Young UFC fighters to look out for in 2023

Mandatory Credit: Chris Unger - Dana White's Contender Series

With the UFC’s schedule set to roll to an end in the final weeks of December, the promotion are in line for what promises to be another blockbuster year next annum. The organization – arguably the industry leader in spectated professional mixed martial arts, headed up by promotional president, Dana White – has constantly topped sports streaming trends in the U.S. in recent years amid the pandemic and in tandem with the rising popularity of MMA.

Over the last two years, the promotion has fielded its usual who’s who of talent including the likes of Conor McGregor, Francis Ngannou, Jorge Masvidal, Charles Oliveira, Alexander Volkanovski, Kamaru Usman, and Israel Adesanya – however, the next crop of fighters emerging at the very top of the sport continue to take a foothold. 

Just last month, one of the UFC’s biggest and most exciting talents and prospects, undefeated Chechen-born fighter, Khamzat Chimaev continued his dominant run at welterweight, retaining his #3 rank with a one-sided submission win against Kevin Holland.

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The AllStars MMA mainstay is threatening to spearhead a new era of fighter in professional mixed martial arts since his transition from the amateur ranks. And over the course of 2023, expect him to be joined in the fray by some of the most noteworthy emerging talents. 

Shavkat Rakhmonov

Recently booking his long-awaited Octagon comeback, Kazakhstan welterweight contender, Shavkat Rakhmonov has garnered fan attention like no other – improving on his staggering 100% finish rate professionally with a ground strikes win over Neil Magny in June.

Climbing as high as #10 in the welterweight rankings already, Rakhmonov, who draws Geoff Neal in January, is the proud owner of a 16-0 record, landing eight knockouts to go with eight separate submission wins. The former M-1 Global titleholder has been tipped to reach similar heights as the aforenoted weight class compatriot, Chimaev.

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Bo Nickal

A name on the lips of mixed martial arts fans the world over this month so far, undefeated wrestling ace, Bo Nickal has made no qualms about his goals in the sport. Booking a quickfire UFC 282 debut at the end of this year, Nickal, a native of Colorado earned his Octagon deal with a triangle win over Donovan Beard on DWCS – and will draw Jamie Pickett in December.

Already linked to a fight with the likes of Chimaev, and middleweight kingpin, Israel Adesanya, Nickal, who has been a staple of training camps for the likes of Jorge Masvidal, and Dustin Poirier is set to take the sport by storm next year. 

Nassourdine Imavov

MMA Factory Paris prospect, Nassourdine Imavov turned in another impressive win – on adopted home soil last time out, no less, defeating Joaquin Buckley in Paris last month. And off the back of the win, the Dagestan-born prospect has landed his first headliner under the UFC banner in the form of a January outing against Kelvin Gastelum.

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A product of Fernand Lopez in France, Imavov has already defeated the likes of Edmen Shahbazyan, and Ian Heinisch, en route to the #12 rank at middleweight.

Erin Blanchfield

An alum of the talent-rich Invicta FC system under the guidance of Shannon Knapp, the 23-year-old flyweight upstart, Erin Blanchfield has turned in a trio of UFC victories already since her debut just last year.

Landing in the Octagon in September the year prior boasting a 6-1 record, Blanchfield, who fights the popular Molly McCann at UFC 281 in November at Madison Square Garden has clinched the #12 rank at flyweight with wins over Sarah Alpar, Miranda Maverick, and most recently, JJ Aldrich with a June submission.