This list is made up of possible first time champions or challengers. Each fighter on here has never held a title for the UFC or is preparing for their first attempt at one. Some of these fighters may still be looking at 2023 for the shot, but as far as first timers goes, these may be the best bet to receiving a shot at the crown.
#5 Giga Chikadze (14-2)
#8 ranked Featherweight Giga is the dark horse on this list but has been a man on a mission since joining the UFC in 2019 as he amassed an unbeaten 7 fight win streak which has seen him take out names like Cub Swanson and Edson Barboza. While the Georgian born fighter is still not a household name in America he is quickly becoming a fan favorite amongst the hardcore fans.
Current champ: Alexander Volkanovski (23-1)
Honorable: Bryce Mitchell (14-0)
#4 Light Heavyweight: Jiri Prochazka (28-3-1)
A division and belt that was once ruled by perennial champions Jon Jones and DC are now in the midsts of a new king in Glover. Its top contender however, might be one of the most electric and devastating strikers in the organization. Jiri is undefeated since 2016 as well as 10 stops in consecutive fights. No specifics yet on when we might see him face off against Glover, but best believe the Czech fighter is coming for gold in 2022.
Current Champ: Glover Teixeira (33-7 )
Hnorable: Aleksandar Rakic (14-2)
#3 Light Weight: Islam Mackachev (21-1)
The man who many people thought would never step out of the shadow of Khabib, has now gone on a 9 fight tear establishing himself as one of the most dominant contenders since his training partner (who also went 9-0 in UFC before winning his first title). He is scheduled to fight against Beniel Dairush in February and if he is victorious he is undoubtedly next in line for the belt.
Current Champ: Charles Oliveira(32-8-1)
Honorable: Justin Gaetje (23-3)
#2 Heavy: Ciryl Gane (10-0)
This one is a no brainer as the Heavyweight division has long been the most volatile and explosive division in all of combat sports and with the interim champ Gane being one of the divisions most creative and accurate strikers in the game, makes his fight against champion Nganou (16-3) a candidate for the best chance to be crowned the new king of the division.
Champ: Francis Nganou (16-3)
Honorable: Tom Aspinall (11-2)
#1 Welter Weight: Khamzat Chimaev (10-0)
As far as #1 contenders go this man is far down on the list compared to the others as he is only ranked #11 in the UFC‘s official rankings. But as far as feared and most likely to win a belt this year he is my #1. Forget the hype and the legions of fans this man is bringing to sport. Let’s instead focus on his undefeated streak that includes all finishes while only getting hit twice. The man known as Borz has been as he says “smashing” everything and everyone put in front of him. It won’t be long but an end of the year title fight seems imminent for Khamzat, or a title eliminator against often overlooked Leon Edwards would also make sense.
Current Champ: Kamaru Usman (20-1)
Honorable: Leon Edwards (19-3-1)