Saturday, May 25, 2024
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UFC 300 fight card, odds: Breaking down every bout from the early prelims to the main event from Las Vegas

It was a slow burn to UFC 300 but it’s hard to deny the excitement now that it’s here. The promotion celebrates the milestone with arguably the deepest card ever produced. Three title fights, including the ceremonial BMF belt, are on the line when UFC takes over the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.

UFC 300 is a card greater than the sum of its parts. Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill is a great pay-per-view main event but lacks the pageantry to match the occasion. UFC rectified this by piecing together a card that screams quality from start to finish. There are 12 current or former UFC champions on the 13-fight card. 

The ceremonial “BMF” title is at stake once again when Justin Gaethje, who won the belt last year with a vicious head kick knockout of Dustin Poirier, takes on Max Holloway in an intriguing lightweight contest. The winner is hoping to make a statement to current champ Islam Makhachev as he awaits a return this summer. Speaking of statement chances, Charles Oliveira and Arman Tsarukyan will look to do that as well in a lightweight battle. Oliveira, the former titleholder, was expected to face Makhachev last fall but suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw. Plus, the opening fight on the card sees the return of top middleweight prospect Bo Nickal when he takes on Cody Brundage.

With so much to look forward to, let’s break down every fight from UFC 300.

Early Prelims

Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Cody Garbandt, bantamweights

  • Odds: Figueiredo -300, Garbrandt +240
  • Last three results: Figueredo – W, L, W | Garbrandt – W, W, L

Figueiredo continues his invasion of a second UFC weight class. The two-time UFC flyweight champion’s power carried with him in his bantamweight debut against Rob Font. Figueiredo now meets a fellow former champion in Garbrandt. Both men possess exquisite power, but there is a reason Figueiredo is one of the biggest favorites on the card. Garbrandt looked like a world-beater when he outclassed Dominick Cruz to become champion in 2016. Garbrandt, 11-0 at the time, lost five of his next six fights. Garbrandt has turned a small corner with his first consecutive wins in seven years but they came against far less competent opposition than Figueiredo.

Bobby Green vs. Jim Miller, lightweights

  • Odds: Green -175, Miler +150
  • Last three results: Green – L, W, W | Miller – W, W, L

Miller has the opportunity to do something special. A 19-year veteran with 55 professional fights, Miller can be the only fighter in history to win at UFC 100, UFC 200 and UFC 300. Miller’s late-career renaissance has resonated with the MMA world. Where most aging fighters take the toughest challenges — often leaving the sport on their backs as a result — Miller rejuvenated his career by taking suitable opponents relative to his trajectory. He’ll want to lean on his savvy submission grappling against a fellow veteran with nasty hands. Green has an intriguing striking style, keeping his hands low and attacking from unusual angles. That style requires quality head movement and footwork to make defensively sustainable. Fortunately, Green won’t be dealing with an elite striker. Green’s low hands also aid him in defending takedowns. Green underperformed in a quick KO loss to Grant Dawson last time and looks to remedy things by spoiling Miller’s big moment.

Marina Rodriguez vs. Jessica Andrade, women’s strawweights

  • Odds: Rodriguez -130, Andrande +110
  • Last three results: Rodriguez – W, L, L | Andrade – W, L, L

The UFC women’s strawweight division will be represented well before the co-main event. Rodriguez once appeared to be a surefire title challenger, but losses to Amanda Lemos and Virna Jandiroba changed that perception. She turned a corner by stopping Michelle Waterson. Beating another veteran in Andrade won’t answer every question but will get the ball rolling. Andrade is a former UFC champion who recently snapped a three-fight losing streak by stopping Mackenzie Dern. This fight will serve as a much-needed image repair for the winner. Expectations are this fight will take place on the feet with Andrade’s over-aggressiveness forcing scrambles. Rodriguez is a technical striker and Andrade is a bulldozer. Rodriguez should be able to run the clock or clock an overzealous Andrade but it’s always tough to tell with Andrade’s style.

Jalin Turner vs. Renato Moicano, lightweights

  • Odds: Turner -250, Moicano +205
  • Last three results: Turner – W, L, L | Moicano – W, W, L

Turner and Moicano are always down for a scrap. This is a modern-day striker vs. grappling matchup between two men ranked in the UFC’s official lightweight Top 15. Turner is an enormous lightweight. He’ll enjoy a four-inch height and five-inch reach advantage against Moicano. Turner will look to keep Moicano at the end of his powerful punches, averaging more than six significant strikes per minute. Moicano must rely on his 60% striking defense to navigate the storm and find the takedown. Turner and Moicano have 10 wins by KO and submission, respectively, but the intrigue lies in Turner’s defensive gaps. Turner has never been submitted before. His three stoppage losses were all from strikes. Moicano has never knocked out an opponent in 24 pro fights and only has one knockdown in 15 UFC appearances. Moicano must break through Turner’s 75% takedown defense if he wants to win this.

