UFC 300: Pereira vs. Hill Predictions

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UFC 300 takes place on Sunday (AEDT) at the T-Mobile Arena In Las Vegas, 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 300 Predictions


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Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill Prediction

Former middleweight champion Alex Pereira successfully moved up to light-heavyweight last year, beating Jan Blachowicz and Jiri Prochazka to claim the vacant 205lb title.  Now he headlines UFC 300 against Jamahal hill, who had to vacate the belt last year due to an injury, but is returning to action determined to reclaim his spot on the throne.

While the 36-year-old Pereira is a former 185lb’er he was really pushing the limits of what is possible size wise there. As such, even though the 32-year-old Hill is generally seen as being big for the 205lb division, Pereira matches him in both height and reach. Of course Pereira is very much striking-orientated in his approach and backed up by a vast amount of top-flight experience as a former Glory kickboxing champion before he committed fully to MMA. And his transition since then has been hugely impressive, to the extent that he now claims the record for the quickest route to winning two UFC titles, which he did in less than two years.

Pereira is an elite striker, though not so much in that Adesanya / Anderson Silva mould of ultra-slick, flashy technique and dynamic creativity. Instead, ‘Poatan’ has a more straight-forward but brutally effective approach with exceptionally potent punching power, particularly with his deadly left hook, and punishing kicks too. He’s also very accurate and doesn’t give any tells prior to firing his weaponary. Defensively he’s not bullet-proof though and even during his wins over the years against Adesanya he found himself in trouble at times, though in most instances was able to battle through it. Pereira’s big weakness in MMA though is his limited skill-set beyond striking, leaving him vulnerable to being taken down, and having to survive rather than thrive if the action hits the mat.

Meanwhile, Hill is a very good striker in his own right with explosive finishing power and a versatile arsenal of striking techniques at his disposal that he uses to good effect. He fights long and keeps his output high, has good speed and moves well, but he is there to be hit at times due to his offensive focus. The ground game isn’t a big focus for Hill, and indeed he’s claimed he won’t be looking to take Pereira down on Saturday night, but if he did he’s certainly more comfortable there than his opponent. A big concern heading into this fight for Hill is he had to give up the belt last year due to having a ruptured achilles tendon, a serious injury that’s kept him out for a long period of time. Even early this year Hill had appeared to be targeting a summer return at the earliest, so it does leave some concern as to whether he may have rushed his comeback in order to land this coveted spot at the top of the UFC 300 card.

Even if Hill’s recovery was a bit ahead of schedule it’s still a tough injury to bounce back from. Hill seems confident he can win the striking battle here, and he certainly has the speed and power to be a problem for anyone, but it feels like a mistake if he avoids utilizing his ground advantage. He won’t have a size advantage here and in the end I feel Pereira’s experience from having gone up against other elite strikers for his entire combat sports career will serve him well when coping with what Hill brings to the table. I think Pereira will find success with leg kicks here, but it’s his ‘Hands Of Stone’ that will ultimately lead him to a 3rd round TKO finish.

Prediction: Alex Pereira to win by TKO in Rd3

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Zhang Weili vs. Yan Xiaonan Prediction

The first ever all-Chinese title fight will take place at UFC 300 when current strawweight champion Zhang Weili attempts to defend her title against Yan Xiaonan, who comes in off back-to-back wins, including KO’ing ex-champ Jessica Andrade last time out.

The 34-year-old Weili is the complete package as an MMA fighter, capable of winning wherever the fight goes. On the feet she applies constant pressure with a good balance of speed, volume and power. She works very well on the inside, striking in combination with punches, kicks, knees and elbows, and has excellent durability too. Weili’s wrestling has improved over time to become even more of a powerhouse, and after securing takedowns all options are open to her, whether controlling on top, landing effective ground-and-pound or working for a submission. Weili blends her skills together smoothly and benefits from having an excellent gas tank that enables her to push the pace for the full five rounds.

