Long time no see! 10 UFC stars that did not fight in 2023

Exploring the absence of top UFC stars in 2023: A detailed overview of the ten influential fighters who did not step into the octagon this year.


Long time no see! 10 UFC stars that did not fight in 2023

UFC Stars that misssed 2023 (Image via: Instagram, IMAGO)

2023 was the biggest financially productive year for the UFC. The UFC broke several records in 2023 and continues its rise to become a premier sports league in the USA despite the absence of notable stars. The success of the UFC is mainly due to the fighters’ performance in the UFC.

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Even though the UFC did great business in 2023, many top fighters did not compete in the calendar year. These fighters have had a very good impact on MMA and were responsible for the promotion’s growing popularity. Here is the list of the top 10 UFC stars who did not compete in 2023.

10. Dominic Cruz

Dominic Cruz is the arguable GOAT of the MMA bantamweight division. Cruz could have bagged many records in the division if not for injuries. His last fight was against Marlon Vera at UFC San Diego 2022. He lost the fight via head kick KO in the fourth round of the main event.

Dominic Cruz
Dominic Cruz (Image via: Instagram)

Cruz is no stranger to long lay-offs. He did not compete from 2012 and 2013 due to injury. He also missed the entirety of 2015 due to injury. Moreover, after he lost the bantamweight title to Cody Garbrant in 2016, he returned to the octagon only in 2020. Nonetheless, he is not that missed by fans as he is a regular in the Fight Night commentary booths.

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9. Carla Esparza

Carla Esparza is a two-time strawweight champion in the UFC. However, she does not have a single title defense. She did not fight in 2023 after she lost the title to Zhang Weili at UFC 281. Her absence in 2023 was not due to injury.

Carla Esparza
Carla Esparza (Image via: Instagram)

Her reason for not fighting in 2023 was because she was pregnant. She became pregnant in January and gave birth to a baby boy in late September. There is a shortage of contenders in the strawweight division. The division felt her absence, as Weili only fought once in 2023.

8. Calvin Kattar

Calvin Kattar is one of the best featherweight fighters in the UFC. The Bostonian’s latest bout came against Arnold Allen in October of 2022. Kattar injured his knee and thereby lost the fight via TKO. Kattar missed the rest of 2022 and the entirety of 2023 due to injury.

Calvin Kattar
Calvin Kattar (Image via: Instagram)

However, the good news is that he will face former bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling on his featherweight debut at UFC 300. Before his fight with Allen, Kattar was 1-2 in the last three fights, with all the fights winning the Fight of the Night bonus.

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7. Aleksandar Rakic

Aleksandar Rakic last fought in May of 2022. At the time, he was on the cusp of a title shot. However, in his fight with Jan Blachowicz, he injured his knee during the fight which resulted in a loss. It has kept him out of competition through 2023. The good news for fans is that he will face Jiri Prochazka at UFC 300.

Aleksandar Rakic
Aleksandar Rakic (Image via: Instagram)

The light heavyweight division has the chance to return to its early glory days, and Rakic is an integral part of it. Moreover, with Alex Pereira as the champion, Rakic has a favorable matchup if victorious against Prochazka at UFC 300.

6. Brian Ortega

Brian Ortega is a perennial contender in the UFC’s featherweight division. His exceptional Jiu-Jitsu and iron chin made ingredients for exciting fights in the division. However, he missed the entirety of 2023 due to his shoulder injury during his fight with Yair Rodriguez in July of 2022.

Brian Ortega
Brian Ortega (Image via: Instagram)

The good news for the fans is his return at UFC Mexico, where he will fight Rodriguez in a 5 round co-main event. Ortega vs Rodriguez II will be a fan’s delight due to their contrasting styles.

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5. Stipe Miocic

Stipe Miocic is the arguable GOAT of the UFC heavyweight division. His last fight came against Francis Ngannou in March of 2021. Miocic suffered a brutal knockout loss and has not fought since. However, he was to headline UFC 295 at MSG with Jon Jones, but Jones withdrew due to injury.

Stipe Miocic
Stipe Miocic (Image via: Instagram)

Nevertheless, the UFC plans to make the fight happen when Jones recovers. Miocic is 41 years old and will probably be 42 when he fights Jones. Many see the fight as a retirement fight for the duo.

4. Paulo Costa

Paulo Costa is a former title challenger at middleweight. However, his fame among the MMA community is due to his hilarious tweets. Costa did not fight in 2023; his last fight was a unanimous decision victory over Luke Rockhold at UFC 278 in August of 2022.

Paulo Costa
Paulo Costa (Image via: Instagram)

He was set to fight Khamzat Chimaev in the co-main event of UFC 294. However, a staph infection forced his withdrawal. Nonetheless, he has a fight booked against Robert Whitaker at UFC 298.

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3. Julianna Pena

Julianna Pena has not fought since she lost the title in the rematch with Amanda Nunes at UFC 277 in July of 2022. She was set to fight Nunes in a trilogy bout at UFC 289 but withdrew due to a rib injury. UFC’s women’s division felt her absence, especially in the trash-talking part.

Juliana Pena
Juliana Pena (Image via: Instagram)

Pena now looks forward to facing the winner of Raquel Pennington vs. Maura Bueno Silva, who will fight for the vacant bantamweight title at UFC 297. Pena and Silva have a budding rivalry, and fans can expect a good fight in 2024.

2. Michael Chandler

Michael Chandler only had exciting fights in the UFC. He is 2-3 in the UFC with four post-fight bonuses. However, his last fight was against Dustin Poirier at UFC 281. He had chances to fight in 2023 but waited out for a fight with Conor McGregor, which did not happen.

Michael Chandler
Michael Chandler (Image Courtesy – Men’s Health)

Many speculate that he will headline UFC 300 with McGregor. If he does not fight McGregor at UFC 300, not fighting in 2023 would be his biggest career mistake. Nonetheless, he still has a championship run left and could do that in 2024.

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1. Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor is the biggest star in the UFC. Fans and fighters sorely missed the presence of McGregor inside the octagon. He was to fight Chandler in 2023, but USADA stood in the way of his return. McGregor is a global superstar, and the UFC could only imagine what would’ve happened in 2023 if McGregor fought.

Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor (Image via: IMAGO)

Nevertheless, McGregor will surely return in 2024, particularly after the UFC parted ways with the USADA. McGregor did not compete in 2023, and when he returns, it will be close to 1000 days since he last fought inside the octagon. Nonetheless, McGregor stayed active on social media and appeared at massive events; fans never forgot him.

FAQs

Who is the only two-time strawweight champion in UFC without a title defense?

Carla Esparza.

At which PPV event did Amanda Nunes retire?

UFC 289

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