UFC 303 expert picks and predictions: Betting odds, best bets for Alex Pereira vs. Jiri Prochazka 2

A rematch between two of the most intimidating MMA fighters is on International Fight Week at UFC 303 on June 29. Alex Pereira defends the UFC light heavyweight title against Jiri Prochazka.

Pereira held the UFC middleweight title at one point. The former kickboxing star beat Prochazka at UFC 295 to win light heavyweight gold. His last fight was a dominant win two months ago against former champion Jamahal Hill at UFC 300.

Prochazka won the UFC light heavyweight title in an epic encounter against Glover Teixeira but relinquished it due to injury. He fought Pereira in his first contest in 17 months and after losing, recovered with a win against Aleksandar Rakic. That fight was also two months ago.

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The fight replaced Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler as the main event. Meant for later in the year, Pereira vs. Prochazka 2 took over when McGregor injured himself before UFC 303.

The co-main event will see former title contender Brian Ortega compete against rising star Diego Lopes. 

The event also features Anthony Smith, the confident Ian Machado Garry, Michael “Venom” Page, Joe Pyfer, veterans Cub Swanson, Michelle Waterson-Gomez, Andrei Arlovski, and more. 

With the help of Sports Interaction, the Sporting News makes predictions on the entire card at UFC 303.

UFC 303 expert picks and full card predictions

Alex Pereira (c) vs. Jiri Prochazka 2 for the UFC light heavyweight title

Per Sports Interaction, Alex Pereira is the -145 favorite, while Jiri Prochazka is the +120 underdog. 

Once again, these two are ready to save a fight card. 

Pereria lands 5.10 significant strikes per minute and has a 62% strike accuracy mark. Prochazka lands 5.75 significant strikes per minute, has a 56% strike accuracy mark, and averages 0.79 takedowns landed per 15 minutes. The former landed 38 significant strikes in the first fight in November, with Prochazka landing 30 and one takedown.

Will Pereira’s broken toes come into play? Prochazka has competed in about four rounds since missing 17 months of action. The Sporting News predicted Pereira to win the first fight via round two KO/TKO (not too shabby). It should be a war, with one fighter winning the same way.

Pereira’s power is too much to handle. Prochazka is no slouch. Still, the Brazilian should retain the UFC light heavyweight title following a series of shots that will bring Prochazka down. Will it be a repeat performance?

Sporting News prediction: Pereira via TKO (round two)

Brian Ortega vs. Diego Lopes; Featherweights

Per Sports Interaction, Diego Lopes is the -145 favorite, while Brian Ortega is the +120 underdog. 

Ortega lands 4.07 significant strikes per minute and has a strike accuracy mark of 38%. He averaged 1.17 takedowns landed per 15 minutes, but the former interim title contender does absorb 6.54 significant strikes landed per minute. Lopes lands 3.22 significant strikes per minute and absorbs 4.73 shots per minute. 

Ortega has fought some of the best in the octagon, going 1-1 against Yair Rodriguez. At 33, the third-ranked fighter at featherweight faces Silva, 29, ranked 14th. Lopes winning is possible, as he has ten wins via knockout and twelve via submission. However, an Ortega upset doesn’t seem unlikely. “T-City” can tire Lopes out or strike at the perfect moment. 

The Sporting News is going with the upset.  

Sporting News prediction: Ortega via TKO (round three)

Anthony Smith vs. Roman Dolidze; Light Heavyweights

Per Sports Interaction, Roman Dolidze is the -145 favorite, while Anthony Smith is the +120 underdog. Both are replacement fighters, added weeks before fight night. 

Smith, a former UFC light heavyweight contender, lands 3.23 significant strikes per minute and has a strike accuracy mark of 48%. He also absorbs 4.47 significant strikes landed per 15 minutes and is 2-3 in his last three fights. Dolidze is 0-2 after going 4-0 from 2021 to 2022. He lands 2.62 significant strikes per minute and absorbs 3.36 significant strikes. 

It is a very odd fight, considering the last-minute shuffling of it. After all, the initially booked fight was Jamahal Hill vs. Khalil Rountree Jr. Smith is also in a tough position, getting dropped by Rountree but rebounding against Vitor Petrino. Dolidze has struggled as he has moved up the rankings, and his cardio has been a concern. 

