Jon Jones has already made a big comeback in 2023 to land the heavyweight title in the UFC, with victory coming over Ciryl Gane. Jones may not be the last big name to make a successful return to the Octagon this year.
Jones is now at the top of the pound-for-pound list in the UFC following his successful comeback. Here is a look at three fighters who could replicate what he has done if they feature in the sport this year.
It has been two years now since Conor McGregor last appeared in the UFC. It is unclear what his next move will be, as the Irishman has not given up on a bout in boxing either. He will be keeping a close eye on the Devon Henley and Vasiliy Lomachenko fight where Henly is the -250 favorite in the outright bet boxing market. Notorious may look to challenge the winner of that undisputed lightweight contest.
Should McGregor decide to return to the UFC and not pursue boxing as his latest challenge, he is likely to want to fight for the lightweight title. That belt is currently held by Islam Makhachev. A fight with the defending champion would have a great deal of interest to it around the world.
McGregor has also been linked with a fight with Michael Chandler in the UFC. The American is the number five ranked fighter in the lightweight division, so it would be a tough test for the Irish fighter.
Although there has been a big fallout between former heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and the UFC, the former may be tempted by a return to the Octagon this year to face new champion Jones.
Ngannou has been so dominant in the heavyweight division in his last six fights. Five of those six wins came via stoppage, with his heavy punching proving too much for those opponents. His title success came against arguably the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time in the UFC, Stipe Miocic.
A fight between Ngannou and Jones would be a clash of styles. It would be fascinating to see if Jones could handle the power of The Predator. Victory for Jones would arguably be the best of his career as he would be facing a much bigger opponent.
It was a disappointing year in 2022 for Charles Oliveira, as not only was he stripped of his UFC Lightweight Championship, but he suffered his first defeat since 2017 when losing to Makhachev.
This year could be a much brighter one for the former lightweight champion. His comeback was set to be at UFC 288 against Beneil Dariush, but that has now been canceled due to injury. Once the Brazilian is back fit again, he will feel he has a point to prove in the Octagon.
The lightweight division is arguably the most competitive in the UFC. Oliveira has the ability to win the championship belt again. He will be linked with all the big names at his weight later this year. All three men will be hoping to end 2023 with a belt around their waist in the UFC. Should they make a successful return, they would be in contention for some of the leading awards with the brand when the year concludes.