UFC 303 Predictions

UFC 303 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.

Main Card

Alex Pereira vs. Jiri Prochazka

Alex Pereira won the vacant 205lb title with a 2nd round TKO victory over Jiri Prochazka in November of last year and now after they both earned a victories at UFC 300 in April they are now set to go at it again. However, this time they’ve only had two weeks to prepare after agreeing to step in on short notice to replace Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler.

A kickboxing champion before he turned his attention to MMA, the 36-year-old Pereira has left everyone in no doubt about the potency of his elite striking ability with finishes over the likes of Israel Adesanya, Sean Strickland, Jamahal Hill and Prochazka during a record-breaking run that’s seen him win two titles (185lbs and 205lbs) faster than anyone in UFC history. Everything he throws lands hard, but his left hook in particular has been a lethal weapon, while he had very good success with low kicks against Prochazka in their first encounter, even knocking him off his feet at one point early in the fight. Pereira’s defense is fairly respectable, but he is hittable and he can back straight up at times when he’s put under sustained pressure, though he will look for counters in that situation. Meanwhile he can be taken down and his ground game is quite basic, but he did manage to get back up to his feet against Prochazka.

The 31-year-old Prochazka is also a dangerous striker, but has a more unorthodox and hard-to-predict approach. He fights with his hands low and is not afraid to eat punches to land his own, relying on his mental and physical toughness to get him through. His ability to attack with explosive knockout power from unexpected angles, together with possessing the killer instinct to finish fights once he has an opponent hurt, have earned him no less than 26 wins via strikes from 30 career victories so far. His durability was on display in his last fight with Pereira as he was rocked by a big left hand and battered by a series of hard elbows, yet was still trying to fight on when the ref made what what many have suggested was a premature call to end the fight. Still, despite that being his only loss in the past eight years the damage he’s taken over the years does leave concerns as to have long his chin will hold out.

Prochazka does have capable ground skills though and was willing to for some takedowns last time out against Pereira. If that’s a strategy he pursues more vigorously this time out then it could well be his night. However, he has a warrior mentality and loves the striking battle, and I think that will lead him astray here. He doesn’t appear to have addressed his weakness to leg kicks, which Pereira will take full advantage of, while sooner or later I think he’ll get overly aggressive and get caught with a fight-ending punch from Pereira.

Pick: Alex Pereira wins by TKO in Rd2.

Brian Ortega vs. Diego Lopes

Brian Ortega and Diego Lopes have also only had a fortnight’s notice ahead of their co-main event clash that sees former title challenger ‘T-City’ coming off a submission victory against Yair Rodriguez, while Lopes has three 1st round finishes to his name in the last 12 months.

This is Ortega’s 2nd fight of the year – the first time he’s fought more than once in a calendar year since 2018. It’s a shame to have seen the now 33-year-old compete so infrequently during the prime years of his career as he is a very talented competitor, particularly in terms of his excellent grappling ability, with his skill, predatory instincts and speed on the mat making him one of the most dangerous submission finishers in the UFC. Even during his long absences from the Octagon there have been clear signs of improvement in his striking over the years, harnessing his natural power more effectively with better technique. That being said, while he’s uncommonly durable, he does still eat too many strikes and his wrestling isn’t as good as other aspects of his game.

The 29-year-old Lopes has really hit the ground running since agreeing to make his UFC debut against the undefeated Movsar Evloev on a few days notice last year. He eventually lost that fight by unanimous decision, but not before giving Evloev a torrid time in the early rounds, including putting him in danger via submissions multiple times. It was a performance that turned heads and proved to not be a one-off when Lopes then went on to submit Gavin Tucker, knockout Pat Sabatina and most recently TKO Sodiq Yusuff, all within the space of a single round of fighting. With his high-octane, pressure-heavy approach and well-rounded ability that’s propelled him to this high-profile spot on the card despite still only being ranked No.14 in the division.

The way Lopes fought against Movloev suggests that he won’t be overawed by the occasion here, so it is tempting to pick him here in what could be a break-out star performance. However, given Ortega’s historic toughness he’s going to have a tough time delivering another 1st round finish here, and as good as he can be on the mat, I still think Ortega is the more gifted grappler of the two, and so in a fast and furious fight for as long as it lasts I’ll take ‘T-City’ to pounce on a 2nd round submission finish.

Pick: Brian Ortega wins by submission in Rd2.

Anthony Smith vs. Roman Dolidze

This match-up has undergone too many changes to mention at this point, but suffice to say Anthony Smith was brought in two weeks ago to replace Jamahal Hill against Carlos Ulberg, but on eight days notice is now facing Roman Dolidze instead.

