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By Matt ten-Hoeve on 2/15/2024 10:27 AM

While most fight fans eagerly await the announcement of the UFC 300 main event that has been teased and toyed with for months, there are still two major PPVs to get through until the spotlight shines on the 300 card. Despite UFC 299 and UFC 300 getting most of the attention lately, this weekend’s UFC 298 deserves eyes on it, as it has quite a few interesting fights with important ramifications.

On Saturday night, the following fights will take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California:


Alexander Volkanovski (champion) vs. Ilia Topuria for the Featherweight Championship

Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa

Ian Machado Garry vs. Geoff Neal

Henry Cejudo vs. Merab Dvalishvili

Anthony Hernandez vs. Roman Kopylov


Mackenzie Dern vs. Amanda Lemos

Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Justin Tafa

Rinya Nakamura vs. Carlos Vera

Zhang Mingyang vs. Brendson Ribeiro


Josh Quinlan vs. Danny Barlow

Oban Elliott vs. Val Woodburn

Andrea Lee vs. Miranda Maverick

Even though you shouldn’t sleep on some of the prelim fights (Lee vs. Maverick, Elliot vs. Woodburn, de Lima vs. Tafa, and Dern vs. Lemos), the main focus will be on, of course, the main card…and rightfully so! It is packed with interesting names and important fights.

The PPV will kick off with Anthony Hernandez vs. Roman Kopylov. Kopylov is coming in on a four fight win streak (all by KO), two of which earned him Performance of the Night. He has shown that he is scary with both his hands and his feet, making him someone to watch. Hernandez, however, will be a major test for Kopylov, as he loves to bring his opponents to the ground and take away their knockout power. For Kopylov, this will be his first true test of whether or not he is a well-rounded MMA fighter who is ready to take the next step or if he has to go back to the drawing board and not rely on his power as much.

Henry Cejudo vs. Merab Dvalishvili provides fight fans with two of the more charismatic fighters in the division going at it for a possible future title shot. Most fight fans believe that Dvalishvili has already earned his title shot. However, his unwillingness to fight his training partner, Aljamain Sterling, forced him to take a backseat. With Sterling no longer champion and moving up a weight class, the door is now open for Merab to test his limits in the Bantamweight Division. Blocking that door, though, is Henry Cejudo who is claiming that this is an “all or nothing” fight. At the UFC media day, he said that if he does not win this fight, his career is done. Of course, he has retired before and has hinted at retirement other times…so we shall see. Either way, both of these men possess the ability to win with an impressive highlight or by taking their opponent into the deep waters of the late rounds. Whoever wins will definitely be in the conversation for the next title contender. Don’t let their quirkiness fool you - both of these fighters are out to do damage and claim a title shot.

Ian Machado Garry vs. Geoff Neal is quite the story. They were scheduled to fight last year, but Neal had to pull out of the fight late. Garry will tell you that it was due to his mind games working. Neal will tell you that he’s just focused on winning this fight and that he won’t “stoop to” Garry’s “lows.” Garry has become a polarizing figure in MMA - both with the fans and the fighters. No one can doubt his talent, but many are doubting his maturity. At the UFC media day, Garry did seem a lot more focused on the objective than he did in December, when he had to pull out of his fight due to illness. Of course, due to all the controversy surrounding him, many are still doubting Garry’s true reasons for pulling out. Either way, there is a lot of bad blood in this fight, which is gearing up to be a scrap. Garry has a plan that he has mostly stuck to in the UFC - get wins and climb the rankings. Controversy or not, he has been doing that. Will Neal be the next stepping stone or will Garry finally be put in his place? 

In the co-main event, Robert Whittaker, former Middleweight Champion, takes on Paulo Costa, who is returning after a long layoff of a year and a half. Costa only fought one fight per year in 2018-2022 and had to take 2023 off due to disputes and injuries. Whittaker is looking to return to his championship form, which he almost did last year before losing to Dricus du Plessis (and positioned DDP to win the Middleweight Championship). Both of these men are legitimately dangerous with their hands. With both men having something to prove, there could be some head hunting happening, leading to a spectacular finish and talks of possible title fights.

In the main event, Alexander Volkanovski faces the undefeated Ilia Topuria for the Featherweight Championship. Volkanovski is back to focusing on the Featherweight division after chasing Islam Makhachev and the Lightweight Championship for most of last year. Volkanovski is always willing to do what the UFC asks of him, making him one of the more active champions and fan favorites. While some people have been worrying about his reasons for fighting lately (he keeps saying at media days that he’s not happy unless he has a fight to focus on), he still is one of the best in the world and shows a willingness to take on all challengers. And boy oh boy does he have a challenger this weekend! Ila Topuria is 14-0 heading into Saturday. Of course, if you check his social media, he is already claiming that he is 15-0 and challenging people to face him for the title. While Topuria is definitely coming off cocky, he absolutely has the skills to make his claims happen. Of course, his claims are making Volkanovski even more determined to hear Bruce Buffer announce “...aaaand STILL!” late Saturday night. A determined Volkanovski is looking to take that zero from Topuria, for sure, which makes this quite the fun matchup for fight fans.

Once the dust and blood of Saturday night’s UFC 298 fights settles, there will be a couple of Fight Nights on ESPN+ and a PFL PPV that will be fun. However, most eyes will turn to UFC 299, which may determine who the winner of Dvalishvili/Cejudo fights. Therefore, if you want to see a fun night of fights and title matchup ramifications, I highly suggest you tune into UFC 298 this Saturday.

I’m not a big betting guy, but if you want to smack talk my picks, here they are:


Alexander Volkanovski

Robert Whittaker

Ian Machado Garry

Merab Dvalishvili

Roman Kopylov


Mackenzie Dern

Justin Tafa

Rinya Nakamura

Zhang Mingyang


Danny Barlow

Oban Elliott

Miranda Maverick

Enjoy the fight card and I will see you next time on PWInsider!