The Return Of Conor McGregor, Jon Jones Or Ivan Buchinger. The Most Anticipated MMA Fights Of 2023
What awaits us in the world of MMA next year?
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This year truly wished all fans of mixed martial arts. Overseas, in the best MMA league in the world, we saw exciting duels, such as Khamzat Chimaev vs. Gilbert Burns, Petr Yan vs. Sean O'Malley or Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa.
In the home Octagon, the spectators did not breathe during the matches between David Kozma and Kaik Brit, Karlos Vémola and Aleksandar Ilić or Losene Keita and Rony Paradeiser. But let's take a look at what awaits us and can await in the world of MMA in 2023. It looks very promising.
1. Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski
"Superfight", which I guess no one expected until about six months ago. After Russia's Islam Makhachev absolutely stunningly demolished dominant Brazilian champion Charles Oliveira in October to become the UFC's new lightweight king, he agreed to a cageside rematch with current featherweight titleholder Alexander Volkanovsky.
The New Zealander, who has only lost once in his career, back in 2013, and is riding a streak of 12 straight wins in the UFC, will undoubtedly be a tough nut to crack. And he will not have to lose weight for the match, but, on the contrary, gain weight, since he will move up a weight. If he manages to defeat Makhachev, he will become a two-division champion. We will know the result on February 12.
2. Glover Teixeira vs. Jamahal Hill
Although the Czech samurai Jiří Procházka won the light heavyweight title in the UFC this year in a famous fight with Glover Teixeira, he vacated it in November due to an unexpected shoulder injury. On the eleventh of December, Magomed Ankalaev and Jan Blachowicz fought for it, paradoxically, none of them won the title, as the match ended in a controversial draw.
Dana White did not hide his frustration from the duel at the press conference after the tournament. He said he thought it was a terrible main event and then spontaneously revealed to reporters that the rematch for the belt would be at UFC 283 on January 21 in Brazil, pitting Teixeira against Hill.
3. Ivan Buchinger vs. Mate Sanikidze
The former two-time Octagon champion had some bad luck this year. While he could not defend the featherweight belt due to injury, the belt of the lightweight king was taken from him by Hurricane Losene Keita. Ondřej Novotný said during the Oktagon 37 tournament in Ostrava that "Buki" should present himself again at featherweight in Bratislava next year in April. According to the promoter, his challenger in the title match should be the holder of the temporary belt, the Georgian Mate Sanikidze.
4. Vlasto Čepo vs. Matěj Peňáz
The dispute between these two fighters has been going on since the Oktagon Underground project. They were supposed to meet in the cage several times, but it never happened because of injuries. According to Oktagon, we should finally see one of the most anticipated duels on the domestic scene in Bratislava on April 29, 2023 at the Ondrej Nepela Winter Stadium.
Even before the December tournament, Matej "Money" Peňáz himself admitted that they can share it together if Čepo defeats the Italian Giovanni Melillo, whom the Czech Republic could not finish in the joint match. Čepo finally caught him in the first round with a hard knockout. In addition, the Slovak with Serbian roots is currently ranked above Peñaz in the world middleweight rankings, so "Money" can no longer really boast that he is at a higher level.
However, nothing is certain yet, as Čepo admitted to the press after the last match that he has not yet agreed on a new contract with the organization and it is not known whether he will leave to wrestle elsewhere. Peňáza, who tasted his first loss in MMA this year in Dana White's Contender Series, is still waiting for a challenging duel with Čep's conqueror Joel Dos Santos at the end of this year.
5. Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler
The hot-blooded Irishman is ready to return to the cage after a long hiatus, and UFC President Dana White told ESPN who his opponent could be. According to him, McGregor should face former Bellator MMA champion Michael Chandler, who fought for the lightweight belt in the UFC with Charles Oliveira.
In addition, he showed exemplary bloody wars with Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje and this year shockingly "shut down" Tony Ferguson with a devastating kick to the chin, which also attracted the attention of the Irish wrestler. He paid tribute to him on Twitter and wrote that he is not opposed to a joint duel. If it really worked out, it would be a dream come true for all true fans of this sport.
6. Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo
Although former UFC champion Henry Cejudo retired from MMA in May 2020, it didn't take long for him to take a dig at every fighter on social media and literally beg Dana White to come back.
It looks like it will eventually happen, and his opponent should be current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling. The two regularly exchange sharp references and even had a staredown among the spectators in the hall at the PFL tournament. Stering confirmed that the match has been agreed (although they haven't officially announced it) and we should see it in May.
7. Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno 4
Four matches between two wrestlers is very unusual, but not impossible. We will see the "tetralogy" between these two rivals in Brazil on January 21st, and it must be added that in this particular case it really makes sense, because while the first match ended in a draw, the second was won by Moreno and the third by Figueiredo. The situation is basically still a draw.
8. Ryan Bader vs. Fedor Emelianenko 2
Anyone who knows at least a little about MMA knows that Fedor Emelianenko is an undisputed legend. During his rich career, which he started back in 2000, he collected an incredible forty wins and lost only six times. Ryan Bader took care of one of the losses in 2019. The Russian will face him again in the rematch on February 4.
It will also be a title match for the Bellator MMA heavyweight belt. It will be the last match in his career for Emelianenko, so he will definitely want to perform differently than in the first match together. Bader dealt him the fateful merciless left hand, after which he went limp to the ground, already in the first minute.
9. Vadim Nemkov vs. Yoel Romero
Yoel Romero is an animal. And it's delicious. The 45-year-old UFC veteran, who defeated Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold, worked his way up to a title shot in the prestigious American Bellator with fantastic performances. However, he will face 30-year-old Russian Vadim Nemkov, whom no one in the organization has yet been able to defeat. Paradoxically, Romero has all the weapons to break him first. We'll find out on February 4 if he manages to win.
10. Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou
While nothing is official in this case, GiveMeSport has reported that this long-awaited fight is already in the works and should be seen at UFC 285 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on March 4. He has been rumored ever since Jon Jones announced his move to heavyweight from light heavyweight.
If it actually worked out this time, it would be the fight of the century, as Jones is considered the best MMA fighter of all time and Ngannou is considered the division's greatest executioner. It also holds the record for the hardest blow in the whole world.
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