UFC 299 Preview

UFC 299 Preview

The UFC returns to Miami, Florida, with the big UFC 299 pay-per-view event. The card features a bantamweight title headliner as current champion Sean O’Malley looks for his first title defense in a rematch against challenger Marlon Vera. The co-main event, meanwhile, is a pivotal five-round lightweight fight between former interim champion Dustin Poirier and rising contender Benoit Saint-Denis.With plenty of other great fights on what is a stacked card, let’stake a look at all of the action.

UFC 299 Prelim Card

Women's flyweights open the action as Joanne Wood battles Maryna Moroz nine years after their first encounter. “JoJo” is expected to retire after the bout, and odds are she leaves with a loss to “The Iron Lady”.

CJ Vergara battles AssuAlmabayev in a flyweight contest. Almabayev is a heavy, heavy favorite and should emerge victorious with ease.

Heavyweights are also on the card as exciting unbeaten prospect Robelis Despaigne faces Josh Parisian. Expect a massive win for Despaigne who should announce himself on the big stage as he stops the “Teddy Bear”.

Brazilian Michel Pereira takes on Michal Oleksiejczuk in a middleweight contest. It should be a close one with Pereira ultimately getting the win with his superior stand-up skills.

Ion Cutelaba also returns to action when he battles Philip Lins in a light heavyweight affair. The “Hulk” always entertains, andshould just about edge this one.

Pedro Munhoz takes on Kyler Phillips in a bantamweight fight. Munhoz is durable, but Phillips is likely to outpoint him over three rounds to get the win.

What a gem on the prelim card as Mateusz Gamrot takes on former champion Rafael dos Anjos in a lightweight tilt.  “RDA’s” better days are behind him, so I expect a comfortable win for Gamrot who should utilize his wrestling on the way to victory.

Katlyn Chookagian takes on Maycee Barber in a women's flyweight battle. “The Future” is expected to get the victory over Chookagian and go one step closer to title contention.

The featured prelim sees Jailton Almeida face Curtis Blaydes in a heavyweight collision. It’s an extremely tough one to call given that both fighters do their best work on the ground. However, Blaydes is just about given the edge thanks to his wrestling game and ability to control the Brazilian.

UFC 299 Main Card

Yan (16-5) vs Yadong (21-7-1, 1NC)

The main card opens up in electric fashion as former bantamweight champion Petr Yan collides with Song Yadong. “No Mercy” has been on a downward spiral since 2021 with four defeats in his last five, including an ongoing three-fight losing skid. His most recent outing was a unanimous decision defeat to Merab Dvalishvili who comprehensively outpointed him in March last year. However, the defeats to Sean O’Malley and Aljamain Sterling prior to that were much closer with many observers believing he had done enough to beat the former.

Yadong, meanwhile, is on a two-fight winning streak after wins over Ricky Simon and most recently Chris Gutierrez. Overall, the “Kung Fu Monkey” has won five of his last six with his only defeat coming to Cory Sandhagen. This should be a very competitive and even matchup that mostly consists of striking. The odds are virtually a pick ‘em, but given Yan’s overall experience should make a difference.

Burns (22-6) vs Della Maddalena(16-2)

A pivotal welterweight showdown is also on the cards as former title challenger Gilbert Burns faces Jack Della Maddalena. Burns saw his two-fight winning streak snap at the hands of Belal Muhammad after getting outpointed by him at UFC 288 in May last year. The Brazilian, however, claimed injury played a big part in his defeat to Muhammad as he looks to return to winning ways and back to title contention with a triumph over Della Maddalena.

It won’t be easy as the Aussie is unbeaten in the UFC with a 6-0 record. A big reason for that is his clean and crisp boxing that has helped him earn wins over the likes of Kevin Holland and Randy Brown. Burns, however, represents his toughest task yet as well as a major grappling threat. That said, oddsmakers like Della Maddalena’s chances and see him getting the win.A play for "Durinho" to get the win in his backyard is not a bad play here.

Holland (25-10, 1NC) vs Page (21-2)

UFC 299 also sees the debut of former Bellator star Michael Page as he is welcomed to the promotion by fan favorite Kevin Holland. MVP departed Bellator after a TKO victory over Goiti Yamauchi back in March last year. Overall, he won seven of his last eight before entering free agency.

Holland last competed in September when he suffered a split decision defeat to Jack Della Maddalena. Prior to that, however, he enjoyed finishes over Santiago Ponzinibbio and Michael Chiesa. This should be a close fight that is contested entirely on the feet. However, Holland is not only younger, but has faced much better competition than Page and should come out on top in this one against the 36-year-old striker.

Poirier (29-8, 1NC) vs Saint Denis (13-1, 1NC)

The co-main event features an intriguing five-round lightweight tilt between former interim champion Dustin Poirier and Benoit Saint Denis. Poirier is coming off a knockout defeat to Justin Gaethje in their BMF title fight back in July. It was his second defeat in his last three after losing to Charles Oliveira in their lightweight title fight in December 2021. Many felt it was the 35-year-old’s last chance to get a title shot.

Saint Denis, on the other hand, is a rising contender currently on a five-fight winning streak. His most recent victory was an impressive first-round knockout win over Matt Frevola back in November. Prior to that, he also finished Thiago Moises.

There’s always the chance that Poirier puts a veteran beating on Saint Denis. However, given the narrative of the fight and the Frenchman being seven years the junior of Poirier, Saint Denis is a slight betting favorite and perhaps safer money as “The Diamond” ages and is looking at life after the Octagon.

O’Malley (17-1, 1NC) vs Vera (23-8-1)

The main event features a bantamweight title fight between current champion Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera. It is notably a rematch of their August 2020 meeting where Vera delivered O’Malley’s sole defeat in MMA. O’Malley, however, believes it’s a fluke due to a nerve injury he suffered in the fight and given that backstory, “Suga” called for Vera as his first title defense.

The American became the bantamweight champion after a second-round TKO victory over Aljamain Sterling back in August. Overall, O’Malley is unbeaten in his last six fights in a run which notably includes a win over former bantamweight champion Petr Yan.

“Chito” meanwhile, returned to winning ways with a decision victory over Pedro Munhoz on the same night O'Malley won the title. Prior to that, he suffered a split decision defeat to Cory Sandhagen. Overall, he has won five of his last five including victories over Rob Font and Dominick Cruz.

But despite holding a win over O’Malley, Vera is a considerable betting underdog with oddsmakers expecting the champion to remain champion. Given Vera’s durability and chin -- having never been knocked down -- it’s hard to see O’Malley finishing him. However, the smart money would be on a decision victory for the champion who should outstrike the Ecuadorian over five rounds and revenge his previous loss.


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