Best and Worst of 2022: Hip-Hop Edition

After a rebounding year in 2021 from the COVID-19 pandemic, many expected that 2022 would be tough to follow up. However, 2022 delivered some amazing rap albums that will become staples in history for years to come. There were some unlikely collaborations, surprise releases, and overall some of the best albums of the decade. Even with honorable mentions, there were still so many albums that were unable to top these awards despite all the recognition they deserve. Let’s break down some of our awards for rap albums released in 2022.


After taking four years off, Kendrick Lamar returned and easily dropped the best album of the year, Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers. This takes a full look at Kendrick’s life and mindset over the last four years where he shares his experiences of generational trauma and celebrity worship. The creativity on this album is outstanding, with We Cry Together being the highlight of that. It’s incredible to imagine that Kendrick and Taylour Paige are still rapping throughout the entire argument. Kendrick did a fantastic job of lifting his features to new heights including Kodak Black, Blsxt, and Tanna Leone. But the record also included household legends such as Ghostface Killah and Summer Walker. He also does amazing work with his cousin, Baby Keem, who Kendrick helped release a great debut project from him, The Melodic Blue. This is one of the few albums I would label as a 10/10, as it is impossible to find any flaws throughout the record. Followed by a fantastic tour, 2022 was Kendrick’s year and it will be fascinating to see his path going forward, now free from his label, Top Dog Entertainment, and creative freedom with his own brand, Pglang.

Honorable Mention: 10 by Westside Gunn


What’s Poppin laid the groundwork for Jack Harlow to hit the ground running with his commercial success. While that success has still continued for him his latest album, Come Home The Kids Miss You, just doesn’t stick outside the commercial success. Despite the all-star feature list on the album, Harlow’s production and craft manage to bring down all of them throughout the entire album. The production throughout the record can’t save it either, as it seems it was cheaply done besides some solid samples selected such as Glamorous by Fergie. The only song that decently sticks is Churchill Downs with Drake and even with a below-average Drake performance, Harlow still manages to set the bar even lower. With this kind of commercial success that Jack Harlow has had, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see him switch out of the formula. Nonetheless, it comes at a cost critically, as Come Home The Kids Miss You ends as one of the worst records of the year.

Honorable Mention: Honestly, Nevermind by Drake


Dreamville’s JID has always been considered an underrated artist of the label with a fast and exquisite flow. But 2022 was a huge jump for him with the release of The Forever Story. This album highlights JID’s pen ability, creativity, delivery, and flow, showing that he is one of the best rap artists on the planet and can compete with some of the legends that have crossed this genre since the beginning. JID also brings along with him a star-studded cast on this record and they also do not disappoint. Lil Wayne, 21 Savage, Earthgang, Ari Lennox, and Baby Tate are just some of the highlights of The Forever Story. Now expecting to headline his own tour in January, JID enters as one of the newest commercially successful artists with a very bright future as some have already started comparing him to Kendrick Lamar.

Honorable Mention: God Don’t Make Mistakes by Conway The Machine


Going back to my awards at the end of 2021, Kid Cudi’s Entergalactic was listed as one of the confirmed records that I was most excited for after the very psychedelic and emotionally tense Man on the Moon 3. The album was originally expected to release during the summer of 2022 after being announced in early 2021, giving a lot of build-up for its release. However, as more started to develop about the release of Entergalactic, the more it started to feel less like an actual album. First, it was announced that Cudi would be releasing some sort of film on Netflix alongside its release. Then when Cudi released the cover art for the album, it seemed clear that the album and the show were supposed to go hand and hand. Once the album was finally released at the end of September, it was almost obvious that this had the intention of being a soundtrack for the show, almost diminishing its quality and excitement that had been built up for nearly two years. Now with Cudi’s rumors of quitting music, it is unknown what is next for him going forward but nonetheless, Entergalactic would certainly be considered a negative end to Kid Cudi’s musical career.

Honorable Mention: Her Loss by Drake & 21 Savage


Despite Black Thought’s long and extensive career with The Roots, his new record, Cheat Codes, with Danger Mouse is actually considered a debut album under the new label, BMG. Throughout his time as an artist, this album still stands tall as not only one of Black Thought’s best albums but one of the best of the year. His rap delivery and pen work continue to be some of the best today and that is easily seen throughout Cheat Codes that he still puts his best foot forward on every track. The production from Danger Mouse is also spectacular as it brings a perfect old-school sound but is also unique enough to not be seen as a complete ripoff of the 90s hip-hop scene. The sound is almost perfect for an original vinyl record with the feint scratches in the background of each song. The features are also amazing, from Conway the Machine to MF DOOM, every artist performs to their highest on Cheat Codes. This record could easily win an award for best artist and producer of the year as well.

Honorable Mention: The Elephant Man’s Bones by Roc Marciano & The Alchemist


For the last decade, Pusha T has been one of the most consistent rappers on the planet and that does not change with his latest release, It’s Almost Dry. While his last album, Daytona, was executively produced by Kanye West, Push had a different approach coming into his next project. He had half of the beats made by Kanye West and half of the beats made by Pharrell Williams. This combination created a creative and quality blend as not only was It’s Almost Dry ended as one of the best albums of the year but easily one of the best-produced albums with two headliner producers at the helm. Tracks like BrambletonNeck & Wrist, Call My Bluff, and Scrape It Off go down as some of Pharell’s best instrumentals to date, including all of his classic drums and rhythms. The same can be said for Kanye West with Diet Coke, Dreamin’ of the Past, Rock n Roll, and Hear Me Clearly are also some of Kanye’s best-produced beats to date. Top that with Pusha T’s incredible rapping and pen work, It’s Almost Dry was no doubt one of the best rap albums of this year and was recognized by that with a well-deserved Grammy nomination for Rap Album of the Year.

Honorable Mention: God Don’t Make Mistakes by Conway The Machine


With Griselda continuing to steadily grow their brand and musical identity, it has been more than just the big three creating quality projects. Rome Streetz has been making music consistently, but KISS THE RING has easily been the best project for Rome Streetz. Exclusively produced by Westside Gunn, this album does a phenomenal job highlight Streetz’s criminally underrated pen ability with creative wordplay and a tough delivery, fitting the Griselda sound. While packing some great features from all the Griselda members, Streetz still does an amazing job on his solo work, consistently packing entertaining verses. The production work from Westside Gunn is also some of his best yet and really enhances the album to a new level. Some of my favorite tracks on this record were Tyson Beckford, Blow 4 Blow, and Serving. It will be very exciting going forward to see what Rome Streetz is able to do to build off of one of his best projects to date.

