Depending in your tastes, 2022 was both a disappointing or thrilling yr in UFC. Detractors have been unsatiated by the dearth of huge marquee fights whereas supporters took enjoyment of an abundance of impactful performances.
It is true that Conor McGregor and Jon Jones have been absent, Nate Diaz and Francis Ngannou fought as soon as every and Jorge Masvidal’s star continued to decrease. Yet Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya had legacies reduce brief, Islam Makhachev and Jiri Prochazka emerged as thrilling new champions and Khamzat Chimaev continued to thrash opponents.
Interesting and surprising outcomes in 2022 have set the stage for a various yr of must-make fights in 2023. Enduring dream fights, oddball cash matchups and thrilling title sagas are all in play for 2023. It may very well be a yr that caters to each sort of MMA fan. Take a have a look at 5 fights price making in 2023, plus quite a lot of honorable mentions.
Can’t get sufficient boxing and MMA? Get the newest on this planet of fight sports activities from two of the very best within the enterprise. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the very best evaluation and in-depth information, together with a have a look at the highest fights to make for UFC in 2023 under.
Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones
Despite years of curiosity in reserving heavyweight’s most concussive power towards gentle heavyweight’s all-time nice, the street to Ngannou vs. Jones stays plagued by roadblocks. Ngannou has been sidelined all yr with contract disputes and a critical knee damage. Jones enters his third yr of inactivity since vacating the sunshine heavyweight title with plans to maneuver up a division.
The persisting want to see Ngannou and Jones combat for the UFC heavyweight championship speaks volumes of its significance. Ngannou wields unparalleled energy and his spotlight reel performs like a slasher film physique rely. Former champions Stipe Miocic, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem and Andrei Arlovski have all crumbled underneath Ngannou’s energy. Poor perennial contender Curtis Blaydes has suffered that destiny twice.
Jones is the youngest champion in UFC historical past, taking out legends like Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort. Jones is arguably the best fighter of all time and a transfer to heavyweight presents attention-grabbing questions. How will the land of giants deal with Jones’ velocity and method? Will a change in surroundings revitalize Jones after shedding a step towards Dominick Reyes and Thiago Santos? Which fighter will probably be burdened most by exterior pressures? If there’s one combat to make in 2023, it’s Ngannou vs. Jones.
Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler/Tony Ferguson vs. Paddy Pimblett
McGregor’s endurance is a testomony to his self-marketing and the magic of his three-year run to earn titles in two divisions. Despite going 1-3 during the last 4 years, McGregor stays the game’s prime draw. What is woefully clear is that McGregor wants a step down in competitors. Enter Chandler, a juggernaut that challenges the easiest on this planet however usually falls brief towards them. McGregor has the accuracy and energy to use Chandler’s defensive gaps. Chandler has the ability and stress to catch McGregor early. It is not at all a simple combat for McGregor, however one that may re-establish him among the many light-weight elite. If you are on the lookout for a fast payday, there’s a much less standard possibility.
McGregor is not a ranked light-weight. Pimblett is not ranked both. Both are brash, charismatic personalities with followers among the many informal audiences — to completely different levels. Pimblett’s debatable win over Jared Gordon at UFC 282 might have UFC second-guessing. The secure wager is to e-book McGregor vs. Pimblett and hedge out on “The Baddy” earlier than he loses to a lesser-known fighter. It is probably going a tune-up combat for McGregor, nevertheless it might propel Pimblett to stardom ought to he pull off the upset. How will we get there? Aging veteran Tony Ferguson is probably the most established fighter that Pimblett might probably compete with. If McGregor beats Chandler, he’ll probably be fast-tracked to the light-weight title or a No. 1 contender’s bout. If McGregor loses, you may match him up with Pimblett and even presumably Ferguson.
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Colby Covington
Chimaev launched into the UFC with nuclear influence. His strikes landed vs. absorbed statistic was an absurd 112-1 in his first 5 UFC fights. Then he delivered a traditional reverse Gilbert Burns in a Fight of the Year contender. In that combat, Chimaev proved he might change blows with the division’s hardest hitters. UFC subsequently provided Chimaev a lay-up towards departing veteran Nate Diaz in the principle occasion of UFC 279. Chimaev missed weight by a major margin and compelled UFC to scrap the Diaz combat. His impromptu win over Kevin Holland was dominant, however questions stay about his future at 170 kilos.
Covington is the ultimate check to solidify Chimaev as an simple title challenger. Prior to Edwards’ ascent to welterweight champion, Covington was the clear No. 2 within the division. Covington pushed nemesis Usman to the restrict in two shedding efforts for the 170-pound title. Chimaev vs. Covington is a combat each guys want. Chimaev should show that he can reliably make welterweight and defeat a dogged wrestler. Covington can remind the world simply how good he’s and pave his strategy to one other title shot.
Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya 2
It sounds odd to proclaim a collection that has gone 3-0 as some of the anticipated fights of 2023, but right here we’re. Adesanya had established himself because the second-greatest middleweight in UFC historical past behind Anderson Silva. He cleared out the division’s prime 5, together with two wins over each Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori every. Two-division Glory kickboxing champion Alex Pereira, with few viable challengers within the queue, labored his strategy to prime contender in simply three fights. The manifestation of Adesanya’s nightmares, Pereira had two wins over Adesanya in kickboxing. History repeated itself virtually eerily at UFC 281 on Nov. 12. Pereira once more fought again from a deficit, rattling Adesanya in Round 5 to seize the UFC middleweight title. The solely individual to ever knockout Adesanya had executed it twice.
You should ignore Adesanya and Pereira’s kickboxing historical past when matchmaking within the UFC. It was a distinct sport working underneath completely different guidelines. The actuality is that Adesanya is probably the most profitable middleweight champion we now have seen in a very long time. Adesanya was up 39-37 on all three judges’ scorecards earlier than getting out-gunned by a bigger opponent within the closing spherical. If anybody deserves an opportunity to show they will crack a seemingly unsolvable code, it is Adesanya.
Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3
People have been starting to take the welterweight G.O.A.T. debate between Usman and Georges St-Pierre severely in 2022. Usman (15) had already eclipsed St-Pierre’s welterweight successful streak (12). At UFC 278, Usman was 56 seconds away from notching a sixth consecutive title protection — three shy of GSP’s file. Then the inconceivable occurred. Edwards, down three rounds to 1 and shedding the fifth, uncorked a vicious head kick that immediately shut down Usman. It was an all-time shocker that turned a one-sided rivalry right into a must-watch trilogy.
The UFC returns to Edwards’ dwelling nation of England for a pay-per-view on March 18. Hosting Edwards vs. Usman 3 in the principle occasion is a no brainer. UFC president Dana White has teased the combat, nevertheless it remained unannounced lower than three months out, presumably because of Usman’s lingering hand damage. Usman will probably by no means break GSP’s title protection file, however he deserves an opportunity at vengeance.
Honorable mentions: Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush, Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko 3, Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas 3, Jiri Prochazka vs. Glover Teixeira 2
Leave a Reply