UFC 290, 3 other best fight cards of 2023

Take a look at four of the best fight cards of the year, which include UFC, Bellator, and PFL.

Jul 8, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Brandon Moreno (red gloves) fights Alexandre Pantoja (blue
Jul 8, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Brandon Moreno (red gloves) fights Alexandre Pantoja (blue / Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
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UFC led the way for events this year, and two pay-per-view cards stood out, along with a couple from Bellator and PFL. With more and more organizations popping up each year, there is no shortage of fight cards on weekends, but it's always special when a fight card delivers, whether as advertised or by surprise.

The UFC held 14 PPVs this year, two cards on ABC Network, 10 on ESPN, and 17 fight nights on ESPN+ for a total of 43 events, which surpassed their total from 2022.

The PFL continued their regular season and playoff format for their fifth season, with six new champions being crowned.

Bellator, which was purchased by the PFL in November and will merge with the organization eventually, held 13 events this year.

Though many events can be looked at, these four stood out for the year, and we're here to talk about them.

UFC 290: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Yair Rodriguez

UFC 290 was held at the UFC's flagship location, T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and featured two title fights between featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and challenger Yair Rodriguez and flyweight champion Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja.

The card also featured a middleweight title eliminator and former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler's retirement fight.

Volkanovski had won 11 straight at featherweight and was defending his title for the fifth time after challenging for the lightweight title at UFC 284. Rodriguez had claimed the interim title at UFC 284 but was finished in the third round.

The co-main event was a rematch between champion Moreno and challenger Pantoja, the first fight won by Pantoja at UFC Chile five years prior. Moreno had just unified the belt becoming a two-time flyweight champion after winning the interim title at UFC 283. Pantoja was on a three-fight win streak and was able to best Moreno for a second time by a close split decision in the fight of the night.

Dricus du Plessis and Robert Whittaker faced off in a middleweight title eliminator, with du Plessis scoring the knockout in the second round and will now face middleweight champion Sean Strickland at UFC 297.

The main card on paper was full of potential and lived up to it. Wrestling standout and top prospect Bo Nickal faced Val Woodburn on short notice and submitted the newcomer in under 40 seconds. Ranked lightweights Dan Hooker and Jalin Turner fought to a split decision, with Hooker coming out the victor.

The preliminary card also featured three finishes. Alonzo Menifield won the rematch against Jimmy Crute, while Denis Gomes and Lawler scored first-round knockouts in under 40 seconds against Yazmin Jauregui and Niko Price, respectively.

The early prelims featured three finishes, two of which came inside the first round. South African prospect Cameron Saaiman kept his undefeated record intact with a first-round knockout of Terrence Mitchell. Brazil's Vitor Petrino did the same with a submission of veteran Marcin Prachnio.