Honorable Mention: Few Good Things by Saba and NO THANK YOU by Little Simz


Despite yet becoming one of the biggest artists commercially, Westside Gunn has consistently grown his fanbase and has gained a lot more recognition for his unique old-school sound. From originally only including the members of Griselda, Conway the Machine and Benny the Butcher, Westside Gunn has also become more well-known with the artists he has continued to work with in recent years. 10 by Westside Gunn brings an incredible to the Hitler Wears Hermes series that has lasted for more than a decade now. Westside Gunn has done his fair share of work with big artists such as Tyler the Creator, Freddie Gibbs, Joey Bada$$, and others. However, 10 takes the cake when considering how influential these features have been in decades prior. This album is almost a passing of the torch to the next up in Griselda. Gunn’s feature list of 10 follows as with A$AP Rocky, Black Star, DJ Drama, Busta Rhymes, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Run the Jewels, and all other members of Griselda. But it’s not just the name value, every feature delivers a high-quality verse to make this an exceptionally great album to listen to. The sky continues to grow for Westside Gunn as he continues to grow his network.

Honorable Mention: $oul $old $eparately by Freddie Gibbs


Being one of the most consistent artists right now, Denzel Curry did not disappoint with this new project, Melt My Eyez See Your Future. Not only is this album extremely versatile with its sound but also with its features. Denzel has always done a phenomenal job at bringing on different subgenre artists to diversify his music. Buzzy Lee, T-Pain, Slowthai, 6LACK, Rico Nasty, and JID are just some of the impressive names he featured on the record.  But what is most impressive about this record is the cover art. Featuring psycheldelic tones with its choice of color and gradient, it fits perfectly with the title of “Melt my Eyes”. Denzel has never failed to not put as much attention and work into his cover arts as he does to the music being delievered on the album and Melt My Eyez See Your Future only continues that case for this being on of the best album artworks of the year.

Honorable Mention: The Family by BROCKHAMPTON


I had mentioned on my last award list that I was excited for whatever would come next for A$AP Rocky considering it had been 4 years since his last release at the time. Unfortunately, outside of a few singles, we were not blessed with a new A$AP Rocky record. However, I am much more confident that he will release in 2023 based on his recent actions. After his Rolling Loud show in September, he announced that it would be his last show before the new album. He also recently did a show for Amazon Prime where he premiered three new songs. He also released a new single called Shittin’ Me not too long ago. This is the most activity he has in a while so it wouldn’t be surprising that this is finally the time for a long-awaited record from New York’s best, A$AP Rocky.

Honorable Mention: Danny Brown and JPEGMAFIA collaboration

My Top 10 Albums of 2022

2022 ended as a phenomenal year for music as we were able to witness a lot of incredible moments for artists across all genres. We saw artists finally drop long-awaited albums, tease new music, and release some amazing albums for the whole world to enjoy. This year was filled with so much depth that there were still classics like 2000 by Joey Bada$$ and Melt My Eyes See Your Future by Denzel Curry that had to be left off the list. Albums in 2023 will now have a high bar going in, but artists like Frank Ocean, Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, and many others should be dropping highly anticipated music to make for an exciting upcoming year. Nonetheless, let’s highlight this year’s top projects.

Honorable Mentions:


Few Good Things by Saba

King’s Disease III by Nas

KISS THE RING by Rome Streetz

WASTELAND by Brent Faiyaz

Let’s now dive right into my favorite albums of 2022, in no particular order:

Dawn FM by The Weeknd

Despite being released within the first week of 2022, Dawn FM by The Weeknd has still held up as one of the top projects of the year. The second installment of the trilogy gaining focuses on its 90s Pop atmosphere, with a lot of similar sounds to Michael Jackson. Oneohtrix Point Never did an amazing job replicating the sound with its own unique twist. The features, despite not entirely fitting with The Weeknd’s style, still add necessary diversity to the project. This was a great album to pick off the year and gave a lot of credit to Abel for stepping outside his comfort zone and creating a project, not nearly the same sound he’s done for years now.

Ants From Up There by Black Country New Road

One of the newest rock bands on the scene. UK’s Black Country New Road brings a new and experimental sound to the world of rock that it needed. Despite a fast rise during the pandemic, this album was released four days after lead vocalist Isaac Wood announced he would be no longer with the band due to mental health reasons. His contributions were huge throughout Ants From Up There as his delivery gave a gut-wrench feeling that exposed all sorts of emotions during listening. This was one of my favorite rock albums of the year and it’ll be very interesting how the band transitions going forward without their lead vocalist.

God Don’t Make Mistakes by Conway the Machine

Conway the Machine has consistently continued his rise and popularity with the Griselda with each and every album he released. And as expected, God Don’t Mistakes takes that to a new level with Conway opening up about personal struggle, which is not entirely within the Griselda sound. He shared his mental health struggles from the gunshot to his face, poverty, gun violence, and many other new themes that haven’t been touched on before. The features, both underground and mainstream, perform well-above expectations and enhance the album to make it one of Conway’s best across his discography.


MIT’s finest, Lupe Fiasco, does it again as one of the most consistent rappers since his debut in 2006. Written and recorded in only three days, Lupe Fiasco still shows the world that his talent is far from lost even with other focuses in mind, such as his work as a college professor. Drill Music in Zion is decorated with fantastic lyricism and pen ability that have been a staple to Lupe’s career. With nothing related to drill music, this album takes a deep look into the current grim state of rap music. This album is a perfect highlight of why Lupe continues to be one of the most looked over artists when looking at some of the greatest of all time.

The Forever Story by JID

One of the biggest breakouts of the year has to go to Dreamville’s JID, as his release of The Forever Story earned a lot of worldwide recognition that he had not seen before despite his association with J. Cole. This album gives full exposure to JID’s amazing ability as an artist with each and every exquisite verse on this album. He has some of the best rap and pen ability in the entire genre right now. The features are also perfectly compatible with his style even for artists like Lil Durk and Kenny Mason. With this being only his third studio album, he still has so much room to grow and make a true household name for himself in years to come.

