Next year is set to be an exciting one for UFC fans, with blockbuster fights expected in all weight classes and plenty of questions to answer.
We have taken a look at the current state of MMA’s major organisation, as well as some of the biggest bouts lined up for UFC in 2023.
Could Conor McGregor make history in 2023?
Conor McGregor has been out of the octagon since breaking his tibia against Dustin Poirier in July 2021 and has been packing on the muscle during his recovery.
McGregor is one of a select group of UFC champions to have topped two divisions – having won titles at both featherweight and lightweight – but looks set stage his comeback at welterweight.
If he can secure a shot at reigning champion Leon Edwards, then he could become the first ever UFC fighter to hold a belt at three different weights.
What other fights can we look forward to?
We could witness the first quadrilogy in UFC history when Deiveson Figueiredo meets Brandon Moreno for the flyweight championship in Brazil on January 21.
Their previous three fights have seen a different outcome each time, with the first encounter ending in a draw, the second a Moreno victory and the third a win for Figueiredo.
At the other end of the weight scale, heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou’s contract is running down and if he leaves UFC then previous belt holders Stipe Miocic and Ciryl Gane would probably fight for the interim title.
The winner would then face former light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones later in the year as he looks set to return to the octagon after a two-year absence.
However, a match between Jones – who will be competing at heavyweight for the first time – and Ngannou would be the more tantalising prospect for fans of UFC in 2023.
On the women’s side, the featherweight and bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes is the only person in UFC to hold multiple belts. However, the all-conquering Brazilian is set to face stiff challenges for both titles in 2023.
First, her reign as undisputed featherweight champion may come under serious scrutiny from former Olympic and world judo champion Kayla Harrison, who is equally dominant in the rival PFL organisation and has never lost in her MMA career.
A switch to UFC has been mooted and a contest between these two champions is guaranteed to be a huge draw.
Second, Nunes is also likely to face a rematch with Julianna Pena for the bantamweight title that she won in July.
The Venezuelan Vixen remains a formidable opponent, having previously stopped Nunes inside two rounds, and a third – potentially decisive – meeting between the two looks set to take place next year.
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