UFC 297 already made history with the highest-grossing arena gate in history. Now it is up to the fighters to show us why this event deserves the attention it received. Here are our UFC 297 predictions.
UFC 297 Predictions: Top 3 Picks from the Main Card
Strickland vs Du Plessis Prediction
The new middleweight champion Sean Strickland will attempt his first title defense after winning it from Israel Adesanya last summer. His triumph came as an absolute surprise to all fans and experts but it is a fact that Strickland gave Adesanya no chances in their bout.
The champion himself called this upcoming title defense “a tougher matchup” and he believes that Du Plessis is a better fighter than Adesanya.
This will be an interesting matchup. Strickland is a dangerous man but you can hardly call him an outstanding athlete. His boxing is above average and he claims that he is a good wrestler, although we have hardly ever seen his groundwork. Yesterday, he said that he wants this to be a man's fight and he wants to fight until one of them gets knocked out.
While Du Plessis seemingly agreed to that proposition, we have to note that he is an outstanding wrestler. If Strickland gets the advantage with striking, Du Plessis could take him down and change the tides of the fight.
Du Plessis is still very young and incredibly talented, which he has already proven within the UFC. He knocked out Brunson and Whittaker and submitted Till.
Therefore, we cannot agree that the American is truly the favorite as bookmakers believe and we have a different suggestion for our UFC 297 predictions. We would rather bet on the number of rounds as we do not expect this to be a quick bout. We do have to point out, however, that Strickland has superior cardio and if the match enters the championship rounds, he should have an advantage.
• Over 2.5 Rounds
Pennington vs Bueno Silva Prediction
The belt of the legendary Amanda Nunes is at stake here and as expected, we had to wait until she retires to see a new champion.
Pennington deserves this title shot, having completed an enviable streak of five victories in a row. The last fight against Vieira turned out to be extremely difficult and only a split decision allowed Raquel to reach the status of a contender. Pennington fights well and feels good on her feet – in 2018, Nunes needed almost 5 rounds to knock her out. In fact, Pennington has fought almost all of the former champions in the division (Pena, Nunes, Holm, Rousey).
Silva enters this matchup as a massive betting favorite, which raises some questions as her experience and past opponents are far from impressive when compared to Raquel's record.
Silva’s only trump card is her ground game – she won 7 of her 10 wins via submissions. Pennington lost by submission only once: back in 2012 to Zingano. We will go against the expectations here with our UFC 297 predictions and pick Pennington. She is too experienced to allow a submission and we expect her to win after five tough rounds.
• Pennington to Win
• Pennington via Decision
Magny vs Malott Prediction
Neil Magny has been tasked with testing yet another prospect. He has been the gatekeeper throughout most of his career. He is a gifted fighter but not good enough to be listed among the elite athletes.
The 32-year-old Malott has no time to waste. He is the local fan-favorite and he has to please his home crowd with a knockout or a submission. Since his debut, he finished three opponents ahead of schedule and he has actually never made it to the judges' scorecards in his career.
Magny is a tough guy but he often loses early. Despite his versatility, he does not have knockout power or outstanding wrestling, so the upcoming fight is especially inconvenient for him. Malott feels great in any component and regularly scores knockouts and submissions. We pick Malott to win early for our UFC 297 predictions.
• Malott to Win
UFC 297 Full Card Predictions: The Best of the Rest
We decided against any UFC 297 prelims predictions as we feel that there may be surprising results in the earlier bouts. Instead, we analyzed the remaining main card bouts and although the risk factor is also present, we have more confidence in those picks.
Curtis vs Barriault Prediction
Curtis has not been doing very well lately – defeats from Gastelum and Hermansson, a no-contest with Imavov, and a single lonely victory over Buckley. Chris prefers to work in a standing position and always strives for an early end to the fight. Sometimes this plays a cruel joke on the American athlete because if his attempts to get a knockout fail, he then loses by decision.
Barriault is also a distinguished knockout artist and is on a series of two victories, defeating Anders and Marquez. The Canadian is stylistically very similar to his rival, but there is one important factor to point out – Curtis had much stronger opposition than Marc-Andre, which makes him more experienced. We believe that it is worth betting on him to win and we pick Curtis for our UFC 297 predictions. However, we would not advise betting on a knockout as this bout could easily reach the scorecards.
• Curtis to Win
Allen vs Evloev Prediction
The UFC 297 main card kicks off with a bout that could otherwise be the highlight of any regular fight night event. We already mentioned days ago that this is the bout that we are most eager to see apart from the main event.
Arnold Allen was seen by many as one of the most likely contenders for the featherweight belt, but Holloway put the prospect in his place last year. It’s no secret that everyone is already tired of the fights for the belt between Max and his eternal rival, Volkanovski, but the organization simply cannot come up with anything else. Allen turned out to be not ready to fight with the tops and now he will again have to prove his worth. In the UFC 297 press conference yesterday, he said that a win over Evloev should put him back in the contention talks.
However, Evloev is far from being just a normal opponent. The undefeated Russian poses a serious threat to Allen, as he prefers to fight smart, systematically earning points and winning by decision. So far Movsar has not faced top opposition, but the guy has huge potential and is stylistically inconvenient for Arnold.
In this fight, Evloev has really good chances, because Holloway has already proven that a smart game plan with fewer risks can neutralize Allen’s strengths. We pick Evloev for our UFC 297 predictions.
• Evloev to Win