Cheat Codes by Black Thought & Danger Mouse

Legendary rapper, Black Thought, partners up with Danger House to release one of the best collaborative projects of the year with Cheat Codes. The production brings an old school style with its own twist to bring a psychedelic and progressive sound. Not only does Black Thought match with its lyricism, but the selection and execution of the features absolutely destroy expectations coming into this project. Just some of the highlights include verses from A$AP Rocky, Conway the Machine, MF DOOM, and Raekwon. It will be very interesting to see what this duo can cook in the future but for now, Cheat Codes is certainly one for the highlight books.

Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers by Kendrick Lamar

After taking the last four years off, Kendrick Lamar comes back with my personal pick for album of the year in Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers. This album has so many highlights to touch on from the production work, features, and content within each and every single song. We Cry Together is just one of the many tracks that highlight Kendrick’s creative ability to think outside the box and take some risks that pay off beautifully. Kendrick’s elevation to make artists like Kodak Black and Tanna Leone critical pieces on this project are just a reflection of how influential Kendrick has been to the music industry. This album was capped off with an amazing tour that I was fortunate to attend. Whether Kendrick is more active in making music or takes another break, his entire discography leaves a ton of replay value for everyone to enjoy.

Once Twice Melody by Beach House

Beach House comes back again with another amazing dream pop album that always brings a psychedelic and fluttering feel. Composed of four discs, Once Twice Melody brings a unique atmosphere to each side, almost like this album was made perfectly for vinyl. Victoria’s soft and light vocals are a perfect enhancement to the amazing roots projected throughout the entire project. Beach House has continued to consistently put out albums that still fit a unique perspective and listen that has still yet to be matched since their debut in 2006. I was also fortunate enough to see them in concert where their unique light show only made the music sound that much more amazing.

It’s Almost Dry by Pusha T

Pusha T has been one of the most favorite artists since when I first started listening to music seriously. His delivery tone and pen ability have been my favorite traits about him and his production has always been backed up by some of the best in the game currently. While DAYTONA is still one of the best albums of the young decade, It’s Almost Dry should have nothing to be taken away from that as it is still a spectacular album. Nothing falls short of Push’s lyricism and production is strongly reinforced by a mixture of Pharrell Williams and Kanye West. Even with the features being a bit outside the box for Push, artists like Lil Uzi Vert perform well along with some of the usual names Pusha has worked with including Kanye West, Kid Cudi, and Jay-Z. Even while still continuing to rap about cocaine, Pusha T never fails to drop an entertaining album for all to enjoy.

10 By Westside Gunn

Westside Gunn has continued to not only blow away my expectations with each new release but also is still one of the most underrated artists on the planet right now. His conclusion to the Hitler Wears Hermes is only another reason to hop on the Griselda train. This album is packed with a lot of legendary names that have helped contribute to this album. Three Wu-Tang Clan members contributed along with Run the Jewels, A$AP Rocky, Busta Rhymes, and Doe Boy. Of course, no recognition couldn’t be given to all the members of Griselda, including Westside Gunn’s daughter, Westside Poodie, all of which had impactful contributions throughout the album. This ends as one of my favorite albums of the year and I am beyond excited to see what Westside Gunn releases in what is said to be his final year making music.

Westside Gunn Releases 10th Album to the Hitler Wears Hermes Series

On October 28th, Westside Gunn, co-founder of the record label, Griselda, released his 10th mixtape of the Hitler Wears Hermes series, which he has announced will be his last of the series. Gunn brought together one of the best feature lists of the year, including major names such as Run the Jewels, Black Star, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, A$AP Rocky, and Busta Rhymes. 

The album is also decorated with any of Westside Gunn’s own artists that he has done a ton of work with in the past as Griselda was on the rise including his brother Conway the Machine and his cousin Benny the Butcher. These three are considered the main trio of Griselda. Rome Streetz, Stove God Cooks, and Armani Caesar are other artists signed with Griselda that also have features on the album.  

Despite the controversial name, the name of the series of albums actually comes from a spin-off of the popular 2006 movie “The Devil Wears Prada.” While Kanye West has been in some deep water with his antisemitic comments and rumor that he wanted to name an album after Hitler, some people took to Twitter to humorously point out that Kanye is technically not the first to do this. 

The album overall has received a ton of positive engagement not only for Gunn’s accomplishment of completing the Hitler Wears Hermes series but from the quality of music within the album. Westside Gunn has always had a strong reputation for gathering the best producers to collaborate for phenomenal instrumentals. 

The album also received a lot of praise for the quality of features he was able to bring in for not being the most well-known artist in the game currently. It is very noteworthy when an artist can get three Wu-Tang Clan members and the Blackstar duo all on an album together. Westside Gunn also included his daughter on the album, known as WSPootie. She had her own verse included on the track, Nigo Louis, despite only being in the fourth grade.

Gunn also received some praise for the release from some celebrities as well including former NBA All-Star, Jalen Rose. Gunn also appeared on his podcast to talk about the release of the album and his plans for the future after the HWH series. 

The release also generated a very decorated article from Rolling Stone’s writer, Andre Gee, who highlighted a lot of Gunn’s collaboration and the history of his musical career that has lasted now for more than a decade.

Westside Gunn also received a positive score from TheNeedleDrop on Youtube, a well-known music critic with over two million subscribers. He noted his favorite tracks were Super Kick Party, Peppas, Nigo Louis, BDP, Science Class, Switches on Everything, and Mac Don’t Stop.

Westside Gunn’s rise started in Buffalo, New York in 2016 when he released his first studio album, titled Flygod, under Griselda after a few other mixtapes including the first two Hitler Wears Hermes projects. 

It was only a year later before Griselda Records signed a deal with Eminem’s Shady Records, soon after performing at major festivals such as Coachella and Governors Ball. He finished his deal by releasing Who Made The Sunshine in October 2020, his only album with Shady Records. Gunn also still continuously put out Hitler Wears Hermes mixtapes every year.

Westside Gunn’s next big boost came with the release of his third studio album, Pray for Paris in April 2020, featuring much bigger commercial names such as Tyler, the Creator, Wale, Joey Badass, and Freddie Gibbs. 

