Predicting UFC champions at the end of 2024

By Cole Shelton - January 3, 2024

The calendar has officially flipped to 2024 and in 2023, we saw six UFC belts change, but how many will change hands in 2024?

Ahead of the UFC 2024 year starting on Jan. 13 at the UFC Apex, I decided to predict who will hold each belt on Dec. 31, 2024.


Current champ: Alexandre Pantoja
Prediction: Alexandre Pantoja

I’m predicting Alexandre Pantoja will remain the UFC flyweight champion by this time next year.

The Brazilian picked up his first title defense with a lopsided decision win over Brandon Royval at UFC 296. Pantoja will likely return in the summer against the winner of Brandon Moreno vs. Amir Albazi. He’s already beaten Moreno three times, and stylistically, I like the matchup against Albazi as well.

Should he get past that fight, Pantoja will likely then face someone like Manel Kape, Kai Kara-France, or Matheus Nicolau. Regardless, of who of those three gets it, Pantoja is too well-rounded right now and seems set for a lengthy title reign.


Current champ: Sean O’Malley
Prediction: Sean O’Malley

A lot of people will be pointing to Merab Dvalishvili or Umar Nurmagomedov to be the champion due to their wrestling pedigree. But, Sean O’Malley will likely only fight twice in 2024, and his first matchup is a rematch against Marlon Vera, which is a favorable matchup for him.

If O’Malley wins that, the UFC will likely give him another striker, which could be someone like Cory Sandhagen, and if that ends up being the case, ‘Suga’ will end the year as the champ. This is more of a thought that neither Dvalishvili nor Nurmagomedov will get a title shot in 2024.


Alexander Volkanovski

(via Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Current champ: Alexander Volkanovski
Prediction: Ilia Topuria

Alexander Volkanovski has been the UFC’s featherweight champion since 2019 but I’m predicting his reign will come to an end in 2024.

Volkanovski is coming off a KO loss to Islam Makhachev, which is a concern as he faces a heavy hitter in Ilia Topuria next. Topuria is very well-rounded and can match Volkanovski’s striking. I’ll back the younger fighter to get the win in February and pick up one more title defense to end 2024 as the featherweight champ.


Current champ: Islam Makhachev
Prediction: Islam Makhachev

Islam Makhachev is looking like he’s set for a lengthy title reign, and I expect the Dagestani fighter to end 2024 as the UFC lightweight champ.

Makhachev will likely fight twice in 2024 with the opponents being Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje. He’s already beaten Oliveira once, and the blueprint from Khabib Nurmagomedov is out there to beat Gaethje.


Current champ: Leon Edwards
Prediction: Shavkat Rakhmonov

Leon Edwards is expected to return at UFC 300 against Belal Muhammad, in a fight the Brit should win and defend his belt for the third time. Yet, Edwards will then face Shavkat Rakhmonov near the end of the year, and that is who will end the Brit’s reign.

Rakhmonov is so well-rounded and has the tools to keep the fight standing or go to the mat to beat Edwards.


Current champ: Sean Strickland
Prediction: Dricus Du Plessis

Sean Strickland shocked the world when he defeated Israel Adesanya to become the middleweight champion. However, in his first title defense, he’ll be fighting Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 297 in January. I like Du Plessis to win that fight and then pick up another title defense against someone like Israel Adesanya or Khamzat Chimaev to end 2024 as the UFC middleweight champion.

Light heavyweight

Magomed Ankalaev

(via Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Current champ: Alex Pereira
Prediction: Magomed Ankalaev

Alex Pereira won the light heavyweight title in November in just his second fight in the division, but I expect the Brazilian’s reign to end in 2024.

In the first UFC event of 2024, Magomed Ankalaev will face Johnny Walker, in a fight I expect Ankalev to win to secure him a title shot. There, the Dagestani native should be able to grind out a win and then pick up a title defense against Jamahal Hill or the winner of Jiri Prochazka vs. Aleksandar Rakic.


Current champ: Jon Jones
Prediction: Tom Aspinall

Jon Jones is the current UFC heavyweight champ, and will likely face Stipe Miocic in his first title defense. After that, I expect ‘Bones’ to retire which means the interim champ in Tom Aspinall will be promoted to undisputed champ. In his lone title fight of 2024, Aspinall will beat the winner of Curtis Blaydes vs. Jailton Almeida to end 2024 as the heavyweight champ.


Current champ: Zhang Weili
Prediction: Tatiana Suarez

Zhang Weili is expected to defend her UFC strawweight title against Yan Xiaonan. Yet, in her second title defense of 2024, I’m predicting it will be against Tatiana Suarez who will get the win to end the year as the champ.

Women’s flyweight

Current champ: Alexa Grasso
Prediction: Erin Blanchfield

Alexa Grasso will likely have her trilogy against Valentina Shevchenko and will then face the winner of Erin Blanchfield vs. Manon Fiorot. I’m predicting Blanchfield will get the win over Fiorot and also beat the winner of Grasso-Shevchenko 3 to end 2024 as the champ.

Women’s bantamweight

Current champ: Vacant
Prediction: Mayra Bueno Silva

Mayra Bueno Silva is set to face Raquel Pennington for the vacant bantamweight title at UFC 297. I’m predicting Bueno Silva to get the win and then beat Julianna Pena in her lone title defense of 2024 to end the year as the champ.