In 2023, the UFC celebrates its 30th anniversary. Each year, the Octagon is home to incredible displays of athleticism, skill, and heart from athletes of all backgrounds.
We decided to take wide lens look at the UFC roster and make two lists, the Top 30 male fighters and the Top 30 female fighters, to showcase some of amazing talent found in the UFC. Using the pound-for-pound rankings as a starting point, we added some names in order to get a well-rounded list.
So which fighters made the cut?
You’re about to find out in this four-part series that kicks off with male fighters earning honorable mentions, and who could easily make their way into the Top 30.
Brandon Royval might just be the most explosive and unpredictable fighter in the flyweight division. Since joining the UFC in 2020, only one of his seven UFC fights has gone the distance and he’s quickly established himself as a must-watch fighter.
Spectacular performance after spectacular performance (see his 2020 bout with Kai Kara-France and his win over Matheus Nicolau at UFC Kansas City) have helped Royval work his way into title contention.
You can bet that Royval will have his eyes on the upcoming bout between champ Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja, as he would welcome as chance to avenge either of his two UFC defeats.
The former bantamweight champion hit a rough patch after winning the title back in 2020, but don’t get it twisted. Petr Yan is a bad man.
His losses have come against the best of the best and “No Mercy” could quickly work his way up this list with a couple standout performances.
All-action “Iron” Michael Chandler is one of the biggest stars in the UFC for a reason.
He puts on a show every time he steps into the Octagon, and he does it regardless of the result. Working his way back to the top of the division will be tough, but Chandler has only faced fighters that have held lightweight gold in the UFC.
His next fight with Conor McGregor is no different and will likely be one of the biggest UFC fights in recent memory.
Dricus Du Plessis
The rise for South Africa’s Dricus Du Plessis has been methodical and thrilling to watch.
Du Plessis has faced some of the middleweight division’s best talents on his way to a massive showdown with former champion Robert Whittaker this summer at UFC 290. A win over Whittaker will likely put Du Plessis in line for a shot at Israel Adesanya’s belt later this year. It’s a big opportunity to jump this list and make history for Du Plessis.
Just because the gamble at UFC 288 didn’t pay off for Gilbert Burns doesn’t mean that “Durinho” isn’t one of the top fighters on the roster. Burns has fought the best of the best at lightweight and at welterweight on his way to becoming a true fan favorite.
It was so fun to watch Jan Blachowicz rise to the top of the light heavyweight division and become champion.
The king of “Polish Power” isn’t done dealing out punishment, though, and he looks to bounce back from a disappointing result at UFC 282 en route to reclaiming the throne.
“The Italian Dream” continues to rack up wins inside the Octagon and fight off contenders looking to make a name off him.
Vettori is lined up to face Jared Cannonier in a main event on June 17 that will have major implications for the middleweight division.
The featherweight division is more fun when Brian Ortega is competing. “T-City” has that star power that glues eyeballs to the TV and the skill set to put the best featherweights on the planet to the test.
Unfortunately, the last time we saw Ortega was when he suffered an injury that put an end to his July 2022 bout with Yair Rodriguez. Hopefully, Ortega returns in 2023 healthy and better than ever because only exciting fights await him when he does.
Cory Sandhagen’s UFC resume is bonkers. He’s fought his way through the shark tank that is the bantamweight division and is in a very interesting spot following his win over Marlon “Chito” Vera in March.
Regardless of who he’s matched up with next (Merab Dvalishvili, Henry Cejudo?) it’s clear that Sandhagen is on a short list of fighters close to a shot at the bantamweight title.
The welterweight division is packed with absolute monsters and one of them is Shavkat Rahkmonov.
Rahkmonov has been steadily climbing the ranks, taking fights with whoever will accept them, and carrying his incredible undefeated record of 17 wins with 17 finishes into whatever comes next.