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UFC 302: Sean Strickland vs. Paulo Costa, Kevin Holland vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk among fights to watch

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UFC 302 is fast approaching and there’s a lot of attention on the main event. UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev looks to strengthen his case as MMA’s best pound-for-pound fighter as Dustin Poirier looks for a storybook ending. But that’s not all UFC 302 has to offer.

Former UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland and former title challenger Paulo Costa meet in a five-round co-main event, plus the card is loaded with bonus hunters. Saturday’s pay-per-view card is a step down from the remarkable stretch the promotion offered between UFC 298 and UFC 300, but it’s a solid enough offering.

Take a look below at three can’t miss fights at UFC 302.

Sean Strickland vs. Paulo Costa

Two of the promotion’s most outspoken personalities collide with a title shot not far off for the winner. Strickland is coming off a contentious split decision to Dricus du Plessis for the world title. Costa lost a spirited fight to Robert Whittaker who is booked in a title eliminator. The winner of this five-round co-main event likely won’t secure a title shot, but they should be within striking distance. Strickland’s defensive sensibilities don’t make for the most exciting fights so fans will rely on Costa. “The Eraser” is an offensive juggernaut that has scored nearly all of his wins by knockout. 

Cesar Almeida vs. Roman Kopylov

Scroll down to the preliminary card for this lowkey barnburner. Almeida is considered one of the best middleweight kickboxers in the world and is a perfect 5-0 in MMA. He’s facing a steep rise in competition against Kopylov but one that suits him well stylistically. Kopylov has three times his opponent’s MMA experience and was on the verge of the UFC’s middleweight top 15 before submitting to Anthony Hernandez. Kopylov is a ferocious striker with a 92% KO finishing rate. If there’s one fight on Saturday that will produce a terrifying stoppage, it’s likely this one.

Kevin Holland vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk

Holland vs. Oleksiejczuk is not a great PPV main card offering as both men are coming off losses. But Holland has a winning personality and the promotion believes he’s a net positive to any card. What this fight has going for it is a high threshold for action. Holland and Oleksiejczuk are reliable finishers with defensive gaps that make them susceptible to stoppage losses. Oleksiejczuk has stopped 14 of his 18 wins by strikes but has five submission losses in seven defeats. Both men have solid chins but the fight going three full rounds seems unlikely.

Honorable mention: Niko Price vs. Alex Morono

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