Article by Safeer MS,
The UFC started without a weight class and gradually introduced 8 weight classes for men and 4 for women. Nonetheless, the weight classes welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight are considered the original weight classes. It needs to be noted that the UFC has long-reigning champions in 3 of those 4 divisions. Those three - Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, and Jon Jones are the arguable GOATS of MMA.
2023 saw the champions of the aforementioned divisions lose and surprise champions emerge in the division. Jon Jones, Alex Pereira, Sean Strickland, and Leon Edwards ended 2023 as the champions and Edwards was the only one who started the year as the champion. Nonetheless, here are my predictions for who will be the UFC champions by the end of 2024.
Current Champion- Leon Edwards
After becoming the UFC welterweight champion at UFC 278 in a massive upset, Edwards defended the title twice in 2024 - first against Kamaru Usman at UFC 286 and second against Colby Covington at UFC 296. Belal Muhammad and Shavkat Rakhmonov are the two rightfully contenders in the division with Muhammed presumed to get the first crack.
Muhammad has a pressure-fighting style that can neutralize the counter-striking style of Edwards. However, Edwards has the power to knock out anybody in any round as evidenced by his head-kick KO of Usman. Edwards and Muhammad are expected to have an entertaining fight contrary to popular belief. Nonetheless, the winner will have to fight the undefeated Shavkat Rakhmonov who will most likely keep his 100% finish streak intact with either of them.
2024 Prediction- Shavkat Rakhmonov
Current Champion- Dricus du Plessis
2023 saw three UFC middleweight champions as Alex Pereira lost the title to Israel Adesanya who lost the title to Sean Strickland. Dricus du Plessis is the new middleweight champion at UFC 297, the first PPV of 2024, with a split-decision victory over Strickland. There is no shortage of contenders at middleweight with Israel Adesanya, Khamzat Chimaev, and even Strickland again touted as the next opponents for du Plessis.
The UFC will have two more middleweight title fights before the end of 2024 and Dricus du Plessis will win both of them. It is expected that du Plessis will have to face both Adesanya and Chimaev and he has the awkward style and cardio to thwart both of them. As of now, there are no middleweights who have the style to counter the awkwardness of du Plessis.
2024 Prediction- Dricus du Plessis
Current Champion- Alex Pereira
The last time a light heavyweight champion defended his title was at UFC 259 in March of 2021 when Blachowicz defended the title against Israel Adesanya who was coming up in weight. Since then, Glover Teixeira, Jiri Prochazka, Jamahal Hill, and Alex Pereira have become champions. Pereira is the current champion of the division and is rumored to headline UFC 300 against either Magomed Ankaleav or Jamahal Hill.
Pereira will win a fight with Hill courtesy of his superior striking but against Ankalaev he will have a tough matchup due to wrestling. However, Ankalaev has promised to stand and bang with Pereira which is not a smart move and he will likely use his wrestling against Pereira. Nonetheless, Pereira has shown improved defense in wrestling and has the power to knock out even a heavyweight.
2024 Prediction- Alex Pereira
Current Champion- Jon Jones
Jon Jones came back from a three-year hiatus and claimed the vacant heavyweight title at UFC 285 with s first-round submission victory over Ciryl Gane. Jones was expected to headline UFC 295 against Stipe Miocic and had to withdraw due to injury only for the UFC to rebook the fight on his return. Tom Aspinall is the interim champion of the division and will most likely become the undisputed champion by the end of 2024.
Jones and Miocic are expected to retire after their blockbuster fight which the UFC will build as the battle of the GOATS. After their presumed retirement, Aspinall will be elevated to the undisputed champion without even a single fight. In the meantime, Aspinall might defend his interim title against the winner of Curtis Blaydes versus Jailton Almeida or Ciryl Gane.
2024 Prediction- Tom Aspinall