UFC 299: O’Malley vs. Vera 2 Predictions & Betting Tips

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UFC 299: O’Malley vs. Vera 2 takes place on Sunday (AEDT) at the Kaseya Center in Miami, Florida, United States. – and we’ve got our UFC predictions for all the fights below and you can place your bets with the best betting sites Australia has to offer!

UFC 299: O’Malley vs. Vera 2 Predictions


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Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera Prediction

These two first fought in 2020, with an early calf kick from Marlon Vera compromising Sean O’Malley’s mobility, paving the way for a TKO finish before the end of the opening round. Since then O’Malley has gone six fights unbeaten and won the bantamweight title along the way, while Vera has gone 5-2 and is coming off a decision win over Pedro Munhoz.

The 29-year-old O’Malley has proven to be a special striking talent during his UFC run. There are other fighters who are technically sound, move well and have stopping power, but the icing on the cake for ‘Suga’ is that he reads he has excellent speed, timing and accuracy, enabling him to select the perfect punch or occasional head kick at just the right moment to switch out the lights. Along with a good ability to read opponents and land on the counter he also does a good job of maintaining distance with good footwork.  What we haven’t seen is whether he can maintain his pace over five rounds, while his vulnerability to leg kicks remains a big concern and his ground game could yet prove to be a weak point.

While the 31-year-old Vera finished O’Malley in the first five minutes almost four years ago he’s generally quite a slow starter who gradually builds momentum. In fact a number of his biggest wins came deep into fights, including late third round finishes of Frankie Edgar and Brad Pickett, and a fourth round stoppage of Dominick Cruz. All three of those came via head kick, so it’s not just his leg kicks that O’Malley has to be wary of, and he has hard-hitting punches well too. While his striking has gained more attention and is his preferred option these days he is the better grappler of the two here and has proven submission ability, while he’s also very durable and has never been stopped inside the distance.

There are some concerns regarding Vera though. The word on the grapevine according to former 135lb champ Aljamain Sterling is that Vera has had a bad camp heading into this one, but it is just speculation. A more apparent worry is that Vera’s recent outings simply haven’t been all that good. While he generally has that knack for shifting the balance of a fight that he’s losing late on, in recent times he’s had his traditional slow start but then also struggled to make an impact later on.

Vera has clear avenues to victory though and it could be as simple as just continuing to chop at the calf of O’Malley if he’s not figured out how to defend against that effectively. Even so I’m going for O’Malley here. Vera is quite hittable and leans on his durability, which is a big risk against someone as potent as O’Malley. As such I think O’Malley will take advantage of his opponent’s slow start by quickly getting to work landing his own strikes from range, leading to a 2nd round TKO finish.

Prediction: Sean O’Malley to win by TKO in Rd2

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Dustin Poirier vs. Benoit Saint Denis Prediction

Dustin Poirier has lost two of his last three fights, including a submission loss to Charles Oliveira for the lightweight title, and a KO defeat against Justin Gaethje in their battle for the ‘BMF’ belt. Now he’ll come up against a rising force in Benoit Saint Denis, who has gone unbeaten in his last five UFC appearances.

38 fights into his MMA career, the 35-year-old Poirier has admitted that while he’s not intending to retire, he’s now at the stage where any fight could be his last depending on how things go.  That being said, Poirier is still ranked No.3 and remains a calculated, high-volume striker.  He is always willing to get into a hard-fought scrap, but doesn’t just swinging for the fences and will instead piece together quality combinations smartly and with good power in the heat of the moment. He still has good cardio, but at this stage in his career durability is inevitably starting to become a concern.  Also, while he is quite well-rounded he doesn’t have cast-iron takedown defense and has been submitted a few times.

Saint Denis is currently moving into his prime at 28-years-old and it shows as he has a well-rounded skill-set and is brimming with confidence. He’s known as ‘The God Of War’, and certainly does his best to live up to that with an aggressive, high-octane style that’s seen him embrace the power in his thudding kicks and powerful punches in recent times with three stoppages via strikes in his last four fights. That kind of offensive approach does come at the expense of his defense though, but so far no-one has been able to make him pay for his willingness to eat punches in order to land his own. And striking is just one string to his bow as he’s also a good wrestler and actually has far more wins via submission than strikes.