In a wild card fight, Smith winning makes the most sense. He can get it done if he can keep the fight on the feet and tire Dolidze out with jabs.

Sporting News prediction: Smith via unanimous decision

Marya Bueno Silva vs. Macy Chiasson; Bantamweights

Per Sports Interaction, Marya Bueno Silva and Macy Chiasson are even at -110.

Silva lands 3.84 significant strikes per minute and averages 0.68 takedowns landed per 15 minutes. While landing three takedowns against Raquel Pennington, she got hit with 134 significant strikes. Chiasson, 2-2 in her last four fights, lands 3.53 significant strikes per minute and averages 2.38 takedowns landed per 15 minutes. 

Silva hits pretty hard and has seven wins via submission, but has had issues with fatigue. Meanwhile, Chiasson can provide floor pressure if given the opportunity. She will need to put Silva by the fence to win, but Silva can provide pressure and get Chiasson to second-guess herself. 

Sporting News prediction: Silva via submission (round two)

Ian Machado Garry vs. Michael “Venom” Page; Welterweights

Per Sports Interaction, Ian Machado Garry is the -140 favorite, while Michael Page is the +115 underdog. 

Garry lands 6.27 significant strikes per minute and has a strike accuracy mark of 55%. “The Future” also averages 0.55 takedowns landed per 15 minutes. Page is a former kickboxing champion and Bellator welterweight title contender with 13 wins via knockout. MVP landed 41 significant strikes in his octagon debut against Kevin Holland. 

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It is the perfect fight between two stars looking to prove themselves in the octagon. Page never got to establish himself as a top champion in Bellator. He faces someone in Garry who thrives on getting attention and proving doubters wrong. Can the Irish fighter get the job done against the Englishman?

As far as progress is concerned, Garry may outshine Page here. It will either be a fast-paced affair or a methodical contest. If the former can avoid leg kicks and flying knees, Garry will take advantage and tire Page out through three rounds.

Sporting News prediction: Garry via unanimous decision

Joe Pyfer vs. Marc-Andre Barriault; Middleweights

Per Sports Interaction, Joe Pyfer is the -300 favorite, while Marc-Andre Barriault is the +240 underdog. 

Pyfer lands 3.66 significant strikes per minute and averages 1.49 takedowns landed per 15 minutes. He is coming off a loss against Jack Hermansson, ending a five-fight win streak. Barriault, 2-2 in his last four fights, lands 6.19 significant strikes per minute. He also absorbs 5.67 significant strikes per minute. 

Barriault’s ability to strike hard and with such volume is impressive. However, he receives the same amount he gives and is susceptible to the takedown. Pyfer can easily take advantage of his flaws and secure the win to get back on track. Don’t blink during this one! 

Sporting News prediction: Pyfer via TKO (round one)

Cub Swanson vs. Andre Fili; Featherweights

Per Sports Interaction, Andre Fili is the -250 favorite, while Cub Swanson is the +200 underdog. 

Swanson lands 4.70 significant strikes per minute, while Fili lands 3.85. The former, 40, has the most post-fight bonuses (13) in UFC/WEC history and has 13 wins via knockout. Fili averages 2.16 takedowns landed per 15 minutes. “Touchy” hasn’t won consecutive fights since 2019, while Swanson hasn’t since 2019 to 2020. 

Fili will have a four-inch reach and three-inch height advantage. He hasn’t followed through following big wins, and while Swanson may seem past his prime, he still has some gas left in the tank. Fili’s recent struggles will be Swanson’s gain. 

Sporting News prediction: Swanson via TKO (round one) 

Charles Jourdain vs. Jean Silva; Featherweights

Per Sports Interaction, Charles Jourdain is the -115 favorite, while Jean Silva is the -105 underdog. 

Jourdain is 2-2 in his last four fights. Trading wins and losses throughout his career, “Air” Jourdain lands 5.56 significant strikes per minute and has a strike accuracy mark of 48%. Silva impressed on Dana White’s Contender Series and followed that up with a first-round win against Westin Wilson in January. “Lord” lands 5.83 significant strikes per minute. Eight of his last nine fights have ended in the first round.

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The veteran in Jourdain has solid wins but seems to falter when facing fighters with name value. The Sporting News believes Silva will not falter and earn his most impressive win so far. 

