4 of the best UFC fight cards of 2024, so far

There have been incredible fight cards so far this year. Here are four of our favorites.
Jiri Rakic
Jiri Rakic / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC is a blessing to fight fans as it delivers cards nearly every week of every month. Sometimes, there can be boring cards, and other times, there can be exciting cards. Boring fight cards mostly consist of low-energy fights that go to the distance while possessing barely any finishes. That can occur anytime, whether a card has mostly popular fighters or unpopular fighters.

Exciting fight cards can happen regardless if any of its fighters are popular or unpopular. They can come in different forms, as sometimes a card may have most fights ending in a finish while barely having decision victories. Other times, fights can end mostly in decisions, but they are thrilling, competitive decisions.

Usually, a main event can add to opinions on how good cards turn out to be. If it is dog-eat-dog or ends in a spectacular finish, that can put a final stamp on solidifying the card as exciting. Four of the best fight cards of the year will be discussed.

1. UFC Vegas 84: Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker 2

The first fight night and fight card of 2024 absolutely deserved as most of the fights were exhilarating. The first three fights consisted of unpopular fighters, but that did not stop all of them from delivering knockouts. Mario Bautista and Ricky Simón are bantamweight contenders with solid potential, and they had a fun, back-and-forth fight which should have earned fight of the night. The striking and grappling exchanges were exciting for all three rounds. Bautista took Simón's No. 13 ranking as part of his victory. The co-main event arrived as lightweight veterans, Jim Miller and Gabriel Benítez, were set to collide. Miller pressed Benítez while out striking and out wrestling him, leading to an eventual third-round submission.

The main event had much drama leading up as this was a rematch to a fight with a controversial ending. In Oct 2023, Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker battled in a fight that had possible title implications. Walker was on an impressive three-fight winning streak, while Ankalaev was on a nine-fight winning streak before having a draw in his title fight against Jan Błachowicz. The fight was competitive at first until Ankalaev landed an illegal knee, rendering Walker unable to continue. It ended in a no contest and both fighters were desperate to properly finish the score. The rematch was fierce as long as it lasted, as the first round was too close to score. Two judges scored it for Walker, while one judge had it for Ankalaev. The rivalry officially ended as Ankalaev knocked Walker out with a right hand in the second round. He looked good enough to secure a title shot next. With most of the fights ending in finishes and few boring decisions, it is safe to say that this card was already one of the best of 2024, putting the year off to a good start.

2. UFC St. Louis: Derrick Lewis vs. Rodrigo Nascimento

The UFC returned to St. Louis, Missouri for the first time since Jan 2018. The main event was headlined by heavyweight veteran and knockout king Derrick Lewis (No. 12 ranked) taking on a young contender named Rodrigo Nascimento (No. 15 ranked). Lewis prefers to not leave fights to judges and has a hilarious personality, both making him a fan favorite. Leading into the main event were many exciting matchups. One of the most exciting fights of the year happened as Trey Waters and Billy Goff slugged it out in a welterweight clash. Waters won all three rounds but had to work hard for each as Goff would not stop coming forward. A new lightweight prospect named Esteban Ribovics made his UFC debut as he had a highlight-reel finish against the dangerous, Terrance McKinney. Ribovics head-kicked him 37 seconds into the first round. Another young lightweight shined as Chase Hooper put an intense, ground beating on Viacheslav Borshchev until he submitted him in the second round. These battles outshined the earlier, mediocre fights that went the distance.

A hype train got derailed to open the card as Waldo Cortes-Acosta out-wrestled and out-struck Robelis Despaigne to a decision. Despaigne seemed like an unstoppable knockout machine before, but Cortes-Acosta exposed his lack of cardio, grappling, and one-dimensional striking. Sean Woodson and Alex Caceres had a competitive, featherweight fight where Woodson edged out a decision, setting himself up for a possible shot at the rankings. Lightweight veteran Carlos Diego Ferreira showed he can still fight after coming off a one-year layoff and taking the hype off of Mateusz Rębecki, who was on a 16-fight winning streak with mostly finishes. Ferreira damaged him so badly, that his eyes were swollen shut, and the referee stepped in ten seconds before the final bell.

Middleweight received a new ranked contender as Carlos Ulberg, extending his win streak to six, knocked out No. 12 ranked Alonzo Menifield 12 seconds into the first round. The co-main event arrived as No. 11 ranked welterweight Joaquin Buckley faced the tall, long Nursulton Ruziboev. Yet another hype train got derailed as Buckley out-wrestled Ruziboev and out-struck him at range, in impressive fashion. Buckley's footwork was too much for Ruziboev, as his 10-fight winning streak ended. The main event delivered as Lewis and Nascimento competitively fought until Lewis delivered another famous knockout in the third round. This was one of the best cards of the year due to hype trains being derailed, explosive finishes, and fierce decisions.

3. UFC 299: Sean O'Malley vs. Marlon Vera 2

Sean O'Malley is a young fighter on a winning streak who the UFC thinks has massive potential for superstardom. He became champion as he knocked out dominant bantamweight Aljimain Sterling in Aug 2023 at UFC 292. For his first title defense, he decided that he wanted to avenge his only MMA loss by rematching top contender Marlon Vera, who beat him by first-round stoppage in Aug. 2020. The UFC was impressed with O'Malley so much that they decided to give him what he wanted, headlined in the Kaseya Center in Miami. The prelims started with flyweight Joanne Wood winning a split decision against Maryna Moroz as Wood announced her retirement, leaving on a good win. Most of the prelims ended in mostly competitive decisions where hyped prospects schooled veterans, securing top rankings. There were two highlight reels as Despaigne got an 18-second knockout, in his UFC debut, and Michel Pereira executed a one-minute submission. No wild way to end it other than a major knockout by Curtis Blaydes, ending Jailton Almeida's 15-fight winning streak.

The main card was fire as Petr Yan bounced back from a three-fight losing streak, beating Song Yadong by decision. Jack Della Maddellana's 16-fight winning streak almost ended until he dug deep to get a last-minute knockout against Gilbert Burns, while also receiving a top-five ranking. Michael Page aced his UFC debut as he outclassed Kevin Holland and entered into the welterweight rankings. Dustin Poirier bounced back from a brutal knockout loss as he knocked out the young, hyped prospect Benoît Saint-Denis in the fight of the night. Finally, O'Malley ended the night as he avenged his one MMA loss by putting a striking masterclass on Vera for five rounds. UFC 299 had it all as some hype trains continued while others got derailed on the same night. There were electrifying finishes and competitive decisions. Plus, there was a retirement that ended on a good note. It is no surprise that UFC 299 was one of the year's supreme cards.

4. UFC 300: Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill

This was like the Super Bowl for fight fans as the UFC decided to go all out on their 300th PPV event. This was stacked top to bottom, as there were more ranked fighters and former champions on this card than any card in UFC history. Each fight was so high level that each one could be their own main event. All the fights were enjoyable to watch, whether they went to a decision or had a finish. Rankings were defended as Deiveson Figueiredo and Bobby Green showed their unranked opponent's levels.

There were some fighters who earned rankings as well as Diego Lopes, Kayla Harrison, and Aljimain Sterling won in dominant fashion. The BMF title fight between Justin Gaethje and Max Holloway was the ultimate fan favorite, as it delivered the best fight and knockout of the year at the same time. The night was finished off perfectly as Alex Pereira defended his belt, knocking out Jamahal Hill in the first round. Part of what made this victory special is Pereira possessing victories over the two former champions that ended his lead mentor's title run when he used to compete. The first victory was against Jiří Procházka at UFC 295. Major names delivering great fights made UFC 300 the greatest card of the year so far.