Last year, UFC fights, like Jiri Prochazka against Glover Teixeira and Khamzat Chimaev against Gilbert Burns, were featured at the top of the best bouts of 2022. But unfortunately, some of the fighting enterprise’s most significant figures, such as Conor McGregor and Jon Jones, were out of action.
That is why this year is kicking off with high expectations. The current 2023 UFC schedule is expected to see some of the industry’s greatest fighters return for another appearance. So whether crowds are looking for the top UFC fight card or the newest and strongest fighter, this year’s repertoire will surely capture diehard UFC fans’ attention.
The Conor McGregor Comeback
By far, there is one fight that leads to anticipation. Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler may allow even those who are not true UFC fans to turn their heads around.
This year will mark the return of Conor McGregor. After suffering a broken ankle in 2021, he is ready to step back into the octagon. The big question is who will be the rival that will face the former double UFC champion. For this reason, some experts predict that Michael ‘Iron’ Chandler would be the best contender for the Irishman.
Chandler is a world champion from another fighting company. Chandler might be the ideal fighter to face McGregor, with improved performances in the UFC and a hard punch that complements McGregor’s precision and power.
Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou
Jones has played with the possibility of fighting at heavyweight for several years. Therefore, in his return to battle after more than two years since his fight against Dominick Reyes, seeing Jones in the highest weight division will become a reality. For most fans, this is yet another event that can’t be missed.
Facing a heavyweight champion like Francis Ngannou might be the way back for Jones. Ngannou only saw action in 2022 when he stepped into the octagon to face Ciryl Gane. This fight will undoubtedly mean a lot of money for the UFC and the organization and the opportunity for the American fighter to make history again.
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Colby Covington
To some fighters, it’s about becoming the next big man in the UFC. For that to happen, fighters need a rival that can match that expectation. So before challenging for the welterweight or any title, these are the conditions.
The controversial Colby Covington would be the rival that might just step into the octagon to face Khamzat Chimaev. Covington is known for his controversial statements and high-level fighting talent, which could outshine the ‘Wolf of Chechnya.’
While Chimaev has dispatched every rival put in front of him, Covington is positioned as a serious contender for the title held by Leon Edwards. Without a doubt, this is more than just another attractive fight for both contenders; it is an event for all UFC fans to watch.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Weili Zhang
The unbeatable champion in the 57 kg weight class, Valentina Shevchenko, could have a great rivalry with Weili Zhang. The Chinese fighter has shown herself as a solid champion in the strawweight division. This duel of champions would surely capture the fans’ attention and could be scheduled on the organization’s calendar within the next several weeks.
Valentina Shevchenko is on a nine-fight winning streak and has broken several UFC records along the way. Although many may believe that her refined technique would easily surpass Zhang’s style, the truth is that a victory over a champion would confirm her dominance in women’s MMA.
Marlon “Chito” Vera vs. Aljamain Sterling
No South American fighter outside of Brazil has been as close to challenging for the UFC title as Marlon Vera. The Ecuadorian has defeated big names like Dominick Cruz and Sean O’Malley and is already claiming his chance for the 61 kg belt. However, Aljamain Sterling might just be the contender that the South American will seek to face in 2023.