You read the title right. Dana White has just announced the main events for the first three PPVs of 2024. After much speculation, here are the confirmed title fights for UFC 297, UFC 298, and UFC 299.
The first PPV of 2024, rumored to be going down in Toronto, Canada, on January 20th, will be headlined by the current UFC Middleweight Champion, Sean Strickland. His opponent will be the #2 ranked contender, Dricus du Plessis.
Sean Strickland is coming off one of the biggest upsets of 2023, where he defeated Israel Adesanya via a dominant unanimous decision in Sydney, Australia. The Champion is riding a three-fight win streak, with his only recent losses coming against Alex Pereira and a razor-thin split decision vs. Jared Cannonier. Now, Strickland looks to make the first defense of his title against a widely different style of opponent.
Dricus du Plessis is riding a huge win streak in the Middleweight division. The South African fighter has won all six of his UFC bouts and finished five of them. In his last bout at UFC 290, he also got an upset victory by finishing Robert Whittaker in the second round via TKO to earn his title shot. At the time, he faced off against Adesanya in the cage, but now he eyes Sean Strickland to become the first-ever UFC South African Champion.
The dominant Featherweight Champion, Alexander Volkanovski, will headline the PPV in February. His opponent will be the rising Georgian contender Ilia Topuria, an undefeated prospect riding a fourteen-fight unbeaten streak. The current venue and date for UFC 298 is unknown.
Alexander Volkanovski is coming off a devastating KO loss to Islam Makhachev. The always-game Champion took the fight on eleven days' notice, saving the UFC 294 card, but his two-division champion dreams were cut short by Makhachev. Now, "The Great" looks to make the sixth defense of his Featherweight title and cement himself as the greatest Featherweight of all time.
Ilia Topuria has faced little adversity throughout his six-fight UFC run. Bar an early knockdown against Jai Herbert, "El Matador" has looked perfect during his run to the title. His last fight came against Josh Emmett, whom Topuria dominated across five rounds en route to a unanimous decision, with one of the judges scoring the contest 50-42. Topuria now focuses on UFC gold, aiming to become the first Georgian UFC Champion.
UFC 299 will host a superfight of a matchup and one of the most highly anticipated rematches in UFC history. The newly crowned Bantamweight Champion "Sugar" Sean O'Malley will look to make the first defense of his title against the only man to ever beat in professional MMA, Marlon "Chito" Vera. The date and venue for this is currently unknown.
Sean O'Malley shocked the world when he devastatingly TKOed Aljamain Sterling at UFC 292. After months of trash talk between the two, O'Malley would land a devastating cross on Sterling before following up with ground-and-pound strikes to close the show. In 2020, O'Malley faced Vera for the first time at UFC 252, losing via first-round TKO. O'Malley has expressed his opinions about the loss and the "flukish" nature of it, but now has the opportunity to write his wrongs at UFC 299.
Marlon Vera has the chance to become the first Ecuadorian UFC Champion, a dream he has worked towards since joining the UFC in 2014. Vera has won five of his last six, with his only loss being a split decision to Cory Sandhagen, and he has claimed masterful victories over Frankie Edgar, Dominick Cruz, and Rob Font. Across those three matchups, Vera landed seven knockdowns, which shows how powerful a striker he is. In his last matchup, he defeated Pedro Munhoz via unanimous decision in the same event O'Malley defeated Sterling, and now he has the opportunity to go 2-0 over the superstar.
Which of these events are you most excited about? As a member of the Verdict Community, let us know your thoughts and predictions in the comments below.