Friday, February 23

10 MMA Fights We’re Looking Forward To In 2024

Highlights

  • Exciting matchups are set for 2024 in the world of MMA, including a main event between Sean Strickland and Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 297.
  • Bellator’s middleweight champion Johnny Eblen is expected to face Derek Brunson in a high-profile fight on the Bellator vs. PFL card in early 2024.
  • Fans can anticipate a highly-anticipated trilogy bout between Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko, as well as potential matchups involving top fighters like Zhang Weili, Alex Pereira, Cris Cyborg, and Kayla Harrison.


2023 was once again a wild year for MMA. The UFC continued its dominance, but cracks began to show in the form of generic Apex shows, and their ongoing antitrust lawsuit. However, this year also saw the return of Jon Jones, the retirement of Amanda Nunes, and more. Beyond the UFC, Bellator was sold to the PFL, as the upstart company looked to compete with Dana White’s brand.

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With all that in mind, 2024 is set up to be an insane year for MMA. These ten matchups are likely going to happen next year, and fans of the sport couldn’t be more excited.


10 Sean Strickland vs. Dricus Du Plessis

Middleweights Meet In The Main Event Of UFC 297

Sean Strickland

Dricus Du Plessis

6’1″

6’0″

185 Pounds

185 Pounds

28-5 (Pre-Fight Record)

20-2 (Pre-Fight Record)

Earlier this year, Sean Strickland shocked the world, by upsetting Israel Adesanya. While there was brief talk of a rematch, as well as facing Khamzat Chimaev, he will instead defend the gold against Dricus Du Plessis.

Much like Strickland, the South African fighter was never expected to be here. However, they will now meet in the main event of UFC 297 in January, in what will be a wild fight.

9 Johnny Eblen vs. Derek Brunson

Bellator’s Middleweight Champion Will Meet A PFL Star

Johnny Eblen

Derek Brunson

6’3″

6’1″

185 Pounds

185 Pounds

14-0 (Pre-Fight Record)

24-9 (Pre-Fight Record)

Johnny Eblen is largely viewed as one of the greatest fighters outside the UFC. The current Bellator middleweight champion, he’s destroyed everyone from Gegard Mousasi to Fabian Edwards. Early next year, he’s expected to meet Derek Brunson.

The longtime UFC middleweight contender debuted with a dominant win over former tournament winner Ray Cooper in November. Now, Brunson will return to the SmartCage for the planned Bellator vs. PFL card in early 2023.

8 Zhang Weili vs. Yan Xiaonan

Two Chinese Fighters Meeting For UFC Gold

Weili Zhang

Yan Xiaonan

5’4″

5’5″

115 Pounds

115 Pounds

24-3 (Pre-Fight Record)

17-3 1NC (Pre-Fight Record)

Zhang Weili’s second run with UFC gold has been a bit odd. She captured the title with a dominant win over Carla Esparza in late 2022 but only had one title defense, a win over Amanda Lemos. As of now, her next fight is yet to be scheduled.

However, a fight with Yan Xiaonan, possibly in China, seems like the goal for the UFC as of now. ‘Fury’ is riding a two-fight winning streak, including a knockout win over Jessica Andrade. While this bout hasn’t been announced, it makes all the sense in the world.

7 Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko 3

This Trilogy Bout Is Expected For Early 2024

Alexa Grasso

Valentina Shevchenko

5’5″

5’5″

125 Pounds

125 Pounds

16-3-1 (Pre-Fight Record)

23-4-1 (Pre-Fight Record)

Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko’s two-fight series this year was incredible. The Mexican fighter upset ‘Bullet’ in March, but the two later fought to a draw later in the year. Due to the draw, a third meeting seems guaranteed.

While Grasso is attempting to build her own legacy, Shevchenko still feels that her time at the top isn’t done. Fans will get to see if that is the case in early 2024.

