Top 10 Fights to Look Forward to Before the Summer

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From now until the end of June, MMA fans are treated to some of the best fights of the year. Whether it be in the UFC, Bellator or the PFL, we’re treated to some bangers. Title fights, big tests or competitive #1 contenders bouts, we’ve got them.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 fights to look forwards to in May and June.

Top 10 Fights to Look Forward to Before the Summer

10. Edson Barboza vs. Lerone Murphy

Headlining UFC on ESPN+ 99, we have a featherweight banger between #11 veteran, Edson Barboza and the undefeated, Lerone Murphy. We know what Barboza brings, brutal kicks, slick, quick boxing skills and a wealth of experience. He holds an impressive 14 of his 24 wins via knockout and is highly experienced over the five-round distance, headlining four fight nights during his career. He’s most certainly the experienced man in this one.

The undefeated Lerone Murphy will be stepping into his first UFC main event and it’s a massive step up in competition. He’s enjoying a six-fight undefeated run, winning his last five straight, however, has never faced anyone as good as Barboza. Seven of his 13 victories have come via knockout, so we can expect a striking heavy affair. With that being said, the Brit can mix the martial arts. If he beats the Brazilian, we have a new contender at 145lbs.

9. Joshua Van vs. Tagir Ulanbekov

Joshua Van has had three different opponents for June and let’s hope that his clash with Russian, Tagir Ulanbekov goes ahead. At UFC 302, Joshua Van was scheduled in his third UFC bout (at just 22 years old) against Sumudaerji. The Tibetan Eagle had to withdraw and the UFC were left with the task of finding a relatively late notice opponent. That opponent was Taturo Taira. Taira is now matched with Alex Perez and Van is matched with Ulanbekov.

Joshua Van gets first TKO win of 2024 at #UFCVegas84 | ESPN MMA – YouTube

He has a tough test in Ulanbekov who is 4-1 in the UFC thusfar, only losing to Tim Elliott. He’s had more success in the grappling realm in recent times, picking up two straight submission victories. It’s #5 vs #12 and it should be a competitive one!

8. Andre Muniz vs.  Ikram Aliskerov

This middleweight clash goes down at UFC on ESPN+ 101 and certainly has fans asking a lot of questions. Andre Muniz has recently dropped out of the middleweight rankings, however, did begin his UFC career with five straight wins, including three finishes. Within those three submissions was an armbar over the legendary, Jacare Souza, the first submission loss of his career. He did then lose to Brendan Allen and Paul Craig, both via finish, however. Although he bounced back with a split decision win over Park Jun-yong, it was far from convincing.

Ikram Aliskerov is 2-0 in the UFC, however, is highly touted at 185lbs. After his first UFC bout he was scheduled to clash with Paulo Costa in just his second promotional bout. He’s only lost one bout, to Khamzat Chimaev in Brave FC. Muniz is a step up in competition for sure and this fight will show whether Aliskerov has what it takes to make the next step up.

7. Liz Carmouche vs. Kana Watanbe

Taking place at PFL 4, the former Bellator champion, Liz Carmouche will take on former foe, Kana Watanbe. The two women first met at Bellator 261, with the American getting the victory on the night. It took Carmouche just 35 seconds to score the standing TKO victory and ultimately secured her a title shot. As they say, the rest is history for Girl-Rilla.

Watanbe rebounded going 3-1, suffering her only loss via split decision. In her PFL debut, she recorded a unanimous decision victory over UFC vet, Shanna Young.

This fight will be a rematch, however, as the two women have met before for just 35 seconds, we essentially get a brand new fight. Exciting stuff in the women’s flyweight tournament.

6. Patchy Mix vs. Magomed Magomedov

Main eventing Bellator Champions Series: Paris is a bantamweight title bout between Patchy Mix and Magomed Magomedov. Mix has proven himself in recent years to be one of the best bantamweights on the planet, enjoying a six fight winning run, crucially, including a guillotine choke victory over Magomedov himself.

That fight went down in December 2022 and since then, Mix has gone 2-0 with wins against Raufeon Stots and Sergio Pettis, both via finish. Magomedov has only a singular fight since his loss to Mix, a guillotine choke victory over Danny Sabatello.

The Russian will be wanting to prove that the last fight was a fluke, Mix will be wanting to prove that he’s simply the better man. A tear up in Paris, poetic.

