UFC 300 Paths to Victory: How each fighter in card’s 3 title fights can leave as champion

UFC 300 is finally here, and wow, it’s a doozy.

Featuring three title fights, 12 total UFC champions and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, UFC 300 is quite possibly the greatest MMA card ever assembled. While we normally look at how the main event fighters can win ahead of any pay-per-view event, there are simply too many good fights to restrict things to just one breakdown. So in honor of the special event, we’re doing a special Paths to Victory, looking at how each fighter competing for gold on Saturday can leave T-Mobile Arena as champion.

UFC 295: Prochazka v Pereira

Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Paths to Victory for Alex Pereira and Jamahal Hill at UFC 300

In the main event this weekend, Alex Pereira puts his light heavyweight title on the line against former champion Jamahal Hill in a bout that offers more questions than answers.

Pereira is a former Glory kickboxer and one of the best strikers in the world today. That’s his bread and butter, and the core of his striking centers on preternatural power. His punches are dense. When he hits people, their whole bodies move, even though he never looks like he’s punching hard. The man just thuds, and that threat makes him ludicrously dangerous when you add in he’s extremely skilled and has great timing.

Like Pereira, Hill makes his money on the feet. “Sweet Dreams” has never once shot a takedown in his UFC career – he’s been wildly successful at knocking people out. Hill doesn’t have the natural power of Pereira, but he’s got a solid jab, good combinations and works at a super-high rate. Volume paired with finishing ability makes Hill a substantial threat to anyone he faces.

The questions for this fight all center around Hill. He’s returning from an Achilles injury and, rumor has it, he’s coming back a little soon. Pereira is a very good leg kicker. So if that’s true, what happens when Hill’s leg starts getting chopped out from under him? On top of that, Hill is clearly a good fighter. But his performance against Glover Teixeira to win the vacant title was so superior to the rest of his career, it’s hard to know exactly how good he is. On Saturday, we’ll find out.


Too many things favor Pereira. Until proven otherwise, he’s the superior striker, and he’s not coming in off a major injury. It’s a bad idea for anyone not named Israel Adesanya to willingly throw hands with Pereira, and to the best of my knowledge, Hill has not changed his name. So I’ve got to favor the champion.

Alex Pereira def. Jamahal Hill via KO (punches) — 3:45, Round 3.

UFC 292: Zhang v Lemos

Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Paths to Victory for Zhang Weili and Yan Xiaonan

In the co-main event, Zhang Weili puts her strawweight title on the line against Yan Xiaonan in a bout that will determine not just 115-pound supremacy, but who is the best fighter in China.

Zhang is the current top pound-for-pound female fighter in the sport, and in her second strawweight title run, she’s shown greater diversity in her skills. During her first run to the belt, she bulldozed everyone on the back of sheer physicality and power. Lately, though, she is deploying that physicality in a more pointed manner, using her wrestling skills to get fights to the mat, where she can go beast mode from top position. She’s still a handful on the feet as a power puncher. But her late career has a bit of Georges St-Pierre in it.

Despite 10 UFC fights, Yan still feels like somewhat of a mystery. For her first nine bouts, Yan was a decently skilled volume striker who lacked the power or finishing instincts to really hurt opponents on the feet. Then she fought Jessica Andrade, and seemingly out of nowhere, she knocked out one of the most physically imposing fighters to ever step into the cage. If she wants to claim the strawweight belt, she’ll have to do it again on Saturday.


This should be a great matchup for Zhang. Despite her most recent performance, Yan is not a big single-shot threat on the feet, and while she’s a fine defensive wrestler, she’s not exceptional. Carla Esparza was able to repeatedly plant Yan on the mat and work her over from top position, and Zhang is roughly 48 times the physical force that Esparza is.

Zhang Weili def. Yan Xiaonan via TKO (punches from crucifix) — 4:03, Round 4.

UFC 298 Ceremonial Weigh-in

Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Paths to Victory for Justin Gaethe and Max Holloway at UFC 300

This is the fight everyone has waited for. In the featured main card bout, Justin Gaethje puts his “BMF” title on the line against Max Holloway, and anarchy is sure to ensue.

Gaethje is the most exciting fighter in MMA today, and quite possibly, ever. Though he has a Division-1 wrestling pedigree, he rarely uses it. Instead, his game is — in his own words — to create car crashes. He’s a monstrously powerful puncher with some of the best low kicks in the sport, and his plan is to pressure on opponents until they crumble. It’s highly effective, especially because he is also extremely durable.

