UFC roster is so deep with young hungry lions and lionesses hungry to make a splash in 2023. Aiming for top 15 rankings, top five years. Becoming rising stars in there division.
Deep roster but selected ten prospects to watch in 2023, However my list can be top 25 but that would be too long. Enjoy the list, share your opinion in the comments.
1. Bo Nickal
UFC Blue Chip prospect, Biggest prospect in years. All in on the Bo Nickal hype like everyone else because of his incredible accomplishments in NCAA wrestling. Three time Division One National Champion, 2019 Dan Hodge Trophy Winner. Freestyle wrestling career won the U23 World Champion, 2020 US Olympic Team Silver Medalist.
Began training at American Top Team in 2019 and never looked back since. Fast learner, Rapidly excelling at MMA down in Florida. Finishing opponents without a problem.
Becoming Dana White Contender Series MVP easily submitting CFFC Middleweight Champion Donovan Beard. Nickal’s first round submission looked like he was seasoned ADCC champion
Right after that submission Dana White had no choice to sign Bo Nickal. UFC 284 is Bo Nickal debut against contender series alumni Jamie Pickett UFC record of 2-4 tough durable fighter. Really looking forward to watching the long awaited UFC debut of the biggest college wrestler to start MMA.
Nickal only has three professional fights facing opponent with experience, Experience can win in this fight but Mike Brown, Masvidal, Yaroslav Amosov, Magomed Magomedkerimov all have great stories.
“I work with him a lot, from all the wrestling he’s just like this dense f***ing little white gorilla. He hits, it hurts, man.” Jorge Masvidal sportskeeda.com
“I’ve never seen it, but I also know he’s a super special guy,” Brown told MMA Junkie. “He’s a super special athlete, and people know that. He’s performing. He’s executing and performing like you’d expect from a guy like him. So people realize this guy’s ceiling might be off the charts. Mike Brown said on https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2022/10/ufc-news-bo-nickal-super-special-mike-brown-says
Nickal confident as they come calling out Khamzat Chimaev, Fighters calling out him from Darren Till, Andre Petroski, Chris Curtis Believes he can defeat Chimaev right now but slow your roll gradually build your career and 2023 fight out your contender series contract. 2024 fight for the Middleweight title.
“Let’s go. I’m Ready,” Nickal (3-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) told Bisping (h/t Low Kick MMA). “I’m ready for him right now, he’s a good matchup for me. He’s not taking me down, he’s not doing nothing to me.“ Bo Nickal said on Bloodyelbow.com
“When I watch his actual wrestling stuff, he’s basically a 25-year-old man wrestling high school kids in Sweden, there’s not really much to be said about that.” Bo Nickal said on Bloodyelbow.com
Completely understand Bo Nickal never made his UFC debut but rise through middleweight rankings defeating quality opponents. Skies the limit and will see his potential come full circle in 2023.
“I train every day so that I can be the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. I’m barely into my career, but I’m headed straight to the top.” Bo Nickal said on https://abcnews.go.com
2. Jack Della Madellena
Australian Middleweight prospect, ESPN 2022 UFC Men’s Rookie of the Year because of three first round finishes against Roberts, Emeev, Rodriguez. Great boxing displays against tough opponents.
Upcoming fight against Randy Brown at UFC 284 Volkanosvki vs Makhachev, Jack Della Madellena possibly can show off his sharp crisp boxing against toughest opponent..
“I don’t want to knock him out any more than I already plan on doing. The plan is, I’m preparing myself to fight three five-minute rounds. My plan is to hit him over and over again for 15 minutes.” Jack Della Madellena said on news.com.au
“I’m going to come out hard from the get-go,” he said on said geelongadvertiser.com
First main card appearance is a great spot, Dana White, Shelby and Maynard placed Jack on the man card for a reason. KO power in the first round, ESPN tweets the KO, Sportscenter talks about it on ESPN. UFC’s goal comes true and they have a rising star in the welterweight division.
