UFC 300 Predictions

UFC 300 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights on this stacked card below.

Main Card

Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill

After previously winning the middleweight title, Alex Pereira stepped up a weight class last year and soon won the vacant light-heavyweight belt.  That title had been vacated by none-other than his opponent on Saturday night, Jamahal Hill, who had to step aside last year due to a serious injury, but now returns looking to get back what was once his.

Despite being a former 185lb’er, Pereira is still a big 205lb’er, to the extent that he actually matches up to a large light-heavyweight like Hill in terms of both height and reach.  The 36-year-old Pereira is a a highly decorated kickboxer who was a champion of the Glory! promotion during his long run in that sport, before going on to become the fighter with the fastest run to win two UFC titles in MMA.

Pereira is not the kind of elite striker who is going to dazzle his opponents with acrobatic attacks and flashy footwork.  Instead he has a more straight-forward focus on finely honed fundamentals delivered with crushing power and very good accuracy, with his left hook being a particularly potent fight-ender, while his kicks are also a major threat and delivered without any advanced warning.  Pereira has respectable defense, but he’s not bullet-proof and he can be hurt, though he’s generally proven to be very hard to finish.  His most glaring weakness though is the lack of depth in the rest of his MMA game, and so there is a risk of being taken down and he has more of a survival strategy than anything else when the fight hits the mat.

Hill is also a talented striker with explosive finishing power and works well from range with a dynamic variety of striking techniques.  He’s fast, has good movement and will keep a high output, but his offensive focus does mean that he can leave openings to be hit back.  While it’s not his man focus he’s undoubtedly the better wrestler and grappler of the two here, though pre-fight he’s been suggesting that he fully intends to engage in a striking battle.  The biggest weakness for Hill heading into this fight could well be the fact that as recently as the start of the year he had been suggesting that he wouldn’t be returning to action until the summer at the earliest due to his achilles tendon rupture.  That’s a very serious injury and does lead to doubts as to whether he’s now rushed his recovery in order to have the honor of headlining UFC 300.

Regardless of how well Hill’s recovery has gone it’s still going to be a step into the unknown for him with it in his first fight back.  Even so, Hill appears to believe he can best Pereira in a purely striking contest, but that feels like a mistake given the clear advantage he would have on the mat.  And with Pereira having such a vast amount of experience fighting top tier strikers he’s not going to be overawed by what Hill brings to the table.  As such I think Pereira troubles him with his heavy leg kicks and eventually finds the holes in Hill’s defense to land fight-ending punches in the third round to win by TKO.

Pick: Alex Pereira wins by TKO in Rd3.

Zhang Weili vs. Yan Xiaonan

In a historic first, the UFC 300 co-main event sees an all-Chinese clash as current strawweight champion Zhang Weili goes up against Yan Xiaonan, who KO’d Jessica Andrade in her last fight.

The 34-year-old Weili is an accomplished fighter in all aspects of MMA.  A well conditioned athlete capable of pushing a hard pace through all five rounds, Weili confidently applies pressure on the feet, finding a good balance between volume and power.  She does some of her best striking work on the inside, showing very good durability while attacking in combination with her kicks and punches, backed up with elbows and knees when required.  Already something of a powerhouse, Weili has further levelled up her wrestling over time and smoothly blends her striking into takedown attempts.  From there she controls the action well, attacks well with ground-and-pound and is also a submission threat.

Also 34, Xiaonan is a very capable kickboxer who strikes well from range.  She was able to knockout Andrade in her last fight, but in general she’s more about attacking with speed and volume, with most of her wins coming on the scorecards.  Xioanan is not a fish-out-of-water on the mat and is hard to finish, but she’s clearly outmatched there in this fight.

I think Weili is just a level above Xiaonan here and can be impactful on the feet, but will have even more success using her wrestling to dominate the fight and leave open finishing options.  I’ll say she wins via a ground-and-pound TKO in the third round.

Pick: Zhang Weili wins by TKO in Rd3.

Justin Gaethje vs. Max Holloway

After KO’ing Dustin Poirier to win the symbolic ‘BMF’ belt in 2023, Justin Gaethje now looks to defend it against Max Holloway, who moves up from 145lbs in an attempt to win the 2nd title of his UFC career.

This isn’t the first time that the 32-year-old Holloway has attempted to move up to 155lbs as he did so five years and suffered a rude awakening against Dustin Poirier, getting soundly beaten on the scorecards to end his 13-fight winning streak.  Holloway then retreated back to 145lbs and ran into Alexander Volkanovski, who has since beaten him three times.

Still, those losses aside Holloway continues to beat pretty much everyone else at 145lbs, still firmly holding to the No.2 spot on the rankings and continues to show exceptional durability by having never been stopped via strikes in his entire career.  Holloway is a stand-out striker who has razor-sharp boxing ability and despite striking at a high pace still manages to land to consistently land clinical combinations to the head and body while also showing excellent distance management.  While his strikes are impactful, Holloway tends to be more of a decision-based fighter and has the cardio to keep his work-rate up even in a five-rounder.

