We are officially in 2023 and we are gearing up for another massive year in mixed martial arts and the UFC. The schedule is already stacking up with major title fights as there are four title fights in the first two PPVs of 2023.
As we do every year, I wanted to take a look at all the divisions in the UFC and make predictions on who will be wearing gold at the end of the calendar year. There are some champions who seem like guarantees to keep their straps while others almost certainly will lose their gold.
UFC Champions after 2023
Featherweight – Alexander Volkanovski
In the featherweight division, it’s going to be business as usual. Alexander Volkanovski will move up at UFC 284 to challenge for the lightweight title. In the co-main event that night, Josh Emmett and Yair Rodriguez will fight for the interim featherweight title.
The winner of that interim title fight will likely face Volkanovski during the summer months. I don’t think either one of those men stand a chance against Volk at 145. While I don’t see Volkanovski becoming a two-division champion next month, I also don’t see anyone taking his featherweight title.
Bantamweight – Henry Cejudo
Right now, the UFC is targeting March for Henry Cejudo‘s return against current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling. Cejudo left on top and he’s coming right back into a title shot after he un-retired last year.
Aljamain Sterling has largely been disrespected during his title reign because of the odd nature surrounding it. Honestly, I’ve probably been in that camp. I still don’t see him going through 2023 and keeping his bantamweight title.
Henry Cejudo is the best bantamweight in the world in my opinion and I think he will show that in his upcoming return. In his first title defense, he will likely face Sean O’Malley and I think he wins that one as well to keep the UFC title. This could setup a fight at the end of the year against Alexander Volkanovski for the featherweight title.
Flyweight – Alexandre Pantoja
This is my outside the box pick out of all my picks. In a couple of weeks, Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno will battle for the fourth and possibly final time for the UFC flyweight title. Yet, I’m not prediction either man will leave 2023 with the flyweight title.
As of this moment, I’m leaning slightly towards Moreno in that fourth fight. Alexandre Pantoja is waiting in the wings for the winner and he definitely has Moreno’s number as he holds multiple wins over him. He did lose before to Figueiredo, but I think the weight cuts are starting to get to the champ.
Not sure if he stays at flyweight long after this fourth fight with Moreno. Even if he does, I think Pantoja is on the path to becoming champion in 2023.