“I’m so excited, There’s a lot of buzz. People are excited. A lot of my friends are coming to the fight. It’s going to be a pretty crazy crowd. ” Jack Della Madellena
“My goals for 2023 is to fight three or four more times in 2023 and be deep in that top ten at welterweight by the end of the year.” Jack Della Madellena said on Dailymail.com
Win against Randy Brown can lead to potential fights against Geoff Neal, Miguel Baeza, Andre Fialho or top welterweights. All great fights that would be interesting to watch.
Admires Brazilian legend Wanderlei Silva, Compares himself to the Brazilian who was a KO artist with aggressive killer fighting style. If his comparison is the Pride Middleweight Champion he’ll become top 15 UFC Middleweight in 2023.
3. Muhammad Mokaev
Khabib of the Flyweight division is the #12 UFC Flyweight making his UFC debut in 2022 after dominating fighters on the Brave CF scene and IMMAF scene.
Astounding combined pro and amateur record of 32-0. Winning the IMMAF Championship three times before going pro.
3-0 under the UFC defeating former LFA Flyweight Champion Charles Johnson, Cody Durden and lastly defeating Malcom Gordon. He won these fights with unanimous decisions but dealt with adversity especially in the Johnson and Gordon fight, Unable to run through them with wrestling & ground pound as they were giving Mokaev fights.
However Mokaev broke the flyweight record with 11 takedowns and armbar submit Gordon the in the 3rd round. Shown signs of greatness.
Suffered setback with dislocated shoulder in December but looks sharp and healthy training down at Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand with Khamzat Chimaev, Darren Till, Brendan Loughane, Kane Mousah, Petr Yan and many current world Muay Thai fighters. Training hard for his fight against Jalel Filho 14-2 fighter contender series alumni and prospect out of Nova Uniao.
Win against Filho I hope Mokaev gets matched up against top 15 flyweights only. Time for Shelby and Maynard to be matchmakers force or persuade top flyweights to match with Muhammad Mokaev.
“UFC Matchmaker Mick Maynard told me that no top 15 available for March 19th so I said give me anyone! April we have Ramadan, June I gonna start training and I didn’t want to waste time and miss this card! I tried my best to get top 15 opponent who could get me close to the belt.” Muhammad Mokaev twitter
Muhammad Mokaev signed a new contract with UFC last week, Shows UFC invested in the future of the Dagestan flyweight. Fought three times in 2022, Expect same amount in 2023 but only top 15 opponents besides Filho.
“Today I have signed new multi deal UFC contract! Thank you to all my supporters! See you all in London,” Mokaev wrote.
4. Michael Morales
Ecuador’s rising star jumped on the scene from the Dana White Contender Series to fighting twice in the UFC 2022.
Defeating tough durable fighters Travin Giles & Adam Fugitt. Both wins by finishes.
Only 23 years old & fighting off his contender series contract continue to develop in 2023. Build experience inside the cage as he’s still young with so much room to grow no need to fight top 15 welterweights straight off the bat.
“I’m really young. It all depends on my coaches. But I want to work really hard with my mind, with my body, with my soul and be a better fighter. One fight at a time. I’m 23, and I want a long career in the UFC.” Michael Morales said on https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/lists/ufc-277-dallas-video-michael-morales-will-not-rush-to-top-knockout
Training hard up in Mexico at Entram Jiu Jitsu MMA Tijuana with two-time UFC Flyweight Champion Brandon Moreno, UFC fighter Genaro Valdez, UFC prospect Johnny Munoz, ONE FC Aaron Canarte, Manuel Torres UFC Fighter, Marcelo Rojo UFC fighter and many more Combate Americas/ UWC fighters.
Guarantee this kid in next few years will grow to become UFC Welterweight contender just continue to hone his skills in Mexico, Travel all over the world learning from the best MMA minds. The physical & athletic abilities are there, striking ability are there all about fine tuning all aspects of martial arts in 2023, 2024 and 2025. Physical prime at 27, 28 years old he’s gonna be one of the best welterweights in the world.
