4 MMA fighters who should be champion in 2024

Who are the next kings and queens of MMA?
Merab Dvalishvili
Merab Dvalishvili / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages
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Shavkat Rakhmonov (UFC)

Shavkat Rakhmonov is one of the most prolific finishers in MMA today. He has never gone the distance in his entire career, either battering his opponents with strikes or strangling them into submission.

Rakhmonov first broke out in 2022 when he dominated Neil Magny en route to defeating him via second round guillotine choke. After that, he went to war with Geoff Neal at UFC 285 and secured a rear-naked choke.

Rakhmonov's next assignment would be his sternest yet: two-time challenger Stephen Thompson. While he could not find a takedown in the first round, he did in the second. And that was all he needed to find yet another rear-naked choke - the first time Thompson had been submitted in his career.

As of this writing, he sits at No. 3 in the rankings; and depending on how the situation between Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad plays out, he stands poised to challenge either.

Magomed Ankalaev (PFL)

When will Magomed Ankalaev get his due?

Ever since Paul Craig submitted him in his Octagon debut the light heavyweight has been mostly unstoppable. Ankalaev has been defeating a litany of contenders and former challengers. His only blemishes are a draw with Jan Blachowicz for the vacant title and a no-contest against Johnny Walker. Ankalaev eventually avenged that no-contest with a monstrous knockout this year.

But said draw was just one of the low points in a period that saw light heavyweight fail to have a single title defense. It began with Blachowicz being dethroned by Glover Teixeira, who was then dethroned by Jiri Prochazka. Then, before he could make a defense, Prochazka severely injured his shoulder and had to vacate. Jamahal Hill then defeated Teixeira to claim the title, only to vacate it himself after tearing hia Achilles while playing basketball during International Fight Week.

Alex Pereira eventually returned some semblance of stability by defeating Prochazka for the belt at Madison Square Garden, and he now looks to close the cycle against Hill. However the fight goes, Ankalaev should be waiting in the wings.