it’s going to be an action-packed summer for UFC 2022. While the Las Vegas-based MMA promotion’s summer schedule is still a work in progress, its calendar is starting to fill up, and there’s already a lot to look forward to. The coming months are rife with high-stakes fights of all descriptions, featuring fan-favorite veterans, rising prospects, and bona fide contenders alike.

Wondering what to watch? Here are the fights we’re most looking forward to on the UFC schedule from the end of June through the end of September.

The 8 Best UFC Fights of Summer 2022

1. Neil Magny vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov: June 25

By now, most UFC fans are familiar with the name Khamzat Chimaev. The undefeated Chechen-born Swede has taken the UFC welterweight division by storm, and after a decision win over Gilbert Burns last month, he’s on the cusp of a title shot against champion Kamaru Usman. But Chimaev isn’t the only undefeated prospect making waves in the welterweight division. In fact, he might not even be the best one.

While Chimaev has been working his way to the top of the division, Kazakhstan’s Shavkat Rakhmonov (15–0) has quietly been doing the same—and in no less impressive fashion. Since joining the UFC in 2020, the Kazakh has won three fights, defeating Alex Oliveira and Michel Prazeres by submission and Carlston Harris with a highlight-reel knockout.

On June 25, Rakhmonov will take the toughest test of his career: a fight with longtime ranked welterweight contender Neil Magny (26–8).

Magny, who has beaten former UFC champions like Robbie Lawle, Carlos Condit, and Johny Hendricks, will be looking to play the spoiler. But if Rakhmonov maintains his momentum, a fight with a top-five opponent—maybe even Chimaev—could be next.

2. Sean O’Malley vs. Pedro Munhoz: July 2

Arizona’s Sean O’Malley (15–1) has long stood out as one of the brightest young contenders in the UFC bantamweight division, which is one of the deepest, most competitive weight classes in the entire sport. The problem is that he was knocked out in his lone fight with a legitimate contender, Marlon “Chito” Vera, and hasn’t really fought anyone else of note.

That will finally change at UFC 276 on July 2 in Las Vegas—the culmination of the promotion’s annual International Fight Week bonanza—when he takes on tenth-ranked bantamweight contender Pedro Munhoz (19–7, 1 NC).

It’ll be interesting to see the betting line for this fight. O’Malley, who is known for his slick striking, will have all the hype heading into the matchup, but Munhoz is a massive step up in competition for him. The Brazilian also seems to have all the tools to beat O’Malley.

While O’Malley has good striking and fight-ending knockout power, Munhoz has freakish durability that has carried him through 27 fights without ever being stopped—including fights with dangerous strikers like Rob Font, John Dodson, Jose Aldo, and Cody Garbrandt. He also has excellent wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills, whereas O’Malley is fairly unproven in those departments.

Will O’Malley finally pass a real test and assert himself as a legit threat to the bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling? Will he be exposed by a proven commodity in Munhoz? There’s only one way to find out.

3. Sean Strickland vs. Alex Pereira: July 2

Sean Strickland has repeatedly come under fire for racist and homophobic remarks and his frequent assertions that he would enjoy killing somebody. But the UFC has repeatedly shown that it doesn’t care what its fighters do or say so long as the fighter is generating revenue.

And Strickland, for better or worse, has been doing just that.

The middleweight has not only been making headlines with his comments, he has also been winning fights in the Octagon in impressive fashion. He has picked up wins in his six most recent fights, including a trio of decision wins over Krzysztof Jotko, Uriah Hall, and Jack Hermansson.

While the No. 4-ranked American is probably only a win or two away from a middleweight title shot, he has agreed to an incredibly risky fight at UFC 276 on July 2: a showdown with unranked Brazilian knockout artist Alex Pereira (5–1).

Pereira is a former kickboxing champion who famously holds a knockout win over UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. While he is still fairly new to MMA, he’s already being talked about as a future title challenger. His matchup against Strickland will be a major opportunity for him to prove he’s worth the hype.

It will either be the fight that sees Strickland, one of MMA’s true villains, get his comeuppance, or a fight that pushes him into a title shot. One way or the other, it’s worth watching.

4. Miesha Tate vs. Lauren Murphy: July 2

Women’s MMA has never been better, but with stars like Rose Namajunas, Valentina Shevchenko, Weili Zhang, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk all slated to compete before the end of June, the summer itself is currently looking a little sparse in terms of women’s action.

