Dom. Feb 25th, 2024

The 2024 MMA calendar is officially underway, as the UFC and ONE just finished major cards in January. Moreover, PFL’s acquisition of Bellator should make for an interesting schedule mix for fight fans to enjoy.

As the year rolls forward, news and rumors will commence with updates on potential matchmaking, promotion updates and fight locations. As such, we’ll have it all covered right here, with analysis and insight from our reporters and writers.

Who will take the challenge to be Francis Ngannou’s first opponent in PFL? Will Kayla Harrison make weight for UFC 300? Check out our latest updates now and refresh often for the latest as the year unfolds.

Key links: MMA schedule | P4P rankings


Feb. 3: Themba Gorimbo gets impressive win

Jeff Wagenheim: It’s tempting to call Gorimbo’s performance at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night «rock solid,» which would be a deserving nod to the impact actor Dwayne «The Rock» Johnson has had on the welterweight’s life. But after watching Gorimbo’s explosiveness, it’s more appropriate to call him Themba solid, because it was all Gorimbo — with no help from anyone — sending a message to the 170-pound division.

Gorimbo won his second straight UFC fight and moved to 12-4 overall, and it took him barely half a minute to do so. He floored Pete Rodriguez with a looping right hand and finished him with a flurry of rights on the ground in 32 seconds.

Gorimbo opened his postfight interview by thanking Johnson and alluding to his own devotion to philanthropy. «You changed my life in a better way,» he said, «and I’m going to change someone’s life every single day.»

Gorimbo then moved on to his goal for the year: «I want to become the champion in 2024.» That’s an ambitious goal for a relative newcomer to the Octagon. His opponent on this night, Rodriguez, will never be confused for the reigning champ, Leon Edwards, or anyone in the welterweight top 10. But life has taught Gorimbo that self-belief is never a bad place to start.


Feb. 3: «Meatball» Molly McCann ends losing streak

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Molly McCann submits Diana Belbita to beat the first round clock

Molly McCann breaks up her two-fight losing streak with a submission win at the end of Round 1 vs. Diana Belbita.

Wagenheim: Who was that strawweight putting on a show during the UFC prelims? She looked like Molly McCann, only smaller.

Call her Mini-Meatball, this trimmed-down version of the popular British running mate of Paddy Pimblett. After dropping two fights in a row, McCann knew something had to change, and she made her weight class the change, dropping 10 pounds from flyweight.

Moving down in weight doesn’t always work out for fighters, but it sure did for McCann. She was all over Diana Belbita from the start, her energy forever moving forward and crisp, accurate punches putting her opponent on the defensive. And near the end of Round 1, McCann picked up Belbita, slammed her to the canvas and seamlessly moved into full mount. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, McCann quickly secured an armbar and got the tapout one second before the horn was to sound.

It was the first submission win of McCann’s 20-fight career, coming after she had lost her previous two fights by submission. Talk about reinventing oneself.

What’s next? «I’m gonna go have a Guinness and a beer,» McCann said, «and I’ll see you soon.»


Jan. 30: Holm only interested in fight at 135 pounds vs. Harrison

Wagenheim: When Kayla Harrison captured her two Olympic gold medals and a world championship in judo, she did so in every case at 78 kilograms, just under 172 pounds. To transition to mixed martial arts in the PFL in 2018, she needed to hit the scale at the lightweight limit, which for nontitle bouts is 156 pounds. Harrison has fought at that weight for all but two of her 17 pro MMA appearances, dropping only as far as featherweight.

But when she signed with the UFC and booked an April 13 debut against Holly Holm, Harrison agreed to fight at bantamweight. For her to make the 136-pound limit, that would represent a 20-pound drop from her usual weigh-in — nearly 13% more of a weight cut than she’s used to in MMA (and nearly 21% from her old judo weight).

Can Harrison do it?

She’d better if she wants the fight to happen. Holm is not interested in going forward at a catchweight.

«I’m on the stance that you need to make weight, that’s just how it is,» Holm said earlier this week on The MMA Hour. «I think that her mindset should be on, ‘I’m going to make weight,’ because she took the fight at 135. So I think it’s simple.»

If it’s simple, then explain this: Considering that Holm has competed at featherweight twice, both times for a UFC championship, why wasn’t this bout with Harrison scheduled for 145 pounds? Is there something we should know about the women’s weight class that’s long been a UFC wasteland but somehow doesn’t go away entirely?


Jan. 29: Will the winner of Bader-Ferreira be Ngannou’s first PFL opponent?

Wagenheim: Both Ryan Bader and Renan Ferreira — who will square off in the PFL’s upcoming pay-per-view event featuring PFL champions taking on Bellator MMA champions — want to be fighter opposite of Francis Ngannou for his eventual PFL debut.

«Yeah, 100% [Ngannou should be next],» Bader said at the news conference on Wednesday. «He’s got his boxing fight coming up, but I think it’s perfect timing. We get this done, and the winner gets that opportunity.»

Ferreira echoed his sentiments.

«If everything goes as planned, after Feb. 24, Francis is the name,» Ferreira said.

And the PFL probably wants it to happen as well. But the person who determines if or when it could happen is Ngannou’s next opponent in the boxing ring, Anthony Joshua.

If Joshua goes out there and gets knocked out by Ngannou, that would lead to big boxing opportunities for Ngannou. But if Joshua, a former world champ, makes Ngannou look like the boxing neophyte that he is, it could drive Ngannou back MMA and into the PFL cage.


Jan. 28: Gaethje would love to be first to KO Holloway

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Justin Gaethje prepares for his bout with Max Holloway

Brett Okamoto sits down with BMF champion Justin Gaethje to discuss his upcoming fight with Max Holloway and how he plans to prepare.

The UFC’s third BMF title fight will follow along a similar path with the two fighters involved — a willingness to hit and be hit.

Max Holloway’s resume speaks for itself in this matter. Holloway’s 3441 total strikes landed is No. 1 in the UFC — by nearly a thousand more than No. 2 Georges St-Pierre — and yet «Blessed» also has the distinction of never being knocked out in his MMA career.

That second factoid is something Justin Gaethje — who is lauded for his ability to give and take with the best of them — is highly aware of.

«I have 25 wins and 20 knockouts, I’m pretty proud of that. That’s one thing I’ve tried to sustain throughout my career, purposefully,» said Gaethje to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto. «So yeah, that’s something I’m shooting for.»

Holloway, who also has 25 career wins in MMA, has won 11 by way of knockout.

Currently, ESPN BET has the UFC 300 co-main event favored towards Gaethje, -210, over Holloway, who sits at +175.



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