The 34-year-old Xiaonan is a skilled striker who works comfortably behind the jab and utilizes her kickboxing well from range. Xiaonan did KO Andrade last time out, but generally she puts more of an emphasis on her speed and work-rate rather than stopping power, with all her other stoppage wins having come before her 10-fight run in the UFC. Meanwhile, Xiaonan’s outmatched in the wrestling department against Weili, but she is hard to finish on the mat.

Xiaonan is a good fighter, but Weili is a great one and I expect her to prove that on Saturday night. She’ll be able to make good use of her pressure and harder strikes on the feet, but her clearest path to victory is to use her wrestling to get the fight to the mat, and from there I think she can gradually overwhelm Xiaonan to find a fourth round TKO victory.

Prediction: Zhang Weili to win by TKO in Rd4

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Justin Gaethje vs. Max Holloway  Prediction

Justin Gaethje won the symbolic ‘BMF’ title last year by KO’ing Dustin Poirier and now he’ll look to defend it against former featherweight champ Max Holloway, who moves up to lightweight for this opportunity.

It’s been five years since the only other time the 32-year-old Holloway moved up a division to fight at lightweight.  At the time ‘Blessed’ was still the king of the featherweights and riding a 13-fight winning streak, but his fight against Dustin Poirier didn’t go well at all, uncharacteristically taking a beating on his way to a convincing unanimous decision loss.

It wasn’t long after that we saw Holloway run into his nemesis Alexander Volkanovski back at 145lbs, suffering a trilogy of losses to him, but it should also be stressed that aside from that, no one else has managed to beat him in the past 10 years, and he still holds a proud record of never having been stopped by strikes in his career.

Holloway remains an impressive striking talent with excellent boxing ability in particular, combining slick technique, speed and precision in his clinical work to the body and head.  He expertly pieces together high-volume combinations while also being a master of distance management and footwork.  Despite his constant activity on the feet he has shown many times that he has an excellent gas-tank over five rounds, though that also indicates he’s not a big finisher these days, with the majority of his fights going to the scorecards in recent years.

The complete opposite is true of the 35-year-old Gaethje, who is famed for his finishing ability, with 20 of his 25 career wins being via strikes.  Gaethje is equally thunderous with both punches and kicks, including particularly brutal leg kicks.  And what makes this even more challenging to deal with is the fact that Gaethje keeps up an extremely high level of intensity on the feet, matching even Holloway in terms of his output.  Gaethje is also known to be extremely durable and can outlast his opponents in a war of attrition, though he has been stopped a couple of times in the past, and with the wars he’s been that’s certain to become more of an issue as time goes on.

Holloway is the more technical, crafty striker here, but moving up a division to fight someone with Gaethje’s power doesn’t seem like a good idea.  The fact that Gaethje can match the rate of Holloway’s output is also a concern, and I think he can find major success with leg kicks here too. That’ll pave the way for power punches upstairs, and as good as his chin has been over the years, I think we see Holloway finished via strikes for the first time here in the 3nd round, if not sooner.

Prediction:  Justin Gaethje to win by TKO in Rd3

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Charles Oliveira vs. Arman Tsarukyan  Prediction

The word is this could be a lightweight title elimination fight as former champion Charles Oliveira attempts to make his way back to the belt against Arman Tsarukyan, who is coming off back-to-back victories via strikes.

The 34-year-old Oliveira is a master in the art of finishing fights wherever the action goes and holds numerous UFC records to prove it. Earlier in his career he was more heavily focused on his deadly grappling ability, creating scrambling opportunities and creatively setting up an endless array of submission attempts. Even today that’s still his greatest asset, accounting for no less than 21 of his 34 carer victories. However, Oliveira’s flair and hunger for finishing fights carries over to his striking ability, showing versatility, accuracy and surprising power when on the attack. For all his strengths he does have weaknesses though. With such an offensively-minded approach there are holes in his defense and he can be rocked too. Generally he fights through adversity, but he has been finished on the feet in the past, and it’s a similar story on the mat as on occasions his over-eagerness to end fights can leave him vulnerable to being submitted himself by other talented grapplers.

