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Top Five UFC Fighters To Watch In 2023

The MMA’s top fighters this year boast a dynamic mix of reigning champions, freshly crowned victors, dethroned kings, a rapidly ascending crowd favorite and title aspirant, and even a legendary fighter who is poised to make a comeback after a hiatus of nearly three years. 

Despite their diverse backgrounds, these fighters are all destined to forge a glittering future in the world of UFC predictions. This could be the year where they make their mark. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Alex Pereira

We call Pereira’s journey in the MMA world a meteoric rise. Just a year ago, he was an unknown with a mere one UFC victory and a fledgling career in the sport. Fast forward to today, and he finds himself reigning supreme as the middleweight champion, having delivered a stunning knockout to Israel Adesanya in November – his third victory over the talented fighter, including their time in kickboxing.

Pereira’s triumph over “The Last Stylebender” sent shockwaves throughout the MMA world, and now he faces the ultimate test for all new champions: Can he defend his title? The Brazilian warrior’s next move is anyone’s guess – will it be a rematch with Adesanya, or will the year bring new challenges in the form of Robert Whittaker or Khamzat Chimaev?

Francis Ngannou

The future of heavyweight champion Ngannou is shrouded in mystery. Will he re-sign with the UFC and defend his title against Jon Jones, setting the stage for the biggest MMA fight in history? Or will Ngannou depart from the Octagon due to unfavorable contract terms? Even the UFC and Ngannou himself may still need the answers.

Regardless, this year promises to be a defining one for Ngannou. If he stays with the UFC, he will experience his most prominent year yet, cementing his legacy as a heavyweight powerhouse.

Israel Adesanya

Adesanya finds himself in a difficult situation. After three dominant years as the middleweight champion, he was dethroned by Pereira in November, leaving him with a bitter taste in his mouth and a fire in his belly. The knockout loss was Adesanya’s third defeat against the hard-hitting Brazilian, including their past encounters in kickboxing.

“The Last Stylebender” has a mountain to climb in his rivalry with the new champion, and it will be fascinating to see how he rises to the challenge. If the UFC decides to set up a fourth showdown with Pereira, Adesanya will have the opportunity to prove himself and turn the tables on his nemesis.

Kamaru Usman

Usman enters 2023 with a cloud of uncertainty hanging over him. Just five months ago, he was on the cusp of establishing himself as the undisputed best fighter in the world, with the chance to tie Anderson Silva’s 16 consecutive UFC wins. However, a fateful kick from Edwards altered that trajectory.

This year, Usman is slated to face Edwards in a highly anticipated rematch in March in London. The stakes couldn’t be higher for the champion, as the outcome of this fight will have a profound impact on his career. A win would cement Usman’s status as a dominant force, while a loss would raise questions about his reign. 

Valentina Shevchenko

If 2022 was a routine year for Shevchenko, 2023 promises to be anything but. The reigning champion’s immense success has made her fights almost predictable, and she has struggled to generate the same excitement as her competitors. However, 2023 could mark a turning point for the dominant champion.

A host of new challenges awaits Shevchenko, including a potential trilogy fight against Amanda Nunes, who holds two titles. Zhang has expressed interest in moving up to challenge Shevchenko, and Taila Santos may seek a rematch after their close fight last June. France’s Manon Fiorot is also emerging as a potential threat to the champion’s reign.

2023 promises to be a year of thrilling action and intense competition in the UFC. From reigning champions to rising stars, there’s no shortage of compelling storylines to follow. The top fighters in the MMA world will face new challenges, old rivals, and the opportunity to make their mark on the sport.