Gunn’s most recent pop was the last Hitler Wears Hermes release where he released two albums over the course of a month in 2021. These albums also included big-name features such as Tyler, the Creator, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, and Jadakiss. This also received a lot of positive buzz and earned a high score from well-known music critic, Anthony Fantano. Gunn was also featured on Kanye West’s last album, Donda, which helped gain some buzz as well. 

Westside Gunn’s subordinates have also released quality albums under the Griselda label. Benny the Butcher released his fourth edition of the Tana Talk series. Conway the Machine released his second studio album, God Don’t Make Mistakes. This album received a nine from Anthony Fantano. Rome Streetz also released a very acclaimed album titled KISS THE RING. This album was also executively produced by Westside Gunn. 

While one chapter looks to close with the end of the Hitler Wears Hermes series, another door always seems to open for Westside Gunn as he’s continued to show himself more than just being a musician. He has recently engaged in art pieces, opening his own art gallery in his hometown of Buffalo. The possibilities are endless for Gunn. Nonetheless, he still continues to be one of the most under-the-radar rappers in the game today despite releasing another high-quality album in Hitler Wears Hermes 10

Interview with Chris Clayton

Chris Clayton is a play-by-play broadcaster and a University of Oregon alumni, Class of 2017. Chris first met his love for broadcasting his freshman year when he joined the student radio station, KWVA. His passion and drive quickly raised him to the top of the station, earning the assistant sports director position at the end of his sophomore year. He finished his time at KWva as the sports director his senior year. He now calls games for the University of Idaho under ESPN plus. 

What social media platforms do you find most powerful as a journalist?

I think Twitter is the most powerful just because it is so instant, and you’re able to express yourself and update people on what you’re doing at that moment. You know, I think it depends on the person really like that some people’s approach to social media is to put themselves out there and become maybe not an influencer, but become very open and honest about their life, or kind of portrayed in the way of being an entertainer, if that makes sense. So you create content to not just inform people of what you’re up to, and like, hey, look how active I am, I do a play-by-play. But I can be funny and interesting. I like to tweet something out sometimes if I think it’s funny, but also entertaining. That it’s never been more intertwined with somebody’s professional and personal life. 

How does social media impact your work?

Today? I think it’s huge. It’s the future. We’re at a point now where we know that now it’s about how do you use it? And I don’t think I have, I don’t know if anybody has the perfect answer as to how to use it. But you have to be. I think the first step is to get to a point where people care about your opinion. I think some people don’t want to sound negative, but like some people use social media as a route to get to where they want to go. And some people get to where they want to go and then use social media to peel back the curtain and say, here’s what I’m up to. So I kind of take the route of I’m not like all I’m going to be, and then that’s gonna get me a job, I say, I’m going to try to get these jobs through my skills and through connections that I have. I think that’s important because in today’s day and age, when you apply for a job, or anybody hears about you, what are they going to do? They’re going to look you up on Instagram or Twitter. They’re going to say, what’s this person doing? So you can’t just be on LinkedIn, that can’t just be your professional information. I think it’s crucial to have professional and personal crossover in the broadcasting and media world and all your platforms. 

How do you believe social media has enhanced the world of sports?

I think it’s allowed us to know a lot more about athletes and coaches on a personal level. I think it’s empowered athletes. To be able to present their personality and control the narrative. And as somebody who backs up the media and respects the media, obviously I do. I think, for the most part, these athletes are covered fairly. But it is nice to be able to see, unprompted, what these guys want to talk about and what their thoughts and opinions are on different things. So I think it’s fun to be able to watch a game now and know a lot about every player. If you want to learn about a player, in the 80s or 90s, you would be able to find different articles about them, or what the broadcast is telling you. Now we know a lot more like we could look up any athlete and say, Okay, this is his fiancee, this is where he lives, he’s got two dogs, this is what college you went to, this is passionate. That’s pretty cool. You know, that’s a lot of information to have, to be able to have about an athlete. And that’s why I think it’s helped athletes a ton. And I think it is some, the media, some aspects of media, they’ve struggled to keep up and be able to adapt to it. But I just think in terms of enhancing the sports world, it’s helped athletes a lot and this has been cool for them to be able to control narratives.

What is the biggest takeaway from your time at the University of Oregon or just college in general?

It was my dream school. I grew up in Medford, Oregon, Southern Oregon. And so it was just amazing to be able to go there. I think the SOJC was good, but I think the biggest thing that helped me was my time at KWVA. I think for a sports school, I think SOJC can do a much better job. But I think they could at that time do a much better job of opportunities of teaching, play-by-play, and even sports writing. And now that I’ve gotten out in the real world, you see and know kids from Ball State, and from these different schools that had so many hands-on play-by-play opportunities, from their actual educational department. That is something that wasn’t offered at Oregon. So the biggest thing that I took away was my time at KWVA. I think it’s still the same that you don’t get class credits or anything for it. So it is positive that it’s still an entity, you don’t have to worry about getting clearance for certain projects and certain things you can go out on your own. And I met other broadcasters that were my age going through the same thing. So we learned and got better together. And when I was a freshman, I had mentors that were older than me that knew the ropes and taught me. KWVA just really changed my life and taught me how to broadcast. So I learned from those older than me.

UFC 277 Predictions

The UFC returns to Dallas, Texas for the first time in four years to put on another stacked pay-per-view event. The TUF 30 coaches bout is finally here between Juliana Pena and Amanda Nunes. It’ll bring a very important dynamic to the future of UFC women’s divisions. A flyweight interim belt is also on the line between of the most exciting fighters in the division. Of course, the prelims are filled out with entertaining fights as well. Undefeated Michael Morales is a fighter to keep an eye on in the future and he squares against Adam Fugitt. Drakkar Klose and Rafa Garcias should be scattered with highlights. Drew Dober and Rafael Aves is a great fight between two long-time veterans with the promotion. Hamdy Abdelwahab should have a fun debut against Don’Tale Mayes too. The opening fights on the early prelims should be packed with action as well. Nonetheless, let’s break down the main card.

Previous prediction record: 45-29


Magomed Ankalaev has slowly crept up in the ever-changing light heavyweight division. He burst onto the scene with a main event win over Thiago Santos that really demonstrated his dominance as a potential future division champion. Ankalaev is just entering his prime as he turned 30 last month. His combination of power and accuracy gives him some of the best striking in the division. He’s even added some offensive and defensive wrestling to switch up the fight when need be. He gets a big step up against Anthony Smith who has revitalized his career since his 2020 loss to Aleksander Rakic. Smith has been on a three-fight win streak including key wins over Jimmy Crute and Ryan Spann. Lionheart brings a massive advantage when it comes to experience as he’s had multiple title opportunities including a loss against Jon Jones in 2019. But his overall ability had definitely faded as he went up in age. It’s hard to see a formula to win against someone who has been so perfect to start his career with the promotion. Ankalaev will likely be considered in the title shot conversation with this statement win.

Official Prediction: Ankalaev by KO/TKO


Alexandre Pantoja has been one of the most underrated contenders in the flyweight division considering there have already been three fights between Brandon Morano and Deiveson Figueiredo and potentially a fourth. But his back-to-back wins over Manel Kape and Brandon Royval have shown he’s more than capable to compete with the best of the best even as he waits for his shot. His well-roundedness makes him a threat in standup and on the mat. He faces a well-talented Alex Perez who is coming off of a title fight loss against Figueiredo back in November of 2020. Perez has had multiple fight cancellations due to injury and missed weight. It’s hard to imagine ring rust not being a factor for him. Perez still has a lot of size and length that gives him crafty striking. His BJJ is also at a high level, having seven submissions to his name. I see Pantoja’s versatility causing a lot of problems for Perez to be able to implement his game plan. Pantoja should be looking at a potential title shot with this win.

Official Prediction: Pantoja by Submission


Another underrated Russian fighter earns his pay-per-view debut with his own incredible run through the heavyweight division. Sergei Pavlovich has won four of his last five fights. All of the wins came within the first round including a recent finish of Shamil Abdurakhimov in March that really titled him as a legitimate contender. His power is unbelievable for the division, filled with knock-out power fighters. Derrick Lewis, on the other hand, is the knockout leader in the promotion and brings a ton of veteran experience in every new fight he steps in. He let his last bout slip away against Tai Tuivasa because he was unable to keep up with his speed and was eventually finished. It’s hard to see what Derrick Lewis could do to realistically improve his game if he is at the stage where he going to gatekeep against up-and-coming heavyweights. The bout against Tuivasa exposed a lot of his weaknesses against more dynamic and quicker strikers. Pavlovich will no doubt overwhelm Lewis with patterns of strikes, one of which will likely lead to a knockout.

Official Prediction: Pavlovich by KO/TKO


After a trilogy series with champion Deiveson Figueiredo, Brandon Moreno returns for another championship opportunity to win the interim flyweight title. It’s unclear why an interim belt is being offered, whether it is injury or the possibility that Figueiredo plans to move up to bantamweight. Nonetheless, Moreno could already be seen as the champion in the division with all the chaos that has happened between the first three fights with Figueiredo. Moreno brings an extra level of grit that has carried him to multiple wins even when he wasn’t considered the more skilled fighter. Nonetheless, he does bring an impressive BJJ game that can be lethal at any point during the fight. Kai-Kara France has gained some excitement of his own after two first-round knockouts against Rogerio Bontorin and Cody Garbrandt. This was immediately followed up by an impressive decision win over Askar Askarov. Kara-France packs a lot of power in his hands despite his size, already recording 11 finishes. Giving Moreno his first-ever defeat by finish will be his only path to victory. But championship experience will certainly have its edge and Brandon Moreno will be square up for a fourth fight against the God of War.

Official Prediction: Morano by Unanimous Decision


The TUF 30 coaches finally square off after a very tense season that will be completed on August 6th. But this rematch between Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena will have a completely different dynamic compared to the first fight. It starts with Amanda’s approach. She clearly didn’t look right in the first fight, whether it was a tough weight cut or a poor replenishment. She completely failed to establish her game plan. For Juliana, she can’t just hard charge as she did in the first fight. She continuously stepped forward and continued striking because of Amanda’s disadvantage from the start. Julianna has to expect a much more prepared and healthier Nunes on Saturday because she’ll have to contain a lot more threats. For Amanda, she has to get more creative to get past Julianna, which he should be well prepared for already. Nunes is one of the most well-rounded women’s fighters on the planet. I think it’s more than fair to assume Nunes had an off night the first fight and she is still well in her prime and more talented than anyone in this promotion. She’ll completely overwhelm Julianna and likely earn a finish in some capacity. What’s next could be a very interesting path because Valentina Schevchenko has had her eye on a rematch with Nunes for a while.

Official Prediction: Nunes by Submission

The Winners and Losers of the 2022 NBA Draft

The 2022 NBA Draft has passed and while many questions were answered, plenty of important ones weren’t. While some teams capitalized heavily on improving their rosters, other instead chose to defer their futures despite the plethora of veterans available for trade. Here are some of the biggest winners and losers of the 2022 NBA Draft. 

Winners: Detroit Pistons

There’s no question that the biggest winner of the draft is the Detroit Pistons after their stellar moves. While it was likely that Jaden Ivey was going to fall into their lap because of the lack of fit and interest for Ivey with the Kings, this is still an A+ pick for the franchise. 

Cade Cunningham has demonstrated a lot of point-forward skill and tendencies, making him more of a positionless franchise player for the Pistons rather than someone who is an automatic lock for the starting backcourt. Due to his size, Cunningham could easily fit offensively in a lineup as the power forward with consistent shooters around him. He could also be the point guard surrounded by athletic wings because of his playmaking ability. 

Jaden Ivey solidifies himself as one part of the backcourt and a perfect franchise partner with Cunningham. As another uber-athletic guard, Ivey brings a ton of swagger and identity to the Pistons that have lacked a household name like that since Grant Hill due to their poor development of top draft selections. Additionally, Ivey’s ball handling could ease the burden of third-year guard Killian Hayes, who has struggled thus far in his young career.

But the Pistons’ draft success didn’t stop there. They were also able to cash in on a favorable three-team trade with the Hornets and the Knicks and bring in one of the best big men in the entire draft in Jalen Duren. He’s another athletic center that should form a successful pick and roll duo with Ivey and Cunningham. His inside offensive game could use some development but what he brings defensively will make him an instant impact player for the Pistons. They also got a great development prospect in Ismael Kamagateout of France. He’ll likely be a draft stash for a few seasons but his size and frame give him a ton of upside if he can develop in the Summer League and overseas. 

