American sports culture is a behemoth market both nationally and internationally. 2023’s end is approaching, and wow, we’ve witnessed some truly breathtaking moments of magic across the NBA, NHL and NFL this year. From Jason Taytum’s huge 55-point performance back in February, to Mike McDaniel enjoying a race back to the locker rooms with his staff in September, there’s been plenty of on and off-field moments.
But not to fear – there are still some significant events to look forward to ready to cap off the year. We’ve picked out some of the best for wrapping up 2023 in a big way.
#3 – UFC 296
UFC has had a meteoric rise, from fringe sport to mainstay of the calendar for many. Boxing, by comparison, has been in a slow decline since the mid-1990s, with the sport suffering from poor management, a lack of fresh talent and controversies galore. However, the public’s appetite for combat sports hasn’t just disappeared.
Thankfully, Dana White has been able to use his business acumen to develop a 21st-century model of fighting, where the best often compete against the best and don’t take to social media to snipe at each other for years without actually fighting, in the same way that many pro boxers unfortunately do.
UFC 296 is another shining example of this, with the controversial Colby Covington due to line up against fan favorite welterweight champion Leon Edwards in Las Vegas in the week before Christmas. You can often tell how lopsided a matchup by looking at the betting odds, and while Covington goes into the bout as the favorite on platforms such as Betsafe, the result is not a foregone conclusion. Edwards was a severe underdog in his title claim bout with Usman – and again in the title defense. But here he still stands.
The bill includes the unbeaten Shavkat Rakhmonov and Alexandre Pantoja, so it’s a deep and entertaining card that should unfold in Vegas next month.
#2 – Big 12 Championship game
College football is among America’s most sought after and consistently popular sports. It strikes a chord with millions of fans nationwide who want to see the stars of tomorrow’s NFL making a name for themselves. There are multiple stages set for potential football stars to take to the center stage. NFL icons like Tom Brady, who became a global phenomenon in the sport, started off in the college football ranks.
The Hall of Famer has the press following and commenting on his every move, but there’s no denying that he honed his skills in college football. His mesmerizing accomplishments in the game are another reason why many people find significant sporting events like the Big 12 so exciting, as football fans in the US and beyond want to catch a glimpse of the next NFL megastar.
The Big 12 Championship game is a top-tier matchup that sets the best players from the top two Big 12 teams against each other, and the stage is set for Arlington, Texas, on December 2. The home team is the favorite by quite a margin, but some football fans believe Oklahoma State could be the dark horse in this year’s game.
#1 – NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship
It’s a perfect way to end such a fantastic year for female sports stars. The undeniable success of the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand has created a significant surge in the number of young girls wanting to participate in team sports. The NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championships, which occur between December 14 and 17 this year in Tampa, Florida, are a fitting end to this fantastic, breakthrough year for female professional sports.
While the tournament might not attract the same sort of numbers that the Women’s World Cup managed, volleyball is a sport that continues to rise in popularity. TV ratings have continued to rise and it’s a popular sport across many countries where the climate is more favorable for those looking to harness their talent and grow their skills and competitive edge out on the volleyball court.
Despite hardly a month left in the year, there’s still much to look forward to on the sporting calendar. You can see by the range of sports included in today’s list that 2023 isn’t ending with a whimper, offering everything from combat sports or volleyball to stalwarts in the American sporting calendar, such as the Big 12 game.
There are even events, such as the Liberty Bowl, that didn’t make the cut but will bring in millions of views. All of the events we have touched on today put the cherry on the cake for one of the most exciting and captivating years of American sports in recent memory, and if 2024 can live up to even half of this billing, then sports fans will be in for a real treat.