As always, we return to our old ways and provide you with 10 outlandish predictions for the world of MMA in 2024. If you want to check out our 2023 article, you can find it here as well as seeing just how well (or badly) we got on with these predictions, which can be found here.
Outlandish MMA Predictions 2024
1. UFC 300 Will Not Live up to Expectations
Set to take place on April 13th, live from Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, the biggest predicted show of the year, UFC 300 should be huge. UFC 100 was headlined by a pair of title fights, including the grudge match between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir. UFC 200 took a number of big hits, with Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz 2 being expected to headline the card, as well as Daniel Cormier vs Jon Jones 2 being cancelled left a sour taste in fans’ mouths. It was eventually headlined by Amanda Nunes and Miesha Tate, however, it’s far from the blockbuster that people expected, even with the return of Lesnar after five years away from the sport.
Mark those calendars! 📆
— UFC_AUSNZ (@UFC_AUSNZ) December 26, 2023
UFC 300 should be stacked. There are plenty of champions who aren’t currently scheduled. There are plenty of names (Israel Adesanya, Dustin Poirier or maybe even Jorge Masvidal) who also aren’t currently booked. With that being said, are we hyping the event up too much? What, realistically can we expect? Whatever happens, it’s unlikely to live up expectations, especially with how stacked UFC 298 and UFC 299 are.
If it does live up to expectations, we’re in for a treat.
The prediction, Nick Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal. Holly Holm to clash with Tate in a huge bantamweight rematch. While we’re there, Jim Miller will also feature on the card, meaning that he will have competed on UFC 100, UFC 200 and now UFC 300. As for the headliner? Who knows. With McGregor seemingly booked for international fight week, the UFC need to pull out all the stops to make 300 as big as possible.
2. Magomed Ankalaev beats Johnny Walker, beats Alex Pereira but loses the belt in December
This one depends on a lot of factors going in Magomed Ankalaev’s favour. The Russian is set to headline in the first event of the year in a rematch with Johnny Walker. He’ll defeat Walker and be matched with the champion, Alex Pereira for International fight week in July. Leaning on his wrestling, Ankalaev will be able to avoid Pereira’s stand-up for long enough before taking him down and submitting him, capturing the belt for the first time.
He’ll then look to return for the first defence of his 205lbs strap in December. This could either be against Jiri Prochazka, Jamahal Hill or even Khalil Rountree. Regardless, so much activity in 2024 will cause him to burn out and ultimately lose his belt.
3. Alexander Volkanovski will make three defences of his featherweight title before retiring
Already scheduled to compete in 2024, the featherweight GOAT, Alexander Volkanovski will look to bounce back from his recent loss to Islam Makhachev last year, this time, back in his own weight class and with a full camp. He clashes with the undefeated Illia Topuria, but will prove to simply be too motivated, too good and too hungry for Topuria, defeating him via unanimous decision.
He’ll then meet Arnold Allen later in the year. Allen is scheduled to face Movsar Evloev in early 2024 and after he gets through the Russian, Almighty will realise a title shot. With that being said, his style lends itself heavily to the slick counter-striking of the champion. Volkanovski defeats Allen via TKO.
To round out the year, Volkanovski will compete once more, possibly on the MSG card in November or maybe on the December PPV card. Maybe one last dance with Max Holloway is on the cards, but yet again, Volkanovski proves to be too much for Blessed. Following the victory, he puts his gloves down in the octagon.
He’ll be 36 years old. Has already been in many wars during his career and will have completely cleared out a division. There’s no doubting, when he retires that he’s the featherweight GOAT and will go out on top yet again.
4. Kayla Harrison vs Cris Cyborg… Doesn’t happen – BUT Larissa Pacheco knocks out Cyborg
The women’s fight that we have all wanted for multiple years, sadly, didn’t happen in 2023, despite us predicting that it would. Kayla Harrison bounced back from her first professional loss in 2023, defeating Aspen Ladd via unanimous decision. Cyborg also had a decent 2023, defeating Cat Zingano via knockout in the first round at Bellator 300. Pacheco, on the other hand, dominated all that were put in front of her, going 4-0 with two knockouts and two decisions and capturing another PFL championship, this time at 145lbs.
Now that PFL and Bellator have become one, we should be closer than ever to a potential Harrison vs Cyborg super fight. With that being said, Pacheco needs to be in the conversation. She dominated Harrison in the 2022 season finale and is leagues ahead of those in her division.
I am disappointed to hear that after @PeteMurrayPFL offered me the date and location for a fight against @KaylaH and after we accepted the bout that she has now declined the offer. pic.twitter.com/c105tdyyH2
— CrisCyborg.Com (@criscyborg) January 3, 2024
Pacheco will face Cyborg in a PFL super fight and her crisper striking style will pay dividends, where she’ll extend her undefeated streak to 11 straight. She’ll catch the former UFC featherweight in an exchange, similar to how Amanda Nunes knocked her out, cementing herself as the P4P best female on the planet. Sadly for Harrison, this will eliminate any potential super fight between her and the then 39 year old Cyborg.
While we’re at it, a moment of thought for Leah McCourt, who will ultimately miss out on her big fight with Cyborg for he belt.
5. Sean Strickland goes 0-3 in 2024
This is bold. After middleweight champion, Sean Strickland was many people’s vote for male fighter of the year, we predict that he will go 0-3 in 2024. Strickland is scheduled to clash with Dricus du Plessis in the main event of UFC 297. Du Plessis will become the first South African UFC champion by defeating Strickland via knockout in round four after Strickland appears too emotionally invested in the bout.