Winners: San Antonio Spurs

While the Spurs now look like they’re entirely blowing things up after trading their only all-star in Dejounte Murray, they still had a successful draft this offseason. It starts with Jeremy Sochan out of Baylor University. Despite only starting in one college game, Sochan’s size and swiss army knife kind of ability make him a perfect prospect for the Spurs to select. He brings a ton of versatility to find his role with the future of the Spurs while they now go through a full rebuild. He also needs a lot of improvement, especially his shooting splits. But because of the rebuild, Sochan will have a few seasons of leniency for growth without much expectation.

The same can be said for Malaki Branham, a freshman out of Ohio State. Branham is a three-level scorer who puts up great percentages and can be a perfect complementary player with a lot of upside if he’s able to develop and improve his isolation game. 

Lastly, the Spurs snagged Blake Wesley out of Notre Dame with their last first-round pick. A point guard also with a lot of upside, Blake Wesley’s athleticism highlights his overall game. He’s no doubt a developmental prospect after shooting low percentages his only season at Notre Dame. 

With some development, which they have a phenomenal history of doing for decades, the Spurs have a great chance to continue to set themselves up for success in the future. 

Losers: Portland Trail Blazers

Portland has had its history of poor draft selections. Of course, going back to 2007 when they selected Greg Oden instead of Kevin Durant is the most notable of misses. But it’s much more extensive than just that. It starts going back as far as 1996 when they selected Jermaine O’Neal, a six-time all-star but only averaging four points with the franchise before being given away to the Pacers. Martell Webster at sixth overall in 2005 was another bust for the franchise. Zach Collins in 2017 and Meyers Leonard in 2011 never panned out either. Portland also failed to hit on any of their later selections excluding Zach Randolph at 19th overall in 2001. Yes, they hit on Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and a draft night trade for LaMarcus Aldridge. They also have a steal in the making with Anfernee Simons.

But there’s a trend with the picks that Portland hits on. They’re way more NBA-ready prospects when coming to the league. Lillard instantly impacted the Blazers, and McCollum carved out a role within two and a half years. It’s going to be hard for the Trail Blazers to justify picking the project labeled draft prospect when they have failed to develop most project players for the last 20 years. Sharpe certainly brings a lot of size and skill to the team. However, not playing any college or post-high school basketball is going to be detrimental to his development if Portland cannot add any support. Time will only tell, but Dyson Daniels from the G-League would have been a much safer selection for a team that is in dire need of high upside prospects to build a new core with. 

Losers: New York Knicks

Jalen Bruson is a great basketball player just entering his prime at 25 years old. But what the Knicks are doing to guarantee he signs with the team is questionable for their future. For starters, they’re paying and playing him like a number one option, something that he has yet to prove in his four years. His 2022 playoff run has been his peak, but that came playing alongside Luka Doncic, who draws the opposing team’s best defenders. How will that work with Brunson as the best scoring option for the Knicks? We’ll have to see, but it’s certainly a risk worth considering.

The Knicks also cut some of their depth by trading away role players in Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel to clear cap space for the signing. Credit does need to be given for shedding Kemba Walker’s contract; that was a necessary move. 

But, the big miss for the Knicks came when they passed on two quality prospects for questionable future assets. They first traded the 11th overall pick to the Thunder for the following draft picks: 2023 first-round pick via Detroit (protected 1-18 until 2024, protected 1-13 in 2025, protected 1-11 in 2026, protected 1-9 in 2027). 2023 first-round pick via Washington (protected 1-14 in 2023, protected 1-12 in 2024, protected 1-10 in 2025, protected 1-8 in 2026). 2023 first-round pick via Denver (protected 1-14 until 2025). A lot of protections that likely won’t hit until the selections fall to the 20s in future years. 

At 11, the Thunder selected Ousmane Dieng, a versatile point forward from France who brings unorthodox size and skill, a clear pattern for the team as they select another potential “unicorn” kind of player. The Knicks also passed up on Jalen Duren when shedding Walker’s contract, giving up four future second-round picks in the process. Instead, they continue to roll with Mitchell Robinson, carrying a lot of risk with his injury-prone history and lack of offensive game. These moves aren’t ones that move the needle for the Knicks, and there could have been better alternatives to bolster their roster in order to make another push for a playoff run. 

Draft Profile: Jaden Ivey

Name: Jaden Ivey

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 195

Age: 20

Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard 

College/Organization: Purdue

NBA Comparison: Donovan Mitchell/Ja Morant

Strengths: One of the most explosive guards in this class with elite-level athleticism. He plays with a very high motor from the beginning to the end of the game. Ivey is an excellent finisher around the rim, highlighted with some of the best dunks in all of college basketball last season. His ability and speed in the open court are also very lethal. Ivey is great at creating contact at the rim to earn free throw opportunities. Ivey is also effective in the pick and roll. He’s also an above-average rebounder for his position and will be a nightly triple-double threat in his prime. 

Weaknesses: While his three-point shot did improve a ton from his freshman to his sophomore season, it is still below the preferred mark for players that play his position. His playmaking abilities could definitely improve, as he only averaged around three assists with more than two turnovers per game. While he’s great at getting to the rim and earning trips to the line, there’s plenty of room for improvement with his free throw shooting, holding a 73 percent average at Purdue. His shot selection and decision-making could also use a tune-up. Not the smartest player defensively and will often gamble and pick up unnecessary fouls. 

Outlook: One of the best guards in the draft, Ivey will likely be selected within the top five because of his elite athleticism and energy. While he does have a high ceiling with plenty of room to improve, his offensive capabilities make him an instant impact for any of the teams selecting in the top five. The biggest question is can he elevate his game offensively? It’s almost impossible to last in the NBA without a legitimate shot from three. When will the development for Ivey come to elevate his game to a potential top 50 player or even higher?

Draft Profile: Jabari Smith Jr.

