UFC & MMA Betting

UFC 298 Predictions: Full Card, Prelims Betting Picks



This card is absolutely stacked. Aside from the obvious main event that will decide the future of the Featherweight division, there are several former champions, legends of the sport, and future title contenders. Here are our UFC 298 predictions.

UFC 298 Predictions: Three Incredible Main Card Contests

Alexander Volkanovski vs Ilia Topuria

Topuria is not a well-promoted fighter and it is still quite difficult to draw conclusions about his potential. However, Volkanovski had no other options to fight – he simply has no opponents left in the featherweight division where only Holloway is showing signs of life. Yet, scheduling a fourth fight with Max after Volkanovski beat him three times is too much even for Dana White.

Topuria won 6 victories in a row in the UFC and has no defeats in his professional career. He also defeated almost every top fighter in the division. Topuria knocked out Hall and submitted Mitchell with an arm-triangle choke. In the last fight, Ilia outshot Emmett, who is known for his brute force. Josh finished the fight with a completely new face, and even the $50,000 bonus hardly brightened up the bitterness of defeat and damage absorbed.

Volkanovski suffered the first early defeat of his career, coming out on short notice in a rematch against Makhachev. The question is how will the two defeats affect his performance in his regular weight class. How many champions have psychologically broken down at the first setbacks? How many strong athletes got completely lost after one knockout? The upcoming fight is a challenge for Volkanovski. He must show that everything is normal, otherwise his aura of invincibility will quickly disappear into thin air.

Alex is not Emmett, he will not stand and try to outstrike Topuria. Clinching and takedowns for the sake of takedowns will help Volkanovski wear down his opponent. On paper, Topuria is very dangerous, however, if everything is in order in Volkanovski's head, he should retain his title. We believe in Volkanovski and pick his moneyline for our UFC 298 predictions.

• Volkanovski to Win

Robert Whittaker vs Paulo Costa

Contrary to expectations, this is the easiest fight to predict. It's been a long time since Whittaker lost his championship belt, but Robert's fortitude and skill remain. The Australian lost twice to Adesanya and was knocked out by Du Plessis, but who are these guys? Champions – former and current. Whittaker continues to cope with the rest of the division without much difficulty. Vettori, Cannonier, Till all failed to beat Robert. In any parallel universe where the competition was even slightly less competitive, Whittaker would have remained the dominant champion for a long time.

Costa's merits in the UFC are quite modest – several victories over no-names, and Paulo also dealt with veterans like Romero and Rockhold. Only the victory over the strong Hall is worth any attention and can be considered a serious success. The Brazilian lost to Adesanya without even pressuring the champ, and to Vettori by decision. We believe that Whittaker is a solid pick for our UFC 298 predictions.

• Whittaker to Win
• Over 2.5 Rounds

Geoff Neal vs Ian Machado Garry

On December 16, Garry was supposed to fight with Vicente Luque but had to withdraw due to pneumonia. Of course, Ian was quite saddened by this fact, since he is one of the top prospects in the UFC right now. In the summer, Garry beat Neil Magny, which proved that he is ready to perform at the highest level and will now fight Geoff Neal.

Ian is a powerful striker who can regularly knock out his opponents. True, as the level of opposition grows, Garry ends fights early less and less often. This suggests that the Irishman will have to develop his own skills, otherwise he will soon hit the ceiling.

Guys like Neil are a big problem for Harry. Geoff was never considered a top-level fighter but was knocked out only once in his career. It will be extremely difficult for Ian to take him out. True, Neil has not defeated high-level opponents for a long time – his fights against Thompson, Magny, and Rakhmonov ended in defeats.

Probably, Garry is slightly superior in class to his opponent and will be able to defeat him by decision due to more active work. We doubt that he will win early, so we just pick the moneyline for our UFC 298 predictions.

• Garry to Win

UFC 298 Prelims Predictions: Top Picks from the Undercard

Amanda Lemos vs Mackenzie Dern

In her last appearance, Lemos suffered a tough loss to Weili Zhang, and it truly was a one-sided fight that Zhang completely dominated. Now the Brazilian is ranked 3rd in the rankings, her professional record is 13-3-1, and she won 11 victories ahead of schedule. Despite her age (36 years old), Lemos is famous for her strength. Amanda should have a unique advantage in the upcoming bout considering it's a women's fight – her striking. She throws incredibly heavy, varied combinations, with 8 knockout wins to back it up, although she her movements look a little awkward at times.

While we like Dern, we do not think that she is a full-fledged MMA fighter yet, and bookmakers overestimate her capabilities every time. Dern is undoubtedly fantastic when it comes to submissions – that's her bread and butter – but she simply doesn't have the skills to transition from stand-up to the ground, with only 14 successful takedowns {7977e81067aa52767c5a045b6a52bbfc36ac9a3ee7fc87b6a1495c50622a5d53}. Dern's professional record is 13-4, she won 7 victories by submission and is currently ranked 7th in the rankings.

Dern struggles to get on the ground every time, but all her attempts are obvious to experienced opponents, and she often relies on judo hip throws, which rarely works in MMA. In addition, Dern is entering this contest on a month's notice. Both fighters will have their chances and Dern may even get a submission again. However, Dern's stand-up defense is too leaky, and her wrestling is limited and straightforward, so we pick Lemos for our UFC 298 predictions.