“He’s 22 years old, normally I wouldn’t take a kid that young. But he’s 12-0. He came to win tonight,” White said. “I seriously see signs of possible greatness with this kid. If he can keep it all together, what’s he going to look like when he’s 27, 28 years old?” Dana White said on contender series post fight press conference https://fansided.com/2021/09/22/2021-dwcs-week-4-dana-white-sees-potential-greatness-michael-morales-video/
Withdrew from his Rinat Fakhretdinov fight because of Morales injury, 2023 love for the matchmakers schedule that fight. Interesting matchup for Morales to test his cage wrestling defense, fighter IQ against one of Dana White’s newest favorite fighter.
- 23 years old 14-0 record
- 2-0 UFC
- Dana White Contender Series fighter
- Trained with Brandon Moreno, Genaro Valdez, Marcelo Rojo, Aaron Canarta
- Amateur background in Judoka, Winning tournaments
5. Erin Blanchfield
Flyweight rising star, broke on the scene last year defeating Alpar, Maverick and Molly McCann. Showing off her high-level Jiu-Jitsu background and grappling ability in her 2022 UFC season.
Beatdown fan favorite and Barstool athlete Molly McCann in her last fight, Ending her with nasty kimura in the first round.
Upcoming fight against former UFC Flyweight title challenger… Taila Santos. Toughest fight of her life. Step up in competition as she jumps from #12 to fighting #2.
“She’s a striker but she has some good wrestling. She likes her takedowns off the cage, and her Jiu-Jitsu’s decent. She’s well-rounded, but I don’t think she’s necessarily dangerous.” Erin Blanchfield said on Morning Kombat https://www.mmanews.com/2023/01/erin-blanchfield-taila-santos-not-dangerous-ERdespite-controversial-title-loss/
Santos gave Valentina Shevchenko toughest fight to date, controversial split decision loss for Santos. Blanchfield better be ready for the challenge, Train hard at Silver Fox BJJ or any top gym in the United States. Fighting Taila Santos is whole different story.
“She’s number two, so that’s a huge opportunity to go and take that spot from her. I’m going to fight all these girls anyway, so I was like, ‘Why not now? Erin Blanchfield said on UFC.Com
“As long as I get my training camps, if I feel good that day, I’ll beat anybody in the world. Just another girl, another fight.” Erin Blanchfield said on https://www.ufc.com/news/erin-blanchfield-just-meeting-her-own-expectations
#12 vs #2 potential breakout fight win or lose as long as she HOLDS her own than everyone will gain respect for Erin Blanchfield. Curious on her striking improvements, absorbing heavy shots, possibly being the nail instead of the hammer. In addition to headlining first UFC Main Event with title contender implications to fighting Valentina Shevchenko.
Like I said win or loss I know she’ll gain value, Showing her future flyweight champion potential in 2023 against Santos, Chookagian, Alexa Grasso.
- 10-1 record 4-0 UFC record
- EBI Champion
- Upcoming fight against Taila Santos
6. Ian Garry
Northern Ireland rising star continues to grow with raw talent. Continuing to hone his skills, Sharpen his tools in the toolshed at Kill Cliff home of former UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman, Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler, Former ONE FC Double Champion Aung La Nsang and many many more killers.
Former Cage Warriors Welterweight Champion, Admirer of Conor McGregor has undefeated 10-0 record, 3-0 with UFC. Defeating Gabriel Green, Jordan Williams and Darrian Weeks. Dealt with adversity in the fights against Williams and Green being forced to fight backwards, being in danger of getting finished. However, Ian Garry showed his greatness.
Irish version of Rory MacDonald, kickboxing looked excellent against Gabriel Green loved his striking techniques, footwork, taking advantage of his frame and length well.
Continuing to improve at KILL CLIFF getting ready for his UFC 285 fight against Kenan Song 4-2 UFC fighter. Showing off his high level striking against tough welterweight opponent from China. Starting off 2023 with a bang, Fighting future opponents like Bryan Barberena.