Name: Jabari Smith
Height: 6’10”

Weight: 220

Age: 19

Position: Small Forward/Power Forward

College/Organization: Auburn

NBA Comparison: Rashard Lewis

Strengths: Filled with a ton of length and physical capabilities, Jabari Smith comes in as one of the most well-rounded prospects with the most upside. He’s an effective scorer from all three levels including a 42 percent three-point percentage. Smith is an effective free throw shooter as well, holding a percentage around 80%. He limits turning the ball over, averaging less than two turnovers per game. His balance of athleticism and finesse is on an elite level. He’s great with and without the ball in terms of off-ball movement. Overall, Smith has a high-quality IQ for the offensive game. At the same time, he’s not the most elite defender, but Smith’s physical capabilities allow him to be versatile while not being forced to take a ton of risks to put himself into foul trouble. He’s able to guard 1-5 despite a thinner frame for his height, averaging 1.5 steals and a block per game.

Weaknesses: Adding more muscle could unlock so much more for his style of play. NBA physicality could be an issue if he doesn’t add any muscle to his frame. While he is an excellent three-level scorer, his mid-range is easily the weakest of the three. His rebounding numbers are also a bit underwhelming for his frame. He’s not the most gifted passer either. His ball-handling could also always use improvement for more elite defenders. 

NBA Outlook: Smith comes into the draft with the combination of a high ceiling but also a skill set that makes him a ready now prospect that can impact any team immediately. Being the first overall pick is certainly not out of the question for Smith’s skill set. Smith can easily be a number one option offensively for a rebuilding team. The Magic, Rockets, and Thunder could all use someone like Smith who comes into the league as potentially the next Kevin Durant but with a high floor of a dynamic scorer. 

International Fight Week: UFC 276 Predictions

The UFC prepares for International Fight Week with its biggest card of the year taking place in the city of Las Vegas. UFC  276 is highlighted by one of the most exciting fighters on the planet, this card is far from disappointing, and is filled with a ton of exciting prospects, along with a stellar main card. The prelims, which will air on ABC, could easily fill the main card of a UFC Fight Night. Dricus Du Plessis is one of the more exciting prospects in the middleweight division and his fight against Brad Tavares is an exciting start to the prelims. Ian Garry has already been deemed the next Conor McGregor, and a win against Gabe Green would be a huge boost to his resume. Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller are both legends far beyond the promotion. Finally, Brad Riddell and Jalen Turner is an excellent prelims headliner, with both fighters looking to crack the UFC rankings. Not to mention, well-known fighters, Uriah Hall and Andre Muniz headline the early prelims as well . Nonetheless, let’s break down the main card predictions.

Previous Prediction Record: 43-27


Sean O’Malley brings a new wave of entertainment to the entire promotion with the crazy hair colors and an unorthodox fighting style. The “Unranked Champ” has completely slashed through every opponent since his injury loss to Marlon Vera. His length has given him a massive advantage in both boxing and kickboxing. Not to mention that he has a very underrated jujitsu game that he has yet to utilize because of his dominant striking. He faces Pedro Munhoz, an experienced veteran holding a ranked spot for multiple years now. However, Munhoz is 1-4 in his last five fights, only with a win over Jimmie Rivera who isn’t with the promotion anymore. This could be seen as a fight for a spot bout for Munhoz. But it’s hard to see him winning without some dominant jujitsu. O’Malley will likely overwhelm him with his striking and hopefully, can be taken as a serious fighter in one of the most stacked divisions in the UFC.

Official Prediction: O’Malley by KO/TKO


Two of the best scrappers in the welterweight division, the Robbie Lawler vs. Bryan Barberena match should be an all-out brawl. Lawler, a former contender, has continued to fight the best of the best in the division. He is recently coming off of a weird win against Nick Diaz that might have added a little heat to his name. But nonetheless, Lawler is a brawler in this game and goes the depths with anyone he’s asked to fight. The same can go for Barberena, who is coming off of back-to-back wins against Matt Brown and Darian Weeks. He has the nickname “Bam Bam” for a reason. He is willing to walk through heaven and hell to earn a victory. His striking defense is also a bit crisper than Lawler’s, which could be vital. Barberena looks to be more on a roll, plus his age definitely plays as an advantage for him in a style of fight where both guys are going to be taking a lot of punches. Realistically, I imagine him coming out of this fight victorious.

Official Prediction: Barberena by KO/TKO


Since moving up to the middleweight division, Sean Strickland, has been on an absolute tear and will put himself on the map as a legitimate title contender if he’s able to win this fight. His domination against Uriah Hall and Krzysztof Jotko showed his ceiling, while the brawl he went through against Jack Harmanson showed the lengths he’s willing to go to for a win. Strickland now faces his toughest opponent yet in Alex Pereira, who has otherworldly kickboxing skills. Known for beating Adesanya twice in another promotion, Pereira comes in with a ton of hype as the guy who could possibly dethrone The Last Stylebender at 185 pounds division. But as always, it’s important to focus on the fight in front of him. Pereira lacks a legitimate wrestling game and it showed early in recent bouts, but he was still able to earn wins with his striking. This becomes a more complicated situation with Strickland, who has a decent enough wrestling game to win the fight. He’ll have to take the fight to the ground, even though he hasn’t shown a lot of it in his fights at middleweight. If Strickland is able to keep Pereira’s kickboxing at bay, and use some of his wrestling techniques, this should be a steady decision win for Tarzan.

Official Prediction: Strickland by Unanimous Decision


Despite Alexander Volkanovski winning the first two fights against Max Holloway, a trilogy became almost inevitable when Holloway showed dominance against Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez over the last year and a half. Now after dealing with injuries, the time has finally come for Holloway to earn his revenge. But in all honesty, he shouldn’t have to. Halloway won the second fight and I believe that poor judging changed the course of his division. Holloway was able to knock him down twice and stay consistent for the remainder of the fight, while Volkanovski became impatient and desperate for hits. Holloway definitely needs to improve on his wrestling defense if he wants any chance of earning the belt back, because Volkanovski has only displayed improved wrestling in his recent defenses. On the other hand, Volkanovski is one of the most complete fighters in the division. His brilliant game plan against Brian Ortega turned heads, and many believe that he’s destined to be the champion. Volkanovski followed that up with a steamroll against the Korean Zombie. At 30 years old, I believe Holloway has yet to show us his true prime despite the run he had years ago in the division. Some may see another robbery at hand, but I see Holloway narrowly winning the trilogy and potentially solidifying himself as the best featherweight of all time.

