This article is my predictions as to who will be champion in each weight class by this time next year January 2025. The UFC in 2023 saw many upsets with Sean Strickland, Sean O’Malley and Alexa Grasso. Will we see more upsets in 2024 or will it be dominance ?
Zhang Weili-Remains champion. Zhang is so well rounded and powerful for her division. Furthermore, she has found great experience with wars with Joanna or the close competitive fights with Rose Namajunas. Therefore, I do not predict Zhang to lose and think she will still be champion.
Alexa Grasso-Remains Champion. Grasso has proved to be competent and competitive against Shevchenko. This is something we are yet to see in that division. As a result, I predict Grasso to retain the title given the confidence she will earn from the Shevchenko bouts. I also believe the divisions lacks quality to defeat her. Their 2 fights in 2023 displayed their quality and the gap from them to contenders.
Mayra Bueno Silva-New Champion. After the domination of this division from Rousey and then Nunes, a new champion shall be born. Pennington and Silva do battle at UFC 297, this month. I believe Silva wins the fight and retains the title for the whole year. Despite, a potential fight with Pena or Viera, i predict Silva to defeat either and be champion by 2025.
Alexandre Pantoja– Remains Champion. An exceptional 2023 from Pantoja means i predict him to remain champion. The performance against Royval really displayed his elite skillset and a win against Moreno helps suggest this. The division does lack quality contenders to take the belt but Pantoja displayed dominance in 2023.
Merab Dvalishvili– New Champion. Merab has always looked sensational and rarely out of his depth in his UFC career. His relentless grappling and pressure would work perfectly against O’Malley or Vera. Merab needs to defeat Cejudo, which i think he will then fights the winner from UFC 299 main event. I think he beats both Vera and O’Malley; his cardio and pressure would be too much for their style.
Max Holloway– New Champion. Holloway has previously been champion and is still at the top of the game despite 3 narrow loses to Volkanovski. He has proved his quality over all contenders, evidence to suggest this is Kattar, Korean Zombie, Ortega and Rodriguez fights. He looked dominant in all never out of his depth. For this to happen Topuria would have to beat Volkanovski. Then Holloway beats Topuria, i think this is very much possible and Holloway’s cardio and experience would be too much for Topuria in a future bout.
Islam Makachev-Remains Champion. Makachev looks better and better every fight. His striking is becoming even better as shown through the Volkanovski fights. The only competitive fight could be Tsarukyan. This is because of their first fight and both have improved since. I believe Arman is capable of winning but Makachev’s experience and well rounded skillset built recently makes it hard to choose against him. I talk about Islam’s work at UFC294 below:
Leon Edwards– Remains Champion. Excellence from Edwards throughout 2023 proved the level he is at. Therefore, it is expected he does the same in 2024. A potential bout with Belal is being lined up and i think he deals with that. The first fight had one round which Edwards dominated and he has gained a lot of expertise from the Usman fights. He has dealt with the heavy grappling approach well and is only getting better. A fight with a newer contender maybe Shavkat or Maddalena could happen but depends on his activity.
Dricus Du Plessis– New Champion. My fighter of the last year; wins over Brunson, Till and an upset over Whittaker. He always finds a way to win in fights that he doesn’t perform well in. Furthermore, the middleweight division is very weak at the moment. No Adesanya or Pereira, Whittaker needs a comeback, Costa also needing a comeback. This gives Du Plessis a great chance at earning and retaining gold. I believe he beats Strickland and then retains the belt in a defense against Cannonier or Adesanya (if he returns).
Magomed Ankalaev-New Champion. Ankalaev just finished Johnny Walker with a stunning knockout. He has good momentum and could defeat Pereira. I think Ankalaev could utilize grappling to his advantage. Grappling still needs improving for Pereira in my opinion, given the Jan bout. Leg kicks for Pereira would be a useful tool in a fight that could go either way depending on game plans.
Tom Aspinall- New Champion. Aspinall is the epitome of a well-rounded mixed martial artist. For his weight division, he moves so elegantly and is too fast. Grappling, striking, power , movement; he has everything. However, this does depend on if the Jon Jones fight takes places this year and if it does i see Aspinall winning and becoming undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.