UFC 303 Preview: 30 Tidbits, Facts And Storylines


After an entertaining UFC Saudi Arabia event in which Robert Whittaker showed Ikram Aliskerov that there are “levels” to mixed martial arts (MMA), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns home to Las Vegas, Nev., for its massive yearly International Fight Week event, UFC 303.

In the pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Alex Pereira defends his light heavyweight championship against Jiri Prochazka. In the co-main event, two-time Featherweight title challenger, Brian Ortega, takes on surging Diego Lopes (in a 155-pound showdown).

UFC 303 has several fun fights, and the atmosphere should be incredible because it is a giant card. So, before it all goes later this evening (Sat., June 29, 2024) on PPV and ESPN/ESPN+, let’s checkout some random storylines, tidbits, and statistics ahead of showtime.

UFC 264: Poirier v McGregor 3

Pain.

You all know by now that UFC 303 was supposed to be the highly-anticipated return of Conor McGregor. However, a toe injury ruined everything (seriously). Now, everyone has to wait longer for McGregor versus Michael Chandler, which hopefully will go down later this year.

Rematch

Pereira vs. Prochazka are running it back this weekend, and let’s be honest, they can fight every two weeks and fight fans will be just fine. The two light heavyweights first met inside the iconic arena Madison Square Garden at UFC 295 for the interim 205-pound championship. “Poatan” knocked out Prochazka in the second round.

Kind Of Short Notice …

Yes, Pereira vs. Prochazka is a short-notice fight. They were planned to collide in the main event of UFC 305 in Perth, Australia, over Israel Adesnya vs. Dricus Du Plessis in August. So, they knew about the matchup and were training for each other, although Pereira was in Australia when he signed the contract.

Win-Win

Pereira is in the ultimate win-win scenario. Not only is he even more of a legend for helping UFC once again (more on that soon), but MMAmania.com has heard, per sources, that he is granted an immediate rematch in New York City later this year if he loses.

Phenomenal ‘Poatan’

Pereira’s Octagon run has been absolutely stunning thus far. In eight UFC fights, Pereira became a UFC champion in two divisions, headlined Madison Square Garden (twice), defeated four former UFC champions, headlined (and saved) UFC 300, and now he saved “International Fight Week.”

When you think about it, those accolades are genuinely incredible, especially since most of his combat sports career was in kickboxing.

UFC 303 Ceremonial Weigh-in

Jeez, Jiri

Pereira’s UFC accomplishments are unreal, but so is Prochazka’s UFC resume. Thus far, he is the only fighter to knockout Aleksandar Rakic and Volkan Oezdemir, submit Glover Teixeira, and finish former Bellator Light Heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov.

The guy is special.

Mexican Grapple-fest With Stakes

Ortega vs. Lopes is UFC 303’s new co-main event. The fight is one of the best matchups in the Featherweight division that could be made because both men are excellent grapplers and extremely exciting. On top of that, it very well could be for a No. 1 contender.

Ilia Topuria vs. Max Holloway is the fight that should be made, but if that fight falls apart, the winner of Lopes vs. Ortega could step in. Or, they could wait around for the winner of Topuria vs. Holloway.

Weigh-In Day Change

During UFC 303’s early morning weigh-ins, UFC announced that Ortega vs. Lopes will now take place at Lightweight.

Ortega was planning on moving to the 155-pound division, but because of the short-notice call, he had his plans (and weight) on hold.

UFC 303 Ceremonial Weigh-in

To The Moon

Since Lopes entered UFC, he has been shot out of a rocket … and deservingly so. And with a win at UFC 303, he will go from No. 14 to No. 3 in the rankings.

Talk about a springboard.

While he lost his UFC debut to Movsar Evloev, he has finished everyone in since in the first round and is coming off a win at UFC 300 against Sodiq Yusuff.

Same Card Luck

Pereira and Lopes have been on the same card twice (UFC 295 and UFC 300), and both have received technical knockout finishes.

Switch-Up Mania

The featured bout between Anthony Smith vs. Roman Dolidze looks completely different from what the initial bout was supposed to be.

Indeed, the original fight was former Light Heavyweight champion, Jamahal Hill, taking on Khalil Rountree Jr. However, Rountree Jr. failed a drug test, so the fight was changed to Hill versus Carlos Ulberg. Next, Hill got injured, and then Smith stepped in, making it Smith vs. Ulberg. Well, Ulberg suffered an injury, and now the final matchup (knock on wood) is Smith vs. Dolidze.

UFC 303 Ceremonial Weigh-in

Moving Up

Dolidze will be moving back up to Light Heavyweight to face Smith.

10 vs. 10

Both Smith and Dolidze are ranked No. 10 in there respective divisions (Middleweight and Light Heavyweight).

Polar Bear In The Desert

UFC 303’s new main card (that is being held together with duct tape) looks pretty awesome; however, there is one fight that sticks out like a sore thumb: Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Macy Chiasson. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Silva competed for a title in her last fight, but it was a horrible fight and performance.

No disrespect, but that women’s Bantamweight fight is not UFC 303 PPV main card-worthy, especially for “International Fight Week.” Two obvious fights could take its place: Talbott vs. Ghemmouri or Swanson vs. Fili.

