UFC 299 is one of the most highly anticipated mixed martial arts events of the year. 299 is set to take place on March 9th 2024 in Miami, Florida. The event takes place the month before UFC 300, this surprised fans as to how good 299 is considering the expectations for 3oo. A rematch between O’Malley and Vera headlines the card. Revenge for O’Malley after Vera took his undefeated status in August 2020. For Vera, a chance at UFC gold, this didn’t look likely given his recent form. The card has many other monumental fights between many contenders. On the card in total there is 19 ranked competitors, i will discuss 6 of the matchups on the stacked card and give my analysis on the action.
MY TOP FIGHTS ON THE CARD:
Petr Yan vs Song Yadong:
Pre 2022, Petr Yan was one of the pound for pound best fighters in the world. He looked unbeatable, his destruction of Aldo and brutal finish of Faber support this claim. 4 years on and Yan has won 1 fight in his last 5. Despite this, he is still a fan favourite and looks to gain confidence with a win over Song. His well rounded fight style and brilliant boxing makes him a threat for anyone. Alternatively, Song Yadong is on the rise. Winning 5 of his last 6 with wins over Vera and Moraes. The 26 year-old has gained great experience at a young age. Yadongs’s boxing is some of the best in the bantamweight division, evidence to suggest this is his composure and technical ability on display. This bout between two top bantamweights promises to provide violence. Despite the lack of performance from Yan recently, i think he still has the fantastic foundation and skill set to put a beating on Yadong and make a statement to put him into the title picture again.
My Pick: Petr Yan
Mateusz Gamrot vs Rafael Dos Anjos:
Gamrot ranked number 6 and is one of the most inform fighters in the world at the moment. 6 wins in his last 7, with a win over top contender Arman Tsarukyan albeit controversial. Coming of the back of his win over Rafael Fiziev via injury, despite this before the injury Fiziev had won the first round. Gamrot has a very well rounded skill set allowing him to get these wins but his big wins have underlying issues hurting their legitimacy. In the blue corner, Rafael Dos Anjos looks to build some momentum after his previous poor form. With just 3 wins in his last 7, some would say RDA is passed his prime. An alternative analysis would be RDA has came up against top contenders in this run. Usman, Edwards, Fiziev and Luque, who are all top contenders and even champions beat him. This highly technical bout promises to give fans an indication as to whether Dos Anjos is ready to retire or if Gamrot is the real deal. Gamrot is on a great run and is very confident, Dos Anjos looks close to retirement and i don’t believe he will be able to keep up with the the relentless nature of the Polish-man.
My Pick: Mateusz Gamrot
Kevin Holland vs Michael Page:
A fan friendly matchup in the welterweight division as heavily awaited Michael ‘Venom’ Page makes his UFC debut against Kevin Holland. Fan Favourite for his ‘loud mouth’ personality, exciting fight style and activity inside the octagon. Kevin Holland looks to upset the debutant. Holland comes off a loss to rising contender Jack Della Maddalena and looks to shut down another star coming up the rankings. Holland and Page looks to be a brilliant display of striking given both of their resumes. Holland had a back and fourth war in December 2022 against similar style to Page, Stephen Thompson, so if that’s anything to go by, a war should be expected. In Comparison, Page has a awkward kickboxing style utilizing as he said taekwondo, karate and Kung Fu. This peculiar approach has gave him a great highlight reel and made him a fan favourite. Pages resume does lack wins over talent and has gave him a reputation for not beating the best. Holland could be one of his biggest tests to date. Page looks closer to the end of his career and a motivated Holland will make it scrappy and hard for him.
My Pick: Kevin Holland
Gilbert Burns vs Jack Della Maddalena:
Burns, a consistent top contender in the welterweight division takes on rising star Maddalena. Burns comes off a shoulder injury following his active start to 2023. The 2023 campaign was ultimately ended by Belal Muhammed. Despite this, he still managed to pick up wins against Magny and Masvidal within 4 months. Burns still remains a top contender at 170. Looking to derail the hype of JDM using his superior grappling. Whereas, JDM comes off a win over Kevin Holland and looks to break into the top 5. Maddalena has in my opinion some of the best boxing in the UFC. He works the body and head equally with his accuracy and can switch stances effortlessly. However, his grappling has looked like a weakness in his game after the Hafez fight. Improvement and becoming well rounded would take Maddalena to the next level and his championship aspirations. In this bout, i believe Burns uses his grappling to hold Maddalena (similar to fight vs Hafez) and potentially find a submission. If Maddalena has found improvement in grappling, he could find a finish but i think Burns uses his grappling too well to dominate as he did against Wonderboy.
My Pick: Gilbert Burns
Benoit Saint Denis vs Dustin Poirier:
Soaring up the rankings, French star Saint Denis lands himself a co-main event against superstar Dustin Poirier. The Frenchman is on a 5 fight win streak, all finishes on this run. Immediately after making easy work of Matt Frevola; bolstering his reputation, he needed a step up in competition. Poirier offers this despite nearing the end of his legendary career. Louisiana’s own looks to derail the hype of Saint Denis and have one more run at the title. Coming of a loss to Justin Gaethje; a sensationally setup head-kick knocked him out, he looks to remind the fans of his quality. The five round co-main promises violence and high-level competition. Dustin’s experience and resume gives him the edge, especially as the bout is 5 rounds. Although, he is coming of a loss and maybe lacks motivation against a young hungry contender, i believe Poirier’s cardio and will to win gives him the advantage.
My Pick: Dustin Poirier
Sean O’Malley vs Marlon Vera 2:
The main event of the star-studded card. The long awaited rematch that O’Malley has waited almost 4 years for. August 2020, UFC 252 saw Vera upset the once undefeated hype train that was O’Malley. Following the bout, Sean has gone undefeated in 6 fights picking up wins over Sterling and Yan despite being a huge underdog. After capturing UFC gold, he looks to defend the championship in a legacy bout to avenge the loss that haunts him. The Suga Show has always been a fan favourite. As a result of his flashy fighting style and personality making him catch the eyes of millions, he is seen as a superstar. The front kick down the middle, his power and long nature combinate to make him the toughest fight in the division. Alternatively, Vera has won 5 out of 7 fights since the O’Malley upset. Highlight reel finishes over UFC greats like Cruz and Edgar or digging deep against consistent contenders to win by decision against Munhoz or Font. Vera also has great striking and looks to show that the first fight was not a fluke as O’Malley claims. I think O’Malley coming off the spectacular stoppage of Sterling will carry a lot of confidence and will cause problems for Vera, utilizing his superior striking and distance control using his length to his advantage as it is one of his best weapons. Vera could look to use leg kicks which were a deciding factor in the first. Ultimately , I believe the impeccable and improved O’Malley remains the gold standard at 135.
My Pick: Sean O’Malley