I’m surprised Poirier agreed to this fight, particularly when he was publicly calling for a big name opponent next. Instead he finds himself facing someone who isn’t a big star yet, but is still very tough, talented and hungry for success. Maybe that just proves ‘The Diamond’s’ competitive fire still burns bright, and perhaps he sees it being a five-rounder as being an advantage given his opponent has no experience with that. Still, I lean towards BSD here. He has the better ground game of the two, and while there’s more craft to Poirier’s striking game, Saint Denis’ unrelenting pressure, greater durability and threat of takedowns will serve him well, leading to a third round TKO victory.

Prediction: Benoit Saint Denis to win by TKO in Rd3

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Michael Page vs. Kevin Holland Prediction

A long-time Bellator star coming off a TKO victory in that promotion, Michael ‘Venom’ Page now makes his UFC debut on Saturday night against Kevin Holland, who is coming off a split-decision loss to Jack Della Maddalena, but won his other two fights last year.

The 36-year-old Page has spent practically his entire career in Bellator and compiled an impressive 17-2 record there, although despite that he only fought for a title once and lost. Still, though he’s arriving in the Octagon quite late in his career he’s still a welcome addition to the roster as he’s an entertaining fighter who is known for his very dynamic striking ability and jaw-dropping finishes.

Page is a tall, long-limbed striker at 6ft 3″ with a 79″ reach, yet he’s still very fast and agile and has a wide variety of striking techniques at his disposal. His ‘Venom’ nickname is apt as he can hypnotise opponents with his unorthodox movement on the outside before striking out of nowhere in the blink of an eye with a deadly kick, punch or knee. Page isn’t much of a ground fighter, and though he managed to get through his Bellator run relatively unscathed despite that, it could be his undoing in the UFC.

It’s hard to find someone like ‘Venom’, but the 31-year-old Holland actually fits the bill rather well. Like Page, Holland is an unusually long, lengthy striker, and in fact actually has an extra 2″ in reach over him, while his years fighting at middleweight suggest he’s the naturally bigger man. Like his opponent he’s also dynamic and creative with his offense and has knockout power. Holland’s defensive wrestling has traditionally been a major hole in his game, but that’s unlikely to be an issue against Page and offensively ‘Trailblazer’ has significantly more to offer in that regard as he’s good in the clinch, is a respectable offensive wrestler and presents a decent submission threat on the mat.

It’s good to see ‘Venom’ in the UFC and this is a fun fight, but it’s a tricky one for him. Despite his flashy style he’s a more cold, calculated striker than the impulsive, happy-go-lucky Holland, but even so this is a unique situation where he’ll be going up against someone who is even longer than he is, while also having similarly fast, dynamic offense. Meanwhile, Holland is the more well-rounded fighter and that could pay off big for him if he’s willing to take the fight to the mat. As such, in a fight that could go either way I think Holland has more routes to victory, and I also feel his length may make it more difficult for Page to implement his style, so I’ll take Holland to win a hard fought decision.

Prediction: Kevin Holland to win by decision.

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Gilbert Burns vs. Jack Della Maddalena Prediction

Former welterweight title contender Gilbert Burns is coming off a decision loss to Belal Muhammad after having two-in-a-row prior to that. Now he goes up against the in-form Jack Della Maddalena, who has won all six of his UFC fights so far.

At 37-years-old Burns is aging gracefully and has very well-rounded skill-set. He’s not the biggest welterweight and actually fought much of his career at lightweight, but he is strong and durable for his size. At his core he’s a highly decorated BJJ player who has the ability to mix things up with anyone on the mat. He has solid wrestling chops too, and despite his size he’s fearless on the feet, applies pressure and has good pop on his strikes.

