UFC 298 Predictions

Alexander Volkanovski | ESPN file photo
Alexander Volkanovski | ESPN file photo

This Saturday, UFC 298 (Ultimate Fighting Championship 298), the mixed martial arts event, takes place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA, the promotion’s tenth visit to Anaheim and first since UFC 270 in January 2022. 

The worldwide popularity of the event attracts millions, many anticipating the main event between the UFC featherweight title holder Alexander Volkanovski as he takes on Ilia Topuria.  

For true UFC fans, like myself, we’ll be paying attention to more than just the main. Here are my predictions throughout the event, including Volkanovski vs. Topuria.  

Prelim Event

Zhang Mingyang | ESPN file photo

Zhang Mingyang (-122) vs. Brendson Ribeiro (+102)

The first prelim features a light heavyweight matchup of two debuting fighters. Both fighters have multiple submission and knockout wins and neither have had a decision win. This fight will be over in the first two rounds and despite the submission wins under their belts this fight will barely touch the ground. It will take a bit, maybe even a round for Ribeiro to find his shot but once he lands I think he wins by ground and pound. 

Result: Ribeiro by 2nd round TKO

Rinya Nakamura | ESPN file photo

Rinya Nakamura (-1200) vs. Carlos Vera (+750)

As the odds suggest, this fight should not be close. Fans could be tricked by the first minute if Vera comes out striking crisply but it will be near impossible for Vera to evade a shot from Nakamura in the first round. Nakamura’s freestyle wrestling is something Vera hasn’t faced in his career and once the fight gets to the ground Nakamura will submit Vera in any way he decides.

Result: Nakamura win by 1st Round Submission

Justin Tafa | ESPN file photo

Marcos Rogério de Lima (-138) vs. Justin Tafa (+124)

This fight is easily the hardest to predict in the prelims. On one side you have De Lima who is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Derrick Lewis and is 38 which means his recovery skills aren’t great. On the other side, you have a 30-year-old Justin Tafa who is coming off of a first-round KO win against Austen Lane. This should mean all the momentum is going in Tafa’s favor and he could easily take it just off that. But I think this fight goes all 3 rounds and De Lima wins the judges over with his wrestling and ground control time. Tafa could easily win with a huge punch and De Lima’s standing defense isn’t great but I think his form of defense is his constant shots and time on the ground.

Result: De Lima wins by Decision

Amanda Lemos | ESPN file photo

Amanda Lemos (-135) vs. Mackenzie Dern (+124)

Lemos vs Dern consists of 2 fighters looking for revenge. Lemos came off arguably the most lopsided loss in Women’s fighting history and Dern has had to deal with the “overrated” and “can’t strike” narratives after her KO loss to Jessica Andrade. They are close to polar opposite fighters with Lemos’ wins coming from mostly knockouts and all of Dern’s wins inside the rounds coming from submissions. The difference skill-wise is not as blatant, but what sets them apart is durability and Lemos takes that category by a mile. Anybody who watched her last fight knows if that was any other Strawweight fighter that fight would not have been a decision. I think this fight goes the distance and goes to Lemos off of pure strikes landed but if Dern can get control time and get in a good place to attempt a submission this fight could easily go her way.

Result: Lemos wins by Decision 

Main Card Event

Anthony Hernandez | ESPN file photo

Anthony Hernandez (-225) vs. Roman Kopylov (+205)

Kopylov subbing in for Ikram Aliskerov makes this fight much more interesting, Hernandez became the favorite but has to face Kopylov, a tricky, powerful striker who could give Hernandez trouble if Hernandez does not shut his style down immediately. Hernandez is a ground-heavy middleweight who will try to get this fight to the ground as soon and as frequently as possible. I don’t think this fight is as close as the odds show and Kopylov as a fighter is fun to watch but overrated because of it. There’s a slim chance Hernandez doesn’t submit him and if this doesn’t happen Kopylov wins by a round 1 or 2 KO. Hernandez is just too dominant on the ground and will most likely be able to find an easy submission. (

Result: Hernandez by Round 2 Submission

Henry Cejudo | ESPN file photo

Merab Dvalishvili (-210) vs. Henry Cejudo (+195)

Merab vs. Cejudo being the second fight on the main card will most definitely be filled with a majority of wrestling. Merab is on a 9 fight win streak with his last two being by decision against two decorated fighters, this doesn’t mean much coming into this fight though because these two wins have been his only 2 fights in the last 2 years. Cejudo who is a former double champ has a lot of experience fighting all types of fighters his most recent opponent was Aljimain Sterling who is best friends with Merab so this fight will seem very familiar to Cejudo. What I think gives Cejudo a chance is his wrestling background and his ability to not only excel wrestling himself but easily shut down other grapplers’ tactics. This fight will definitely go the distance and I think Merab will take it off of strikes landed and I don’t see Cejudo being able to dominate Merab on the ground.

