Article by Safeer MS,
From Flyweight to Lightweight, the UFC has a stacked roster that no other promotion can come close to. With Sean O’Malley as the bantamweight champion and Islam Makhachev as the lightweight champion, the lighter weight classes even have superstars in it. Nonetheless, here is my prediction for who will be the UFC champions by the end of 2024.
Current Champion - Alexandre Pantoja
Alexandre Pantoja became the UFC champion after a blood-and-guts war with Brandon Moreno at UFC 290 and has defended the title against Brandon Royval. Pantoja already had a victory over both Moreno and Royval before he became a champion. With unmatched toughness and tremendous power for a flyweight, Pantoja is a tough matchup for any UFC flyweight.
There are contenders like Manel Kape and Amir Albazi who have yet to face Pantoja but it is the undefeated Muhammad Mokaev who has the best chance to dethrone Pantoja. Born in Dagestan and raised in the UK, Mokaev has the toughness to match Pantoja and also has the youth advantage on his side. Pantoja has been able to impose his strength on his opponents but that is something he cannot do with Mokaev.
2024 Prediction - Muhammad Mokaev
Current Champion - Sean O’Malley
Sean O’Malley upset Aljamain Sterling with a second-round KO at UFC 292 with immense crowd support. Even UFC CEO Dana White was surprised by the reception that O’Malley got in Boston, the perceived backyard of Sterling. Bantamweight is one of the most stacked divisions and O’Malley has not yet shown the tools to remain champion for a long time. One of the biggest things to see from O’Malley is whether he can hang around for 5 rounds. Contenders like Merab Dvalishvili, Cory Sandhagen, Petr Yan, Marlon Vera, and Song Yadong have shown that their cardio could thang for five rounds.
O’Malley will be looking to defend his title for the first time against Vera at UFC 299 where Yan and Yadong will also fight, and Dvalishvili will be taking on Henry Cejudo at UFC 298. However, none of these names don’t have anything to threaten the dynamic striking of O’Malley. Cory Sandhagen who is nursing an elbow injury has the best chance to become champion by the end of 2024. Already a dynamic striker, Sandhagen has incorporated wrestling and will be the bantamweight champion by December 2024.
2024 Prediction - Cory Sandhagen
Current Champion - Alexander Volkanovski
Alexander Volkanovski is the long-reigning champion of the decision but will have a tough time at hand at UFC 298 against the undefeated Ilia Topuria. Volkanovskis is the GOAT of the division but in his mid-30s whereas Topuria is in his 20s and is a devastating striker and grappler. Volkanovski lost via brutal knockout in his latest bout against Islam Makhachev at UFC 294.
Topuria will most likely win at UFC 298 and looks poised to remain champion by the end of the year. Max Holloway is fighting at lightweight next and the other contenders in the division are Yair Rodriguez, Brian Ortega, Josh Emmet, and Movsar Evloev. Topuria has already beaten Emmet and has the skill set to negate both Rodriguez and Ortega. Evloev could give him problems but he most likely won’t be fighting for the title next.
2024 Prediction - Ilia Topuria
Current Champion - Islam Makhachev
Islam Makhachev is the pound-for-pound king of the UFC and the Dagestan native will have a tough year in 2024 as he will potentially face Arman Tsarukyan. Tsarukyan and the former champion are scheduled to fight at UFC 300 where the winner will get a crack at the lightweight title. UFC 300 also has 2nd-ranked lightweight Justin Gaethke in a BMF title fight against 1st-ranked featherweight Max Holloway.
Tsarukyan is on a roll and is the only fighter in the UFC’s lightweight division who can counter the wrestling of Makhachev. Interestingly, Tsarukyan fought Makhachev on the Armenian’s debut which was on short notice. Even though Makhachev won the bout, the Armenian proved more than a match. He will most likely destroy Charles Oliveira and claim the lightweight title from Islam Makhachev by the end of 2024.
2024 Prediction - Arman Tsarukyan