At 27, Maddalena is 10 years younger than Burns and has an inch in height and a couple of inches in reach over him. Primarily a striker, he made a big impression in the early stages of his UFC run with his tight, compact combination boxing in the pocket, working very well to the body as well as the head with the kind of power and precision that finished his first three opponents in less than a round each. He also got to show off his submission chops in a first round finish of Randy Brown, but since then we’ve seen that he’s not going to just run through everyone, having to battle his way to split-decision wins over both Bassil Hafez and Kevin Holland.

I think this is another fight where Maddalena won’t just be able to blast through his opponent as Burns is simply too tough and capable on the feet. However, if it remains upright throughout I do expect Maddalena to have the edge. That being said, Burns obviously has a significant advantage in terms of grappling and so it could all come down to whether he can get the takedowns he needs. It won’t be easy, but Burns is tenacious and I’ll say he does get some time on the mat and is at least able to threaten with submissions, if not finish one in order to secure a decision win.

Prediction: Gilbert Burns to win by decision.

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Petr Yan vs. Song Yadong Prediction

Petr Yan appeared to be a formidable force when he won the bantamweight title back in 2020, but he’s since lost four of his next five fights and is now preparing for another tough fight against Song Yadong, who by way of contrast has emerged victorious in four of his last five Octagon appearances.

While the 31-year-old Yan’s recent record doesn’t look good, this isn’t a case of a once-great fighter now having fallen off a cliff. For example, his title loss to Aljamain Sterling occurred in a fight he appeared to be winning until he landed an illegal knee that led to him being disqualified. He then went on to win the interim belt against Cory Sandhagen and then very narrowly lost to both Sterling and Sean O’Malley by split-decision. Only in his latest fight against Merab Dvalishvili was he beaten fair-and-square with no room for doubt, and he’s far from the first fighter to suffer that fate against him.

So Yan has not suddenly become a bad fighter, but he does have a lot of weight on his shoulders now as he looks to get back to winning ways. He’s still a very skilled boxer with fast hands, good  power and the sharpness to capitalize on any holes in his opponent’s defense. He’ll also apply pressure and will draw confidence from the fact that his solid defense and durability means he’s still never having been stopped by strikes or submission. He’ll also go for opportunistic takedowns at times and has good takedown defense and cardio against anyone other than Merab.

The 26-year-old Yadong entered the UFC at a young age with a surprisingly solid set of skills, has done well to further refine them in the years since, and now looks to push into the Top 5 rankings at 135lbs. He’s a talented, technical striker who like Yan is a good boxer with fast hands and notable punuching power, but will also blend kicks into his attacks too while keeping a good pace and staying composed defensively. He’s developed some respectable offensive wrestling too and can generally steer clear of trouble on the mat until he can work back to the striking game.

This is clearly a well matched fight and should be closely contested. Yadong has momentum on his side and his kicking game will be a plus point for him here, but I don’t think he’ll be able to get his wrestling going against Yan. Meanwhile, in a hard-fought yet tactical battle I think Yan might be the better at applying pressure and making the reads necessary to edge out the striking exchanges, leading him to the narrowest of decision victories.

Prediction: Petr Yan to win by decision.

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UFC 299: O’Malley vs. Vera 2 Prelims

(Predicted winners in bold)

Curtis Blaydes vs. Jailton Almeida
Katlyn Chookagian vs. Maycee Barber
Mateusz Gamrot vs. Rafael dos Anjos
Pedro Munhoz vs. Kyler Phillips
Michel Pereira vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
Ion Cutelaba vs. Philipe Lins
Robelis Despaigne vs. Josh Parisian
CJ Vergara vs. Assu Almabayev
Joanne Wood vs. Maryna Moroz

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About Ross Cole

Ross Cole is one of the most prolific mixed martial arts writers in the world, having written more than 17,000 MMA news stories for MMA Insight, which he founded in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts, and reaching millions of die-hard MMA fans in the process. You can read more of Ross's work at MMAInsight.com.