‘MVP’ Gets His Shot

Michael “Venom” Page (MVP) will look to snag Ian Garry’s No. 7 Welterweight ranking later this evening to crack UFC’s Top 10 rankings.

“MVP” made a gigantic splash in the promotion when he upset Kevin Holland in his UFC debut earlier this year at UFC 299. He is riding a two-fight win streak.

Unappealing

Garry doesn’t care about his upcoming fight with “MVP.” At UFC 303 media day, he flat-out said, “I have no interest in it.” It makes sense because he was gunning for former three-time title challenger, Colby Covington.

Garry is fighting down in the rankings and was only taking the fight to stay active and compete on the same card as McGregor.

Welp.

Time Is A Construct

Garry made his professional mixd martial arts (MMA) debut on Feb. 16, 2019, the same night that Page fought Paul Daley at Bellator 216. Garry fought James Sheehan at Cage Warriors 101.

They both won.

Rebound

Joe Pyfer looks to rebound from his first UFC main event loss against Jack Hermansson. It was also his first “L” in the promotion. Pyfer had a rocket ship put on his back when he received a contract on Contender Series, and it still feels that way.

He is given a pretty picture-perfect matchup against Marc-Andre Barriault, and he should get a highlight-reel knockout and put himself back into the UFC Middleweight picture.

Triple Retirement?

Three UFC veterans could lay down their gloves in the Octagon on Saturday: Cub Swanson, Andrei Arlovski and/or Michelle Waterson.

Both Arlovski and Swanson are already 40 years old, and Waterson is 38. It just makes sense because it is “International Fight Week,” and they are fighting in front of a sold-out Las Vegas crowd. And Swanson has not fought in front of a crowd since before the global COVID-19 pandemic (an utter crime).

Arlovski is fighting Martin Buday, Waterson is fighting Gillian Anderson and Swanson is fighting Andre Fili, which should be a banger.

Time To Step Up, Kid

Payton Talbott is fighting outside the UFC Apex for the first time this weekend and is primed to be the one everyone talks about from the “Prelims.”

Talbott had the whole MMA world talking about him after he demolished Cameron Saaiman in his last outing earlier this year, and because of that, he got placed on UFC 303.

He holds an 88 percent finish rate and is one of the flashiest fighters in UFC at the moment.

Biggest Favorite Ever?

While Talbott isn’t the biggest betting favorite … yet — that belongs to Bo Nickal (-2200). But, by fight night, Talbott could surpass that if money keeps coming in on him. He is currently a -1600 favorite, by far the biggest favorite on UFC 303. He faces Yanis Ghemmouri.

Welcome To UFC!

Only one fighter makes his UFC debut this weekend, Rei Tsuruya (9-0). Tsuruya scored a UFC contract by winning the “Road To UFC” Flyweight finals (he finished Jiniushiyue).

Tsuruya holds an 88 percent finish rate with four knockouts and four submissions. He faces Carlos Hernandez.

UFC 303 Ceremonial Weigh-in

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Curtain Jerker

The first fight of UFC 303 is a banger as former Top 10 Bantamweight, Ricky Simon, takes on Vinicius Oliveira, who is coming off a “Knockout of the Year” contender.

While this fight definitely deserves to be higher on the card, the matchmakers know precisely what they’re doing: start UFC 303 off with a bang.

UFC 303 Fight Leader

The fighter with the most career fights competing at UFC 303 is Arlovski (57).

UFC 303 Fight Rookie

The fighter with the least amount of career fights competing at UFC 303 is Talbott (eight).

UFC 303 Knockout King

The fighter with the most amount of career knockouts competing at UFC 303 is Prochazka (26).

UFC 303 Submission Savant

The fighter with the most amount of career submissions competing at UFC 303 is Smith (15).

Winners And Losers

Thirteen fighters are coming off wins and 13 are coming off losses.

Multi-Divisions

Here are the divisions that will be on display this Saturday:

  • One Heavyweight fight
  • Two Light Heavyweight fights
  • One Middleweight fight
  • One Welterweight fight
  • Three Featherweight fights
  • Two Bantamweight fights
  • One Flyweight
  • One women’s Strawweight
  • One women’s Bantamweight

Beta Dog

According to DraftKings, the “biggest” underdog at UFC 303 is Ghemmouri at +900.

UFC 303 Poster

LIVE! Watch UFC 303 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

’McGREGOR-FREE MAIN EVENT! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., June 29, 2024, without its biggest box office draw, Conor McGregor, after the Irish sports star delayed the “greatest comeback of all-time” because he broke his pinky toe (seriously). Coming the rescue once again is Light Heavyweight champion, Alex Pereira, agreeing to rematch former division champion, Jiri Prochazka, in the pay-per-view (PPV) main event. In UFC 303’s co-headliner, top-ranked Featherweight contender, Brian Ortega, will attempt to halt the rise of red-hot surging 145-pound prospect, Diego Lopes. UFC 303’s PPV main card (see it here) will also feature Anthony Smith vs. Roman Dolidze and Ian Garry vs. Michael “Venom” Page and so much more. It’s must-watch action! UFC 303 start time scheduled for 6 p.m. ET (Prelims) and 10 p.m. ET (PPV).

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!


To checkout the latest and greatest UFC 303 fight card and rumors click here.



Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top