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Top 10 MMA Fighter of the Year 2023 Rankings

Ranking the Top 10 Best MMA Fighters of 2023 to determine the MMA Fighter of the Year as Sean Strickland leads the way

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By admin | February 2, 2024

Top 10 MMA Fighter of the Year 2023

Honorable Mention

2023 has been a great year for Mixed Martial Arts, with some incredible fights, and inspirational stories. Before we move on to ranking the top 10 MMA fighters of the year, here are some Honorable mentions. 

  • Jailton Almeida
  • Shavkat Rakhmonov
  • Benoît Saint Denis

Top 10 MMA Fighter of the Year 2023 Rankings

10. Sean O’Malley

The first name on our MMA Fighter of the Year 2023 list is Sean O’Malley. Though O’Malley fought only once this year, he made the most of his time in the cage, winning the UFC Bantamweight world title at UFC 292, and reaching a new level of stardom in the sport. He also won the performance of the night bonus for that fight, and added a sensational knockout to his highlight reel. 

9. Justin Gaethje

Justin Gaethje had two fights in 2023, and he won both of them. After an unsuccessful title fight in 2022, Justin Gaethje had to deliver in 2023 to get back to the top, and he did so by defeating Rafael Fiziev in March, and scoring an impressive knockout against Dustin Poirier in July. Justin Gaethje also won the symbolic BMF title in that fight and got the performance of the night bonus. 

8.  Alexandre Pantoja

2023 was a big year for Alexandre Pantoja. He became the UFC flyweight world champion, and even successfully defended his title. He started the year by defeating former two-time flyweight champion Brendon Moreno.

Later on, in December of 2023, he defended his title against Brandon Royval, winning the fight via Unanimous Decision. 

7. Jon Jones

2023 has also been a massive year for Jon Jones. After taking over three years off, he came back in 2023 to fight at heavyweight. His first fight in the division was a title fight against former interim champion Cyrl Gane.

However, Jon Jones made it look easy and won the fight via 1st round submission to become the UFC heavyweight champion and a two-division world champion.

He was scheduled to make his first title defense later in the year but had to postpone due to an injury. Still, coming back in a new division, and winning the world title is enough to get him on our list of Top MMA Fighters of 2023

6. Tom Aspinall

At number 6 on our MMA Fighter of the Year 2023 list, we have the new Interim heavyweight world champion, Tom Aspinall. He fought twice in 2023 and won his first world title as well.

In July he knocked out Marcin Tybura, and later on in November, he faced Sergei Pavlovich for the interim UFC Heavyweight Championship.

Aspinall won via first-round knockout and also won a performance of the night bonus. So, 2023 was a massive year for Tom Aspinall, and he can expect a title fight against Jon Jones in the near future. 

5. Dricus Du Plessis

The newly minted middleweight champion of the world had a great year in 2023, which led to his title shot, and win a few days ago.

Du Plessis fought twice in 2023, winning both of his fights. In the first bout, he defeated Derek Brunson.

Later on in July, he faced former middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker in a title elimination bout. He won the fight via 2nd round TKO and set himself up for a shot at the world title. 

4. Leon Edwards

At number 4, we have Leon Edwards. After pulling an upset win against Kumari Usman to become the UFC welterweight champion in 2022, Edwards had a big challenge in front of him.

He proved that his win wasn’t just a fluke, by defeating Usman via Unanimous decision in a rematch, and then defended his title for a second time against former interim champion Colby Covington.

With two successful defenses against top welterweights, Edwards solidified his position as the best welterweight and one of the best mma fighters in the world. 

3. Alex Pereira

Pereira didn’t have the best start to 2023. He lost the UFC middleweight title to Israel Adesanya and also had the first knockout loss of his career.

However, he moved up to light middleweight, and in his first fight, defeated former champion Jan Błachowicz in a very competitive fight. This earned him a title shot against Jiří Procházka for the vacant light-middleweight title.

Pereira won the fight by Knockout and became a two-division world champion, which is a feat very few fighters have achieved in the UFC. 

2. Islam Makhachev

After becoming the world champion in 2022, Islam Makhachev solidified himself as one of the best fighters in the world, by winning two back-to-back fights against Alexander Volkanovski, defending his title twice.

The first fight between the two happened in February. It was very competitive, but Islam managed to win a Unanimous Decision. He also won the fight of the night bonus, and this fight was given the title of fight of the year for 2023.

The second fight happened in October, and Islam won with an impressive head kick knockout, solidifying his position on top of the Pound for Pound rankings. 

1. Sean Strickland

Our pick for 2023 Fighter of the Year is Sean Strickland. He started the year with a win over Nassourdine Imavov at light heavyweight, and then knocked out Abusupiyan Magomedov in July, winning a performance of the night bonus as well. By the end of the year, he secured a title shot against Israel Adesanya.

Despite being a massive underdog, he won the fight via Unanimous Decision, becoming the UFC middleweight world champion.

Though he lost the title to Dricus Du Plessis in early 2024, we can easily say that 2023 was the biggest year of his career, and your MMA Fighter of the Year 2023 Winner.

Where do you rank these Contenders and Champions of 2023? Rank below to be added in the Mixed Martial Arts Rankings 

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