“Everyone knows I want Barberena – I’m not getting him…Yet. I’m taking out Kennan Song first,” Garry recently tweeted about the fight. https://frontkick.online/ufc/ian-garry-set-for-ufc-285/
“It would be a beautiful stage for me to show the world even more., and show how good I am.” Ian Garry
“He’s highly respected, he has fought two former world champions in his last two fights, Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos.” Ian Garry said on the sun.ie
2023 all about Ian Garry improving his all around skills besides raw kickboxing ability, gradually building his name amongst MMA fans, Defeating quality welterweights while moving up the ladder. I love how Ian Garry traveling to Leon Edwards camp, messaging Israel Adesanya to learn kickboxing,
‘It was awesome. We did a five minute spar. We traded some good shots and had a good conversation afterwards,’ Garry said about Leon Edwards
“There’s no rush. My main concern, my main goal, is to grow,. To become a better fighter, to become a better martial artist, to become a better athlete in every single way I can. Diet, nutrition, strength and conditioning, and technical ability. So for me, it’s working with the team that I’ve surrounded myself, to get better and grow and grow and grow.” Ian Garry said on mmafighting.com
Ian Garry new husband, new father is all the motivation, Dad power exist and lead to the Irish UFC prospect rising to the top at 27, 28 years old becoming future welterweight contender.
7. Tatsuro Taira
Undefeated Japanese flyweight at 25 years old jumped on the UFC scene with three impressive wins against tough flyweights. Two out of those three flyweights are submission wins. Looks like an ADCC Japan competitor.
Defeating Carlos Candelario, CJ Vergara, Jesus Aguilar in 2022.
Well rounded 23 year old fighter is raw talent, Wrestling and jiu-jitsu are his best skills. However wrestling techniques and basic Jiu-Jitsu finishes needs to improve if he wants to become flyweight champion one day. Striking is solid but takes advantages of his quickness. Trains in The Paraestra Okinawa in Japan. I’d love to see Taira travel to Tiger Muay Thai, City Kickboxing, Bangtao Muay Thai.
Looks great against UFC opponents but still has to grow physically, mentally and develop his wrestling takedowns, Jiu-Jitsu offense, Boxing, muay thai. No need to fight top 15 flyweights right away. Gain all the experience fighting three times in 2023.
“I’m growing every fight,” Taira said. “I appreciate every opportunity in the Octagon. Most fighters want to stay as active as possible, so I’m grateful for that.”https://sports.yahoo.com/rising-ufc-star-tatsuro-taira-013046395.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAADrANRQ7QAyV_lXkfQ4jjVbj94BkGkZX5Pobhfsn1eZ15pliTyZFJ060F8tNpcouno_fmwdP5krQTjR612JBzWyD83mmFU5FdRW2aqTCeXodRrEu0XjhVpJZ6lE5xVpfRUpDce8rg-HuxgmDX8mns_ua49M6C0tRSJHzuTFddwnI
Continue to have quick turnaround fights until Taira is damaged, Earn much experience inside the cage much as possible.
“I really, really want to come back as soon as possible. I’m of course interested in fighting against (ranked opponents), so I’m looking forward to fighting again soon. As soon as I can fight (ranked opponents)” Taira said on post fight press conference https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/lists/ufc-fight-night-218-video-tatsuro-taira-focus-on-title-not-rankings
“I believe I will one day hold the belt, but I’m in no major rush. Things will happen how they are supposed to happen; I’m just enjoying every moment of the ride.” Tatsuro Taira said on https://www.ufc.com/news/tatsuro-taira-meets-future-head-on-ufc-fight-night-vegas-68
Joe Silva, Sean Shelby, Dana White dreamt of having Japanese UFC Champion, UFC superstar because of there love for Kazushi Sakuraba. UFC might have a star that can headline main event in Japan in few years has UFC markets Tatsuro Taira to the Asia market.
8. Cameron Saimann
South African #1 prospect, EFC Bantamweight Champion, Fought on Dana White Contender Series and lightened up Dana White’s eyes. Signing him to UFC contract.
