UFC announces three major title fights will kick off 2024

The UFC has announced its first three pay-per-view main events of 2024, with the middleweight title and men’s featherweight and bantamweight belts set to be contested.

In the main event of UFC 297 in January, Sean Strickland is set to defend the middleweight title against Dricus Du Plessis. At UFC 298 in February, Alexander Volkanovski will defend his featherweight belt against Ilia Topuria. And in March, Sean O’Malley puts his bantamweight gold on the line against Marlon “Chito” Vera at UFC 299.

Conor McGregor’s long-awaited return to the Octagon is then rumoured to take place at UFC 300 in April.

UFC president Dana White announced the trio of title fights on Monday (6 November), with the respective event dates revealed as 20 January, 17 February and 9 March. UFC 297 is set to take place in Canada, while the locations of the February and March cards have not yet been announced.

American Strickland won the 185lbs title with a decision win over Israel Adesanya in September, in one of the biggest upsets in UFC history. His first challenger, Du Plessis, was initially in line to face Adesanya on that date, but the South African suffered an injury that prevented the fight from being signed.

Meanwhile, Volkanovski has reigned as 145lbs champion since 2019 and has never lost at that weight. The Australian has lost twice in 2023, however, unsuccessfully challenging Islam Makhachev for the lightweight title in February and October. On the back of the second of those two losses – a first-round knockout – Volkanovsi now faces the dangerous Georgian Topuria, who is unbeaten and has 12 finishes from 14 wins.

Elsewhere, Sean O’Malley is one of the biggest stars in the UFC and won the bantamweight title with a knockout of Aljamain Sterling in August. The American is now set for a rematch with the only man to beat him, “Chito” Vera. The Ecuadorian beat O’Malley via TKO in 2020 after dealing “Sugar Sean” a leg injury.

Click here to subscribe to The Independent’s Sport YouTube channel for all the latest sports videos.