Official Prediction: Holloway by Split Decision


One of the best pound-for-pound fighters currently part of the promotion, Israel Adesanya, comes in as a heavyweight for his fifth title fight against Jared Cannonier. Adesanya is coming off of a stellar performance against Robert Whittaker, where some of his best skills were on display. Adesanya demonstrated accurate striking and his ability to hide his kicks and punches is spectacular. I could see this fight following a similar direction as his technique has proved more than successful to this point. Only Jan Blachowicz in a different weight class has been able to exploit his flaws. He’s only separated himself from the rest of the contenders in this division with his recent title defenses. Cannonier does pack a lot of power in his hands, as he displayed that in his win against Derek Brunson. That could be one aspect that leads to a new champion. Cannonier even showed some wrestlingskill, but I can’t imagine that’ll be a factor in this bout. His best chance may be by luck with a knockdown or two to catch Adesany off guard. But The Last Stylebender has been all too perfect with his defense in recent fights, and I don’t see this fight being very close at all. It may be time for the UFC to start exploring bigger fights outside of the division for Adesanya, because Robert Whittaker has been the only challenger to give Adesanya even a little bit of trouble during his title reign.

Official Prediction: Adesanya by KO/TKO

UFC 275 Predictions

The UFC takes their first overseas event as they kick off the summer months with a pay-per-view event in Kallang, Singapore headlined by two title fights and a highly anticipated rematch between two of the most competitive women’s strawweight fighters. As always, the prelims are filled with a ton of exciting prospects. SeungWoo Choi and Josh Culibo are two of the better prospects in the featherweight division. Brandon Allen is an exciting veteran who always brings finishes to his matches. Andre Fialho is fighting his fourth fight with the promotion in the year. The matchup between Maheshate Maheshate and Steve Garcia should also bring a ton of action. As always, let’s break down the main card predictions.

Previous Prediction Record: 40-26


After an exciting debut with the promotion in January, where he knocked out Pete Rodriguez, Jack Della Maddalena puts his name on the map for the welterweight division. He’s been on an 11fight win streak since losing his first two professional bouts in 2016. Della Maddalena packs a ton of power in his hands, as all but two of his wins have come by KO/TKO. But he faces a big challenge against Ramazan Emeev, who is mainly known for his wrestling and jujitsu. Emeev currently holds seven submissions to his name but hasn’t achieved one since 2016 with the M-1 Challenge promotion. In fact, every fight since then has gone to some form of a decision. But Emeev is coming off of a close loss against Danny Roberts, where Emeev struggles to earn takedowns and was forced to stay on his feet. As long as Della Maddalena can do the same,I imagine he earns another finish to his name with his elite striking.

Official Prediction: Della Maddalena by KO/TKO


Two of the better flyweight prospects the promotion has to offer, the winner between Manel Kape and Rogerio Bontorin could be set up for a title contention next. After coming into the UFC in 2019 after domination in Rizin FF, Manel Kape had a ton of hype but failed to turn it into winning production. He would lose his first two fights against Alexandre Pantoja and Matheus Nicolau and all seemed confused for Kape. But back-to-back first-round knockouts have set Kape back on the track he originally started and now has a chance to put himself in the title picture. His well-roundness has made him difficult for opponents to control. He’s always been a submission threat but the power is legit. On the other hand, Bontorin has some slickness of his own, having 11 submissions to his name. But he has been on a slump, having three losses and a draw in his last four fights. He is most recently coming off of a split decision loss to Brandon Royval. I can’t imagine Bontorin having the capability to stop the hype of Kape right now. This should be a clean finishing victory for Kape.

Official Prediction: Kape by KO/TKO


After one of the most exciting fights from 2020, the rematch between Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk is finally here. While Zhang had a two-match duel with Rose Namajunis, Jedrzejczyk had not fought since the first fight. After being knocked out in her first matchup against Namajunis, Zhang ended up losing a close split decision in the rematch. But her preparation and game plan could have certainly won her the fight. Jedrzejczyk on the other hand has openly expressed her interest elsewhere in MMA. Similar to the McGregor approach, the former strawweight champion doesn’t seem to have the same interest in fighting as opposed to fighting big matchups for money. Her inactivity could also prove to be an issue in the octagon. Nonetheless, this should be an exciting fight with a ton of activity, but I believe the odds are closer than they should be.

Official Prediction: Zhang by KO/TKO


Valentina Shevchenko has been one of the most dominant champions in the promotion across the board. She hardly ever lets up any room for her opponents to implement their game plan against her. Her well-roundedness as a fighter makes her almost impossible to handle because of her ability to bring the heat from every aspect of her game. Her win against Jessica Andrade was filled with wrestling and ground and pound before leading to a finish. But her win against Lauren Murphy involved a lot of stand-up and technical striking. Taila Santos on the other side may be her toughest challenge since Amanda Nunes. Santos is coming off of a submission win against Joanne Wood and a four-fight win streak. Her power is immaculate and could easily bring a finish if she lands a combination. But even if Santos is one of the best in the division, Shevchenko is still miles ahead of her, I don’t imagine this fight gets close without some luck from the Santos corner.

Official Prediction: Shevchenko by Unanimous Decision


This is easily one of the toughest title fights to predict this year. The challenger, Jiri Prochazka, has only fought twice in the UFC but has been absolutely devastating. He holds 25 knockouts to his 28 wins, including two against Volken Oezdimir and a ridiculous backward spinning elbow against Dominick Reyes. He’s about as reckless as can be, but he’s been perfect in his fights thus far. He has the highest significant strikes landed per minute amongst all active in the division. He’s been completely overwhelming for anyone who crosses his path. But Glover Teixeira has been one of the best comeback stories in the entire promotion. Since his loss to Corey Anderson in 2018, Teixeira has been undefeated. He recently won the belt with a submission victory to become the oldest fighter to earn a belt in promotion history. He’s never been one to count out despite his age and older fighting style. While Prochazka is the big bad wolf who can run the division for years to come, I think it’s not his time to do so. Glover has always been one to pull something out of his sleeve, especially in the wrestling department. If he can avoid Prochazka’s pressure and force him to bite, it could be over from there. While it’ll be extremely close, I think Teixeirawill continue his championship run and earn another defense against an up-and-coming light heavyweight.

Official Prediction: Teixeira by Submission