10 New Year's resolutions for UFC stars including Conor McGregor and Jon Jones

1013     0
10 New Year
10 New Year's resolutions for UFC stars including Conor McGregor and Jon Jones

Last year was a wild one in the UFC, with a number of shock title changes, returns and other dramatic moments taking place inside the octagon.

We saw a second Brit become world champion when Leon Edwards stunned the world with a knockout win over Kamaru Usman, as well as Alex Pereira dethroning Israel Adesanya after being dominated for five rounds. There were countless big knockouts and shock submissions as well as wars that went the distance.

However, we also missed some fighters, with legends like Conor McGregor and Jon Jones not fighting at all, while the heavyweight title situation never seemed to get any closer to being worked out. We've taken a look at ten of the biggest stars in MMA and given them a New Year's resolution for 2023.

Here's the ten resolutions we recommend for 2023...

1. Conor McGregor - Social Media Detox

Unfortunately for fans, McGregor ended up in the headlines for his controversies this year as opposed to ever for anything athletic at all. He didn't make a return from his broken leg suffered in July 2021, and has bulked up to a massive 195lb with the intention of eventually coming back at welterweight.

Logan Paul and KSI announce new partnership with UFC president Dana White rridzziquridttinvLogan Paul and KSI announce new partnership with UFC president Dana White

But more than anything McGregor needs, his key will be taking a break from social media. He's tweeted and deleted countless rants this year, but fans and media catch them, leading to a number of issues for the Irishman this year including high-profile feuds with the likes of PJ Gallagher, Paul McGrath and his ex-pal Artem Lobov.

10 New Year's resolutions for UFC stars including Conor McGregor and Jon JonesConor McGregor was very busy on social media last year (INSTAGRAM@https://www.instagram.com/reel/CmDQ965ozLv/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y%3D)

2. Jon Jones - Get back in the cage

The legendary light-heavyweight champion Jones, whose sole loss is a dodgy disqualification, hasn't been out since the start of 2020, and is expected to return at heavyweight. However, despite spending the last few years bulking up and getting himself to a heavyweight frame, he never ended up coming back in 2022.

Jones appeared to be heading towards an interim heavyweight title fight with Stipe Miocic in December, but that never materialised and he remained sidelined. He needs to make sure that he returns to competition within the next 12 months, or risk losing out on more prime time from his career.

10 New Year's resolutions for UFC stars including Conor McGregor and Jon JonesJon Jones is due a UFC return (Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

3. Israel Adesanya - Revenge on Alex Pereira

Former middleweight world champion Adesanya appears to be jinxed against his long-time rival Pereira. Three times they have fought - twice in kickboxing, once in MMA - and three times he has been defeated after dominant performances. He was robbed of a decision in their first bout, before being stopped in their next two after bossing the opening exchanges.

Whatever mental hurdle is costing the Nigerian against his Brazilian counterpart, Adesanya needs to get over and return to the summit of the UFC. If the pair rematch in what would be their fourth meeting in any discipline, the former champion should remain confident and he can reclaim the gold.

10 New Year's resolutions for UFC stars including Conor McGregor and Jon JonesThere's something going on between Adesanya and Pereira (Zuffa LLC)

4. Islam Makhachev - Become pound-for-pound No.1

Khabib Nurmagomedov's close friend and seeming protege Makhachev was finally given his opportunity at lightweight gold last year, and grasped it with both hands. He made light work of Charles Oliveira before immediately agreeing to face featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in the pound-for-pound No.1's home country in February.

And now the Dagestani fighter has a chance to claim that top ranking spot within the first few months of the year and beat an all-time great. He faces a tough task in an hostile environment against Volkanovski, but after running through Oliveira how he did, it is a very big possibility that Makhachev takes the No.1 spot.

10 New Year's resolutions for UFC stars including Conor McGregor and Jon JonesIslam Makhachev is the lightweight champion, but could go even further this year (Zuffa LLC)

5. Henry Cejudo - Become three-weight champion

Former flyweight and bantamweight champion Cejudo is coming back to the UFC this year, and his port of call is getting back the 135lb from Aljamain Sterling. The Olympic gold medalist, known as 'Triple C' for his two belts and one gold medal, never lost his belt, and wants it back from the dominant current champion.

