With 2023 almost in the rearview mirror, MMA fans have set their sights on a spectacular 2024 that will hopefully be full of highlight-reel knockouts, bone-crushing submissions, and non-stop action. We’ll also likely see some of our heroes riding into the sunset, while young and hungry stars rise to life. In this article, we take a look at the 5 MMA prospects to watch in 2024.
Sharaputdin Magomedov (12-0)
Sharaputdin Magomedov is one of the scariest prospects in the world right now. Hailing from Dagestan, the undefeated striking specialist boasts an impressive 11-0 record and brings a wide range of flashy moves to the Octagon.
Born in Dagestan, Russia, in 1994, Magomedov’s journey into sports began with football, but a disagreement led to his removal from the team, after which he took up martial arts.
Magomedov started with boxing, and although he found success, financial struggles forced him to give up on his dream of pursuing the sweet science full-time. Relocating to Moscow, Magomedov turned his attention to Muay Thai and kickboxing, before entering the world of MMA in the hope of bigger paydays.
Magomedov’s MMA career went off to a flying start as he racked up dominant victories in the lower leagues, but he took a two-year break after a neglected eye injury led to eight surgeries from 2016 to 2018. Unfortunately, Magomedov’s eye was damaged beyond repair.
Regardless, he continued to dominate his foes en route to the UFC, where he debuted at UFC 294, beating Bruno Silva to improve to 12-0.
Expect Sharaputdin Magomedov to blitz through the middleweight ranks as one of the top MMA prospects in 2024…
Highlights from Sharaputdin Magomedov's fight earlier on. He got a decision victory over Mikhail Ragozin, who proved to be a tough opponent. He is currently 16-0 and I really hope he gets signed to the UFC at some point.#RCC13 pic.twitter.com/a23shH9ueK— Borz ⛰ 🐺 (@Borz4562) December 3, 2022
Abdoul Abdoulraguimov (17-1-1)
Hey UFC, you missed out!
Abdoul Abdouraguimov stands out as one of the most promising MMA fighters, who’ll get to show his mettle against some of the best fighters in the world thanks to the Professional Fighters League.
The 28-year-old Dagestan-born French phenom is a former BRAVE Combat Federation welterweight and Ares FC welterweight and middleweight champion.
A highly technical wrestler with fists of fury, Abdouraguimov has piled up a stunning 17-1-1 record with wins against very capable fighters.
He most recently made his PFL debut in Paris, where ‘The Lazy King’ submitted Brad Wheeler in less than three minutes to put his counterparts on notice.
He’s one to keep an eye on in 2024…
Tatsuro Taira (15-0)
Forget about Muhammad Mokaev and Azat Maksum, Tatsuro Taira is the kid who promises to be a flyweight champion down the road.
Born and raised in Okinawa, Japan, Taira has quickly climbed up the UFC flyweight rankings with five victories in less than two years.
Inspired by his brother, Taira joined The Palaestra Okinawa in high school, training in mixed martial arts under Ryota Matsune.
After bagging gold medals in the 11th Kyushu Amateur Shuto Championship and the 24th All Japan Amateur Shuto Championship in 2017, Taira turned to amateur MMA and went 8-0.
The Japanese sensation’s professional career was just as impressive, as he secured one victory after another en route to winning the Shooto flyweight title. At 10-0, Taira signed with the UFC, where he is 5-0, with his most recent win coming against Carlos Hernandez by second-round TKO.
The Japanese star is among the top MMA prospects to watch in 2024.
🚨🚨 TATSURO TAIRA A LITTÉRALEMENT ÉTEINT HERNANDEZ 🤯— ARENA (@MMArena_) December 10, 2023
Tom Nolan (6-0)
Tom Nolan, the highly-touted Australian ‘killer’, hopes to kickstart his 2024 with a bang when he makes his UFC debut against Brazilian Nikolas Motta in Las Vegas.
A promising rugby league player with the Toowoomba Clydesdales, Nolan initially transitioned to MMA to enhance his defensive skills before taking up the sport full-time. His decision proved wise since it took him only five wins to bag a Dana White’s Contender Series audition, which he passed with flying colors to earn a UFC contract.
Nicknamed ‘Big Train,’ Nolan has earned UFC President Dana White’s praise as a ‘straight killer’ for his explosive style, athleticism, high-level MMA skills, and his reputation as a knockout artist.
Robelis Despaigne (3-0)
Robelis Despaigne is the UFC’s biggest signing of 2023.
The 35-year-old Cuban heavyweight is notably known for his Olympic success in taekwondo, but he’s now making an impact in the MMA world.
Despaigne made his professional MMA debut at Titan FC 77 on June 3, 2022, securing a first-round TKO against Katuma Mulumba, thanks to his explosive striking. All four of his next fights ended in first-round knockouts, including his recent four-second stoppage victory against Miles Banks at Fury FC 84 in Houston, which earned him a UFC contract.
Before his MMA career, Despaigne achieved recognition as a world-class taekwondo practitioner. He represented Cuba at the 2012 Summer Olympics, earning a bronze medal in the 80 kg event. He also holds notable victories over competitors like Chika Yagazie Chukwumerije and Kaino Thomsen-Fuataga, along with two bronze medals at the World Taekwondo Championship in 2013 and 2015.
EL PELEADOR CUBANO ROBELIS DESPAIGNE FIRMA CON UFC, luego de este KO en apenas 5 segundos.— Gaston “Tonga” Reyno (@gastonreyno) December 7, 2023
-Altura 2.01 metros
-Medalla Olímpica en Taekwondo
-Invicto 4-0, todos KOs, y el tiempo de sus últimas 3 peleas combinadas es 20 segundos 😳 🥋🇨🇺pic.twitter.com/X9Tny7bZsU