The Five Biggest Questions Surrounding the UFC in 2023
The UFC is getting ready to kick off its 2023 schedule, but there are a lot of questions surrounding the promotion as we look forward to the new year. Let’s take a look at five of the biggest fight-related questions surrounding the UFC in 2023.
How can the light-heavyweight division be fixed?
The UFC light heavyweight division is in trouble. Ever since Jiri Prochazka had to pull out of UFC 282 and vacate the title, the division has been a mess.
To quickly recap the last month of light heavyweight news, at UFC 282, Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev fought to a draw which left the title vacant. Now, at UFC 283, Glover Teixeira will fight Jamahal Hill to, hopefully, determine the division’s next champion.
I am not convinced Teixeira vs. Hill will solve the division’s problems. It is easy to spot potential issues that could arise after this fight. If Teixeira wins, does he retire? I would be more surprised if he did not. After all, he is 43 years old. On the flip side, if Hill wins, how long does it take before fans claim Prochazka, Blachowicz, and Ankaleav are better? That would not be Hill’s fault, but I would not be surprised to see doubters.
Regardless of what happens at UFC 283, there is a good chance the light heavyweight division remains in shambles.
What is the deal with Jon Jones’ return?
I feel like I am beating a dead horse with all the Jones discussion lately. I said he and Francis Ngannou need to fight in 2023 and that he was a fighter to watch in 2023. That is what happens when one of the greatest fighters of all time is teasing his return though.
I have talked at length about the potential of Jones’ return, but it is getting old. I want some details. There have been some reports about Jones potentially fighting in March, but that has not been confirmed.
There are a lot of questions about Jones’ return. In fact, the two most important aspects of the fight have yet to be announced. Who is he fighting? When is he fighting? The only thing we know is that he will be fighting at heavyweight.
I just want answers about Jones’ return in 2023.
What weight class is Khamzat Chimaev in?
Does anyone know what weight class Chimaev is in? It appeared like he was going to the future of the welterweight division, but he made a fool of himself at UFC 279 by missing weight. Now, it is unknown if Chimaev will continue to fight at welterweight or if he will be forced to move up to middleweight.
Regardless of which division he chooses, Chimaev is a top contender who is on the verge of a title shot. Chimaev’s quest for a title shot will have to take a backseat for the time being, however. At the moment, it appears like the UFC will be opting for title rematches which makes the Swede an afterthought in the immediate title picture. His name does hold weight in the long-term picture though.
It would be hard to dispute Chimaev’s decision no matter what weight class he picks. The only legitimate criticism that you could make revolve around if he can continuously make the welterweight limit. Either way, I would just like to know what division he plans to compete in.
Is Stipe Miocic retired?
Miocic has practically gone silent since his loss to loss to Ngannou at UFC 260. In fairness, that is standard for Miocic as he has not fought twice in a calendar year since 2018. Still, at 40 years old, the clock is ticking for one of the best heavyweights of all time.
Miocic’s layoff is not the only part of this situation that has created retirement speculation. In addition to that, Miocic reportedly declined to welcome former UFC light heavyweight champion, Jones, to the heavyweight division. The UFC allegedly wanted Miocic to fight Jones at UFC 279 in July and UFC 282 in December. On both occasions, Miocic was the one that prevented the bout from coming to fruition.
At this stage in his career, it is highly unlikely that Miocic gets a better fight than Jones. The potential of booking the light heavyweight and heavyweight GOATs against one another is quite appealing. A win over Jones would make Miocic fly up the all-time great list and earn him a trilogy fight against Ngannou.
So why did Miocic decline the fight? Well, Miocic was probably injured, or maybe he wanted to take a layoff after being on the wrong side of a brutal knockout. The only other answer would be retirement.
At the end of the day, it is perfectly fine if Miocic is retired. It seems like a pretty good time for him to leave the sport. That is not a diss. At his age, Miocic has already cemented his legacy. Plus, he has a chance to leave the sport on his own accord which is far more appealing than being pushed out by the next generation of heavyweights.
If Miocic is not retired, I would like to know because there are still some appealing matchups for Miocic. Sure, he won’t get to fight Jones anytime soon, but potential bouts against Ciryl Gane, Curtis Blaydes or Sergi Pavlovich would make sense.
What is Max Holloway’s next move?
Holloway has not made an official announcement regarding his future since losing to Volkanovski at UFC 276. Needless to say, the former UFC champion is in a sticky spot.
Holloway is one of the best featherweights on the planet. The issue is that the current featherweight champion, Volkanovski, has defeated him three times. Their contest at UFC 276 was quite one-sided too. This practically eliminates the chance that Holloway gets another title chance. Plus, he was understandably omitted from the upcoming interim featherweight championship fight.
This puts Holloway in a less-than-ideal position. He can either fight featherweight contenders in the hopes he can earn another title shot, which we already established was unlikely, or he can move up to lightweight.