5. Dakota Ditcheva vs. Chelsea Hackett

The co-main event of PFL 4 will see one of the PFL’s biggest stars, Dakota Ditcheva return to action in pursuit of her second PFL tournament win in as man years. Last year, Ditcheva picked up the win in the PFL’s European flyweight tournament and now, she continues her pursuit of the full, PFL flyweight belt. In the opening round, the Brit scored an emphatic knockout of Lisa Mauldin in the first round.

Her opponent on the night will be Chelsea Hackett. Although not a massively well known name, Hackett has legitimate skills. She’s an alumni of the contender series, losing out in 2020 and holds a 1-1 PFL record. She lost to Jenna Bishop last time out via armbar, however, is much more confident in the stand-up game, where her British opponent is equally as comfortable.

These two young stars will throw down with Hackett looking to get momentum and take Ditcheva’s 0, with dangerous wanting to remain undefeated.

4. Taturo Taira vs. Alex Perez

In what promises to be an extremely exciting fight at flyweight, Taturo Taira and Alex Perez will meet in June 15th Fight Night main event.

Alex Perez is set to make the walk for the third time in three months as he’s scheduled to take on Taira in his second straight main event. The former title challenger has struggled with consistency in recent times, having nine cancelled fights since his title bout in 2020 and only competed three times. It’ll be exciting to see if Perez can continue his good form into his third bout in 2024 and continue another strong title push.

Taira is undefeated during his MMA career sitting at 15-0 and at just 24, has a huge future ahead of him. He’s 5-0 with the promotion so far with three finishes and two performance bonuses. It’ll be difficult to get past the in-form Perez, however, if he can, he’ll shoot up the rankings into the title picture.

3. Jamahal Hill vs. Khalil Rountree Jr

A fight that is certainly going under the radar is the light heavyweight clash between the former champion and UFC 300 headliner, Jamahal Hill and the heavy-hitting Khalil Rountree Jr. Despite being knocked out in April, Hill will look to strike whilst the iron is hot as he’s still regarded as a big star and returning on the undercard of Conor McGregor will only boost his reputation. He’ll look to prove that the Alex Pereira loss was a one off and that he’s still one of the elite guys in the world.

Rountree Jr is ranked #8 at 205lbs and enjoying a five fight winning run, finishing four of five and scoring the biggest victory of his career last time out. Rountree brutalised Anthony Smith last time out and will look to continue that form into UFC 303.

Expect a stand-up war between two heavy-hitting knockout artists (neither man has shot for a takedown in their entire UFC careers).

2. Robert Whittaker vs. Khamzat Chimaev

Headlining the UFCs first card in Saudi Arabia is a potential middleweight title eliminator between the former champion, Robert Whittaker and the boogeyman of the division, Khamzat Chimaev. Whittaker rebounded from a loss to the champion last time out when he defeated Paulo Costa via unanimous decision at UFC 298. Chimaev is coming off a razor close decision against Kamaru Usman (on short notice) at UFC 294.

This will be the biggest test of Chimaev’s career as he takes on a legitimate middleweight for the first time since Gerald Meerschaert in 2020. He’ll be looking to prove his worth as the Usman fight was supposed to be a title eliminator. After a win over Whittaker, it would be hard to deny Borz a shot at the belt.

Likewise for Whittaker, if he can put together a winning run of two straight, in a division where he used to hold the belt, a title shot will be close. He’s well-rounded, can wrestle and has an underrated ground game, which Chimaev will look to exploit.

It’ll be fun, competitive and without a doubt will have the champion, Dricus du Plessis watching!

1. Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler

Without a doubt the biggest fight on the horizon is the return of the Mac, Conor McGregor. Taking place during international fight week, UFC 303 will be headlined by McGregor and the man he has been scheduled to fight since their time coaching on TUF in 2023, Michael Chandler. In Chandler, McGregor has the perfect dance partner, a man who is all action, will sell the fight and has a highlight reel to get fans excited (if they weren’t already excited for the return of the sports biggest ever star). He also has someone who is extremely easily hit and with the power that McGregor holds, it could be a match made in heaven for The Notorious.

For Chandler, he has a massive payday, a huge star and a man who’s starpower he can steal with an emphatic win. The fight is up at welterweight and it’s likely that McGregor will be far more comfortable at the weight. Against Dustin Poirier in his last fight, The Diamond massively outsized McGregor and caused him problems. This won’t be the case at UFC 303.

The return of the Mac at UFC 303, of course it’s our most anticipated fight before the summer!

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Frazer Krohn has been with MMASucka for nearly 5 years. He is the host of the MMASucka podcast, which is released every Monday. He's the author of a series of six books about MMA, which were published in 2023.

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