Sporting News prediction: Silva via unanimous decision

Payton Talbott vs. Yanis Ghemmouri; Bantamweights

Per Sports Interaction, Payton Talbott is the -2000 favorite, while Yanis Ghemmouri is the +950 favorite. 

A Dana White’s Contender Series standout who landed 145 significant strikes in his octagon debut, Talbott has impressed with two straight finishes, landing 8.05 significant strikes per minute. Ghemmouri won nine straight before losing his UFC debut in September. “The Desert Warrior” lands 2.27 significant strikes per minute.

The difference in odds is one of the widest in recent combat sports history. Normally an upset sounds delicious. However, stay far away from that outcome. Talbott comes forward and attacks whenever he pleases. Expect the same here. 

Sporting News prediction: Talbott via TKO (round two)

Michelle Waterson-Gomez vs. Gillian Robertson; Strawweights

Per Sports Interaction, Gillian Robertson is the -185 favorite, while Michelle Waterson-Gomez is the +150 underdog. 

Robertson is 3-1 in her last four fights. She lands 2.61 significant strikes per minute and averages 2.53 takedowns landed per 15 minutes. Waterson has lost four straight, her previous win being in 2020. “The Karate Hottie” hasn’t won consecutive fights since 2018 to 2019. She lands 3.56 significant strikes per minute and averages 1.42 takedowns landed per 15 minutes.  

Waterson is an excellent pressure fighter, using her master kicking to back down an opponent. However, Robertson is not one to underestimate. “The Savage” can play it close and strike whenever she wants. If she puts Waterson-Gomez to the floor, it will be all over. 

Sporting News prediction: Robertson via submission (round two)

Andrei Arlovski vs. Martin Buday; Heavyweights

Per Sports Interaction, Martin Buday is the -250 favorite, while Andrei Arlovski is the +200 underdog. 

Arlovski is a former UFC heavyweight champion with the most wins (23), total fight time (6:34:58), and significant strikes landed (1,453) )in division history. With two UFC stints on his resume dating back to 2000, “The Pitbull” has landed 3.78 significant strikes per minute, has a 45% strike accuracy mark, and absorbs 3.20 significant strikes. 

Buday had a five-fight win streak snapped in his last contest in December. He lands 5.17 significant strikes per minute and has a strike accuracy mark of 52%. He does absorb 5.70 significant strikes per minute. 

While Arlovski has lost three straight, he has proven to adapt to close contests at 45. It is unknown if this will be his final fight, but if so, he will look to make it a memorable one. If he provides enough pressure, Arlovski can get a win here. 

Sporting News prediction: Arlovski via split decision

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Rei Tsuruya vs. Carlos Hernandez; Flyweights

Per Sports Interaction, Rei Tsuruya is the -450 favorite, while Carlos Hernandez is the +340 underdog. 

Tsuruya is a Road to UFC winner who lands 2.93 significant strikes per minute. He also averages 6.84 takedowns landed per 15 minutes, landing eight against Mark Climaco in August 2023. Hernandez is 2-2 in his last three fights and lands 4.95 significant strikes per minute. He also averages 1.11 takedowns landed per 15 minutes. 

The agility of Tsuruya can give the Japanese fighter a massive advantage, as he can strike fast or bully his opponent to the floor. Momentum is on his side, and Hernandez, susceptible to the takedown, may be in his way. 

Sporting News prediction: Tsuruya via submission (round three)

Ricky Simon vs. Vinicius Oliveira; Bantamweights

Per Sports Interaction, Ricky Simon is the -250 favorite, while Vinicius Oliveira is the +200 underdog. 

Simon is on a two-fight losing streak that saw him get his with triple-digit significant strikes twice. He lands 3.01 significant strikes per minute and has a strike accuracy mark of 43%. Known for his mullet, Simon also averages 5.49 takedowns landed per minute. A Dana White’s Contender Series standout, Oliveira has landed 5.42 significant strikes per minute in his short time in the octagon. 

Oliveira was a UAE Warriors competitor before the UFC, and “Lok Dog” has 16 wins via knockout and two via submission. Before losing two straight, Simon won five straight with two fights going the distance. Oliveira has proven a fight can end out of nowhere. While Simon is an octagon veteran, if Oliveira strikes at the right time, he can cause the first massive upset of the night. 

Sporting News prediction: Oliveira via TKO (round two)