As the beginning of the UFC‘s 2023 fight schedule edges closer, former middleweight champion Michael Bisping has named three fights he thinks must reach the Octagon this year.
As with the start of any new calendar year, 2023 will bring with it a host of new possibilities regarding championship bouts, superfights, and promotional and divisional debuts. One of the figures who’ll be close to the action, be it in the form of color commentary or analysis on YouTube and BT Sport, is Bisping.
Since hanging up his gloves in 2017 following consecutive defeats against Georges St-Pierre and Kelvin Gastelum, “The Count” has maintained a heavy presence in the sport, often partnering with Brendan Fitzgerald to call UFC Fight Nights.
With his closeness to the action and successful history in the sport, Bisping is always on hand to offer his opinions on the happenings and should-be happenings in the game.
That includes the UFC’s matchmaking for 2023.
Bisping Pitches Bouts For Jones/McGregor/Chimaev
During the year’s first episode of his Believe You Me podcast, Bisping named three fights he believes “must” happen under the UFC banner in 2023.
His first port of call came in the heavyweight division, where the Englishman unsurprisingly focused on the long-awaited divisional debut of former two-time light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Given his apparent eagerness to return in 2022, as well as a strong promise to reach the top again this year in a recent tweet, it appears that the wait to see “Bones” back in the Octagon will soon be over.
But who should his first heavyweight test come against? According to Bisping, the answer is a no-brainer.
“So, Jones/Ngannou all day long. There’s no question that that has to happen,” Bisping said. “Jones has talked about it for so long… He’s had the time to beef up… It’s the fight that needs to happen.”
Next, Bisping dropped down a few divisions to assess the title picture at welterweight. Barring reports surrounding a possible fight-preventing hand injury on the side of Kamaru Usman proving true, it appears that the former champion will have the opportunity for redemption against reigning king Leon Edwards in March.
With that, “The Count” turned his attention to rising star Khamzat Chimaev, pitching an opportunity for him to secure a title shot against two-time title challenger and former interim champ Colby Covington.
“My next one… Khamzat is 6-0 in the UFC and he’s on the verge of a title fight. There was rumors of it a while ago, him versus Colby Covington,” Bisping noted. “Him versus Colby, co-main event of Leon versus Kamaru 3. That needs to happen for a number of reasons. Colby wants to fight for the belt again, he’s got to go through a top contender. Khamzat wants to fight for the belt, he’s gotta go through a wrestler, someone like Colby that can go five rounds at a hard pace.”
Not many discussions surrounding 2023 possibilities are complete without the mention of one Conor McGregor, and Bisping’s list is no different. For his third and final pick, the former 185-pound champ picked a leading option for the return of the UFC’s first-ever simultaneous two-division titleholder.
And in spite of some passionate callouts from lightweight contender Michael Chandler, one of which saw him even express a willingness to fight at welterweight, Bisping pointed to Jorge Masvidal as the man for the job.
“Third would be Conor McGregor, because whether you like it or hate it, the sport is a way better, more exciting place with him involved,” Bisping insisted. “Versus — and this is the big one — Masvidal… They’re both strikers. They both lost a few fights recently… Both been out for a little bit. And as a fan, their styles would make for an amazing fight.”
What do you make of Michael Bisping’s three selections?
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