Prelims

Diego Lopes vs. Sodiq Yusuff, featherweights

  • Odds: Lopes -140, Yusuff +120
  • Last three results: Lopes – W, W, L | Yusuff – L, W, W

Do not sleep on this Fight of the Night contender. Lopes is the gift that keeps on giving. He made a short-notice debut against Movsar Evloev last May and nearly defeated the ranked featherweight. He followed that up with 90-second stoppages of Gavin Tucker and Pat Sabatini, earning a post-fight bonus in each of his three UFC fights. Lopes is a nasty offensive threat with 21 stoppages — 12 submissions and nine KOs — in 23 wins. He meets Yusuff, a more technically efficient striker coming off a Fight of the Night loss to Edson Barboza. Yusuff will try to wrangle the intensity but he might just have to lean into it once Lopes gets going.

Kayla Harrison vs. Holly Holm, bantamweights

  • Odds: Harrison -450, Holm +350
  • Last three results: Harrison – W, L, W | Holm – NC, W, L

UFC president Dana White had a welcome surprise for MMA fans when announcing that two-time PFL champion Harrison would debut at UFC 300. The promotion tossed the Olympic judoka in the deep end against former UFC and boxing champion Holm. Harrison is the third-biggest favorite on the card, but there are legitimate concerns about her ability to make bantamweight. Harrison is an athletic beast who primarily fights at lightweight, a women’s division the UFC doesn’t have. Harrison made featherweight on one occasion but now cuts to 135 pounds for the first time in the biggest fight of her career. If Harrison doesn’t show up depleted, most believe she will ragdoll Holm despite the latter’s far superior striking.

Aljamain Sterling vs. Calvin Kattar, featherweights

  • Odds: Sterling -170, Kattar +143
  • Last three results: Sterling – L, L, W | Kattar – L, W, W

Welcome to the featherweight division, “Funkmaster.” The former bantamweight champion will make his 145-pound debut against Kattar. Sterling’s time as a bantamweight was severely underappreciated. The former champ had the most consecutive title defenses, overall wins and longest winning streak in bantamweight history. Sterling teased a move up win or lose against Sean O’Malley. Unfortunately, he lost and made the move with less steam. The biggest concern for Sterling is how well his physicality translates up in weight. His grappling will be tougher to apply to larger opponents, but his condition should benefit from the easy weight cut. Kattar is a suitable first test. He’s among the best pure boxers in the division with a phenomenal 91% takedown defense. Do not let Kattar’s recent record fool you. He suffered a knee injury early into the Arnold Allen fight and lost a controversial split decision to Josh Emmett. It’s sink or swim for Sterling in his new pond.

Aleksandar Rakic vs. Jiri Prochazka, light heavyweights

  • Odds: Rakic -125, Prochazka +105
  • Last three results: Rakic – L, W, W | Prochazka – L, W, W

A light heavyweight title shot may be looming over this fight. Rakic and Prochazka have bad blood dating back several years. They can settle the matter and potentially earn a title shot. Prochazka is coming off a KO loss to Pereira for the vacant UFC light heavyweight title. It’s unlikely he gets a rematch so soon if he and Pereira both win on Saturday, but Hill winning the main event might put them on a collision course. Prochazka is one of the most popular light heavyweights in the world. He’s a zany personality with a vicious striking game. Prochazka has scored stoppages in 97% of his wins. Fans cross their fingers that Rakic doesn’t mute that. Rakic specializes in game planning around opponents and slowing down the fight. Rakic returns to action for the first time since a knee injury in his loss to Jan Blachowicz sidelined him two years ago. A win over Prochazka puts him at the top end of the division. Considering how much stock Magomed Ankalaev has lost, Rakic could be next in line.

Main Card

Bo Nickal vs. Cody Brundage, middleweights

  • Odds: Nickal -2800, Brundage +1200
  • Last three results: Nickal – W, W, W | Brundage – W, W, L

Some took offense with Nickal getting a main card splot over the numerous former UFC champions on the prelims, but this is a perfect case of star building. UFC brass have high hopes for the former three-time NCAA Division I national champion. It’s rare for the UFC to allow a fighter so much time to acclimate to the promotion. This patient approach to developing Nickal is reflected in the betting odds. Nickal is a mammoth -2800 betting favorite, something you rarely see in UFC. Nickal is nearly six times the favorite UFC women’s strawweight champion Weili Zhang is in the co-main event. Brundage is coming off an impressive slam stoppage win against Zachary Reese, but he’s the sacrificial lamb in this fight.