Holloway is the former featherweight champion who stands alone when it comes to striking numbers in the UFC. He isn’t a big power puncher, but he makes up for it by hitting his opponents an absurd amount of times. Add to that, he’s got some of the best boxing in the sport and an all-time great chin. That makes things really tough for anyone who steps in the cage with him.


This fight is going to be insane. Both men are durable, violent, and never want to take a step backward. Gaethje’s leg kicks are a serious threat for Holloway, who has been weak there in the past. But Holloway’s jab and combinations are a big problem for Gaethje, who relies heavily on covering up for defense. Ultimately, whoever backs up is the one who is going to lose. I think that’s going to end up being Gaethje, just because Holloway’s chin is so good and his volume will start to take over.

Max Holloway def. Justin Gaethje via TKO (punches) — 1:05, Round 5.

Bonus Section!

Sure, we could stop at the top three fights, but that still leaves off SEVEN former UFC champions. This card is just ridiculously stacked, so let’s do quick hit predictions for the remaining bouts.

Charles Oliveira vs. Arman Tsarukyan

An outrageous banger of a fight. Oliveira is super dangerous everywhere, but Tsarukyan is ascending and won’t be afraid to engage on the floor. This will look a lot like Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev, and since Oliveira almost never loses by decision, Tsarukyan by finish is very much in play. Tsarukyan by TKO.

Bo Nickal vs. Cody Brundage

A main card execution. Nickal is one of the best MMA prospects of all time, and while Brundage is game, he doesn’t have the tools to compete with Nickal in any phase of MMA. Nickal by whatever he wants.

Jiri Prochazka vs. Aleksandar Rakic

Prochazka is chaos incarnate, and Rakic is very much not that. Thermodynamics tells us that all things trend toward entropy, and that’s the same here. Rakic isn’t the kind of finishing threat to take advantage of Prochazka’s wildness, and he isn’t so durable to not get sparked by that same wildness. Prochazka by KO.

Calvin Kattar vs. Aljamain Sterling

This is a big first step at featherweight for the former bantamweight champion. Kattar is big, a terrific boxer, and an exceptional defensive wrestler. Aljo needs to find his way to the back and do so quickly, but I’m not confident that happens. Zabit Magomedsharipov had trouble controlling Kattar on the floor, and he’s not giving up natural size. Kattar by decision.

Holly Holm vs. Kayla Harrison

Simply put, Holm is just old. At 42, she’s still physically strong, but she’s not the fighter she once was. Harrison is still rough around the edges, particularly on the feet. But she’s a specimen of an athlete. The only question is how Harrison will look at 135, and I’ve come around to the idea that the two-time Olympic champion is going to make weight professionally and smartly. Harrison by TKO (elbows).

Sodiq Yusuff vs. Diego Lopes

Yusuff is the more measured, established fighter. Lopes burst onto the scene out of nowhere, and he’s a thrilling offensive force. But he’s lack of defense focus is a major question mark. If Lopes can draw Yusuff out of his game, he’s got a great chance. But I think Yusuff fights smart. Yusuff by decision.

Jalin Turner vs. Renato Moicano

Turner is just so large. The man is a middleweight masquerading as a lightweight, and on top of that, he’s got a lot of skills too. Moicano is a former featherweight, and if he can get Turner to the mat repeatedly, he’s got a shot. But I don’t think that’s happening. Turner is too dangerous on the feet, and he’s skilled enough at grappling to mitigate an of Moicano’s offense. Turner by TKO.

Jessica Andrade vs. Marina Rodriguez

It’s hard to know where Andrade is in her career, given her up-and-down recent performances. But it’s not like Rodriguez is setting the world on fire, either. Rodriguez needs to keep this standing and outpoint Andrade, and Andrade needs to club Rodriguez, take her down, and smash her. Either are very possible. Andrade by TKO.

Bobby Green vs. Jim Miller

In another world, Green would be at a huge advantage this weekend. He’s a good enough defensive wrestler, and his volume and craft on the feet makes things tough for Miller. But this is UFC 300. Jim Miller isn’t losing. You could put him in there with prime Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Miller is finding a way to win. Miller by decision.

Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Cody Garbrandt

I wrote about this fight already, but the breakdown is simple: Garbrandt can’t help but get drawn into brawls that don’t suit him. Figueiredo is well-suited to a battle of hooks. Garbrandt’s chin will fail him yet again, and Figgy Smalls gets the win. Figueiredo by KO.

Source link

You May Also Like