Results: Merab wins by Decision

Ian Garry | ESPN file photo

Ian Garry (-230) vs. Geoff Neal (+200)

Garry vs. Neal has been heavily anticipated with Neal as a current fan favorite and Garry as the exact opposite. This fight was scheduled first for UFC 293 but Neal dropped out and Garry ended up destroying Neil Magny. Neal’s last win was against Vincent Luque in 2021. Both fighters can hold their own on the ground but I presume this fight stays on the feet for the most part. There is a good chance Neal could be rusty and Garry throws another first-round KO under his belt. In Garry’s last fight, we saw a less vicious Garry in the first round and if that carries onto this fight I think Neal will find a way to land a couple of huge shots in the second round to test Garry’s chin for the first time. Garry could win this fight in any way he wanted but he might overthink this fight and end up approaching similarly to his last which will cost him. I think Neal survives the first and second rounds and notoriously lands big punches on Garry to deliver him his first loss.

Results: Neal wins by Round 3 KO

Robert Whittaker | ESPN file photo

Robert Whittaker (-225) vs. Paulo Costa (+205)

Two fighters who have represented the middleweight division for a while finally face off in the co-main event of UFC 298. Costa, one of the most respected strikers in the middleweight division, comes into this fight as the underdog due to his absence in the UFC for the past 2 years, only fighting 1 fight. Whittaker is the favorite for the exact opposite reason, Whittaker is a very active fighter who has been the Champ before and inches away other times. Whittaker will most likely try to throw as many looks at Costa as possible and try to replicate what he did the first couple of rounds in his first fight against Israel Adesanya. Whittaker has a lot of experience with strikers and that is what I think will give him the edge in this fight. On the other hand, if Costa can get into a flow state I think he could catch Whittaker very often just like Whittaker’s last fight where he was KO’d by Dricus Du Plessis. I think Whittaker will land many clinch strikes and maybe get some wrestling going which will lead to the win after the 3 rounds.

Result: Whittaker wins by decision

The Main Event

Alexander Volkanovski (-110) vs. Ilia Topuria (+105)

The main event features arguably the most dominant fighter in a specific weight class in UFC history vs. a 14-0 fighter who has destroyed everyone he has faced up until now in the UFC. Volkanovski and Topuria share a lot of the same traits and are both very well-rounded fighters. Volkanovski has a background in striking and grappling in the UFC and will most likely show off both in this fight.

Topuria is to some the best striker in the featherweight division and can also hold his own on the ground. Volaknovski’s last fight ended in a brutal head-kick knockout against lightweight champion Islam Makhachev but his last fight in this division was a dominant win against Yair Rodriguez.

Volkanovski’s biggest competition in the featherweight division has been Max Holloway. Holloway’s cardio and mass of punches are what makes him a great striker so if Topuria wants to win he will need to lay off the power punches in the first couple of rounds and try to keep his energy and catch Volk later on. Volkanovski is 35 now and that is the cursed age in UFC where fighters seem to lose their step and Volk, coming off a loss could come into this fight differently from the past.

With all holding Volk down I think what could be the key to his victory is his defense. I don’t think Volk has the same chin as he used to so he will need to fight a bit more passively and try to land combos when the time is right.

If the fight goes to the final two rounds I think Volk can use his 5 round fight experience to outland Topuria and wear him out. All in all, I think Volk will fight his way to the 4th and pull out a KO to retain his belt but Topuria has knockout power that Volk hasn’t faced so he could easily come out swinging and out-strike Volk.

Result: Volkanovski wins by 4th Round KO

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Gabriel Westberg
Gabriel Westberg, Staff Writer
Freshman Gabriel Westberg is a first-year journalist with The Big Red. He hopes to learn how to write more efficiently and on a tight deadline. Westberg enjoys writing opinion pieces. His go-to Dunkin' order is a double chocolate donut, strawberry frosted donut, everything bagel bites and a strawberry dragonfruit refresher with coconut milk.

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