Arman Tsarukyan vs. Charles Oliveira, lightweights 

  • Odds: Tsarukyan -225, Oliveira +180
  • Last three results: Tsarukyan – W, W, W | Oliveira – W, L, W

A UFC lightweight title shot awaits the winner of this fight. Oliveira had a brilliant run to the lightweight title, winning 11 straight fights with 10 stoppages. That streak included wins over Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, Tony Ferguson, Kevin Lee and Miller. There is no fighter more dynamically potent than Oliveira. He holds the record for most UFC finishes (20) and most submission wins (16). Originally a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist, Oliveira has evolved into a dynamic Muay Thai striker. It allowed him to drop opponents before lunging onto submissions. His grappling acumen also deters most fighters from taking him down or falling up on knockdowns. Oliveira was overwhelmed by Islam Makhachev in their title fight at UFC 280 and is determined to prove that performance was an abnormality. 

Tsarukyan is a newer addition to the lightweight elite. Tsarukyan made his UFC debut against Makhachev in 2019, losing a competitive decision that notched them Fight of the Night honors. Tsarukyan has been mostly flawless since then, most recently knocking out Beneil Dariush in 64 seconds. Tsarukyan has tremendous chain wrestling and his striking has developed nicely. It’ll be interesting to see how he approaches the dynamic test of Oliveira.

Justin Gaethje vs. Max Holloway, “BMF” title — lightweights

  • Odds: Gaethje -170, Holloway +145
  • Last three results: Gaethje – W, W, L | Holloway – W, W, L

The BMF championship may be ceremonial but its participants are crafting quite the legacy. Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal and Gaethje vs. Poirier were the first two BMF fights. Holloway is a welcome addition to the group. This is a spectacular fight. Gaethje is on the shortlist for a UFC lightweight title shot after knocking out Poirier in their rematch and beating acclaimed striker Rafael Fiziev. Holloway mercifully moved weight classes after repeatedly clearing out other contenders in the queue. Holloway was gridlocked after three losses to Alexander Volkanovski but had long remained the second-best fighter in that division. 

Holloway’s volume can give Gaethje fits but many are concerned about how well Holloway will adapt to 155 pounds. He previously tried his luck at lightweight in a 2019 interim title fight against Poirier. Holloway survived 25 minutes but his ability to deliver damage and absorb it seemed muted. That wouldn’t bode well against arguably the division’s hardest hitter. Gaethje is determined to be the first fighter to stop Holloway with strikes in 33 fights.

There is one stat more than any other that defines just how exciting Gaethje is. He has won 12 post-fight bonuses in 12 UFC appearances. No one in UFC history can match it. Holloway is no stranger to records either. The former featherweight champion has landed the most significant strikes in UFC history (3,197) and it’s not even close. He beats out the second-place holder by more than 1,300 strikes and he’ll build on that this weekend. Those are two achievements that may never be matched.

Zhang Weili (c) vs. Yan Xiaonan, women’s strawweight title

  • Odds: Zhang -480, Yan +360
  • Last three results: Zhang – W, W, W | Yan – W, W, L

China takes center stage in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Zhang makes the second defense of her second strawweight title reign against fellow countrywoman Yan. The challenger earned her shot after knocking out former champ Andrade but few think she has the tools to dethrone Zhang. After all, Andrade has seriously declined and the majority decision win against Mackenzie Dern preceding that is not very impressive. Yan has won half of her fights by KO but didn’t manage to finish her first nine UFC fights. That suggests she was facing suboptimal opposition on the independent scene. Yan relies primarily on her striking defense to avoid damage and rack up points. It’s a one-pronged approach to fighting that likely won’t be enough to deter a champion who can do it all. The champ is a little juggernaut with a nearly 80% finishing rate and a rapidly improving wrestling game.

Alex Pereira (c) vs. Jamahal Hill, light heavyweight title

  • Odds: Pereira -125, Hill +105
  • Last three results: Pereira – W, W, L | Hill – W, W, W

This fight will determine who is the best light heavyweight in the UFC. An unfortunate scent clung to the light heavyweight title when Pereira and Prochazka had fought for it at UFC 295. Hill vacated the title after suffering an injury, a title Prochazka also dropped before that. Pereira defeated Prochazka, but Hill still can claim to be the best light heavyweight in the UFC. Pereira is on a revenge tour whether or not he feeds into it. The former UFC middleweight champion captured light heavyweight gold by beating Prochazka, who took the title from Pereira’s mentor Glover Teixeira. Now Pereira can complete the arch by beating Hill, who sent Texieira into retirement. UFC 300’s main event is a plot-heavy affair that should produce the fight to match it. 

Pereira and Hill are powerful strikers with a habit of scoring the KO. Pereira is widely considered the better striker. After all, he’s a decorated kickboxer and the only two-weight class champion in Glory Kickboxing and UFC history. Pereira’s claim to fame is defeating Israel Adesanya in three of their four combat sports meetings but he’s turned out to be quite the potent mixed martial artist. Hill’s boxing is very underrated and he’s yet to be stopped on the feet, having only lost via TKO after Paul Craig broke his arm. The challenge for Hill is that he’s statistically at a disadvantage in striking and defense, plus his KO percentage. We’ve never seen Hill score a takedown and he’s coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon nine months ago. He has the range management and power to take back the title but it’s a difficult propisition. Very few predict this will go the distance.

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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