Looking Ahead: Top Fights to Make in Mixed Martial Arts in 2023

Khamzat Chimaev, UFC 279
Khamzat Chimaev, UFC 279 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

3. Alex Pereira vs Khamzat Chimaev

There are hurdles to this bout, and many more off-ramps that could deter Chimaev from this destination.  But at this stage, a bout with Pereira would arguably be the biggest for “Borz” as he enters a seminal 2023.

Currently, Chimaev is expected to have to wait for both the welterweight and middleweight title holders to settle their business as Leon Edwards and Alex Pereira are anticipating high profile rematches in their first title defenses.  In the meantime, Chimaev may face the likes of Colby Covington, Belal Muhammad, or Paulo Costa as he waits for a champion to be made available.

While a welterweight title shot — against either Edwards or Kamaru Usman — or a middleweight title shot against superstar Israel Adesanya would be a blockbuster bout, a fight with Pereira would be the most interesting.  The size of “Poatan” coupled with his resume would make him the most fitting foil for the dominant Chimaev.  The bout would be even bigger in the event that Pereira were to defeat Adesanya once again before they meet.

Now, would Pereira’s takedown defense reach the level necessary before then…