“He’s the Future” Dana White on post fight press conference
UFC debut against Steven Koslow wasn’t walk through fight, Koslow placed Saaiman in tough jiu-jitsu positions every round, but Cameron scrambled out. Grappling defense needs to improve but his kickboxing is filthy. However fight against Koslow was short notice and showed his Bantamweight top ten potential.
Second UFC fight is at UFC 285 against Mana Martinez.. Fighting on the prelims of Jones vs Gane, Cameron Saaiman can show off his fast hands, explosive speed. Earning 50k bonus and be promoted as future star in the Bantamweight division.
23 years old, Still a “baby”, Physical presence isn’t there yet, Skills without a doubt need to improve. Ruby Sports Management must carefully calculate Cameron’s 2023 season.
Fight tough Bantamweights similar to Martinez level and continue working out with his protege Driscss Du Plessis down in South Africa.
“It’s an absolute honour [to fight with du Plessis]. I think that’s the first time ever that South Africans are not only one guy on the main card, but a team of two going to the UFC to represent not only South Africa, but Team CIT.” Cameron Saaiman
9. Jailton Almeida
Extremely impressed with the Brazilian Heavyweight with his submission grappling ability that lead to two UFC submission wins. Coming out of party was at UFC 283 against Shamil Abdurakhimov.
Ragdolling Shamil Abdurakhimov, Combat Sambo champion for two rounds. Mentally breaking him with nasty ground & pound in the second round.
Hybrid Heavyweight was born in United States he’d be NFL Defensive End but born in Brazil allowed him to become top 15 Heavyweight after the Shamil win.
2023 I can see Jailton Almeida become Heavyweight title contender as UFC always hungry for hybrid young heavyweights. Fighting top heavyweights like Marcin Tybura, Jairzhino Rozenstruik, Chris Daukaus can really help Almeda.
“Once I get in the rankings, I’ll probably get to the Top 5 very quickly,” Almeida said. “That’s my plan for the end of 2023, to get to Top 5 or Top 7.”Jailton Almeda https://www.ufc.com/news/jailton-almeida-ready-rise-rankings-heavyweight-brazil-ufc-283-teixeira-hill
“Hey Marcin Tybura, I just saw your victory. Shall we fight [next]? Everyone likes to see two good heavyweight grapplers fighting each other,” Almeida wrote. “We are in close positions in the ranking, I fought two weeks ago, I think it will be a perfect moment to fight in May. [Are you] ready?” Jalton Almeda https://www.sherdog.com/news/news/Jailton-Almeida-Calls-Out-Marcin-Tybura-Discusses-Meeting-Idols-at-UFC-283-189117
Win against Almeida can lead to top ten matchups like Jairzinho Rozenstruik #9th Heavyweight, #6 Tom Aspinall or #8 Serghei Spivac. All different matchups, Interesting fights in the winter of 2023 before the new year.
Hybrid Heavyweight, Talented grappler all the makings to become 2023 Heavyweight title contender.
10. Jake Hadley
Former Cage Warriors Flyweight Champion, Showcased his talents on the Dana White Contender Series that wow’d the boss. Missed weight but Dana White made promoter move and signed Jake Hadley.
UFC debut was against Charles Oliveira training partner Allan Nascimento, Tough loss because of Nascimneto’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt skills. However Hadley held his own not allowing him to submit or get strong offensive control.
Second matchup made Dana White not regret signing him submitting Carlos Candelario in second round. Excellent striking, grappling performance.
Upcoming fight is against Malcom Gordon at UFC 286 (Edwards vs Usman) fighting n front of friends, teammates, family members at the O2 Arena in London.
Expect quick rise to top of the division, Great all around talent part of England’s hotbed of talent that will contend for titles. 2023, 2024 can see Jake Hadley become flyweight title contender.
Looks great in training all about showing that work inside the cage. Guarantee Hadley top ten flyweight by this year tough matchup for Manel Kape, Tim Elliot, Tyson Nam.