UFC 303: Check out bookmakers' projections for the rematch between Poatan and Prochazka

Brazilian champion 'saves' event and defends light heavyweight belt against old acquaintance

Alex Poatán (left) defends belt against Jiri Prochazka No. UFC 303. Photo: DISCLOSURE / UFC

Until just over two weeks before the event, the main attraction of UFC 303 was the return of Conor McGregor to the octagon. That all changed when weeks of speculation about a possible postponement of the fight between McGregor and Michael chandler were confirmed with the UFC's announcement that the Irish star was off the International Fight Week card.

The UFC, however, recovered from the situation scheduling a rematch of the light heavyweight division between champion Alex “Poatan” Pereira and the man he defeated to win the belt, Jirí Prochazka.

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Prochazka won the title at UFC 275, winning an exceptional fight against Glover Teixeira, Pereira's friend and mentor in MMA, but was forced to vacate the title due to injury before even defending it once. Prochazka's comeback fight was against Pereira for the vacant title, which Poatan won by TKO in the second round.

In addition to being the current light heavyweight champion, Pereira was also the middleweight champion and achieved all this in just 12 professional MMA fights.

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Another former light heavyweight champion was also scheduled to be on the main card, with Jamahal hill facing up Carlos Ulberg. Hill was forced to withdraw from the card due to injury – announced at the same time as McGregor's injury – and Ulberg will now face the former title challenger Anthony Smith.

In the new co-main event, Brian ortega will face Diego lopes in a featherweight clash.

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While few things in combat sports compare to a McGregor fight, what the UFC put together with just over two weeks notice is nothing short of incredible. McGregor's return to the Octagon will have to wait for now, but with three fascinating new fights added to the UFC 303, let's take a look at how these clashes could play out.

In addition to the main event between Alex Poatán and Prochazka, other clashes on the main card also promise to generate a large volume in betting sites; mainly the fight between Brazilian Maya Bueno Silva, current number 3 in the women's bantamweight ranking, against Macy chiasson, the featherweight division clash between Brian ortega and also Brazilian Diego lopes, and the clash between the welterweights Ian Gary e Michael Page.

The big revenge

Alex Poatán in victory over Jiri Prochazka (Photo: Playback / Instagram)

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Alex Poatán Pereira and Jirí Prochazka faced each other in the Octagon for the first time just under a year ago, in November 2023, with Poatan confirming bookmakers' predictions and winning the vacant UFC light heavyweight title via technical knockout in the second round about Czech. The pre-fight excitement surrounding the original first matchup was as high as any fight in the division in recent memory, and the clash absolutely lived up to all expectations.

The rematch was expected to take place sometime in 2024, with both fighters emerging victorious from the UFC 300, but a confrontation with just two weeks of preparation It wasn't what many were expecting.

Remembering the first confrontation between them in the UFC 295, although it lasted just under 10 minutes and ended with a technical knockout from Pereira, the fight was very competitive. Pereira slightly outscored Prochazka 49 to 44 in total strikes, but Prochazka managed a takedown with 2:45 of control time and won the first round on the judges' scorecards. Pereira found success with his leg kicks early in the fight, a strategy he will no doubt employ in their rematch at UFC 303. In Prochazka's last fight against Aleksandar rakic, he remained susceptible to these low leg kicks, but managed to score a second-round knockout victory over the Austrian.

For the rematch in UFC 303, Prochazka will have to pay more attention to Pereira's low kicks and try to use his grappling, which proved effective in the first fight. Pereira will likely try to use a similar game plan, using his kicks and jab to set up his devastating hooks.

Projections from the main betting exchanges point to favoritism for Poatan, who has odds of 1.58 to win the fight and retain the light heavyweight belt. Still, Prochazka's odds of 2.40 indicate that the Czech karateka could surprise the Brazilian.

Although Pereira has been on an incredible run lately, his rematch with Prochazka will be a tall order, especially on such short notice. Prochazka will use his grappling and unorthodox attack methods much more to try for a late knockout, as the fight has odds of 1.61 to go over 2.5 rounds, which indicates that betting experts expect a long fight between the middleweights. -heavy.

The new co-main event

Diego lopes stars in the co-main fight. Photo: Reproduction/Instagram

The night's co-main event was certainly an unexpected clash, but one that fight fans around the world are excited to see happen. Ortega has been at the top of the UFC featherweight division for years and is coming off a recent submission victory over Yair Rodriguez.

The Brazilian Diego lopes, on the other hand, is starting to emerge as one of the main competitors in the 66kg category. Since he lost his UFC debut due to a judges' decision against Movsar Evloev, Lopes comes from three consecutive victories in the first round (one submission and two knockouts) and is now on the right path to fighting for the belt.

Although the confrontation is difficult to predict, as both fighters are well versed in all areas of MMA, the bookmakers indicate a slight favoritism for the Brazilian, with odds of 1.77 to win the fight against Ortega's odds of 2.10.

Ortega and Lopes have racked up a string of impressive knockout and submission victories on their records and are, without a doubt, two of the most complete fighters in the division. What could make the difference in this fight, however, is Lopes' ability to decide fights in the first round.

Other notable clashes

Mayra Sheetara Holly Holm

Mayra Sheetara (left) fighting against Holly holm (dir.). Photo: Disclosure/UFC

One of the UFC's newest stars, Michael Page, faces one of the most polarizing figures in the UFC, Ian Gary. Page debuted on UFC 299 with a unanimous decision victory over Kevin holland. His karate style makes him a difficult style for anyone to face, and even more difficult to take down, especially for 15 minutes.

It's a style Garry has yet to come across in his UFC career and his latest opponent, Geoff neal, is essentially a boxer. We've already seen that Garry can do damage with leg kicks, as he did against Neil Magny, however, they are not expected to be effective against Page. However, Ian Gary is pointed out by betting experts as the favorite in the clash, with odds of 1.77.

In the women's bantamweight category clash, Brazilian Mayra Bueno Silva faces the American Macy chiasson, who has a great opportunity to put the name of a former title challenger on her resume. Chiasson got back into the win column the last time he fought, with a highlight-of-the-night submission over Pannie kianzad.

As for Mayra, she was defeated in a title fight against Rachel Pennington in five rounds in UFC 297. In that fight, despite having started well, she became very tired, which made her lose the fight and, consequently, the bantamweight belt.

If Chiasson can use her superior size to lean on her Brazilian opponent, she could try to wear her down again. However, betting exchanges project a victory for the Brazilian, who has odds of 1.49 to win the fight.

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