UFC 2023 champion odds, picks, predictions: Jon Jones, Islam Makhachev favorites

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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Jon Jones celebrates his victory
Jon Jones celebrates his win over Dominick Reyes.
Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

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
Curtis Blaydes+1000
Tom Aspinal +3000
Jalton Almeida+6600

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.

Czech Republic's Jiri Prochazka celebrates with the light heavyweight title belt after submitting Glover Teixeira
Czech Republic’s Jiri Prochazka celebrates with the light heavyweight title belt after submitting Glover Teixeira
Getty Images

Middleweight Champion Odds

Israel Adesanya +150
Alex Pereira +225
Khamzat Chimaev +250
Robert Whittaker+600
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
Colby Covington+600
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
Charles Oliveira+650
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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Brandon Moreno celebrates his win over Deiveson Figueiredo in their flyweight title fight at UFC 283
Brandon Moreno celebrates his win over Deiveson Figueiredo in their flyweight title fight at UFC 283
Sportswire icon via Getty Images

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

Brandon Moreno-110
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

Amanda Nunes-300
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
Manon Fiorot+600
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

Zhang Weil-150
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.

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