UFC 300 fight card: Grading the UFC’s tricentennial event

It took about three months, and booking the main event was a saga unto itself, but the blockbuster UFC 300 fight card is finally final. No more tinkering, no more TBA at the top – 13 matchups are headed to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Two real titles are on the line – light heavyweight champ Alex Pereira defends against ex-champ Jamahal Hill, and strawweight champ Zhang Weili faces Yan Xiaonan — and a pseudo-title goes up for grabs when “BMF” champ Justin Gaethje faces ex-featherweight champ Max Holloway.

Now that everything is finalized, how does the fight card stack up with the UFC’s other centennial events, UFC 100 and UFC 200? Is it worthy of the extra hype? And most importantly, is it worth $79.99 on pay-per-view?

MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew, Mike Heck, and Steven Marrocco sit down in the virtual war room to grade the UFC’s product.

UFC 295: Prochazka v Pereira

Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Jed Meshew: For those of you unaware, in 2023, I debuted a new system for rating fight cards dubbed “The Meshewlin Guide.” The premise is simple and based on the Michelin Guide’s system for grading restaurants:

  • 1 Star = A very good restaurant (fight card)
  • 2 Stars = Excellent restaurant (fight card), worth a detour (short trip to attend)
  • 3 Stars = Exceptional restaurant (fight card), worth a special journey.

UFC 300 is the most 3 Star fight card in the history of stars, the galaxy, and the universe in general. There has literally never been a better fight card put together (on paper, at least). Two title fights, the presumptive “Fight of the Year,” two possible No. 1 Contender fights, an astonishing 13 (!) UFC champions on the card, plus a two-time Olympic gold medalist. When the worst fight on the card has a likely future champion in it (Bo Nickal), the card is more stacked than David Blaine’s deck of cards.

Literally the only bad thing about this card is that by putting all the good fights on it, every fight card for the next month is terri-bad as a result. But that’s a price we should all be willing to pay (along with the $79.99) because events like this simply don’t come around often.

Now, that’s not to say that the event will deliver on all its promise. This is the fight game, and anything can happen. But even that seems fairly unlikely given the matchups.

I give the UFC a ton of crap (and should give them more, if we’re being honest), but not only have they done a great job of loading up this card, they’ve done it with fighters that rarely deliver duds. Meaning that they have created two possible outcomes for UFC 300: either the greatest night of fights in combat sports history, or a very good night of fights.

When the floor for an event is still great, you know you’ve got something special.

Grade: A+++++ (so many pluses it would wrap around the Earth)

UFC 292: Sterling v O’Malley

Photo by Paul Rutherford/Getty Images

Mike Heck: I don’t like to be too judgy with this stuff, but if you aren’t grading this at least an A, your expectations were completely unreasonable (even though it certainly didn’t help that Dana White promised us a main event that, while still freaking excellent, didn’t knock socks off around the world, but I digress).

UFC 100 and UFC 200 came at times when the promotion — and the sport as a whole — was gaining buzz, gaining notoriety, and a lot of that was based on larger than life stars getting them to that point, guiding newer eyeballs to check out the product. Brock Lesnar was a gigantic part of the success of both of those previously mentioned events. Star power sold.

But that was then.

This is now, a world where the letters U-F-C shine the brightest on the marquee, where the best fighters in the world compete but are not the stars of the show. The two biggest stars that are on the UFC roster right now have only fought a combined three times since 2021 in Conor McGregor and Jon Jones, and the UFC — to their credit — has only gotten more popular and are hotter than ever.

This card appropriately represents what the UFC is in 2024 — tremendously talented fighters who are incredibly fun to watch, but no big superstars to be found. And that’s totally OK, because this card is absolutely ridiculous. Every fight matters, every fight has meaning, and there’s high divisional stakes to just about all of them — outside of the Bo Nickal vs. Cody Brundage fight, which will end very quickly either way.

Here’s just a few highlights: Pereira vs. Hill was already on my list for fights I need to see in 2024; Zhang vs. Yan is historic; Gaethje vs. Holloway is my everything; my all-in on Tsarukyan prediction for this year will either age tremendously or turn into ash very quickly; fascination with Kattar vs. Sterling. Then there’s the rest of the card – it’s so damn good.

If UFC 100 and 200 represented where the UFC was in those times, and UFC 300 absolutely does the same. Yet this might be the best card top-to-bottom the UFC has ever put together.

Grade: A+

UFC 291: Poirier v Gaethje 2

Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Steven Marrocco: UFC shill alert!

Pound for pound, this is the best centennial card the UFC has assembled to date. The reason for that, in my mind, is the level of intrigue in just about every fight on the card. There are burning questions so many of these matchups promise to answer about the competitors and where they stand in their careers.

For example: Can Jamahal Hill recapture gold at 205? Who’s the bigger BMF, Gaethje or Holloway? Is Arman Tsarukyan championship material? Does Charles Oliveira have another title run in him? Is Bo Nickal the uncrowned 185-pound champ? Jiri Prochazka’s comeback, Aljamain Sterling’s featherweight debut, Kayla Harrison’s UFC crucible, Figueiredo and Garbrandt’s inevitable shootout, and as Mr. White says, the list goes on and on…

Then combine that with the competitive stakes of the two title bouts at the top, and I think this card beats UFC 100 and UFC 200. Maybe I’d feel different if Jon Jones didn’t USADA himself in the foot, but I see more relevant matchups with more interesting storylines on the April 13 fight card than its predecessors. We don’t need big Brock Lesnar to take an event over the top – we need UFC stalwarts that bring rich history to the fights. In that, UFC 300 really has it all. The only knock to this card is the unrealistic expectations set by White in the first place.

My only quibble? The MS Paint, junior graffiti artist event poster. Seriously, my dog could have done better.

Event: A+

Poster: F

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