Still, there are a few great women’s bouts on the calendar for the upcoming UFC 2022 season, and for many fans, none are more compelling than Miesha Tate’s (19–8) scrap with Lauren Murphy (15–5), also slated for UFC 276 on July 2.

Tate is a pioneer of women’s MMA. Her pro career dates back to 2007, when there were barely any opportunities for women to fight, let alone get paid. She’s also a former UFC bantamweight champion, having famously choked out Holly Holm in a dramatic comeback in 2016.

After retiring from MMA in 2019 and spending a few years working for Singapore-based martial arts powerhouse ONE Championship, Tate announced her intention to return to the cage last year. She has gone 1–1 since, first defeating Marion Reneau by TKO, then losing a decision to Ketlen Vieira.

What really makes Tate’s fight with Murphy interesting is that it will be her first fight in the 125-pound flyweight division after spending her entire career at bantamweight and featherweight—135 and 145 pounds, respectively. If she loses to the former title challenger Murphy, her comeback can be mostly written off. If she wins, she’ll suddenly have a plethora of exciting options in a new weight class.

5. Curtis Blaydes vs. Tom Aspinall: July 23

Curtis Blaydes (16–3) is one of the best-established contenders in the UFC heavyweight division. The wrestling specialist is currently ranked No. 4 in the weight class, and has beaten some of its very best fighters, including Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, and Alexander Volkov.

On July 23, when the UFC returns to London, Blaydes will be tasked with slowing the rise of the hottest contender in the weight class: British finisher Tom Aspinall (12–2).

Aspinall has been a force of destruction since joining the UFC roster. He has rattled off five straight victories, all by way of knockout or submission. Highlights of his time in the Octagon include a second-round submission win over former heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski, a first-round TKO win over Moldovan contender Sergei Spivak, and most recently, a first-round submission win over former Bellator champ Alexander Volkov.

This Blaydes vs. Aspinall fight would be a big one under any circumstances, but with reigning UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou poised to leave the promotion—and vacate his title—at the end of the year, it’s all the more important. The winner will be among the top contenders for the vacant heavyweight throne if Ngannou does end up moving on from the UFC.

6. Darren Till vs. Jack Hermansson: July 23

Blaydes vs. Aspinall isn’t the only big fight slated for the UFC’s July 23 return to London. On the same night, Liverpool’s Darren Till (18–4–1)—one of the UFC’s most popular fighters—will take on Norwegian-Swede Jack Hermansson (22–7).

It’s a crucial fight for both men. While both are still ranked in the middleweight top 10, neither has achieved the results they wanted of late.

Till, a former welterweight title challenger, has gone 1–2 since moving up to middleweight in 2019, first defeating Kelvin Gastelum by split decision, then losing a decision to former champion Robert Whittaker and tapping out to a choke courtesy of grappling specialist Derek Brunson.

Hermansson has won more recently than Till, defeating Edmen Shahbazyan by decision in 2021, but he sandwiched that victory between decision losses to Marvin Vettori and Sean Strickland.

A win will be extremely valuable for either man. A loss will be disastrous: enough to push the vanquished party right out of title contention. When the stakes are this high, the result is usually an entertaining fight.

7. Derrick Lewis vs. Sergei Pavlovich: July 30

A Derrick Lewis fight is always must-watch television. Not only is the hulking Houstonian heavyweight behind some of the most iconic lines in UFC history, but he also holds the record for the most knockout victories of any UFC fighter, past or present.

Lewis (26–9), currently ranked No. 5 in the heavyweight division, will look to add to his long list of knockout victories on July 30, when he takes on Russia’s Sergei Pavlovich (15–1).

The matchup with the No. 11-ranked Russian—a definite step down in competition—is proof that Lewis is up to fight just about anybody. He deserves props for that, but there’s no escaping the reality: This is a must-win fight for him.

At 37 years old, Lewis is 2–2 in his last four bouts, with both of his recent losses—against Ciryl Gane and Tai Tuivasa—coming by way of knockout. While he will always be a fan favorite, another loss would deflate what remains of his credibility as a title contender.

Beating Pavlovich won’t be easy, either. The 29-year-old Russian was defeated by the great Alistair Overeem in his first UFC fight (one of the toughest debuts of all time) but has rebounded with three straight stoppage wins over Marcelo Golm, Maurice Green, and Shamil Abdurakhimov.