The 27-year-old Tsarukyan is a very well-rounded, technically sound fighter with no glaring weaknesses. He’ll give up 3″ in height and 2″ in reach to Oliveira here, but he’s a quick, compact striker with good technique and movement, the cardio to push the pace continually, and he’s actually become more of a finisher on the feet over the course of his UFC run. He’s mindful of his defense and also benefits from his ability to seamlessly transition into takedown attempts, which keeps his opponents on edge. And well they should as when he does commit to the takedown Tsarukyan has excellent wrestling and scrambles well too, even making current champ Islam Makhachev work hard to deal with him on the mat during an impressive debut five years ago.

It’ll be interesting to see if Tsarukyan looks to use his wrestling as much here though as while he’s very good on the mat that is also where Oliveira thrives. On the feet I feel Oliveira is the more dangerous due to his dynamic unpredictability, but Tsarukyan is better defensively and likely more durable too. Really it’s just a great fight that should be entertaining whether it plays out on the feet, on the mat, or more than likely a mix of both. It’s also a tough one to call, but Tsarukyan is such a good all-rounder and defensively on-point that I think he can survive the Oliveira onslaught over three rounds. And not just that, but he can also match his intensity and potentially rock him during the back-and-forth battle to help swing the momentum in his favor and eek out a decision victory.

Prediction: Arman Tsarukyan to win by decision.

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Bo Nickal vs. Cody Brundage Prediction

An elite-level wrestler and as hyped a prospect as has ever emerged from the Contender Series, the undefeated Bo Nickal has made light work of his first two opponents in the Octagon and will now go up against Cody Brundage, who has won his last two fights.

The hype appears to be real for the 28-year-old Nickal, who is an extremely decorated wrestler that has so far transitioned very smoothly over to MMA. It helps that he’s a great athlete, has a strong mindset, and judging by how quickly he’s been able to lock in a variety of different submission finishes on the mat, he’s also a fast learner. And though his striking is still a work-in-progress just two years into his MMA career, he’s showing promising signs there too, looking comfortable on the feet and throwing with genuine power. Of course the cracks could quickly begin to show once his level of competition improves though as so far his most notable opponent was Jamie Pickett, who has lost 7 of his 9 UFC fights.

The 29-year-old Brundage is a bit better than Nickal’s other opponents so far, but in all fairness he still stands out like a sore thumb on this star-studded UFC 300 main card as he’s typically someone you’d find on the prelims of a Fight Night card. To be fair he is coming in off a couple of wins, although one of those was via a DQ when his opponent caught him with an illegal elbow strike, and overall he’s just 4-4 in the UFC. Brundage has middle-of-the-road skill-set, but he does have a wrestling background and looks to blend that with striking. His wrestling feels largely redundant against someone of Nickal’s caliber though, so he’ll likely be hoping to test Nickal’s stand-up game using his karate-based style with an emphasis on kicks.

Having never been out of the first round yet it’ll be interesting to see if Nickal tests himself on the feet and tries to gain some experience here, but I don’t think it’ll be too long before his wrestling instincts kick in and he gets on top, leading to a first round finish via either TKO or submission.

Prediction: Bo Nickal to win by TKO in Rd1.

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UFC 300 Prelims

(Predicted winners in bold)

Jiri Prochazka vs. Aleksandar Rakic
Aljamain Sterling vs. Calvin Kattar
Kayla Harrison vs. Holly Holm
Sodiq Yusuff vs. Diego Lopes

Jalin Turner vs. Renato Moicano
Jessica Andrade vs. Marina Rodriguez
Jim Miller vs. Bobby Green
Cody Garbrandt vs. Deiveson Figueiredo

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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.