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UFC 300: Pereira v Hill Predictions

It’s mixed martial arts’ showcase of the immortals, the historic UFC 300 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas where three titles are up for grabs on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time).


It’s mixed martial arts’ showcase of the immortals, the historic UFC 300 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas where three titles are up for grabs on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The world’s pre-eminent MMA promotion has assembled a super card for their tricentennial event, which is set to be headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between champion Alex Pereira and challenger Jamahal Hill.

Zhang Weili defends the strawweight strap against Yan Xiaonan in the co-main event, while Justin Gaethje and Max Holloway battle it out for the BMF belt.

Plus, Charles Oliveira takes on Armen Tsarukyan in a lightweight title eliminator and wrestling phenom Bo Nickal collides with Cody Brundage in a middleweight match-up.

MAIN CARD (from 5 AM Sunday SA time):

Alex Pereira (1.76) v Jamahal Hill (2.10) (Light Heavyweight Championship)

The true king of the light heavyweights will rise in the main event.

Having conquered the middleweight division, Pereira (9-2) last November became just the ninth UFC fighter to win a title in multiple divisions and the fastest-ever to achieve the feat when he finished Jiri Prochazka to add the 205-pound gold to his collection.

A special breed of kickboxing savage, the feared former 170-pound titleholder will headline his fourth pay-per-view in eight fights with the promotion, a mind-blowing stat fit for an anomaly.

In Hill (12-1), he faces the former light heavyweight champion who never lost the title inside the Octagon. “Sweet Dreams” defeated Pereira’s good friend Glover Teixeira by decision to capture the crown in January 2023, however, he was forced to vacate it after rupturing his Achilles tendon during training.

Finally, back to 100%, the well-rounded Hill looks to prove he’s the true champion by packing up “Poatan” in what’s set to be a war that’s unlikely to go the distance.

Pereira, who’s secured seven of his nine wins by knockout, is an imposing, cerebral vessel of violence – a freak of nature with a superhuman aura. The former Glory middleweight and light heavyweight champion is one of the best kickboxers to ever grace the Octagon and has taken to MMA like a duck to water.

While he’s stuck to his kickboxing roots, his takedown defence has rapidly improved. It held up well in his decision win over ex-champion Jan Blachowicz in his UFC light heavyweight debut last July and enabled him to stuff Prochazka’s shot and knock him out with rapid elbows.

The Brazilian beast can expect a mixed attack from Hill with plenty of takedown attempts. The big unknown is whether he’ll be able to stave off a sustained grappling attack in the championship rounds (rounds four and five), if the fight goes that far.

Hill, it must be said, is a crisp southpaw striker with wicked power and good footwork. Prior to his title triumph over Teixeira on the scorecards, he’d claimed five wins in a row by knockout and has seven KOs to his name in all.

When it comes to the striking sphere, however, the decorated Pereira is the more sophisticated fighter. He’s technical and tactical, a hunter who sets traps and manoeuvres his prey into deadly positions, often without them realising it.

Hill’s best bet, then, is to mix things up. The American is the more complete competitor and needs to make the most of his broader skillset to regain the championship. That said, ring rust could be an issue for him, and Pereira is such a punishing predator that the latter should land the knockout blow.

Prediction: Pereira by knockout.

Best Bet: Pereira by KO/TKO/DQ at 2.20.

Alternative Bet: Pereira at 1.76.

Zhang Weili (1.20) v Yan Xiaonan (4.70) (Strawweight Championship)

History will be made in the co-headliner as the fight marks the first time two Chinese fighters will compete for a UFC title.

The clash comes nearly five years after Zhang (24-3) became the first Chinese champion with a ferociously fast knockout win over Jessica Andrade in August 2019. She’s lost (to Rose Namajunas), regained (against Carla Esparza) and defended (against Amanda Lemos) the title since then and stands as the undisputed queen at 115 pounds.

Looking to knock her off her perch, Yan (17-4) was the first-ever female Chinese fighter signed by the UFC in November 2017 and boasts an impressive 8-2 record inside the Octagon. “Nine” followed up a decision win over Mackenzie Dern with a first-round knockout of Andrade last May to punch her ticket to her maiden title tilt.

