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Five UFC Fighters to Watch in 2024

With UFC 300 on the horizon and the return of the likes of Conor McGregor and Jon Jones expected at some point, the UFC is set for another huge year in 2024.

However, it's not all about the superstars, here we pick out some of the fighters outside of the top 10 of their respective divisions who we are looking forward to seeing back in the Octagon in 2024.

5.  Lerone Murphy

Despite being undefeated, it feels like the UK’s own Lerone Murphy has had a stop-start UFC career so far, but he could be about to explode in 2024.

Fighting out of Manchester Top Team, the 32-year-old has actually been in the promotion since 2019, when his first fight ended in a controversial draw following a short notice call-up to face Zubaira Tukhugov.

Murphy then racked up three consecutive stoppage victories before suffering a near fatal accident when he was knocked off his bike by a car in the lead-up to a fight camp in 2022.

Despite doctors telling Murphy he may bever fight again, he returned in 2023 to register decision wins on both of the UFC’s London shows.

Sitting at number 15 in the Featherweight division, Murphy is the co-main event on February’s Apex Card as he faces a notable name in #13 ranked Dan Ige.

A conclusive win in this fan friendly match-up should put Murphy on the verge of the top 10 and ready to take on more big names in the UFC’s stellar Featherweight division.

4. Diego Lopes

Despite his boyish looks and Justin Bieber circa 2009 haircut, Diego Lopes is proving to be a stone-cold killer inside the Octagon.

The 28-year-old Brazilian made his UFC debut in May 2023 coming in at just five days’ notice to take on highly-rated Featherweight Movsar Evloev.

Despite losing by a unanimous decision, Lopes won many fans and a $50k fight of the night bonus with his energy and gung-ho style.

Lopes has had two more fights since and has racked up two more bonuses. This time for performance of the night in his first-round demolitions of Gavin Tucker and Pat Sabatini.

With a 23-6-0 pro MMA record, it looks like Lopes is putting everything together at the right time after his UFC call-up.

Despite being unranked, a push into the top 10 at Featherweight looks a certainty in 2024.

3. Joe Pyfer

"Act like Joe Pyfer! Be Joe Pyfer and you will get into the UFC" was Dana White’s call-out to future Contender Series alumni following the American’s appearance on the show.

A brutal TKO finish of Osman Diaz got Dana’s blood pumping on the UFC’s now primary talent finding show back in the summer of 2022 and the 27-year-old hasn’t looked back since.

Pyfer has had three further fights in the UFC, finishing Alen Amedovski, Gerald Meerschaert and Abdul Razak Alhassan in style.

With power in both hands and a strong ground game Pyfer is already a fan favourite and being heavily pushed by the UFC’s PR machine.

Although currently unranked, he could jump straight into the top 10 of the Middleweight division when he headlines his first UFC Main Event against Jack Hermansson at the Apex in February.

2. Mike Malott

Canada has been looking for its next big star to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Rory MacDonald and GSP and they look like they might have found one in Mike Malott.

Despite being 32 years old, Malott looks set for a true breakout year in the UFC in 2024.

A rarity for an MMA fighter, Malott only has 12 pro fights on his record (10-1-1) during a career spanning 13 years. Losing only once back in 2014, he signed for the UFC in 2022 after a submission win on the Contender Series and has looked impressive ever since.

Three stoppage wins have followed, including back-to-back Performance of the Night bonuses.

With a huge fanbase already behind him, the charismatic Welterweight will enter the top 15 should he defeat #13 ranked Neil Magny at UFC 298 as the UFC returns to Toronto.

1. Benoit Saint Denis

It will be no surprise to most to see Benoit Saint Denis sitting at the top of this list.

The French Army Special Forces veteran is on a five-fight win streak in the UFC, ending 2023 with a spectacular head-kick KO of Matt Frevola at UFC 295 in November.

The only defeat on the 27-year-old’s entire MMA record was his UFC debut, where, as a late replacement, he stepped up in weight only to lose on the judges scorecard to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos back in 2021.

Back at his natural weight class, Saint Denis has three bonuses from his five UFC wins, cementing himself as one of the true rising contenders in the talent stacked lightweight division.

Saint Denis has made his intentions clear that he wants to face Justin Geathje for the BMF belt.

Now ranked at #12 expect Saint Denis to be in a big fight in the first quarter of the year, possibly at UFC 300 against a top 10 fighter such as Jalin Turner or Dan Hooker as his star continues to rise.

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