UFC 2023 has already been a mess, and we’re less than a month away.
Yet the machine continued to produce fights and two new champions were crowned last weekend: Jamahal Hill and Brandon Moreno. Let’s take a look at some long-term futures in the UFC 2023 champions markets.
This betting market is a little obscure for the casual MMA bettor, but it’s an absolute blast to follow all year round. For this one, we bet on who will be the champion of each weight class by the end of the calendar year – December 31, 2023.
If you are the current champion? It’s zonte. Now we’ll project who they’ll be fighting over the coming year, how often they’ll fight or defend their title, and how they’ll stack up against other fighters in their weight class.
Below, we break down each division’s odds of being the titleholders on Dec. 31. All of them can be wagered on BetMGM Sportsbook, under the MMA futures tab and odds are accurate as of January 25th.
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UFC 2023 champion predictions
(Must be champion Dec. 31, 2023)
Heavyweight champion odds
|Jon Jones +100|
|Ciryl Gane +150|
|Stipe Miocic +400|
|Sergei Pavlovich +550|
|Tom Aspinal +3000|
The heavyweights have been in flux since contract demands for Francis Ngannou went unmet by the UFC brass over the past year. In his place, Jon Jones (+100) is preparing to fight Ciryl Gane in March for the vacant title left by Ngannou. Jones is a -125 favorite in this fight and is likely to fight another time this year, should he come out injury free in March.
Jones is very likely to be the champion through 2023, especially since Gane couldn’t defend Ngannou’s knockouts last year. Jones is an elite wrestler.
As for an outsider, Jalton Almeida (+6600) is a good long shot, but again, Jones will likely only fight twice this year. Almeida is the boogeyman in the division and could probably beat the best in the division right now. But he’s unranked (that’s not really important), and Jones is unlikely to accept this fight anytime soon. The best path for a Jones-Almeida fight to materialize would be for Jones to lose to Gane in March. Only then would it have a chance.
Light Heavyweight Champion Odds
|Magomed Ankalayev +100|
|Jiri Prochazka +250|
|Mount Jamahal +275|
|Jan Blachowicz +375|
|Aleksandar Rakic +2500|
|Anthony Smith +2500|
|Johnny Walker +2500|
|Ryan Spann +4000|
As discussed by the Post’s Scott Fontana, Jamahal Hill, the current champion, is far from the best guy in this division. Given his poor grip and less-than-sharp striking, Hill is a fade to hold the belt when he defends it later this year. Jiri Prochazka is expected to return this summer and should get an immediate title shot upon his return. He’s a phenomenal bet at +250 and should be the prohibitive favorite.
Middleweight Champion Odds
|Israel Adesanya +150|
|Alex Pereira +225|
|Khamzat Chimaev +250|
|Bo Nickal +1500|
|Driscus Du Plessis +2500|
Whether Israel Adesanya will get an immediate rematch against Alex Pereira is a mystery. However, we know this game is not good for him. Pereira seems to have Adesanya’s number. Although a match against Khamzat Chimaev (+250) is probably the brutal shift that ends his reign. If Khamzat gets a shot – and he should – he’ll be an overwhelming favorite against Adesanya or Pereira.
Welterweight Champion Odds
|Kamaru Usman +150|
|Khamzat Chimaev +225|
|Leon Edwards +450|
|Shavkat Rahmonov +900|
|Belal Muhammad +1000|
|Gilbert Burns +2000|
|Jack Della Maddalena +4000|
A few different scenarios to run through here. First, Kamaru Usman (+150) will face Leon Edwards for the welterweight title in March as a -300 favorite. Usman suffered multiple hand injuries and horrific knee issues. He apparently adapted to these and is still the clear favorite to reclaim his belt. But if Usman wins as expected, it would seem absolutely possible that he won’t fight again this year, leaving him the champion in 2024.
Also, Chimaev doesn’t look like he could make it into that weight class right now, which is part of why we love him as a middleweight champion. Instead, let’s look further down the table at Shavkat Rahmonov (+900). He is probably the most talented fighter in the division and is excellent value at this weight class, given that Usman has knocked everyone out already.
Lightweight champion odds and predictions
|Islam Makhachev -200|
|Alexander Volkanovski +275|
|Dustin Poirier +750|
|Beniel Dariush +1000|
|Justin Gaethje +2000|
|Raphael Fiziev +2000|
|Arman Tsarukyan +2500|
Most likely no one beats Islam Makhachev (-200) in this weight category. He seems to be the next big fighter coming out of Khabib Nurmagomedov, AKA fight camp. If someone were to emerge, it would have to be a knockout specialist like Raphael Fiziev (+2000), who could bring down Makhachev. Fiziev defends 92% of takedowns, so he’s your best pick by far in the lightweight division.
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Featherweight Champion Odds
|Alexander Volkanovski -225|
|Yair Rodriguez +400|
|Josh Emmet +450|
|Arnold Allen +800|
|Max Holloway +1000|
|Ilia Topuria +1000|
Ilia Topuria (+1000) or pass. This division has been dominated by Alexander Volkanovski for years now, and the only question is whether he drops back down to 145 pounds or vacates the title entirely after his fight with Makhachev in February.
Flyweight Champion Odds
|Alexander Pantoja +125|
|Matheus Nicolau +500|
|Amir Albazi +1300|
|Brandon Royval +2000|
|Muhammad Mokaev +2000|
We saw Brandon Moreno (-110) come out of UFC 283 with the belt, and he’s a good bet at those odds to keep him this year. For starters, he topped Deiveson Figueiredo and Kai-Kara France last year. He plans to fight two more times this year, once against Alexander Pantoja and maybe another time. He will be favored in each of these fights until the prospect of stud Muhammad Mokaev (+2000) is ready for the big show. But he could be a few fights away from a title shot, assuming he maintains his undefeated record.
Women’s Bantamweight Champion Odds
|Valentina Shevchenko +300|
|Julianna Pena +750|
|Irene Aldana +1000|
To pass. This is Amanda Nunes division until further notice.
Women’s Flyweight Champion Odds
|Valentina Shevchenko -175|
|Erin Blanchfield +550|
|Talia Santos +600|
|Alexa Grasso +600|
|Casey O’Neill +2000|
Valentina Shevchenko is arguably the best female fighter in the world. On occasion she struggled with grapplers, doing maestro submission Erin Blanchfield (+550) a nice bet. She deserves a title in Q3 or Q4 this year.
Women’s Strawweight Champion Odds
|Rose Namajunas +225|
|Jessica Andrade +500|
|Xiaonan Yan +900|
|Amanda Lemos +1000|
|Tatiana Suarez +2500|
To pass. Everyone is guessing who will get a shot at the title in the coming months.