However, what fans really want to see is Cejudo making unprecedented UFC history and moving up to featherweight, where he could face pound-for-pound No.1 Alexander Volkanovski for the gold. The double-champion has always wanted to become 'C4', which he could do this year.

10 New Year's resolutions for UFC stars including Conor McGregor and Jon JonesHenry Cejudo could fight for a rare third belt this year (Zuffa LLC)

6. Francis Ngannou - Fight Tyson Fury

World heavyweight champion Ngannou will likely make his return to the octagon this year after spending the last 11 months out with injury following his win over Cyril Gane. He was fighting out his contract when he faced his former training partner in January, and needs a considerably bigger offer before re-signing this year.

Conor McGregor accused of "chickening out" of UFC fight ahead of comebackConor McGregor accused of "chickening out" of UFC fight ahead of comeback

However, one thing more important than money to Ngannou is the opportunity to get a shot at his childhood dream of competing in a boxing match. And one bout that people want to see is the highly-anticipated crossover event between he and world heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury.

10 New Year's resolutions for UFC stars including Conor McGregor and Jon JonesTyson Fury and Francis Ngannou both seem to want to fight (ESPN)

7. Paddy Pimblett - Work on boxing

Speaking of boxing, one fighter who badly needs some work in this regard is Paddy Pimblett. The Scouse lightweight has burst onto the scene with four wins in his first four fights under the UFC banner, but has shown major weaknesses on the feet in his opening few bouts.

Pimblett's chin was an easy target for Jared Gordon in his last outing, which many felt he lost, and he'll need to work on his stand-up if he wants to progress to where he needs to be. Perhaps while we're at it, Pimblett could work on his public relations as well after a difficult end to the year with fans and media.

10 New Year's resolutions for UFC stars including Conor McGregor and Jon JonesPaddy Pimblett has been rocked multiple times already in the UFC due to his poor striking

8. Alex Volkanovski - Become two-weight world champion

Australian featherweight champion Volkanovski is going to dare to be great in 2023, and has the chance to become a rare two-weight world champion in February. He will welcome Islam Makhachev to Perth in his home country at UFC 284, and stands to join an elite club of just four fighters to simultaneously hold two belts.

However, he's taking on a very difficult test in Makhachev, who made such quick work of Oliveira back in October that fans wonder if he can be defeated any more. He has just one loss on his record, and has since won 11 straight, so this will be a tough task for the hometown fighter.

10 New Year's resolutions for UFC stars including Conor McGregor and Jon JonesAlex Volkanovski moves up to lightweight this year (Zuffa LLC)

9. Leon Edwards - Defend his title

Just two Brits in history have ever won UFC gold; Michael Bisping and Leon Edwards. Bisping was only able to defend his title once before being dethroned by Georges St-Pierre, but Edwards is younger and expected to be a more active champion, with his first stop coming in London this March.

However, it looks as though Kamaru Usman may not be fit in time for the pair to have a trilogy for the belt in the UK, meaning that Edwards must defend once before getting the big one. Who he will face is anyone's guess, but he'll have one of the rowdiest crowds in MMA on his side when he does get in the octagon for the first time as champion.

10 New Year's resolutions for UFC stars including Conor McGregor and Jon JonesLeon Edwards is just the second UFC champion from England (Zuffa LLC)

10. Khamzat Chimaev - Make weight

There's a belief that Chimaev may be the best fighter in the UFC, he just needs the chance to prove it against top level opposition at welterweight or middleweight. However, if he decides to stick around at 170lb, he needs to take the weight cut much more seriously going forward.

Chimaev arrived in the UFC with a stunning pair of wins within a week of each other, and impressed experts even more when he moved down in weight for the second bout. But since then, his wins have been tarnished with his seeming inability to make weight at 170lb. He was over half-a-stone heavy for his bout with Nate Diaz in September and at UFC 267 he seemed to hold the towel a la Daniel Cormier to tip the scales at the welterweight limit.

10 New Year's resolutions for UFC stars including Conor McGregor and Jon JonesKhamzat Chimaev has had a number of major weight issues in recent fights (Zuffa LLC)

Donagh Corby

Print page

Comments:

comments powered by Disqus