When you consider that the 35-year-old Smith is 57 fights into his MMA career and has also had to battle through some tough injuries and other ailments in recent times it’s actually to his credit that he’s still managing to soldier on with two wins in his last three bouts. He’s taken an ungodly amount of punishment over the years though and has been finished via strikes no less than 11 times, so while his heart has never been in question his durability is a concern. He’ still a well-rounded attacking force though, with his well-versed muay thai striking being backed up by a crafty submission game, and between the two he’s managed to stop 35 of his 38 career wins before the final bell.

At 35, Dolidze is the same age as Smith yet has only fought 15 times – 42 less than Smith! He made a strong start to his UFC run with six wins in seven fights, but back-to-back high-ranked match-ups since against Marvin Vettori and Nassourdine Imavov have saw him come away empty-handed. He’ll be fighting at 205lbs for the first time in three-and-a-half years for this short-notice match-up, but he’s a big, muscular middleweight anyway and he’ll draw confidence from having won two fights at light-heavyweight at the start of his time in the UFC. Dolidze has a solid rather than spectacular skill-set as he’s not got the most active or technical striking, but he’s durable and has heavy hands, while he’s also a good wrestler and delivers ground-and-pound well. In general his focus on power can take a toll on his cardio though.

Dolidze should have a power, durability and wrestling advantage here, while Smith is the better technical striker and is the more dangerous grappler. So it’s a fight that could go either way, but with Dolidze having never been stopped in his career and ‘Lionheart’ being more fragile than he used to be I think Dolidze will have the bigger moments here and have Smith hurt, but will eventually win on the scorecards.

Pick: Roman Dolidze wins by decision.

Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Macy Chiasson

After an unsuccessful title challenge last time out that ended a four-fight unbeaten run, Mayra Bueno Silva now moves on to fight Macy Chiasson, who moved back down to 135lbs last time out and picked up a submission win.

The 32-year-old Silva is a fairly sturdy striker who likes to use kicks at range but will also work basic boxing strikes at closer quarters too. She can function in the clinch too, but is at her best when she brings her grappling into the equation on the mat, having produced 7 finishes out of 10 career wins by a variety of different submissions. Perhaps due to that she’s not overly concerned about behind taken down and can be a bit too willing to work off her back though even when it’s not working out for her, while her cardio can also let her down sometimes.

Chiasson is the same age as Silva and is considerably bigger, which means cutting down to 135lbs isn’t easy, but does afford her a 5″ height and 6″ reach advantage in this match-up. She’s never been particularly effective at making the best use of her size and instead tends to like to get up close and personal, particularly in the clinch where she can make opponents carry her weight, while also roughing them up with dirty boxing and knees. Chiasson will also wrestle too, but despite getting submission in her most recent fight she’s generally more likely to win by decision.

This could well end up being a grindy clinch battle, and I think Chiasson will get some takedowns too. That will be risky though as she can be prone to errors of judgement that Silva could capitalize on for a submission finish. However, while she might not be as skilled as her opponent I think Chiasson’s size and better cardio will aid her as the fight progresses, enabling her to emerge from a not very exciting fight with a decision win.

Pick: Macy Chiasson wins by decision.

Ian Machado Garry vs. Michael Page

undefeated in his 14-fight career to date, Ian Machado Garry now goes up against a former stand-out star for the Bellator promotion Michael ‘Venom’ Page, who comfortable defeated Kevin Holland in his promotional debut a few months ago.

At 26-years-old Garry has good athleticism and a well-developed striking game that sticks largely to well-executed kickboxing fundamentals, delivering kicks well to all levels while also having clean, effective boxing technique and good footwork. He has the power to finish fights at times, but is also comfortable outpointing opponents to win on the scorecards too. And while he’s primarily focused on his striking Garry has shown that he is a solid wrestler and grappler too when the occasion calls for it.

The 37-year-old Page is also a very talented striker, but has a much more flashy, unpredictable yet still effective style compared to Garry. He stays elusive on the outside with unorthodox movement to lure his opponents into a false sense of security, but then can use his speed and agility to attack with a wide variety of dynamic strikes. He’s also a very big 170lb’er, so though he’s the same height as Garry at 6ft 3″, he actually has an extra 5″ in reach to work with. While he’s hard to track down, Page can be susceptible to being caught by leg kicks at times and his ground game is a weakness.

This is a real clash of skilful striking styles that should be intriguing to watch play out, but in the end I think Garry’s more well-rounded skill-set could be the difference between them as a few takedowns will enable him to gain more control over the fight and make Page more hesitant to engage on the feet. As such, though this feels like a very risky match-up for Garry I’ll say he gets a decision win.

Pick: Ian Machado Garry to win by decision.

Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)

Joe Pyfer vs. Marc-André Barriault
Cub Swanson vs. Andre Fili
Charles Jourdain vs. Jean Silva
Payton Talbott vs. Yanis Ghemmouri

Michelle Waterson-Gomez vs. Gillian Robertson
Andrei Arlovski vs. Martin Buday
Rei Tsuruya vs. Carlos Hernandez
Ricky Simón vs. Vinicius Oliveira

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.