6 Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill

‘Sweet Dreams’ Is Out To Win The Gold He Never Lost

Alex Pereira

Jamahal Hill

6’4″

6’4″

205 Pounds

205 Pounds

9-2 (Pre-Fight Record)

12-1 (Pre-Fight Record)

The UFC’s light heavyweight division has been in shambles for most of this year. However, Alex Pereira brought some clarity to the top of the weight class, knocking out Jiri Prochazka to win the gold last month.

With that, he also secured a future clash with Jamahal Hill. ‘Sweet Dreams’ vacated the title after defeating Glover Teixeira earlier this year, after suffering an injury. He is now expected to meet ‘Poatan’ on his return next year.

5 Cris Cyborg vs. Kayla Harrison

Two Of The Best On The Planet Will Finally Meet Next Year

Cris Cyborg

Kayla Harrison

5’8″

5’8″

145 Pounds

150 Pounds

27-2 1NC (Pre-Fight Record)

16-1 (Pre-Fight Record)

Kayla Harrison has largely been viewed as one of the greatest fighters outside the UFC for years. While she suffered the first loss of her career last year, she rebounded with a dominant win over Aspen Ladd last month. Thus, helping clear the way for a fight with Cris Cyborg.

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These two nearly fought in 2022. However, the PFL famously matched Bellator’s contract offer to Harrison, leading to her return. Thanks to the merger between the two companies, these two will hopefully get to fight next year.

4 Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera II

‘Sugar’ Will Try To Avenge His Sole Career Loss

Sean O’Malley

Marlon Vera

5’11”

5’8″

135 Pounds

135 Pounds

17-1 1NC (Pre-Fight Record)

21-8-1 (Pre-Fight Record)

In August 2020, Marlon Vera and Sean O’Malley met at UFC 252, in an empty UFC Apex. The battle of prospect versus gatekeeper saw ‘Sugar’ suffer his first career loss by TKO. Three years later they will meet again.

However, they will meet under very, very different circumstances. In March, O’Malley will look to score his first title defense against Vera, and also avenge the only loss of his career.

3 Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic

Two Future Hall Of Famers Will Hopefully Meet in 2024

Jon Jones

Stipe Miocic

6’4″

6’4″

248 Pounds

234 Pounds

27-1 1NC (Pre-Fight Record)

20-4 (Pre-Fight Record)

Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic were set to fight in November, in a historic fight. Sadly, due to ‘Bones’ suffering an injury, Tom Aspinall and Sergei Pavlovich fought for interim gold at UFC 295. The Brit won by first-round knockout, and demanded that Jones be stripped.

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However, Dana White has been steadfast in the idea that Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic will fight for the heavyweight title in 2024. It makes sense because it will be a massive, and legacy-defining fight.

2 Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria

‘The Great’ and ‘El Matador’ Will Clash For Featherweight Gold

Alexander Volkanovski

Ilia Topuria

5’6″

5’8″

145 Pounds

145 Pounds

26-3 (Pre-Fight Record)

14-0 (Pre-Fight Record)

Alexander Volkanovski and Ilia Topuria are currently slated to headline UFC 298 in February. The fight is a bit of a crossroads fight, with both men coming into the matchup under very different circumstances.

‘The Great’ last suffered a loss to Islam Makhachev in October, while ‘El Matador’ scored a historically dominant win over Josh Emmett in the summer. Both men are two of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, and their fight will be electric.

1 Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler

‘The Notorious’ Is Expected To Return In The Summer

Conor McGregor

Michael Chandler

5’9″

5’8″

155 Pounds

155 Pounds

22-6 (Pre-Fight Record)

23-8 (Pre-Fight Record)

Conor McGregor has been out of the cage for well over two years, due to a broken leg. While his return date hasn’t been announced, he’s been heavily linked to a return at UFC 300 in April against Michael Chandler. However, his coach John Kavanagh said he will likely return in the summer of 2024.

How much the Irishman has left is largely unknown at this stage. However, a fight with the former Bellator champion will be electric, and tell everything fans need to know about his current abilities.

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