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UFC 298: Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa, Ian Machado Garry and Henry Cejudo among fighters to watch

Sometimes you have to squint to find compelling fights on a UFC undercard. UFC 298 bucks that thought in a big way. Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria headlines the Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday but the main card is packed with potential.

Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa occupy the co-main event. It’s an important fight that could insert the winner into the title picture with Dricus du Plessis, Israel Adesanya, Sean Strickland and Khamzat Chimaev. Speaking of gold, the winner of Merab Dvalishvili vs. Henry Cejudo will likely punch their ticket to a UFC bantamweight title shot.

Take a look below at three of the best undercard fights at UFC 298, plus a pair of honorable mentions.

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Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa

Movement in the middleweight title scene creates opportunities for its contenders. Whittaker and Costa look to insert their names in the championship conversation. Whittaker is attempting to recover from an upset loss to du Plessis. The defeat aged well after du Plessis became UFC middleweight champion. Whittaker has been an elite fighter for a long time, spending a decade in the division. His only losses in that time are to champions Adesanya and du Plessis. Costa’s offensive might and social media presence have made him a fan favorite. The former title challenger returns to action for the first time since beating Luke Rockhold in August 2022. Whittaker might just be the most well-rounded middleweight in the sport and Costa might be among the most powerful. This will be a fun launching pad back to the top.

Geoff Neal vs. Ian Machado Garry

Garry gets clowned so much for his personality that it has overshadowed his potential as a fighter. Garry has been marvelous inside the cage. He scored a vicious first-round KO of Daniel Rodriguez and followed it up by a systematic dismantling of Neil Magny. Garry’s next test is a welterweight with even more firepower than him. Neal (15-5) is a brilliant kickboxer with an appetite for destruction, but he’s struggled against experienced elite competition. Garry (13-0) has been nearly flawless to date but faces his toughest opponent yet. Two technically sound strikers looking to make a statement. What’s not to like?

Merab Dvalishvili vs. Henry Cejudo

Dvalishvili vs. Cejudo might just be the best wrestler vs. wrestler fight you’ll see this year. Relentless is an understatement when describing Dvalishvili. The Georgian fighter holds the record for most takedowns in UFC bantamweight history (61) and is tied for fourth for takedowns all-time (74). It’s almost guaranteed he’ll eclipse Georges St-Pierre’s UFC record of 90 takedowns. Here’s a remarkable one: Dvalishvili attempted 49 takedowns in his last fight against Petr Yan. If there’s one person capable of testing Dvalishvili’s wrestling, it’s Cejudo. The former UFC champ-champ is the only athlete to win an Olympic gold medal and a UFC title. The winner of this fight likely secures a bantamweight title shot against the winner of Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera. For Dvalishvili — whose eight-fight winning streak is the second longest in UFC bantamweight history — it’s an opportunity long overdue.

Honorable mentions: Anthony Hernandez vs. Roman Kopylov, Rinya Nakamura vs. Carlos Vera

Who wins UFC 298: Volkanovski vs. Topuria, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on UFC 298, all from the MMA expert who profited more than $6,200, and find out. 

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