This is TOP 5 most anticipated UFC returns likely to take place in 2023

2023 is shaping up to be a big year for the UFC, with many former champions, current champions, and fan-favorite fighters gearing up to make their return in the new year. The year 2022 posed its set of challenges with COVID, so the company will be hoping that the next year will be smooth sailing. The first few cards of the year, up until March, have already been decided.

However, many big names who are set to make their return next year have not featured in any of the fights the UFC has announced yet. Today, we take a look at the top 5 fighters whose return to the octagon has been most highly anticipated by the fans.

#5. Kamaru Usman

Kamaru Usman suffered a brutal head-kick KO at the hands of Leon Edwards last September. The Nigerian lost his title and suffered just the second loss of his MMA career. Usman has not stepped foot in the octagon since his loss. In 2023, he will look to secure his trilogy fight against Edwards and exact revenge on the champion and settle the score once and for all.

The pair first fought back in 2015, where ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ won via decision. After Edwards knocked Kamaru Usman out cold at UFC 278, the score is now settled at 1-1. A trilogy fight is much needed, and both fighters have agreed to the fight since Usman triggered his rematch clause as the former champion.

#4. Charles Oliveira

Charles Oliveira’s lightweight title reign was abruptly ended by Khabib Nurmagomedov’s protege Islam Makhachev earlier this year. At UFC 280, the Dagestani choked out the man with the most submission wins in the UFC and became champion. Following the fight, ‘do Bronx’ made it very clear that he wanted to take a break from fighting.

The Brazilian has been constantly in and out of fight camps for the last few years and believes he deserves some time away from the ring. Charles Oliveira is still one of the best lightweights in the division and will probably look to make a return to the ring in 2023 and earn a title shot. He is yet to make any official announcements.

#3. Francis Ngannou

Francis Ngannou, the UFC heavyweight champion of the world, last fought in January this year when he defended his title against Ciryl Gane in spectacular fashion. Since then, the Cameroonian has had to undergo knee surgery which put him out of action for the rest of the year. He will look to make his return in 2023 with a number of opponents waiting in line for their shot at him.

‘The Predator’ is currently the UFC champion, and Jon Jones, the former light-heavyweight champion, wants to challenge him for the heavyweight title. Also in line for a shot at Francis Ngannou is former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, who is looking to exact revenge and win back what was once his. Ciryl Gane will also look to secure another title shot against Ngannou.

#4. Jon Jones

Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, widely considered to be the best fighter in the UFC, is far from his best. It has been close to three years since he last fought in the octagon. His last fight came against Dominick Reyes in February 2020, a tough win for ‘Bones’, who managed to take the fight the distance and win via unanimous decision. Following that bout, Jones vacated his belt later that year.

He then announced his plans to move up in weight to the heavyweight division. From the get-go, he made it very clear that he wanted to fight the champion, who at the time was Stipe Miocic. Following his loss to Ngannou, Jones still wanted to fight the former UFC champion, but Miocic was unable to get back to fitness before the end of 2022.

In 2023, both Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou remain the top 2 targets for Jon Jones, who claims he is ready for a fight. ‘Bones’ is just looking for the right opponent and is clear that he only wants to fight either Miocic or Ngannou.

#1. Conor McGregor

Perhaps the most highly awaited return to the ring will be that of Conor McGregor. The Irishman last fought in July 2021 at UFC 264 against Dustin Poirier, where he broke his leg during the fight, and the doctor had to call a stop to the contest. ‘The Notorious’ has won just one fight in his last three, with two of those losses coming against Poirier.

Following his fracture, the subsequent surgery has sidelined him for a long time. Photos of Conor McGregor bulking up as he recovered from his surgery went viral on social media. Many fighters and fans started calling out ‘The Notorious’ for using steroids and/or Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). However, McGregor will be ready for testing in January and will look to secure a fight after that.

Take a look at a video by YouTuber More Plates More Dates:

Although he has not fought since 2021, the USADA has not tested him, a standard procedure for a UFC fighter. He will be able to secure a fight only after getting tested and cleared for not using any PEDs. ‘The Notorious’ has made several different hints as to which division he would like to fight in.

0 0 votes
Article Rating

Similar Posts

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments