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UFC 303: Pereira v Prochazka 2 Predictions

Two absolute warriors’ cross swords for a second time with the light heavyweight title hanging in the balance as champion Alex Pereira and challenger Jiri Prochazka cap off international fight week in an explosive main event clash at UFC 305 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.


Two absolute warriors’ cross swords for a second time with the light heavyweight title hanging in the balance as champion Alex Pereira and challenger Jiri Prochazka cap off international fight week in an explosive main event clash at UFC 305 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The pay-per-view card, which was set to mark the return of the biggest star in mixed martial arts history in Conor McGregor, had to undergo major changes. The Irish superstar was ruled out of his much-anticipated comeback fight against Michael Chandler due to injury, forcing the UFC to pivot.

True to form, Dana White and company have done so with aplomb, matching up two of the best and most exciting strikers in the sport in a rematch for the 205-pound gold.

The co-main event and featured bouts also required overhauls. Staying in the light heavyweight division, former champion Jamahal Hill and Khalil Rountree Jr. were expected to serve as the co-headliners. However, Rountree withdrew after unintentionally ingesting a banned substance.

He was replaced by Carlos Ulberg, who was then left without a dance partner as Hill pulled out due to injury. Former title challenger Anthony Smith answered the call, only for Ulberg to be sidelined, leaving Smith to square off against Roman Dolidze in the featured bout with former featherweight title challenger Brian Ortega battling Diego Lopes in the co-headliner.

Plus, elite bantamweights Mayra Bueno Silva and Macy Chiasson collide, and undefeated welterweight contender Ian Machado Garry meets striking phenom Michael Page in the main card opener.

MAIN CARD (from 5 AM Sunday SA time):

Alex Pereira (1.76) v Jiri Prochazka (2.10) (Light Heavyweight Championship)

Two marauders meet again in a mouth-watering rematch for the lightweight championship of the world.

Two of the scariest and most explosive strikers in mixed martial arts, they met for the first-time last November, when Pereira (10-2) stopped a returning Prochazka (30-4-1) in the second round to capture the vacant 205-pound belt.

In doing so, he became just the ninth UFC fighter to win a title in multiple divisions and the fastest-ever to achieve the feat, having previously held the middleweight gold.

Prochazka is no stranger to gold either. He dethroned Pereira’s good friend and head coach Glover Teixeira in an epic battle last June and was forced to vacate the title after suffering a serious shoulder injury ahead of the scheduled rematch.

Both men have fought once since their first encounter, and it happened to be on the same card at UFC 300 in April. Pereira headlined the historic event and made quick work of ex-titleholder Jamahal Hill, knocking him out in the opening round, while Prochazka TKO’d Aleksandar Rakic in the second round on the undercard.

They’ve thus had exactly the same amount of time to stay ready for this short-notice sequel, which guarantees to produce fireworks.

The champion is a special breed of kickboxing beast, who’s established himself as a UFC legend in record time. Headlining his fifth pay-per-view in nine fights with the promotion, “Poatan” is a predator par excellence with an 80% finish rate inside the Octagon.

A freak athlete with a superhuman aura, the former Glory middleweight and light heavyweight champion possesses frightening power, which among other highlights saw him flat-line Israel Adesanya in their second kickboxing bout back in 2017 and is as intelligent on the feet as he is imposing. 

Prochazka is an intense, savage samurai. He fights with a kill-or-be-killed mindset that’s only seen him go the distance twice in 35 fights. Super athletic and animalistic, all but three of his 29 finishes are knockouts, while he boasts a remarkable 23 first-round stoppage wins.

“Denisa”is a master of chaos. He’s unpredictable, ultra-dynamic and not afraid to take chances. Last time out, he did show more patience than usual and took the best Rakic could dish out before turning the tide in the second frame, but he can’t give the human weapon that is Pereira any easy shots as the beastly Brazilian packs a different kind of power, which is amplified by his world-class technique.

Pereira would’ve noticed how heavy the Czech was on his lead leg against Rakic, and if he fights in a similar style, Pereira will make him pay as he boasts the most devastating leg kicks in the sport. He also has the best left hook, which he knocked out Hill with.

Pereira’s one suspected weakness was his takedown defence, but it’s held up well, both at middleweight and at light heavyweight. Prochazka will have to mix things up against the technically superior striker, but he’ll probably be hesitant to shoot considering he was TKO’d by Pereira in the first fight as he attempted to take him down. 

Prochazka has a chance with his power and unpredictability, but Pereira is more sophisticated on the feet and has shown he can keep the fight standing, so I’m expecting history to repeat itself.

Prediction: Pereira by knockout.

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

Alternative Bet: Pereira at 1.76.

Brian Ortega (2.20) v Diego Lopes (1.70) (Featherweight)

Like the headliner, the co-main event promises to be a barnburner as two ferocious and phenomenally talented featherweights face off.

Ortega (16-3) is the No. 3-ranked contender at 145 pounds, a former two-time title challenger who returned from injury in a big way by submitting ex-interim titleholder Yair Rodríguez in February.

