Sean Strickland, 4 other stand-out fighters of 2023

MMA had no shortage of incredible fighters in 2023.

Sep 9, 2023; Sydney, NSW, AUSTRALIA; Israel Adesanya (red gloves) fights Sean Strickland (blue
Sep 9, 2023; Sydney, NSW, AUSTRALIA; Israel Adesanya (red gloves) fights Sean Strickland (blue / Jasmin Frank-USA TODAY Sports
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Impa Kasanganay went from challenger to champion with inspiring rise to the top

Impa Kasanganay, similar to Pinedo, has an incredible storyline attached to his hard work over the past year. Kasanganay was primarily remembered for his knockout loss to Joaquin Buckley But his climb back to the top is really what 2023 was about.

After his time in the UFC, Kasanganay struggled to fight consistent fights and admitted he slept in his car while finding his way through life, with the love of God and his self-confidence fueling him.

The former middleweight and welterweight moved up to light heavyweight and found his way to the PFL Challenger Series (similar to UFC's Contender Series) where he won his way into an alternate position for the 2023 season. After winning his official debut versus Cory Hendricks, he was called up to take the place of one of the many 205ers pulled from the season.

He then won three back-to-back wins Tim Caron (submission), Marthin Hamlet (first-round knockout) and then finally Josh Silveira who was the heavy favorite to win the tournament when it began.

In 2023 he ripped off five-straight wins, including two finishes, en route to the 2023 PFL light heavyweight championship. He was an unlikely contender, having moved up two weight classes, fighting men twice his size but he never gave up and it proved to be his best year yet.

To go from devastating knockout, to homeless, then to PFL champion shows how hard work and perseverance can change the course of your career, and life. And he credits it all to his faith in God.

“I always believed this is where I was and who I was am. I just had to reorganize and get some things correct,” Kasanganay told Cageside Press ahead of the finals. “I never lost my faith, or God lost his faith in me. It was more so, I kind of just got lost on my path for a little while, or maybe I was still on the right path and that’s just where God had to bring me.”