Zhang is a marauder with deadly explosiveness and wicked power, which have earned her 11 knockouts, including a highlight-reel spinning backfist KO of former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

“Magnum” is more than capable on the ground as well, as her eight submission wins underscore, though she had to be satisfied with a decision win over Lemos last time out.

Yan isn’t much of a grappler and not as powerful a puncher as the champion and will have to rely on speed and perpetual motion. Zhang can match her in the speed department, though, and is a tactical general who should be able to control the fight, both on the feet and on the ground.

She has the power and skills to get a finish, but I’m leaning towards a decision victory for the champion.

Prediction: Zhang by decision.

Best Bet: Zhang by decision at 2.65.

Alternative Bet: Zhang by KO/TKO/DQ at 2.40.

Justin Gaethje (1.61) v Max Holloway (2.36) (BMF Championship)

Something has to give when knockout artist Gaethje (25-4) goes to war with zombie-like Holloway (25-7) for the BMF belt.

Gaethje is one of if not the most exciting fighter in UFC history, a 5’11” stick of dynamite who won the special strap with a stunning knockout of Dustin Poirier last July.

He’s set to become the first man to defend the title, reserved only for the baddest of fighters, against former featherweight king, Holloway, who’s in search of more gold.

One of the greatest featherweights of all time, “Blessed” moves up to lightweight for an opportunity of a lifetime in what’s guaranteed to be a clash of epic proportions.

In what’s set to be a stand-up battle, Gaethje is a bazooka boasting 20 knockouts while Holloway is a machine gun who either outworks or melts opponents with an overwhelming avalanche of strikes.

Holloway, with his iron chin and warrior spirit, has never been stopped by strikes but he’s also never faced anyone who hits as hard as “The Highlight.” This will be a treat to watch and eventually, the accumulative damage Gaethje inflicts should lead to a TKO triumph.

Prediction: Gaethje by TKO.

Best Bet: Gaethje at 1.61.

Alternative Bet: Gaethje by KO/TKO/DQ at 2.50.

Charles Oliveira (2.90) v Armen Tsarukyan (1.43) (Lightweight)

A future title shot is on the line as former lightweight champion Oliveira (34-9) takes on surging contender Tsarukyan (21-3).  

Oliveira had earned the right to rematch Islam Makhachev, the man who’d dethroned him, by knocking out Beneil Dariush but suffered a cut during training that forced him to pull out of UFC 294.

Now, “Do Bronx” has to go through rising star Tsarukyan, who’s won eight of his past nine bouts. Given Oliveira’s aggressive nature and Tsarukyan’s title ambitions, fans are in for a thrilling fire-fight.

Oliveira is a must-see savage. The holder of the most finishes in UFC history (20), the Brazilian is the epitome of a kill-or-be-killed fighter. Tsarukyan is more tactical and while he’s good everywhere, it’s his chain wrestling that makes him particularly tough to deal with.

As the younger, rising star I get why Tsarukyan is the favourite, but Oliveira still has plenty of tread on the tyres. I would’ve backed him as the favourite as well, so he’s too good an underdog to pass up on.

Prediction: Oliveira by stoppage.

Best Bet: Oliveira at 2.90.

Alternative Bet: Oliveira by KO/TKO/Submission/DQ at 3.75 or by KO/TKO/DQ at 8.00.

Bo Nickal (1.04) v Cody Brundage (12.00) (Middleweight)

You didn’t read that wrong. Brundage (10-5) is a massive 12.00 underdog.

That’s not a knock on Brundage but rather a reflection of the immense wrestling pedigree and limitless potential of Nickal. A three-time Division I national champion and four-time All-American, Nickal’s a wrestling phenom who’s blown through his opponents without getting a scratch on him.

He’s 5-0 (three knockouts and two submissions) with all of his wins coming in the first round. The longest of his fights lasted two minutes and 54 seconds, which was his UFC debut against Jamie Pickett. He followed that up with a 38-second knockout of Val Woodburn last July.

Brundage is a solid veteran, but he won’t be able to stop Nickal’s takedowns. Expect another quick finish for the 26-year-old juggernaut.

Prediction: Nickal by submission.

Best Bet: Nickal by first-round submission at 2.20.

Alternative Bet: Nickal by submission at 1.80.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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