Fight bookings throughout 2022 were not ravaged by COVID-19 like the year before, but a number of key matchups still never made it to the cage.
Unfortunate injuries occurred in training camp, and in two instances, after weigh-ins, leading to last-minute scheduling changes and late bout scratches.
From entertaining veteran matchups to top contender bouts and title fight rematches, MMA lost some incredible fights this year due to various reasons.
Take a look below at some of the biggest pairings and why they did not go ahead as planned (in order of scheduled date).
Beneil Dariush vs. Islam Makhachev
A massive top contender fight in the UFC’s lightweight division fell apart due to an unfortunate injury to Beneil Dariush just nine days ahead of the event. It was set to be the nine-fight winning streak of Islam Makhachev against the seven-fight winning streak of Dariush.
Makhachev remained on the card and submitted short notice replacement Bobby Green in the first round of the main event. Makhachev went on to fight Charles Oliveira for the title eight months later at UFC 280, where he became the lightweight champion. Dariush returned to action at the same event, where he picked up a unanimous decision win over Mateusz Gamrot.
Dricus Du Plessis vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Kelvin Gastelum was originally set to face Nassourdine Imavov at the pay-per-view event in Jacksonville, Fla. Rising middleweight contender Dricus du Plessis stepped up on short notice to face the former title challenger, but that pairing fell apart too after Gastelum suffered an undisclosed injury eight days before the event.
Du Plessis went on to fight twice to close out the year: a unanimous decision win over Brad Tavares and a submission win over Darren Till. Gastelum has not returned to action, although he is currently booked to face Imavov in a UFC Fight Night headliner on Jan. 14, 2023.
Sergio Pettis vs. Raufeon Stots
Bellator bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis was unable to compete in the bantamweight grand prix due to a torn ACL. He was scheduled to fight against Raufeon Stots at Bellator 279, but was forced out of the contest and the tournament.
Stots remained on the card and challenged Juan Archuleta for the interim title in Pettis’ absence. Stots defeated Archuleta and then went on to beat Danny Sabatello in the grand prix final at Bellator 289, setting up a future matchup with Pettis whenever he’s healthy to compete.
Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon
A fun lightweight matchup between two fan-favorite veterans just couldn’t make it to the cage.
The fight was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 274 in May, but Donald Cerrone fell ill on the day of the fight. It was a frustrating scenario for both fighters, but the UFC booked the fight again three days later to take place in Austin, Texas. Unfortunately, the fight was scrapped again in the final hours. Joe Lauzon’s left knee locked up causing the fight to be canceled.
Lauzon has not competed since pair of bookings fell through, while Cerrone fought against another veteran Jim Miller at UFC 276, and decided to retire after a submission loss.
Darren Till vs. Jack Hermansson
A fun middleweight matchup between Darren Till and Jack Hermansson was set to serve as the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 208 in London. The atmosphere at O2 Arena would have been incredible for Liverpool’s Till competing on home soil, but an injury forced him out of the bout. Hermansson remained on the card and defeated short-notice opponent Chris Curtis.
Till returned to action in December at UFC 282, where he was stopped by Dricus Du Plessis. Hermansson competed again in 2022 after Curtis, falling to Roman Dolidze in December.
Jessica Andrade vs. Manon Fiorot
Date: Sept. 3, 2022
Card: UFC Fight Night 209
Reason for cancelation: Andrade undisclosed medical issues
After her original opponent Katlyn Chookagian pulled out of their matchup, undefeated French flyweight Manon Fiorot was set to take on her biggest challenge yet in former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade at UFC Fight Night 209. Not only was it to be a big opportunity for title contention, the scene on her home soil of Paris, France could have been a special moment.
Undisclosed medical issues affecting Andrade caused the fight to fall apart though, and Fiorot was once again booked to fight Chookagian a month later. Fiorot went on to win their fight at UFC 280 by unanimous decision. Andrade has not returned to action, although she is currently slated to take on Lauren Murphy at UFC 283 in January.
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Nate Diaz
One man’s weight miss on the scale caused last-minute matchup chaos ahead of UFC 279. Khamzat Chimaev tipped the scale at 178.5 pounds for his scheduled welterweight matchup against Nate Diaz. The drastic weight miss led to a shuffling of the top three fights on the card, which saw Chimaev and Diaz end up with new opponents on just a few hours’ notice. Chimaev ended up facing Kevin Holland and won by submission in the first round, while Diaz ended up facing former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, winning by submission in the fourth frame.
