Annually, we release 10 outlandish predictions for the year ahead and have fun predicting what might happen in this crazy sport we all love. Last year’s full article can be found here, however, in this piece, we’ll look at how close (or far away) we were in our predictions.
1. Ciryl Gane will be UFC heavyweight champion… After Francis Ngannou relinquishes the title and leaves the UFC
Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite come to fruition, however, a part of this prediction was correct. Although Ciryl Gane didn’t realise UFC gold, he competed for the championship against Jon Jones. What we did predict is that Francis Ngannou would relinquish the title and leave the UFC. This, we got correct.
Well, he didn’t quite relinquish the belt, he was stripped when his contract wasn’t renewed by Dana White and crew.
2. Casey O’Neill will realise a title shot but it will be too much too soon
This one didn’t quite come to fruition either. Casey O’Neill didn’t realise a title shot because she lost her first fight of the year against Jennifer Maia, however, would return in December, only to lose again to Ariane Lipski at UFC 296.
Let’s hope that 2024 is more kind to O’Neill.
3. Kayla Harrison and Cris Cyborg will finally meet
Again, not quite. With that being said, we could reload this one for 2024. With the PFL’s acquisition of Bellator, this fight appears to be much more likely. Following her win over Aspen Ladd at the PFL Championship’s 2023, she called out Cris Cyborg. This fight could be made in 2024, if Cyborg can get through Leah McCourt in her next scheduled bout.
Kayla Harrison is confident what would happen if she gets her hands on Cris Cyborg. 👀 pic.twitter.com/KxnJvVViQu
— MMA Junkie (@MMAJunkie) November 28, 2023
4. Rodtang will transition into MMA
The prediction that Rodtang would make his full MMA debut didn’t nearly come to light. He went 3-0 in under the ONE Championship banner. He competed in an epic super fight with Superlek Kiatmuu9, however, it was a losing effort.
The Iron Man is scheduled in early 2024 to face off with Takeru Segawa and at 26, he still has plenty of time to make the move over to MMA. Will it happen? Only time will tell.
5. Jake Paul Headlines a PFL Event in the UK
Jake Paul is yet to actually make his MMA debut, however, we understand that it will be in 2024. He’s concentrated on the world of crossover boxing, with a loss to Tommy Fury, a victory over Nate Diaz and an emphatic knockout over Andre August. There are plenty of rumours circulating that Paul and Diaz will meet again, however, this time it will in the octagon under the MMA ruleset.
Whether Diaz will sign for the PFL and face Paul is uncertain as it stands and it would be hard to picture Diaz not in the UFC but competing in MMA, however, stranger things have happened…
Donn Davis: PFL has standing $15 million offer for Nate Diaz to fight Jake Paul https://t.co/xpPLTFR7rc
— MMA Fighting (@MMAFighting) November 26, 2023
6. Robert Whittaker will hold middleweight gold at some point this year
2023 hasn’t been Robert Whittaker’s year. He hasn’t been as active as he would have liked for sure. He only competed once and unfortunately for The Reaper, it was in a losing effort. He fumbled a great opportunity to get a shot at Israel Adesanya for the third time when Dricus du Plessis finished him at UFC 290.
The division seems to have slightly moved on in recent times with Du Plessis and new champion, Sean Strickland scheduled for next year. The winner of this one will more than likely meet the former champion, Israel Adesanya in what, for Stickland would be a rematch and for Du Plessis a grudge match. Khamzat Chimaev is on the brink of a title shot.
Whittaker will clash with Paulo Costa in 2024 and that’s where his journey back to the title begins.
7. Henry Cejudo Returns and loses to Aljamain Sterling, who goes on to face Sean O’Malley for the belt
Now this is where we made our money. We predicted it and it happened. The UFC 288 main event in May saw the long-anticipated return of the former two-weight world champion, Henry Cejudo after his retirement back in 2020. He faced off against Aljamain Sterling in the main event, narrowly coming away with the loss via split decision.
The winner on the night, Sterling, would then take on his next challenger, as we predicted, Sean O’Malley. O’Malley would shock the world by knocking out Sterling in the second round of their bout at UFC 292, snapping his nine-fight winning run and allowing O’Malley to realise his dream of becoming a UFC champion. We called it and it happened!
8. Islam Makhachev makes two defences of his 155lbs belt before being matched with Arman Tsarukyan in early 2024
If you only read the headline to this one, we yet again got this one correct (of sorts). Islam Makhachev did indeed make two defences of his lightweight belt and could be matched with Arman Tsarukyan in 2024. We had predicted that Makhachev would face either Beneil Daruish or Dustin Poirier, however, it was a rematch with Alexander Volkanovski where he made his second defence.
Islam Makhachev is set to clash with Charles Oliveira at some point in 2024 and there’s a good chance that Tsarukyan could get the next shot after that.
9. Darren Till will go 3-0 in 2023
This couldn’t have gone more wrong as a prediction. We anticipated that The Gorilla, Darren Till would go on to make three appearances in 2023 and win all three. We got a bit of our prediction correct, that Till would be cut from the UFC, however, he hasn’t competed in any organisation since his loss to Du Plessis in 2022. He’s without a win in his last three fights and is 1-5 in his last six since realising a title shot in 2018.
There aren’t even any rumours that Darren Till will return to MMA in 2024 either, with the only rumour surrounding his career being that he will compete in Karate Combat early in the year.
10. Dana White will take a step away from the UFC
This one didn’t come to fruition either. In fact, he seems to be more invested in defending the UFC’s honour and continuing to be the frontman now more than ever. He’s going full steam ahead for UFC 300 and has started a trend of releasing breaking news videos online with massive success. The deal with TKO and therefore the WWE has strengthened White’s position and at 54, he doesn’t appear to be slowing down at all.