Top 5 UFC face-off of 2023

Relive the top faceoff moments in UFC that have riled up fans worldwide, as we close out 2023.


Top 5 UFC face-off of 2023

Top 5 UFC face-off of 2023 (Source: Twitter)

There are a lot of elements in combat sports – striking, guard, defense, pounding, jabs, hooks, slicers, and so on. But most jarring of them all would be face-offs. No fight ever starts without one, whether friendly or not. As we close out 2023, we look back at the many harrowing staredowns between fighters.

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Going into a fight in UFC, there is but one impulse. To capture the divisional gold gradually. Hence, to build upon it, staredowns are the primary penchant fighters bank on. Here are the top five instances in the UFC for the year 2023, that had fans frenzied.

Honorable mentions

With a plethora of fighters competing, including every great instance would make the list hectic and overwrought. Not every name makes it to the top; which is the downright reality. But then-bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling shoving Henry Cejudo at the UFC 288 ceremonial weigh-in faceoffs is a prime instance.

Coming short in a lightweight title bout (Charles Oliveira) to close out 2022, Justin Gaethje was looking forward to a better 2023. Thus, Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev staring down with inflaming will for UFC 286 provides real clarity as to what builds up a fight.

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Sean Strickland vs Dricus Du Plessis; Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev
Sean Strickland vs Dricus Du Plessis; Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev (Source: talkSport.com/Pinterest)

Derrick Lewis and Marcos Rogerio de Lima (UFC 291) and Ciryl Gane and Jon Jones at UFC 285 sizing each other up had similar unquivering passion. The latter – a final staredown before the main event for the vacant heavyweight title was a ticked and riled-up affair. Sean Strickland and Dricus Du Plessis engaging in ballistic growls and hands raised (UFC 296 Media Day presser) is a whole other matter.

5 – Merab Dvalishvili vs. Petr Yan

Ahead of the UFC Fight Night 221 main event, Petr Yan and Merab Dvalishvili finally got their shot at each other. With much preceding banter, the face-off began sternly; but literal hands were thrown, prematurely. Yan hit Dvalishvili in the neck in a long-ranged smack, in their heated faceoff.

 Petr Yan throat-chops Merab Dvalishvili at UFC Fight Night 221
Petr Yan throat-chops Merab Dvalishvili at UFC Fight Night 221 (Source: bloodyelbow.com/YouTube)

Dvalishvili had engaged in a long stare during the scale-tipping and posing ceremony. The approaching Yan, fresh from two split decision skids was thus easily provoked, going rogue with a throat-shove. A lot of fans subsequently mocked Yan for it.

4 – Sean O’Malley vs. Aljamain Sterling

As a title contender, Sean O’Malley was confident and steeled up about his chances; so much so that he entered the Octagon and had an intense face-off with Aljamain Sterling. The incident came after “The Funk Master” had successfully defended his 135lb gold.

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Sean O'Malley faces Aljamain Sterling after the latter's title defense win
Sean O’Malley faces Aljamain Sterling after the latter’s title defense win (Source: Twitter)

After the split decision victory at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, “Suga” jumped the gun on instigating a staredown with the titleholder. Conversely, Sterling promised to fold O’Malley in half. They had a similar hyped-up face-off after the raked-up UFC 292 press conference.

3 – Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler

Conor McGregor has been on the bench and out of the fighting scene, for a while now. But he and Michael Chandler both serve as opposing coaches for the TUF (The Ultimate Fighter) series, Season 31. Chandler has been the expectant rival for “The Notious” upon his return; which he eyes at the historic UFC 300 card. Chandler has questioned McGregor’s coaching all season. The Irishman had skipped several of his team’s weigh-ins.

Conor McGregor and Micahel Chandler, who serve as TUF Season 31 coaches
Conor McGregor and Micahel Chandler, who serve as TUF Season 31 coaches (Source: bloodyelbow.com/miror.co.uk)

McGregor had been facing many recent drawbacks consecutively. Although he brushed off most of the backlash, in true “notorious” fashion, the Irishman took the heat to Chandler. Their face-off, and his shoving Chandler’s face, recreating the iconic Gordon Ramsay moment, is a famed affair. The face shove is when Chandler consequently made up his mind more for a fight if need be.

2 – Israel Adesanya vs. Dricus Du Plessis

Israel Adesanya, the 24-3 middleweight, held the title gold until his skid at UFC 293. The Nigerian is not an avid fan of the South African peer Dricus Du Plessis or his origins. Similarly, Du Plessis has time and again snapped back at the UFC 293 version of the fighter as the worst one. The confrontation had flaring proportions, to say the least.

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In a weird turn of events, Israel Adesanya bombs Dricus Du Plessis with the 'N-Word'
In a weird turn of events, Israel Adesanya bombs Dricus Du Plessis with the ‘N-Word’ (Source: mirror.co.uk)

After his second-round TKO over Robert Whittaker at UFC 290, Adesanya greeted the title contender in the octagon. However, the awkward confrontation saw “The Last Stylebender” rive and implode the scene with racial slurs. Chael Sonnen, Joe Rogan, and even Jon Jones had weighed in against this ‘N-word’ pass that Adesanya ranted on with. The turn of events was most unexpected.

1– Alex Pereira vs Jiri Prochazka

Alex “Poatan” Pereira, the 9-2-0 kickboxer and GLORY Hall of Fame inductee, captured the vacant light heavyweight title recently. But the highlight was the build-up and final staredown with Jiri Prochazka. It has seen the label of the ‘best stare down in homosapien history’, at UFC 295.

Jiri Prochazka and Alex Pereira share a silent but chilling final staredown
Jiri Prochazka and Alex Pereira share a silent but chilling final staredown (Source: Twitter)

Prochazka lives and trains in the disciplines of 61-duel “Kensei” and philosopher Miyamoto Musashi. With his Samurai connection, it is expected that the staredown would be more zen than others. But the willful determination shared between the two had been one of the best moments of 2023, so far.

  1. Which was the longest UFC event of the year?

    UFC 286: “Edwards vs. Usman 3” in London ( 2:57:58)

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  2. What was the highest reported income gate of the year, for 2023?

    UFC 295: “Prochazka vs. Pereira” ($12,432,563)

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