Alexander Volkanovski, Sean O’Malley and Sean Strickland will headline a bumper first quarter of next year, with the UFC champions set to defend their titles in early-2024.
After falling short in his bid to earn double-champ status against Islam Makhachev just over a fortnight ago, featherweight king Volkanovski’s next fight has already been confirmed for UFC 298 in February.
The 35-year-old Australian star will take on Ilia Topuria for the title in the main event of the pay-per-view, with company president Dana White confirming the news via social media on Monday evening.
O’Malley will headline the UFC 299 show against Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera for the bantamweight belt in March, while newly-crowned middleweight champion Sean Strickland will take on Dricus Du Plessis in January at UFC 297.
MORE: UFC 295 main event scrapped following Jon Jones injury
In a social media announcement, White revealed the three blockbuster main events for the first portion of next year, with the April event – UFC 300 – potentially showcasing the return of Irish ace Conor McGregor.
“We’re busting into the new year with some fun fights,” he said via Twitter.
In the midst of two losses at lightweight, Volkanovski (29-3) has cemented himself as the greatest 145-pounder of all-time, defeating the likes of Max Holloway, Jose Aldo and Brian Ortega inside the octagon.
His last title defence came back in July, landing a third-round TKO victory over Yair Rodriguez, but now faces the tough assignment of the undefeated Topuria (14-0).
O’Malley (17-1-1) has become a cult hero among MMA fans in recent years and his rise to the top of the 135-pound division was etched in stone on August 19th, defeating former champion Aljamain Sterling via second-round TKO.
His upcoming clash with Vera (21-8-1) has been on the cards ever since claiming the title, with his loss to the Brazilian back in August 2020 the only blemish on the Suga Show’s career record.
The first PPV main event of the new year will see Strickland put his middlweight belt on the line for the first time since his shocking decision victory over Israel Adesanya in the main event of UFC 293 in Sydney.
The 32-year-old will take on the original contender for the strap in Du Plessis (20-2), who defeated former champion Robert Whittaker in convincing fashion back in July to become the No.1 contender in the division.