“T-City” is the division’s greatest grappler. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has eight wins by submissions and almost forced Alexander Volkanovski to tap twice in their title bout in 2021, while the southpaw’s ever-improving striking has earned him three knockouts.

Lopes (24-6) is one of the most exciting prospects in mixed martial arts. After giving undefeated Movsar Evloev all he could handle in a short-notice losing effort in his UFC debut last May, he’s scored three straight first-round stoppages (against Gavin Tucker, Pat Sabatini and Sodiq Yusuff), each faster than the last.

Ranked 14th, the electrifying Brazilian has flair, both on the feet and on the ground. Aggressive by nature, he’s secured all but two of his wins by finish (10 knockouts and 12 submissions) and with neither man willing to take a backward step, this will be a slobber-knocker.

As good as Lopes has looked, it’s surprising that he’s the favourite given Ortega’s one of the absolute best at 145. He’s ultra-durable, calm in chaotic situations and a significant step up in competition for Lopes. At these odds, he’s a great pick.

Prediction: Ortega by stoppage.

Best Bet: Ortega at 2.20.

Alternative Bet: Ortega by KO/TKO/Submission/DQ at 4.00 or submission at 6.50.

Anthony Smith (2.24) v Roman Dolidze (1.67) (Light Heavyweight)

Short-notice replacement Smith (38-19) squares off against even shorter-notice replacement Dolidze (13-3) in one of the more bizarre, featured bouts of the year.

A former title challenger, Smith’s best days are behind him, but he’s been a fixture in the light heavyweight top 15 for over five years and showed he’s not going anywhere with a classy submission win over Vitor Petrino in May.

With 20 knockouts and 14 submissions to his name, 10th-ranked “Lionheart” is a well-rounded finisher with veteran savviness, and he fully believes that he’s capable of earning another shot at the title.

Dolidze’s at the tail-end of his career as well and finds himself on a two-fight slide. The Georgian moves up from middleweight to 205 pounds for this one and while he’s had success at light heavyweight in the past, winning seven in a row including his first two UFC outings, he hasn’t fought at the higher weight class since 2020.

“The Caucasian” is technically sound rather than a terror, although, his last three wins have all come by knockout. As the smaller man moving up, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll stop Smith as the American is one of the toughest men to ever step foot inside the Octagon.

With his sharpness on the feet, solid grappling, physical advantages and experience, Smith’s a juicy underdog as well.

Prediction: Smith by decision.

Best Bet: Smith at 2.24.

Alternative Bet: Smith by decision at 4.50.

Mayra Bueno Silva (1.90) v Macy Chiasson (1.90) (Bantamweight)

In a pivotal bantamweight bout, Bueno Silva (10-3-1) seeks to immediately put herself back in title contention after coming up short against Raquel Pennington in their clash for the vacant championship in January, which snapped a four-fight win streak.

Third-ranked “Sheetara” is a submission specialist with seven wins by tap out and has plenty of pop in her punches as well. With this being a three-round fight, she won’t have the stamina issues that cost her dearly in the title fight against “Rocky.”

Seventh-ranked Chiasson (9-3) is a complete fighter but has been hampered by inconsistency. She’s alternated wins and losses in each of her last five fights but is coming off a submission win over Pannie Kianzad in March, which marked a successful comeback after a year-and-a-half layoff.

Strong and compact, Bueno Silva has been the more impressive fighter and I see her grinding out the win. Alternatively, take a play on her to win by submission.

Prediction: Bueno Silva by decision.

Best Bet: Bueno Silva at 1.90.

Alternative Bet: Bueno Silva by decision at 3.75 or submission at 4.00.

Ian Machado Garry (1.64) v Michael Page (2.30) (Welterweight)

The main card gets underway with an extremely compelling striking duel between undefeated Irishman Machado Garry and one-of-a-kind British sensation Page.

Machado Garry moved to 14-0 overall and 7-0 inside the Octagon with a split decision win over Geoff Neil in February to cement himself at No. 7 in the welterweight rankings.

Uber-confident and outspoken, “The Future” has been compared to his countryman Conor McGregor and uses his range, accuracy and agility to piece up opponents. He called out top contender Colby Covington after his latest victory but with “Chaos” refusing to fight him, he’ll hook ‘em up with the UFC’s latest high-profile signing instead.

Page, who’s 22-2, maximised his promotional debut by outstriking Kevin Holland, a mainstay in the welterweight and middleweight rankings, in March and can vault straight into the top 10 in just his second fight inside the Octagon.

The former Bellator star is a unique striker. Extraordinarily light on his feet, he’s as elusive and unpredictable as they come, darting in and out with piercing blows from all angles.

As good, confident and crisp as Machado Garry is, there’s no one like Page, which makes him impossible to mimic in training camp. Despite being 13 years Machado Garry’s senior, 37-year-old Page is quick as a cat and frustrates most if not all of his opponents.

In a high-level striking chess match that could go either way, the value is in “Venom” – with his four-and-a-half-inch reach advantage – to hand Machado Garry his first loss.

Prediction: Page by decision.

Best Bet: Page at 2.30.

Alternative Bet: Page by decision at 3.25.

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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