Saturday, May 25, 2024

UFC 300 predictions — Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill: Fight card, odds, preview, prelims, expert picks

UFC fans have plenty to get excited about as UFC 300 draws near on Saturday. The card may lack the massive main event many fans were hoping for, but every fight on the card is exciting and meaningful and it’s hard to ask for much more as a mixed martial arts fan.

In the main event, former middleweight and current light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira will defend his championship against former 205-pound champion Jamahal Hill. Hill is looking to win back the title he was forced to vacate after suffering a torn ACL while playing in a basketball game during International Fight Week in 2023.

Women’s strawweight champion Zhang Weili will also put her title up for grabs when she takes on top challenger Yan Xiaonan. Weili will be making the second defense of her second run as champion. After a two-fight losing skid, Xiaonan has won back-to-back fights to earn her shot at becoming champion.

Lightweights Justin Gaethje and Max Holloway are set to clash in a five-round fight for the “BMF” championship, a ceremonial title fought for by only the most exciting fighters in the UFC. Gaethje and Holloway certainly fit the bill when it comes to pure action fighters.

With so much happening on Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds before we get to our staff predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.

UFC 300 fight card, odds

  • Alex Pereira (c) -130 vs. Jamahal Hill +110, light heavyweight title
  • Zhang Weili (c) -360 vs. Yan Xiaonan +280, women’s strawweight title
  • Justin Gaethje -230 vs. Max Holloway +190, “BMF” title — lightweights
  • Arman Tsarukyan -240 vs. Charles Oliveira +200, lightweights
  • Bo Nickal -2800 vs. Cody Brundage +1400, middleweights
  • Aleksandar Rakic -135 vs. Jiri Prochazka +115, light heavyweights
  • Aljamain Sterling -135 vs. Calvin Kattar +115, featherweights
  • Kayla Harrison -450 vs. Holly Holm +350, bantamweights
  • Diego Lopes -125 vs. Sodiq Yusuff +105, featherweights
  • Jalin Turner -250 vs. Renato Moicano +205, lightweights
  • Marina Rodriguez -120 vs. Jessica Andrade +100, women’s strawweights
  • Bobby Green -190 vs. Jim Miller +160, lightweights
  • Deiveson Figueiredo -300 vs. Cody Garbrandt +240, bantamweights

With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer), Shakiel Mahjouri (writer), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (senior editor).

UFC 300 picks, predictions

Campbell Brookhouse Mahjouri Mormile Wise
Pereira vs. Hill Pereira Pereira Pereira Pereira Pereira
Zhang vs. Xiaonan Zhang Zhang Zhang Zhang Zhang
Gaethje vs. Holloway Holloway Holloway Gaethje Gaethje Gaethje
Oliveira vs. Tsarukyan Oliveira Oliveira Oliveira Oliveira Oliveira
Nickal vs. Brundage Nickal Nickal Nickal Nickal Nickal

Pereira vs. Hill

Campbell: While this wasn’t the expected main event for a card this historic, the guarantee of both fireworks and a knockout ending seem fairly inevitable. It’s also the former champion in Hill returning from injury to fight for the 205-pound title he never lost in the cage. But even though he has just seven UFC fights to date, Pereira’s advantage in overall big-fight combat experience could be the difference. Pereira carries his stamina late and has the perfect one-punch weapon in the form of a counter left hook. 

Brookhouse: Hill has never scored a takedown in his UFC career, which suggests this is a pure striking matchup. Who do you want to side with in a fight like that? Do you go with the former champion with good striking and heart who is coming off a year-plus layoff and major surgery? Or do you prefer the chances of the world-class kickboxer with some of the biggest knockout power and best technique in the sport? Yeah, me too.

Mahjouri: Pereira and Hill have the striking power and technique to end the night quickly. It’s why the odds are so close. Forced to pick a winner, I’ll side with the defending champion. Pereira is historically and statistically the better striker. The multi-sport, multi-weight class champion has slightly higher striking and KO percentages than his challenger. Hill insists his ruptured Achilles tendon is fully repaired, but it’s still an X-factor, particularly against a leg kicker of Pereira’s acumen. I suspect Pereira finds the finish in three rounds or less.

Zhang vs. Xiaonan

Campbell: In a landmark matchup for Chinese MMA, it’s definitely the champion’s fight to lose. Xiaonan is an accurate striker who is both game and tested. She’s also fresh off a breakout knockout of former champion Jessica Andrade. But Zhang’s evolution on the ground has been the key to her resurgence. Look for Zhang to use a steady stream of takedowns to wear Xiaonan down in preparation for a submission win. 

Brookhouse: Xiaonan is a dangerous striker but Zhang is a bit better technically. That said, Zhang’s wrestling game is so much better than Xiaonan’s and the challenger doesn’t have the game off her back to handle what the champion will bring after she scores the takedowns. If Xiaonan doesn’t catch the champ in the stand-up, she’s going to get run over.

Gaethje vs. Holloway

Campbell: This is not the same Holloway who last moved up to lightweight in a 2019 rematch with Dustin Poirier, which saw him accrue heavy damage in a memorable shootout. Yes, Holloway is older and has more mileage. But at 32, he’s still an elite force. And this time, now that he’s no longer the reigning featherweight king, Holloway has added weight in a much more intentional fashion in order to increase his power. He has also been counted out by many, which could go a long way in activating his competitive juice to overachieve. Gaethje is both big and scary, but Holloway has the footwork and skill to make him give chase. And the guts to endure whatever he has to in order to pull the upset off. 

Brookhouse: Holloway’s move to 155 for this fight is coming in a much more measured and intelligent way than when he lost that UFC 236 fight to Dustin Poirier. Gaethje is a bad man, to be sure, and him winning this fight would not be a shock at all. At times, he drifts from using his best assets in a fight, but Gaethje can always bang and his power is enough to potentially stop Holloway, even with Holloway’s incredible chin. Still, Holloway’s accuracy and volume punching is something you just don’t see often and in a five-round fight, Holloway can likely wear Gaethje down and win enough rounds on the scorecards to take the decision victory.

Mahjouri: Holloway’s last move to lightweight was a disaster. Holloway, still the featherweight champion, fought Poirier for the interim lightweight title at UFC 236. The Hawaiian superstar didn’t adjust well. Holloway has always been a volume puncher but his power looked muted at 155 pounds. He also struggled with durability. Holloway was repeatedly stunned in the fight. It’s a miracle he lasted the full 25 minutes. Both Holloway and Gaethje are downplaying how telling that fight was. I’m not convinced. Holloway looks more filled out this time but he’s never been a one-hitter quitter. His movement, technical boxing and stamina will give Gaethje problems but I have confidence in Gaethje’s punching power and leg kicks. I think Holloway is declining a little faster than Gaethje and there are too many unknowns about his potential at lightweight. I expect Gaethje to find the finish by Round 3.

Who wins UFC 300: Pereira vs. Hill, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on UFC 300, all from the MMA expert who profited more than $6,200, and find out. 

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