With UFC’s hectic schedule, which features cards almost every week of the year, it’s hard to showcase the fighters the world demands at every event. As a result, we saw headlining fights that were fantastic, but they really lacked the stellar power.

But there are a number of outstanding fighters whose next fights should take place just around the corner. Of course, we’ve already discussed Conor McGregor’s future at length, but other familiar faces like Jorge Masvidal, Rose Namajunas and Justin Gaethje should be returning to the octagon soon.

- Advertisement -

What’s new about these fighters, as well as some others that should be seen every time they fight? Brett Okamoto and Mark Raimondi offer a status update ahead of a busy fall schedule.

George Masvidal

Why didn’t Masvidal fight for so long?

- Advertisement -

Some people speculate that Masvidal was waiting for his legal issues to clear up – he’s facing charges of aggravated battery for allegedly punching Colby Covington in late March. It is not true. Masvidal hasn’t fought since losing to Covington at UFC 272 on March 5 because he’s still recovering from several nagging injuries that sources didn’t want to go into. Masvidal did not need surgery but was injured in his last few fights and took time off this time to heal his wounds. He is expected to be able to return in early 2023.

Who should Masvidal take next?

- Advertisement -

Gilbert Burns said that he was looking forward to the next fight with Masvidal, and already verbally accepted Masvidal as an opponent, but the problem is with time. Burns wanted to return earlier and Masvidal’s schedule is still up in the air, depending on the aforementioned injuries. This fight could take place in January, but it is far from being decided.

One event that could potentially make a difference: Leon Edwards knocked out Kamaru Usman to become UFC Welterweight Champion at UFC 278 in August. Masvidal and Edwards have history – Masvidal punched the current champion during a backstage fight on the card in 2019 – and of course there is interest from Masvidal in a title shot against Edwards. Masvidal has lost three fights in a row, so some will be arguing to give him another title shot (he lost twice to Usman). But in reality, Masvidal is one of the UFC’s highest-grossing players, and the fight against Edwards is likely to be a huge event. Strange things happened.

What could 2023 be for Masvidal?

This could be another big year for Masvidal if everything falls into place. After becoming champion, Edwards rejuvenated a bit at welterweight as Usman defeated Masvidal twice and a third fight was unlikely. If the Burns fight goes ahead and Masvidal wins, it’s possible that the UFC could go for Edwards vs. Masvidal – an objectively big main event pay-per-view fight – if Edwards is still the champion. Edwards will likely have to go through a trilogy with Usman for that to happen. Or maybe not. Masvidal’s place as one of the biggest stars in the sport hasn’t evaporated. – Raimondi


Rose Namajunas

Why didn’t Namajunas fight for so long?

Actually, it wasn’t that long in the grand scheme. Namajunas lost her title to Carla Esparza at UFC 274 in May. In 2021, she fought more than once a year for the first time since 2017. The former two-time UFC women’s strawweight champion has made it clear that there’s more to her life than just fighting. According to sources, Namajunas is moving into a newly bought house. She is also helping her grandmother, who has just emigrated to the US from Lithuania, settle down in her new country.

Who should Namajunas take on next?

Let’s see what happens between Zhang Weili and Esparza at UFC 281 on November 12th. Namajunas could well fight the winner of this fight with a chance of becoming a three-time champion. Many place the blame on Namajunas for the lackluster fight with Esparza. The truth is, it takes two to tango. Pretending that Namajunas isn’t a great, entertaining or exciting fighter based on this performance is unfair. If not for the title shot Namajunas deserves, given her two wins against Zhang and a heavy loss to Esparza, a trilogy with Jessica Andrade could also be interesting.

What could be 2023 Namajunas?

It won’t be a shock to see Thug Rose again, for the third time, hold the 115lb title next year. Skill for skill, Namajunas is still probably the best in the division and will be favored in most of these matches. She is only 30 years old. If she wants to – again, she has priorities outside of the octagon – Namajunas could have a huge 2023. – Raimondi


Eddie Alvarez

Why didn’t Alvarez fight for so long?