Youth and momentum are both on his side. The big question is whether or not he can avoid Lewis’ explosive punches.

8. Tai Tuivasa vs. Ciryl Gane: Sept. 3

Much like Derrick Lewis, Tai Tuivasa is as loved as much for his antics outside the Octagon as he is for his performances inside it. And when the shooey drinking Australian knocked Lewis out with a volley of second-round elbows in his last fight, he transformed from entertaining prospect to legitimate title contender. Tuivasa will look to make a final leap toward a heavyweight title shot when he takes on France’s Ciryl Gane on Sept. 3.

Gane, the former interim heavyweight champion, could be the best fighter in the division outside of Francis Ngannou (Ngannou defeated Gane in their last matchup). The Frenchman boasts incredible fight IQ, world-class striking honed over an extensive Muay Thai career, and boundless athleticism to boot.

It remains to be seen how his technical, tactical style matches up with Tuivasa’s hyper-aggressive and explosive approach to fighting, but it’s probably going to be a lot of fun to watch either way. And just like the Blaydes vs. Aspinall winner, the victor of this fight will be right on the cusp of a title shot.

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Ricky Gervais on Why Standup Is His Favorite Medium of Comedy



Ricky Gervais on Why Standup Is His Favorite Medium of Comedy

Ricky Gervais, the comedy icon and creator/star of After Life returns to the stage with his latest Netflix stand-up special, SuperNature—which shouldn’t be taken too literally. We sat down with the actor to get the low-down on life lately, but first, some rapid-fire questions:

  • One wish?: An animal sanctuary.
  • Money or fame?: Money is real. Fame is what again? Random people waving at you?
  • If God exists…: He’s doing a horrible fucking job.
  • Epitaph?: He had a laugh, then found a lump.

Men’s Journal: SuperNature sounds even more ambitious than 2018’s Humanity, which began with you telling your audience “I prefer animals.” Can we assume the new title is ironic, you’ll be in a stained black T-shirt and drinking beer out of a can again?

Ricky Gervais: And very likely wearing bad jeans. I don’t believe anything is “supernatural.” If something exists, it’s natural and explainable—if not now, then eventually. I do explain irony at the start of SuperNature. I say, “That was irony. There’ll be more of it in the show. See if you can spot it.”

What draws you back to stand-up between your series work?

Initially, it was just the other thing I did and enjoyed. Now I realize it’s my favorite thing of all. My revelation with stage time is its efficiency. You can write for hours and never predict how it’ll go. With stand-up, you have your answer in seconds.

After Life is in its third and final season. What prompted you to relax your usual two-season-max rule with earlier shows like The Office [U.K.], Extras and Derek?

It’s a bigger world this time with more drama and characters to explore. I do think it’s funny, though, that people make a big deal of me doing a third [six-episode] season—when that doesn’t amount to a single U.S. season. I could’ve very happily done more.

Why not? It’s called After Life. It could’ve gone on forever, right?

Everything points that I should carry on. It hurts me to stop this. It’s stupid to stop this. But I already blurted it out, and I think it’s the right decision. At least this way I’m not canceled. I’ve never been canceled because I always cancel myself first.

Speaking of which, if you were starting out today would you pursue a comedy career in the “cancel culture” era?

I would because there’s always cancel culture. Once upon a time, it was the middle- aged Christian right who were the gatekeepers. Now it’s 20-year-olds on social media. You’ve just gotta ignore it all. A comic bemoaning cancel culture is like a sailor griping about waves.

What comes more naturally to you, insulting others or self-deprecation?

Self-deprecation usually wins. There’s a sneaky bit of it hiding in the insults too, tucked behind all of that faux arrogance, right? I also think it’s important to distinguish an actual insult from just teasing someone about what everyone already knows.

Your scene with David Bowie in Extras is the yardstick of televised humiliation. What was it like to be shredded in song by a music legend?

Amazing. People still don’t realize I wrote those words for him. It wasn’t a documentary.

Did he write the music for that “chubby little loser” scene?

I sent him the lyrics and asked, “Can you give me something sort of retro for this—like, ‘Life on Mars’?” He goes, “Sure, I’ll just knock off a quick fucking ‘Life on Mars’ for you.” That was amazing, too.

Does life make any sense or is it just a series of arbitrary events?

I assure you, the latter. The universe doesn’t give a shit about us. It doesn’t even know us. So we better just try and enjoy the ride.

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