UFC & MMA Betting

Early UFC 301 Predictions: Preliminary Picks for UFC Rio



While we've been rewatching UFC 300 again and again for weeks, it's already time for UFC 301. We like to stay ahead of things, so we already analyzed the best bouts on this card. Here are our early UFC 301 predictions.

UFC Rio Predictions: Our Main Card Picks Before the Weigh-Ins

It is understandable if this card is not as intriguing to you after what we witnessed last month. We shouldn't neglect the upcoming events but it is a fact that UFC 301 is slightly underwhelming. Only one championship bout, and zero high-ranked fighters in the undercard.

Pantoja vs Erceg: Strangest Title Fight In a Minute

Alexandre Pantoja returns to the Octagon to defend his Flyweight belt for the second time in six months. This matchup is an incredibly unusual case as his opponent is ranked 10th in the division.

This proves how broken the Flyweight division is right now and there is no other challenger. Brandon Royval and Brandon Moreno fought in February and there was no way they could be ready for early May.

Nevertheless, giving the title shot to Steve Erceg feels shocking. The young Australian is talented but he made his UFC debut in June 2023. He won three fights since then and matchmakers gave him a solid boost with this title shot.

We do not believe that Erceg is capable of an upset this early in his career. We have to pick the champion for our UFC 301 predictions.

Martinez vs Aldo: What Chances Does the Legend Have?

We love Jose Aldo. Who doesn't? But he is 37 years old and retired two years ago, just one day before his UFC contract ended. He decided to pursue a career in boxing but something changed his mind.

Aldo is an absolute legend of the sport and UFC with 39 professional fights and a record of 31-8-0. Yet, it is hard to predict how he will manage against a fighter who is climbing the rankings and going through his best period.

Jonathan Martinez has been in the UFC since 2018 and won 10 of his 13 fights. He enters this contest with six wins in a row, most recently beating Adrian Yanez and Said Nurmagomedov.

We have to pick his side for our UFC 301 predictions, regardless of our love for Aldo.

Anthony Smith vs Vitor Petrino: Why Is He Still Fighting?

Anthony Smith has was offered yet another promising young prospect and he accepted the fight. At 35, with 56 professional fights behind him, he hardly presents a challenge these days.

He lost three of his last four bouts but it is a fact that he fought guys like Magomed Ankalaev, Johnny Walker, and Khalil Rountree Jr.

Vitor Petrino is the future of the light heavyweight division. At 26, he already fought 11 times and won all of his bouts. He debuted in the UFC in early 2023 and has already beaten Anton Turkalj, Marcin Prachnio, Modestas Bukauskas, and Tyson Pedro.

A solid list of fighters that earned him a position in the Top 15. Should he win this fight, he will probably get promoted to the Top 10. There is no way we could pick Smith here for our UFC Rio predictions.

UFC 301 Predictions: Don't Miss These Bouts from the Prelims

Silva vs Gomis: Someone Is Going to Sleep

You heard it here first – this bout is our contender for Fight of the Night. Silva is on a nine-fight winning streak and Gomis is on an 11-fight winning streak.

The fighters are almost the same age, but there is a difference in experience. This will be the second fight in the UFC for the Brazilian while Gomis has already fought three times.

While the whole arena will be rooting for the Brazilian, Gomis has the advantage on our cards. He is 13cm taller, has a 10cm reach advantage, and is more complete when it comes to skills.

Both are solid strikers but Gomis is more advanced on the ground. We have to pick the underdog for our UFC 301 predictions.

Barbosa vs Kareckaite: A Double Debut

Both females earned a contract through the Contender Series and will make their debut at UFC Rio. Once again, we predict an upset for the home crowd here.

Bookmakers favor Barbosa as the local fighter but we believe that her Lithuanian opponent has a solid advantage. She is not only six years younger but she is much bigger and stronger physically.

Kareckaite is taller (7cm) and has a greater reach (11cm). This will be a clash between different styles. Barbosa prefers to fight on the ground while Ernesta is a striker. We like her chances here and she is the last pick of our UFC 301 predictions.

As long as she doesn't stagnate due to the high pressure of debuting on the other side of the world, she should win this bout.

Vlad is a former amateur MMA fighter. After a series of injuries, he found a different way to connect with the sport and its fanbase - through writing. He's been covering everything-UFC for over 5 years on various platforms and has been part of the team at NYFights since early 2022.