• Lemos to Win

Marcos Rogerio De Lima vs Justin Tafa

The 38-year-old Brazilian UFC veteran has been with the organization since 2014, and has a professional record of 21-9-1, with 17 victories ahead of schedule. Lima started as a light heavyweight, in 2018 he decided to reboot his career and moved up to the heavyweight division. Marcos alternated victories and defeats for a long time, but before the last fight with Derrick Lewis, he finally managed to get on a 4-1 streak, which gave Lima a place on the main card at UFC 291. Unfortunately, Derrick Lewis inflicted his first defeat knockout in more than 10 years. Lima historically has a good stand-up defense, but Lewis managed to surprise him and finish in 33 seconds with a flying knee.

Justin Tafa is 8 years younger than his current opponent and has had 3 times fewer fights in his career. The New Zealander's professional record is 7-3, all victories won by knockout. Tafa made his UFC debut in 2019 on a 3-fight winning streak but lost 3 of his first 4 fights in the promotion. After a relaxation in the level of opposition, Tafa managed to maintain his contract, winning 3 victories in a row, although he became the 1st UFC heavyweight who did not make weight.

Lima has many ways to win: either take Tafa, who is defenseless on the ground, and score with ground and pound or simply slow him down by drying out his legs with his heavy low kicks and win on points. Tafa's only option for victory is the Derrick Lewis scenario, to find a way to knock him out in the opening round. However, Lima lost only twice by knockout in his entire long career and Tafa is far from the level of Lewis. If De Lima survives Tafa's early pressure, we believe that he will win this bout and we pick his moneyline for our UFC 298 predictions.

• Rogerio de Lima to Win

Zhang Mingyang vs Brendson Ribeiro

Zhang makes his UFC debut, returning to the cage after almost 2 years of inactivity. He received the contract thanks to the Singapore “Road to UFC” tournament, where he won by knockout in the 1st round over George Tokkos. Mingyang is 25 years old, and a very young fighter by light heavyweight standards. His professional record is 16-6, and all of his victories came via stoppage, all in the 1st round. Mingyang identifies himself as a striker, but he never uses any kicks; one might say that he is a boxer. The positive record and a bunch of 1st round finishes shouldn't confuse you – Zhang has had terrible opposition his entire career, with many opponents with zero wins and negative records.

For the Brazilian, this is also his debut performance in the UFC; he entered the organization through the Contender Series, where, being a huge underdog, he knocked out the current LFA champion Bruno Lopez. Before that, Ribeiro won a belt in the Shooto Brasil organization. He is 27 years old, has a professional record of 15-5, and also won all his victories ahead of schedule, but, unlike his current opponent, Ribeiro knows how to win if the fight goes beyond the first round. Brandson has a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, but his main weapon is his huge 206 cm arm span and his untraditional fighting style.

Zhang Mingyang will be competing in the US for the first time and will have to shake off the rust after a 2-year layoff and a back injury, so it's surprising to see him as the favorite here. The opponents are united by poor stand-up defense, so anything can happen in this fight. However, we like the experience of Ribeiro and he looks like a more well-rounded fighter. We pick the underdog for our UFC 298 predictions.

• Ribeiro to Win

UFC 298 Full Card Predictions: The Best of the Rest

As this card is absolutely stacked from top to bottom, we have to cover the remaining main card bouts. However, keep in mind that the following predictions are riskier and should be considered a bonus.

Merab Dvalishvili vs Henry Cejudo

Surprisingly, Cejudo enters this contest as a clear underdog. Such reasoning defies logic since after his return he gave Sterling his most difficult fight to date. However, Dvalishvili's victories raise many questions. Lately, he has defeated Yan, Aldo, and Moraes and these are big names. But Petr was out of shape after two defeats, Jose is far behind his peak, and Marlon is now losing to absolutely everyone. Therefore, answering the question of how capable Dvalishvili is impossible.

Merab has a streak of 9 wins in a row, almost all of them by decision, and he is a fighter with excellent cardio who knows how to score points. It is curious that Cejudo preaches a similar style, but has a more attractive striking style and can knock out Merab at any second.

We expect intense work from both athletes, but we give preference to Cejudo. After all, Henry deservedly lost to the best, and Merab beat many opponents, but these were either fighters in a tough period of their careers or opponents inferior in class. Cejudo also said that he would retire if he lost to Merab. Once again, we pick him for our UFC 298 predictions.

• Cejudo to Win

Anthony Hernandez vs Roman Kopylov

Roman Kopylov will fight for the right to break into the top 15 of the division. His career in the UFC was under threat because of the 2 defeats. However, Roman pulled himself together and produced an enviable series of 4 victories. Yes, the opponents were not of the highest level, but in the UFC, each opponent has to be respected.

Kopylov’s strong point is his knockout power. However, Robertson and Duraev showed how vulnerable Roman is in wrestling, so the Russian needs to improve in grappling if he hopes to have a successful career at the highest level.

Hernandez is dangerous with his versatility – he has 7 victories by knockout and submission. On the other hand, Anthony lacks consistency and has both beaten and lost to top opposition. Nevertheless, we like his style and he will have a huge advantage if he translates Kopylov to the ground. We pick him for our UFC 298 predictions.

• Hernandez to Win

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.