Every start of a new year brings a new opportunity to look at some dream fights that we need to see as UFC fans. The promotion is set to have another massive year and there’s no shortage of big time fights that can be made in the new year.
In the first quarter of the year, we already have a super fight headlining UFC 284 in Perth, Australia. P4P king and current UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski is moving up to lightweight to challenge the undisputed champion Islam Makhachev.
This battle is not only for the lightweight title, but it’s also a battle for the top spot on the P4P list. At least for now. What are some additional super fights that need to happen this year? Let’s take a dive and discuss a few of the fights that I want to see happen in 2023.
UFC Fights to Make
Francis Ngannou – Jon Jones
Okay, this one goes without saying. Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) facing off against the UFC heavyweight champion was one of the three fights that I said had to happen in 2022. If Francis Ngannou (17-3) hadn’t injured his knee before his title defense against Ciryl Gane, I’m fairly certain that the fight would have happened.
Fortunately for UFC fans, I think this one is getting closer to becoming a reality. Currently, the promotion is targeting this fight as the headliner of UFC 285 in March. Francis Ngannou’s contract is up at the end of the month, but talks with the promotion are heading in the right direction.
Jon Jones is just waiting for the date at this point. I think Jones makes his heavyweight debut in March regardless, but the fight needs to be against Francis Ngannou. Ngannou is back to training and I think this megafight is only a couple of months from happening.
Conor McGregor – Michael Chandler
You can’t make a fights that need to happen list without the biggest star in the UFC. Conor McGregor (22-6) is likely going to return over the summer and there’s a perfect opponent waiting for him. That opponent is arguably the most exciting lightweight in the UFC, Michael Chandler (23-8).
Chandler has been calling for a fight with McGregor since he made his debut back in 2020. He’s coming off a loss against Dustin Poirier in a fight where he was incredibly competitive. Chandler has said that he will move up to 170 pounds to make the McGregor fight happen.
McGregor against anyone would do huge numbers. However, putting him in there with one of the premier lightweight contenders draws big numbers and could put McGregor right back in the title picture. This one seems like a layup for this year.
Amanda Nunes – Valentina Shevchenko 3
It’s time. The UFC’s biggest female superfight needs to happen this year. Last year, we almost saw this fight go away forever. Valentina Shevchenko (23-3) barely won her last title defense and Amanda Nunes (22-5) suffered a loss to close 2021 against Julianna Pena.
Now, Nunes won her title back after dominating Pena in their rematch which restored her image. Valentina Shevchenko lost a little of her invincibility image when she narrowly defeated Taila Santos in her last title defense. Both women are still on top and the UFC needs to capitalize.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see Shevchenko get one more title defense first, but after that, this fight needs to happen.