Key questions, stats, excitement level for UFC 300 main card matchups

Mike Malott joins Aaron Bronsteter to wrap up media day ahead of UFC 300 and explain why the stacked fight card makes it a must-watch event from top to bottom.

If it’s possible to have too much of a good thing in mixed martial arts, fight fans are going to find out Saturday at UFC 300.

The sheer number of storylines and tantalizing style matchups is overwhelming. 

There are 12 current or former champions set for action at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas this weekend, six of whom are featured on the pay-per-view main card. 

Three title fights, one being for the BMF belt, plus a likely No. 1 lightweight contender’s bout and the best prospect on the entire UFC roster ready to kick off the action. UFC 300 is almost here so we’ve got some key questions to ask, notable stats to highlight and we’ll grade our excitement level for each UFC 300 main card scrap.


Key question: Is Glover Teixeira the x-factor?

Hill’s last fight prior to tearing his Achilles and vacating the title was a dominant five-round win over Glover Teixeira when they met for an interim title bout at UFC 283 last January. Teixeira, one of five different 205-pound champions since 2020, now serves as Pereira’s coach. Teixeira was also a former opponent of Jiri Prochazka whom Pereira beat at UFC 295 to become the current champion. Teixeira was 43 when he fought Hill and retired following the loss. Pereira was in Teixeira’s corner that night and Teixeira will return the favour at UFC 300. Could his insights after facing Hill be a difference in this main event?

Key stat: Hill set a record for most significant strikes landed in an LHW fight when he connected 232 times on Teixeira. The 32-year-old American has brutal knockout power in his hands and has said he is willing to test his striking against his Brazilian opponent who was a legend in the kickboxing world before taking MMA by storm.

Excitement level: On par with most light-heavyweight title fights in the post-Jon Jones era. They’ve all been exciting so far and this one should be no different. The odds of a knockout finish are high. “Poatan” has become one of the UFC’s top individual stars and he was on the short list of names worthy of topping the bill.

If it wasn’t at UFC 300 it… It would be the main event of a different pay-per-view card.

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Key question: Is this possibly the start of a new rivalry?

Born two months apart in Northern China in 1989, the career paths of both co-main event fighters have been similar over the years with Xiaonan’s UFC success overshadowed by her compatriot. Zhang’s star power grew in North America thanks to her series of fights with Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Rose Namajunas. She is no stranger to rematches in case Xiaonan pulls off the upset or it’s a close decision.

Key stat: Zhang’s 2.29 takedowns per 15 minutes and Xiaonan’s 70 per cent takedown defence. Yan’s lone stoppage loss in the UFC was when she was pinned under Carla Esparza and TKO’d. Zhang has used similar positions to succeed, including in her win over Amanda Lemos in August.

Excitement level: Among the lowest of all 13 fights at UFC 300, which is not indicative of the talent level of either athlete. Here’s hoping it ends up a classic like Zhang’s first encounter with Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248, but this is the one matchup that sort of doesn’t fit with the flow of the rest of this card. It makes sense on some level why the UFC added it to UFC 300 because earlier this year the organization was in somewhat of a scramble to add notable matchups to the main card and this was one of the available title matchups that made sense.

If it wasn’t at UFC 300 it… should’ve been reserved for when the UFC held its next event in China. It’s the first time two Chinese athletes are competing for a UFC belt. 


Key question: Will Gaethje be the one to finally send Holloway to the floor?

Of all the notable accomplishments of Max Holloway’s career, the fact he has never been knocked down is among the most impressive. This will be Holloway’s second time moving up from featherweight to lightweight in the UFC. The first time was in 2019 against Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight title. Holloway lost a decision with Poirier’s natural lightweight power being the biggest difference. UFC 300 takes place five years to the day after that loss.

Key stat: Volume/durability vs. power/volume/durability. Holloway has landed more strikes than any fighter in UFC history at a rate of 7.17 significant strikes per minute. Gaethje has an even higher connecting rate at 7.35. Notably, Gaethje absorbs 7.50 significant strikes per minute compared to 4.75 for Holloway. Gaethje has 19 knockouts in 25 wins throughout his career.

Excitement level: Through the roof. Michael Scott “Oh my god! It’s happening!” meme level anticipation. Honestly, it’s probably too high but these guys literally never disappoint.

If it wasn’t at UFC 300 it… it would headline a PPV event just like the previous two BMF Title bouts did, but in all probability, it likely wouldn’t have been put together in the first place were it not for the special nature of this event.

“I don’t usually plan on being alive after my fights, so hopefully I’m there on Sunday,” Gaethje said Wednesday.


Key question: Will Tsarukyan mess around in Oliveira’s guard?

We saw at UFC 299 Dustin Poirier fend off a young lightweight challenger in Benoit Saint Denis to maintain his place in the top five and Oliveira is in a similar spot against a fighter seven years his junior. Tsarukyan has a win over ADCC world champ Davi Ramos and even in his two UFC losses – decisions to Islam Makhachev and Mateusz Gamrot – his high-level grappling ability was on display. He has not fought a submission artist like Oliveira, though, who attacks from all positions like few others in the sport.

Key stat: Tsarukyan has never been submitted in his 24-fight MMA career, while 21 of Oliveira’s 34 career wins have been via submission. 

Excitement level: About as high as it gets for a three-round fight. Oliveira is one of the most talented, accomplished and exciting fighters of his era and looking to prove he’s still a championship-calibre lightweight. Tsarukyan gave Islam Makhachev a tough test in his UFC debut and has improved greatly since that meeting.

If it wasn’t at UFC 300 it… would, as a de facto lightweight title eliminator, be an ideal PPV co-main event spot or a five-round main event on a marquee Fight Night such as we’ll see with Khamzat Chimaev vs. Robert Whittaker later this year.

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Key question: What can Nickal do to prove his spot on the main card was warranted?

When the official bout order for this star-studded card was officially unveiled, some fans were asking why this was one of the fights they had to pay to watch. Nickal feels those fans will see exactly why in time.

“I didn’t expect it,” the blue-chip prospect said Wednesday at media day of his main card placement. “I think that it’s a big honour for me to be where I’m at on the card and just to be on this card in general because there’s so many amazing fighters and guys that have a ton of experience who are doing big things in the sport, so I feel like it says a lot about me, about the UFC, and about our plans, and I think they align. I’m grateful to be where I’m at and I love to have this platform to do my thing.

“I’m confident that in a year or two, once I’ve established myself more and built my reputation more, that people will think it’s a no-brainer looking back on it and it’ll make a lot more sense. … My goal is to be No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and UFC champion.”

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Key stat: None of Nickal’s pro bouts have gone past three minutes and four of his five wins have been over within 62 seconds. The three-time Division 1 freestyle wrestling champ out of Penn State has truly not been properly tested in MMA yet. Nine of Brundage’s 15 pro fights ended in the first round; he’s 7-2 in those bouts.

Excitement level: It’s not as high as it would be if Nickal was facing a more established opponent with a better winning percentage, however, Nickal appears to be the genuine article, a future champion if he lives up to the hype and potential. Brundage has some collegiate wrestling experience and is more experienced than Nickal in MMA, coming off a Performance of the Night outing in December when he slammed his opponent unconscious to earn his 10th pro win.

If it wasn’t at UFC 300 it… this particular matchup would be at home on an Apex card.

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