5 Fights to Look Forward to In 2023 MMA
There is a lot to look forward to this year in the landscape of MMA. You have Alexander Volkanovski risking his P4P title to chase legacy as a double champ against Islam Makhachev. You have Jake Paul joining the PFL as he continues on in his combat sports journey. You even have Bellator doing whatever it is Bellator does. There is a LOT going on in the world of MMA and these are the 5 fights that I am personally most excited for this upcoming year
5.) Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev
Any fight that involves Justin Gaethje and a guy who won't shoot for takedowns is a can't miss fight and Fiziev won't be looking to sniff his crotch. Heavy hitters who will stand and bang I don't know what else you could ask for. Only thing concerning is that Gaethje's chin maybe isn't what it used to be, but if it is this could be fight of the year caliber like Gaethje vs Chandler was. Don't really care who wins, but it would be best for the division if Fiziev wins and some of that 155 young talent can finally crack the top 5
4.) Jon Jones vs Literally Anyone at Heavyweight
The GOAT* is going to make his return this year no matter who it is up against whether it be Francis, Stipe, or whoever. 2021 he wasn't going to fight lets make that clear. But in 2022, Jones was ready to fight Francis or whoever as he has finally filled out his frame to his liking in his venture up to the heavyweight ranks. The thing holding everything back though is Ngannou's contract negotiations and knee injury, but Jon Jones is going to headline that March Vegas PPV so get ready. The King is back
3.) Israel Adesanya vs Alex Periera 2 or 4 or Whatever You Want to Call It
Okay okay okay, take away the results of the fights themselves and add up the total time and percentage wise of winning time. Israel Adesanya has won AT LEAST 75% of the time inside the cage/ring with Periera and is 1-2 against Poatan. But Stone Hands do go boink and he's boinked Adesanya twice with that left after being on SKATES in their last two matchups in the first round. Time is a flat circle, but we might end up with a fifth fight in their saga if Izzy wins the rematch
2.) Conor McGregor vs Michael Chandler
Its a Conor fucking McGregor fight. Love him or hate him he brings eye balls and an electricity to a fight week and card that no one else is capable of. And fighting a guy like Chandler is the perfect recipe for a fight that won't not deliver. We know he won't wrestle or at least he won't in a fight like this. He's a showman at this stage in his career and there's nothing wrong with that. Let them bang it out at 170 and toss it as a PPV headliner and go about our day. Conor could also fight Jorge Masvidal as well, but Chandler has been the name close to McGregor since his fight with Poirier.
Islam Makhachev vs Alexander Volkanovski
Only reason it isn't on the list is because watching Volk get rag dolled for however long this fight lasts is going to suck to watch. Its like fighting two weight classes up once both guys balloon to normal weights after their cuts. I'd say this is number 6 though purely because of the storylines behind it but I believe most are under the assumption this might not be very close (I REALLY hope I'm wrong)
Usman Nurmagomedov vs AJ McKee
A Nurmagomedov vs the best "prospect" (if you even want to call him one anymore) that is not named Nurmagomedov. One of the highest caliber fights outside of the UFC that you can make, but we're going to have to wait for the Bellator Grand Prix before we get to it so Bellator probably messes this up as is per their traditions.
Jake Paul vs Whatever YouTuber
Its a super division for a reason. The offer to Nate is out there, but I'm not entirely sure he's going to take it. If he doesn't, Jake will be fed another YouTuber or a "can" to build up his hype as an MMA fighter before he fights anyone with a pulse and it will be fun to watch him finish whoever this person is and be given some mickey mouse belt like he did after KO'ing Askren. Would personally LOVE to see him give Woodley and Askren rematches as they're both wrestlers, but the PFL and Jake would be stupid to do that. He's going to get a layup
Sean O'Malley vs Chito Vera 2
I don't know what else to say here other than there are a lot of things that need to happen to make this work. Sean would need to lose to Cejudo for the interim (with Aljo's bicep injury) and Chito would have to lose to Sandhagen. If they both win, we won't see this fight until 2024 because Aljo will be next after the interim fight, this isn't a Jiri situation.
Islam Makhachev vs Beneil Dariush/Tsarukyan
Doesn't matter which one, but both have incredible scrambling abilities and either of them going against one of the best wrestlers in the UFC could lead to some super fun grappling exchanges and a lot of people trying to convince themselves that one of these guys could beat Islam (I'm one of those dumb idiots). IF Fiziev beats Gaethje maybe he jumps both these guys, but all three have elite take down defense so fun regardless
Khamzat Chimaev vs Robert Whitaker
Not really sure what else to say other than best TDD in the 185 division against the hype train that is Khamzat Chimaev. Incredible litmus test for Khamzat and a big opportunity for Bobby Knuckles
but now for the number one fight
1.) Paddy Pimblet vs A Top 15 Lightweight
The fall from grace that has been the Paddy Pimblett hype is something to behold. Went from the beloved darling of the UFC that every casual fan believed could maybe contend and funny as hell to everyone realizing he's not that great of a fighter and is kind of a delusional scum bag who had one AWESOME speech that men across the globe needed to hear. Can never take that away from him. Mental health is important, but back to the fight...
He's gonna get steamed by whoever he faces in his next fight and the humbling is something that the guy needs. Cuddling up with Uncle Dana and talking immense amounts of shit about Ariel Helwani was in bad taste, but maybe necessary to be matched up with the three guys in the top 20 of that division that he has some sort of a shot against. But after that, there are literally no easy fights. Maybe after taking his first official UFC L (he lost to Gordon) he can be humbled a bit and go back to being the likeable shape shifting scouser.
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