The biggest fights in 2023

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After a spectacular 2022, what does 2023 have in store for fight fans? There is a huge amount to look forward to in the year ahead, not least because of the many possible matchups that we could see in the next 12 months, across all fight disciplines.

Even before we get to potential fights, however, there are some confirmed and almost-certainly-going-to-happen fights to look ahead to. Bookmakers are already offering markets for some of these big fights and the level of betting and fan interest will be rising throughout the opening weeks of the year.

 

Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno 4 – UFC 283 – January 21st

Four encounters between two fighters is pretty uncommon, but at UFC 283, we could see one of the biggest tetralogies so far, as undisputed flyweight champ Deiveson Figueiredo and provisional champ Brandon Moreno attempt to bring an end to one of the most thrilling and fierce rivalries in MMA.

Moreno, from Mexico, and Figueiredo, from Brazil, first fought in December 2020 (4-stars fight, Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno I). Most people thought Moreno was out of his depth at that point since Figueiredo appeared to be nearly invincible at flyweight, but the two ultimately fought to a standstill that was so exciting that the UFC scheduled a rematch.

The second match took place in June 2021 (Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno II). This time was less of a contest as Moreno beat the champion into a third-round submission to win the belt for himself. Almost inevitably, UFC decided to schedule a third matchup between the two that was eventually staged in January last year.

This time, though, the outcome was very different as Figueiredo prevailed by unanimous decision after another fiercely tough battle (Brandon Moreno vs Deiveson Figueiredo III). Unfortunately for Figueiredo, contract disputes kept him out of action, and the UFC had to come up with an interim title for him.

However, when Moreno beat Kai Kara-France in July (Brandon Moreno vs Kai Kara-France 2), the Moreno vs Figueiredo tetralogy fight was the only route to unification. If the first three fights between these two are any guide, then we are in for a treat in what is likely to be the last word in a remarkable rivalry.

 

Islam Makhachev vs Alexander Volkanovski – UFC 284 – February 11th

There are all kinds of possibilities for mega-confrontations in 2023, but this encounter between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski, scheduled for February’s UFC 284, is one big fight that we can definitely look forward to and it promises to be explosive.

Volkanovski is sometimes described as the best pound-for-pound combatant in MMA, but that will be put to the test here as he moves up one weight class, hoping to add the UFC lightweight belt to his collection, becoming only the fifth person in UFC history to simultaneously hold belts at two different weights.

Standing in his way is another fighter ranked highly on the pound-for-pound table: the almost indestructible Islam Makhachev, who, like Volkanovski, has lost only once in his career. That defeat came back in 2015, while his opponent’s loss was even further back, in 2013.

Both appear to be at their peak as fighters. Volkanovski is only 34 and Makhachev is 31. With both known for their elite-level cardio, this fight promises to be a thrilling endurance test with the possibility that the winner can claim to be the world’s best fighter.

 

Oleksandr Usyk vs Tyson Fury – February/March

Heavyweight is boxing’s marquee category and it promises much in 2023, with this clash between Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury already shaping up as the most exciting bout in years; a dream fight that will grab the attention of fight aficionados and non-boxing fans alike.

Not since we saw Anthony Joshua recover to beat Wladimir Klitschko back in 2017 has there been such a significant matchup (The Ring magazine Fight of the Year 2017 – Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko), with two unbeaten globally renowned champions entering the ring to dispute the title of the best heavyweight in the world.

Usyk already holds a place in boxing history as the first undisputed four-belt cruiserweight champion, and in beating Joshua twice, has accumulated three heavyweight titles. Fury, returning from a brief retirement, brings the WBC belt to the contest, having already beaten Klitschko and Deontay Wilder.

If the old saying that ‘styles make fights’ is still true, then this bout has everything. Southpaw Usyk is a pure boxer, while Fury’s combination of height, reach and speed is like nothing that the heavyweight division has ever seen. This is one 2023 fight that you will not want to miss.

 

Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis vs Ryan Garcia – April

This clash between unbeaten lightweight boxers is set to go down in April. This fight also raises the possibility that more big fights between boxers on opposing networks can be set up in the future.

Both fighters are still operating in what you could call their physical prime, and the prospect of a clash between the two is undoubtedly exciting, with Davis’ power and experience forming a fascinating contrast to Garcia’s size and speed, which cannot be underestimated.

Given their styles and approaches, we can almost guarantee a knockout. Even better, they both have vibrant young fanbases and can provide a boost for a sport that has sometimes struggled to promote itself to a new generation. This fight promises to be significant in multiple ways.

 

 

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