On the other hand, the 35-year-old Gaethje is one of the sport’s premier fight-finishers, having ended 20 of his 25 victories inside the distance via strikes.  Gaethje is an extremely aggressive fighter who possesses serious power in both his punches and kicks.  His leg kicks are particularly punishing, which will be a concern for Holloway who doesn’t do a good job of defending against that.  Meanwhile, like ‘Blessed’, Gaethje is a high-intensity fighter who can match his unrelenting output.  He’s also known for his granite chin too, though his willingness to brazenly eat strikes has led to him being finished occasionally and could lead to a drastic decline in his durability at some stage.

Holloway is certainly the better striking technician here and is very clever in how he operates, but even so, 155lbs doesn’t appear to be a great fit for him, especially against someone as dangerous as Gaethje.  The fact that Gaethje can also match his output and could find a lot of success with leg kicks here leads me to believe that Holloway may be heading towards his first ever career loss via strikes here, with ‘The Highlight’ TKO’ing him by the third round, if not earlier.

Pick: Justin Gaethje wins by TKO in Rd3.

Charles Oliveira vs. Arman Tsarukyan

A likely lightweight title eliminator on the main card sees former champion Charles Oliveira going up against Arman Tsarukyan, who comes in off back-to-back wins via TKO and KO.

The 34-year-old Oliveira has the UFC records to prove that he’s as deadly a finisher as has ever set foot in the Octagon.  His uncanny ability to submit opponents has been a calling card throughout his career, being a master of creating chaos on the mat and creatively chaining submission attempts, leading to a total of 21 of his 34 career wins coming via submission.  Oliveira’s appetite for ending fights also extends to his well developed striking game too, with a versatile arsenal of strikes and surprising power.  Earlier in his UFC career Oliveira was finished by strikes at times, and while he has shown the ability to fight through adversity later on, he is still no stranger to being rocked, and he’s also been submitted a few times too.

The 27-year-old Tsarukyan is another strong all-rounder who so far has shown little in the way of obvious weaknesses.  He’s very polished technically, showing good speed, skill and footwork on the feet, while having the gas tank to push a hard pace.  He’s done well to further hone his stand-up game during his UFC run to the extent that now he’s become better at putting his opponents away inside the distance.  Meanwhile, Tsarukyan is also a very good wrestler who is also an assured scrambler on the mat, as even Islam Makhachev discovered when he had to work hard to best him in Tsarukyan’s UFC debut five years ago.

Of course the problem for Tsarukyan in this fight is that if he opts to wrestle here then he immediately puts himself at risk of being caught up in Oliveira’s endless web of submission attempts, and it’s no easy fight on the feet either.  So it’s a very intriguingly balanced match-up, but in the end I am going to lean towards Tsarukyan here as he’s the more defensively solid, durable striker and will be composed if he has to engage on the mat, while also still having the energy to match Oliveira’s pace and the potential to rock him at some point on his week to edging out an exciting fight on the scorecards.

Pick: Arman Tsarukyan wins by decision.

Bo Nickal vs. Cody Brundage

Tipped by many to be a future star, Bo Nickal brushed aside his first two opponents in the UFC after a similarly effortless run through the Contender Series, and so now with just a 5-0 record he lands a high-profile spot on the UFC 300 main card opposite Cody Brundage, who is on a two-fight winning streak.

The 28-year-old Nickal is a stand-out wrestler with a highly decorated career in that sport before making what appears to be a very smooth transition to MMA.  He appears to be a fighter who is both physically and mentally strong, and he’s also proved to be a fast-learner as he’s been easily submitting opponents once he gets them to the mat, and while his striking is still fairly untested and still a work-in-progress he already looks comfortable there and has shown clear signs of having very good power.  His level of opposition has to be taken into account though as he’s not really fought anyone of note as yet.

The 29-year-old Brundage isn’t much of a step up in competition for him and he’s certainly a very unlikely candidate to be appearing on the main card of such an illustrious event given that he’s more accustomed to being on Fight Night prelims.  Brundage doesn’t really stand out in any aspect of the game, but he does have a background in wrestling and has a karate-based striking style too that puts an emphasis on kicks.

Brundage’s wrestling is no match for his opponent here, and while Nickal may have some interest in finding out he fares on the feet here, I think it won’t be long before he swoops in for a takedown and then finds a finish by either strikes or submission.

Pick: Bo Nickal wins by TKO in Rd1.

Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)

Jiri Prochazka vs. Aleksandar Rakic
Aljamain Sterling vs. Calvin Kattar
Kayla Harrison vs. Holly Holm
Sodiq Yusuff vs. Diego Lopes

Jalin Turner vs. Renato Moicano
Jessica Andrade vs. Marina Rodriguez
Jim Miller vs. Bobby Green
Cody Garbrandt vs. Deiveson Figueiredo

Ross launched MMA Insight (previously FightOfTheNight.com) in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.