Li Jingliang vs. Tony Ferguson
Although both fighters did their job on the scale, Tony Ferguson and Li Jingliang’s matchup was broken up after Chimaev’s disaster at weigh-ins. As a part of the ripple effect, Ferguson was shifted to take on Nate Diaz, while Jingliang was moved to face Daniel Rodriguez in a 180-pound catchweight bout. Both fighters would go on to lose in their new pairings. Ferguson lost to Diaz by fourth-round submission, while Jingliang dropped a close split decision on the scorecards to Rodriguez.
Kevin Holland vs. Daniel Rodriguez
Another pairing altered by Khamzat Chimaev’s weigh-in blunder was Kevin Holland vs. Daniel Rodriguez. After the shake up, Holland was paired with Chimaev, while Rodriguez’s new opponent was Li Jingliang. Holland was overwhelmed from the moment the fight began, resulting in a first-round loss to Chimaev. Rodriguez was successful against his new opponent though, as he picked up a split decision win over Jingliang.
After teasing retirement, Holland returned to action in December, where he would lose by TKO to Stephen Thompson in an intense main event of UFC on ESPN 42. Rodriguez returned a month prior to face Neil Magny, although the result did not go his way by tapping in the third round.
Giga Chikadze vs. Sodiq Yusuff
A very fun featherweight matchup between Giga Chikadze and Sodiq Yusuff was set to serve as the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 210. Chikadze withdrew 10 days prior to the event, leaving Yusuff without an opponent. A few weeks later, however, Yusuff found a matchup against UFC newcomer Don Shainis. The matchup between a ranked featherweight and a newcomer went as many would expect, as Yusuff tapped Shainis in just 30 seconds.
Chikadze has yet to return to action and does not currently have a matchup on the books.
Edson Barboza vs. Ilia Topuria
The always-exciting Edson Barboza was scheduled to face rapidly-rising undefeated contender Ilia Topuria in October. The matchup had Fight of the Night potential written all over it, but unfortunately, a knee injury to Barboza that required surgery led to the cancelation of the bout.
Topuria would go on to fight Bryce Mitchell in December, and keep his undefeated record intact by submitting the formerly-undefeated contender in the second round.
Bryce Mitchell vs. Movsar Evloev
Movsar Evloev vs. Bryce Mitchell was scheduled as the main event of UFC Fight Night 214 in Las Vegas. The featherweight matchup was a clash of undefeated fighters both looking to enter their name among the division’s elite. After Evloev pulled out with an undisclosed injury, Mitchell went on to face Ilia Topuria in December, and lost his first professional bout.
Tracy Cortez vs. Amanda Ribas
Tracy Cortez and Amanda Ribas have turned in a number of exciting fights throughout their career, which made their pairing an intriguing matchup in December. The fight fell apart just hours before UFC on ESPN 42, as Cortez was forced out due to an undisclosed medical issue after official weigh-ins. The fighters were pictured together cageside on the night of the event and appeared to be in good spirits, despite not getting the chance to fight their second bouts of the year. It is still unclear if the promotion plans to keep this matchup together and reschedule for a later date or find new pairings.
Robbie Lawler vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
Former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler is no stranger to being involved in barn-burner fights, and his pairing against Santiago Ponzinibbio at the final pay-per-view of 2022 promised to be another one of those bouts. However, an injury put Lawler on the sidelines, but Ponzinibbio got to keep his date and ended up facing Alex Morono. Ponzinibbio earned a Performance of the Night bonus for finishing the fight by knockout in the third round with an overhand right.
Jiri Prochazka vs. Glover Teixeira
After their Fight of the Year candidate at UFC 275 in June, Jiri Prochazka and Glover Teixeira were scheduled to run it back for the light heavyweight title at UFC 282. A serious shoulder injury rendered Prochazka unable to compete, and he decided to vacate the title while he recovers.
While we got to see this matchup once in 2022, the rematch falling apart in the last month of the year was a huge disappointment considering the excitement produced the first time around.