Strickland will look to bounce back quickly, headlining a fight night main event in June. Yet again, the American will come up short, this time against Brendan Allen in a rematch. This one will end via submission. Unfortunately for everyone’s favourite unfiltered (now former) champion, one last fight in 2024 will see Strickland again fail to regain his former form. Brazilian, Caio Borralho will be the one to hand Strickland his third loss, in what will be a huge step-up in competition for The Natural. With that being said, he’s good enough to do it.
After going 3-0 in 2023, Strickland will go 0-3 in 2024 and drift out of the title picture.
6. Leon Edwards defeats Belal Muhammad and narrowly loses his belt to Shavkat Rakhmonov
There is plenty of talk as to who might be next for the reigning welterweight king, Leon Edwards. If fairness is anything, it should be Belal Muhammad who is next to challenge Rocky for the 170lbs strap. He weighed in for Edwards’ most recent title defence against Colby Covington and that usually indicates that it will be Muhammad next for Edwards.
Their rematch will take place at UFC 300 as the co-main event, where yet again, the striking and takedown defence of Edwards will be too much for Muhammad. Unfortunately for fans of the Brit, he’ll be too cautious and wary of the takedown threat, won’t open up fully and therefore win the fight via unanimous decision.
Next up for Edwards will be the undefeated, finishing phenom, Shavkat Rakhmonov. On this occasion, probably at MSG in November, Rakhmonov will be favourite and will win the welterweight belt, however, it will be by the narrowest of margins, a split decision. Edwards will drop the early rounds, however, Rakhmonov’s cardio and lack of championship round experience will cause him to struggle late on. Edwards will rally in rounds four and five but ultimately, it’ll be too little, too late and Rakhomonov will round out 2024 as welterweight champion.
7. Jon Jones beats Stipe Miocic before retiring, leading to Tom Aspinall vs Jailton Almeida for the undisputed belt in December
Jon Jones is hopefully making his return (again) following a big injury which saw him removed from the MSG card in November. The bout was scrapped as we know and was replaced with an interim title bout between Tom Aspinall and Sergey Pavlovich and as we know, the Brit got it done in emphatic fashion.
The return will happen in August or September of 2024, with Jones having to take almost a year out of action, further ‘ageing’ his career. He’ll yet again be scheduled to face off with Stipe Miocic, where he’ll breeze through the 41 year old who hasn’t competed since 2021. Following that victory, he’ll put down the gloves, with this latest injury cementing that he no longer has ‘it’, especially not to compete with the young, hungry, new breed of heavyweights.
Naturally, we need a heavyweight champion. Interim champion, Tom Aspinall will face off with Brazillian, Jailton Almeida in December for that belt. Almeida will get through Curtis Blaydes in March and will set up the fight. Aspinall, will unfortunately have to sit out until December, where he’ll become undisputed heavyweight champion.
8. Joanna Jedrzejczyk Returns and Rose Namajunas Retires
Back to back retirements are predicted! Rose Namajunas, a woman who’s MMA career has never really seemed to get going, despite winning the belt (twice), her longest winning run is just three wins. She’s enduring a two fight losing run after an attempt up at 125lbs to revitalise her career didn’t go to plan. She’ll try again at 115lbs, however, it yet again won’t go her way. She’ll lose a unanimous decision to Marina Rodriguez. Following the loss, she’ll hang up her gloves. At 32, she’s never really had the fire and what fire she had will finally burn out.
Fear not, the flyweight division will yet again see the self-proclaimed ‘queen’ return. Joanna Jedrzejczyk will scratch the itch that was created when she hung her gloves up in 2022. There’s plenty of competitive match-ups for Jedrzejczyk, who will naturally get a big fight on her return. Ariane Lipski will welcome the former long-time strawweight champion back to the UFC. Remember though, this will be at 125lbs, not her usual weight class of 115.
9. Islam Makhachev rematches Charles Oliveira and threatens to sit out until he gets a welterweight title shot
As we know, the P4P #1, Islam Makhachev is constantly on the warpath in search of a shot at the 170lbs title. It’s worth noting, however, that he’s only made two defences of his 155lbs title, both of which have come against Alexander Volkanovski, the second of which the Aussie took on short notice.
Granted, he was scheduled to meet Charles Oliveira, however, the Brazilian got a bad cut and had to withdraw from the fight. He’ll rematch Oliveira, again proving to be too much for do Bronx, defeating him via TKO in the third round.
After this domination, rather than defend against the likes of Justin Gaethje, Arman Tsarukyan or Matesuz Gamrot, the champion will demand a welterweight title shot. Naturally, the media and UFC brass alike will require Makhachev to defend against the next 155lbs contender, Gaethje, however, Makhachev will show no interest in any of these match-ups, instead insisting that his next fight will be in an attempt to become a double champion. To push the matter, the Dagestan born champion will threaten to sit out until he gets a shot at 170lbs.
10. The PFL/Bellator crossover champion vs champion fights won’t happen
Following the purchase of Bellator by the PFL, there naturally were rumours about an epic event which would see the current PFL champions.
This prediction isn’t that no PFL champions will fight Bellator champions, however, those that do, will be hand picked. It isn’t a good look if all PFL fighters get dominated by their Bellator rivals. We aren’t saying that this will happen, however, the risk is there.
Let’s not get mistaken, there are going to be huge opportunities now that the two companies have merged, however, there’s little point in using all your champions on a single fight card. Although it would make for an epic night, it wouldn’t be financially viable, nor would make scheduling sense.
If the PFL are sensible with their new acquisitions, they would insert Bellator’s champions into their 2024 tournament. This way, the champions would have to ‘prove’ themselves against the PFL stalwarts.
With that being said, imagine if they did… an epic night for sure.