Best of First Quarter MMA Schedule
Mixed martial arts is set to return with a vengeance this 2023. Other than the Bellator vs RIZIN event on New Year’s Eve, MMA fans had to endure nearly a month’s absence from the sport. But the early 2023 MMA schedule already promises a fast start with the months of January, February, and March loaded with big events. Most notably, a special someone has already caused a splash from an unlikely promotion.
Jake Paul Signs With PFL
Yes, that Jake Paul will be making his MMA debut with PFL. The “Problem Child” who is notorious for whooping aged MMA legends in boxing will seek to make a “superfight” under PFL some time in 2023. He’s already called out Nate Diaz, who is one of MMA’s biggest free agents.
Meanwhile, PFL will host the 2023 Challenger Series for the welterweights (170 lbs.). This is akin to the promotion’s prospect tournament and will feature Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu star Lucas “Hulk” Barbosa. He’ll likely be a favorite on the MMA betting odds when they open.
This series will begin on Friday, January 27, and will occur roughly every week until March 17. Other MMA event prospects that will participate include undefeated CFFC champion Eric Alequin and Jungle Fights champ Quemuel “Manumito” Ottoni. The latter is the only MMA fighter to have a victory over current middleweight champion Alex Pereira.
The UFC Puts Up A Real Superfight
For those looking for a legitimate super matchup, the UFC will be pitting the two pound-for-pound best MMA fighters against each other for UFC 284 on February 11. Featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski moves up to challenge newly crowned lightweight champion Islam Makhachev. The UFC odds favor the champ though Volkanovski has not tasted defeat in the promotion.
Prior to that, the UFC will host its first event of 2023 with a UFC Fight Night on January 14. Former title challenger Kelvin Gastelum will fight surging contender Nassourdine Imavov. But the meat of the UFC’s January 2023 MMA schedule will be in its first pay-per-view (PPV): UFC 283 on January 21. Glover Teixeira and Jamahal Hill fight for the vacant 205-pound title in Brazil.
Another critical bout pits bantamweight contenders Cory Sandhagen and Marlon Vera to determine a number-one contender for Aljamain Sterling’s title. They meet at the UFC Apex for February 18’s UFC Fight Night. And in March, the UFC is planning not one buttwoPPV events.
On March 4 will be UFC 285, which still needs a main event. While there is no official announcement, one or two of the female champions could headline as none have a fight booked as of yet. And two weeks later on March 18, the promotion returns to the United Kingdom for what could be Leon Edward’s first title defense as the welterweight champion.
Bellator Offers A Pair For February
While Bellator has no events for January, the promotion will return with two events in February: Bellator 290 on February 4 and Bellator 291 on February 25. The former features a heavyweight championship bout between Ryan Bader and MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko.
This will also be a rematch following Bader’s TKO win in the 2019 Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix, where he also first won the title. Per reports, this will be Emelianenko’s final fight. Expect Bader to be a sizable favorite, and in the co-main event will be middleweight champion Johnny Eblen defending against Anatoly Tokov.
‘Amosov is unbeaten and is the only fighter to own a win over Storley, which came via a narrow split decision two years ago.’
Bellator 291 in Dublin will feature a unification bout between welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov and interim champion Logan Storley. Amosov is unbeaten and is the only fighter to own a win over Storley, which came via a narrow split decision two years ago. Those who bet on MMA fights will be in a pickle here.
Best of the Rest
ONE Championship continues to offer monthly events on Prime Video. It begins on January 13 with a “supercard” of combat sports; from kickboxing to grappling to fights with custom rules. And on February 10, John Lineker and Fabricio Andrade finish their business for the bantamweight (145 lbs.) title.
LFA also has a busy 2023 MMA schedule. The promotion, which broadcasts on UFC Fight Pass, already has three planned for January beginning on the 6th. And for bare-knuckle boxing fans, BKFC returns on January 27. It will be a welterweight (165 lbs.) title eliminator between former UFC fighter Yosdenis Cedeno and boxer Gorjan Slaveski.Follow us on Twitter