Alvarez hasn’t fought at all in 2020 as the ONE Championship has been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The problems associated with cross-country competitions due to the virus have been much more difficult in Asia than in the US. Alvarez fought twice in April 2021: the first was a strange fight in which he rightfully canceled a defeat due to ball strikes. on the back of the head, and the second was a decision loss from Rae Yun Ok. ONE has not historically kept its highly paid North American and South American talent active, and Alvarez has only fought for promotion four times since 2019, including those two fights in the same month. This inactivity is likely due to why Alvarez, the former UFC and Bellator Lightweight Champion, and ONE parted ways amicably.

Who should Alvarez take next?

Alvarez probably has more options than most. The PFL is now spending a lot of money on free agents – just ask Shane Burgos – and Alvarez is a big name with a titled track record in just about every place he has been. In addition, he is an interesting fighter. He would be interesting in the PFL lightweight division or in exhibition fights for pay-per-view tournaments scheduled for 2023. Then there’s Bellator, with a lightweight Grand Prix scheduled for next year that could be right up there with Alvarez. lane as someone who had fought in Japan for years at similar events.

Boxing and football club Bare Knuckle FC have also recently become popular destinations for MMA fighters. And then, of course, there is the UFC, where he had success before leaving for ONE as a free agent. In addition to a heavy loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 205 in November 2016, Alvarez had a good promotion and defeated Justin Gaethje. No one would complain if he ended his trilogy with Michael Chandler. The first two fights in Bellator were some of the best in MMA history, without exaggeration.

What could 2023 be like for Alvarez?

Beneficial, potentially. Alvarez’s team told Sportzshala last month that he’s looking for the biggest and best fights. Getting one or two of these next year can be a lot of fun. The “King of the Underground” was given this nickname because of his many accolades that went unnoticed in small promotions. It will be nice to see an action hero and a great guy coming back to compete in high-profile fights in the US at the age of 38. – Raimondi


Colby Covington

Why didn’t Covington fight for so long?

Namely, because he is the alleged victim of a criminal battery case involving his former opponent Jorge Masvidal. Masvidal is accused of assaulting Covington on the streets of Miami on March 21, about two weeks after Covington dominated him in a five-round bout at UFC 272. very much silence since the alleged attack, which is not unusual for someone involved in an active case. The case has yet to go to court and there is also a high possibility of a civil suit being considered when it comes to the possible return of Covington.

All of this means it’s very unclear when we’ll see Covington fight again. But oddly enough, there is still no urgency in his return. He is currently ranked No. 2 in the welterweight rankings and that is unlikely to change any time soon, even if he remains inactive. At the moment, there is no title fight to go back to because the UFC is already working on a trilogy between Edwards and Usman. He’s not losing anything due to cooling right now. And in recent years, he actually showed that he was ready to wait for the right fight – and that’s when he not there are any legal issues to consider.

Who should Covington take next?

There are currently two possibilities.

Option #1: Edwards will defend his title against Usman in a trilogy in the first quarter of 2023, with Covington becoming the next title contender. Covington does not speak to the media, but it must be assumed that this would be the ideal scenario for him. He wants to fight for the belt again. He won’t get that opportunity if Usman becomes champion because he’s already lost to him twice. But if it’s Edwards, he might be next.

Option number 2: Khamzat Chimaev. Right now, the question is whether Chimaev’s next fight will be at welterweight or middleweight. If he’s a welterweight, then there’s really only one fight that makes sense for him, and that’s the fight with Covington. The UFC may try to play Covington against Chimaev on the same card as Edwards against Usman III to determine the next title contender.

Things are constantly changing in the UFC, but I wouldn’t expect Covington to make his next move until there’s a little more clarity on the date for the Edwards-Usman trilogy and the Chimaev situation.

What could 2023 be for Covington?

This could be a big year – Covington is 34 and may be in his prime. There is a world where he could meet Chimaev as well as fight for the UFC title in 2023. If he had won both tournaments, he would have been named Fighter of the Year and his bank account would have reaped the rewards. These are tough fights at the top of the 170-pound division, but Covington is right and he knows how to sell an event. — Okamoto


Justin Gaethje

Why was Gaethje away from home for so long?

It should be noted that this was not what long. If you go back to Gaethje’s past…