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Top Five UFC Fights To Look Forward To In January

History beckons in the main event of UFC 297 at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, where Du Plessis aims to become the first South African UFC champion.


The UFC starts the year with a bang with two title fights in January. Quintin van Jaarsveld highlights the five most-anticipated match-ups of the month across two cards.

Magomed Ankalaev v Johnny Walker

Sunday, 14 January SA time

Unfinished business will be resolved in the first main event of 2024 at UFC Vegas 84.

The pair of elite light heavyweight contenders faced off last October with the fight ending in a no-contest after Ankalaev landed an illegal knee and the cage-side doctor controversially ruled Walker unable to continue.

With the 205-pound division having a champion again in Alex Pereira and former king Jamahal Hill still recovering from an Achilles injury, there is a good chance the winner of this high-stakes headliner will decide the division’s next No. 1 contender, making for a can’t miss match-up. 

Matheus Nicolau v Manel Kape

Sunday, 14 January SA time

The co-main event is another crunch rematch with top-10 flyweights Nicolau and Kape running it back.

Nicolau won the pair’s 2021 encounter by split decision and was closing in on a title shot before having a six-fight win streak halted by Brandon Royval in his last fight. Kape, meanwhile, hasn’t lost since his first meeting with Nicolau.

Flyweights bring fast and furious action to the Octagon and this should be a particularly entertaining high-octane affair.

Sean Strickland v Dricus du Plessis

Sunday, 21 January SA time

History beckons in the main event of UFC 297 at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, where Du Plessis aims to become the first South African UFC champion.

“Stillknocks” and Strickland caused two of the biggest upsets of 2023, the former knocking out ex-title holder Robert Whittaker and the latter dethroning Israel Adesanya by decision to set up this compelling and heated clash for the middleweight gold.

Du Plessis is a perfect 6-0 inside the Octagon while his American adversary has won three in a row and has no plans on giving up his newly won crown. Du Plessis, though, vows to bring the title back to South African soil, setting up a historic humdinger in the heart of Canada.

Raquel Pennington v Mayra Bueno Silva

Sunday, 21 January SA time

The co-headliner will usher in a new era in the women’s bantamweight division as Pennington and Bueno Silva square off for the vacant championship.

With former champion Amanda Nunes retiring on top, the crown is up for the taking and two of the division’s surging contenders collide with immortality at stake.

Pennington is on a five-fight win streak heading into her second shot at the belt, having fallen short in her maiden championship opportunity against Nunes back in 2018, while Bueno Silva is unbeaten since moving back up to 135 pounds in 2022.

Arnold Allen vs Movsar Evloev

Sunday, 21 January SA time

A massive fight in the featherweight division forms part of UFC 297, the winner of which could be next in line for a title shot. 

Allen returns after falling to former champion Max Holloway last April, a defeat that snapped a 10-fight win streak inside the Octagon. Things don’t get any easier for the Brit as he goes from facing a legend to a rising star who is undefeated.

Evloev has been nothing short of sensational, passing every test with flying colours, and is presented with a step up in competition to see if he can break into the top five. Expect a thriller between these two highly skilled and ferocious 145-pounders.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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