UFC 300: Why every fight matters, from Alex Pereira-Jamahal Hill main event to the card's incredible opener

Maybe you’ve heard this already, but Saturday’s UFC 300 is a pretty big one. Massive, some might say. The greatest evening in the history of unarmed combat, might be more how UFC president Dana White would put it.

Whether you’re measuring viewership numbers, live gate receipts or just plain old fan hype, UFC 300 definitely clocks in as one of the biggest MMA pay-per-views in recent years. But what makes it so, and what are the stories and stats behind the 13 fights on Saturday’s card? I’m so glad you asked. Here’s your quick UFC 300 primer, from bottom to top.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 11: (L-R) Opponents Alex Pereira of Brazil and Jamahal Hill face off during the UFC 300 press conference at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 11, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Champion Alex Pereira of Brazil (left) and Jamahal Hill face off during the UFC 300 news conference at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Cody Garbrandt

Who they are: Figueiredo is a former UFC flyweight champ known for a fast and frenetic fighting style. Garbrandt is a former UFC bantamweight champ who once possessed slick, powerful striking, but then fell in love with planting his feet and throwing bombs (and getting knocked out).

Why it matters: There are two questions here. Can Figueiredo become a real contender up a weight class at 135 pounds? And can Garbrandt win a third straight fight and prove that the losses and unfulfilled potential are in the rearview mirror?

Number to remember: 2016. That’s the last year Garbrandt won three in a row. It’s also the last time he was a UFC champ.

Bobby Green vs. Jim Miller

Who they are: Green is the kind of striker who seems to think it’s a poor use of his hands to waste them defending his face, which will be talking from start to finish once the fight begins. Miller is the very definition of a savvy, old veteran in this game, having the distinction of being the only man to fight at UFC 100, UFC 200 and now UFC 300.

Why it matters: This one isn’t about the rankings of the title picture in the lightweight division. It’s more about history and unfinished business between these two. Plus it’s just a fun clash of styles, pitting Miller’s submission game against Green’s smooth, unorthodox striking.

Number to remember: Two. That’s the number of times Green has been submitted in an MMA fight. Both came early in his career, and neither was in the UFC.

Jessica Andrade vs. Marina Rodriguez

Who they are: Andrade is a former UFC strawweight champion who’s bounced back and forth between 125 pounds and 115 pounds. Rodriguez was once a fighter on a tear before consecutive losses halted her momentum.

Why it matters: This is one of those fights where we take two fighters who could be on the verge of either renewed relevance or steady decline, and then we lock them in a room together and tell them to figure it out between the two of them.

Number to remember: Five. That’s the difference (in inches) in height between these two. At just a shade over five feet, Andrade ought to be used to being the shorter fighter by now.

Jalin Turner vs. Renato Moicano

Who they are: Turner is a tarantula-loving lightweight (seriously, the man owns and seems to genuinely love spiders) who stumbled when he climbed high enough in the division to face serious talent. Moicano is an outspoken lover of money who has become part fighter and part YouTuber as he invites us to join him on his exuberant quest for legal tender.

Why it matters: Turner is ranked No. 10, and Moicano is No. 13 in the 155-pound class. That’s not quite in the realm of the really serious contenders, but it’s almost there. A win here for either of them maybe pushes them into the single digits.

Number to remember: 10. That’s how many submission wins Moicano has. And he brings that into the cage against an opponent who’s never been submitted.

Sodiq Yusuff vs. Diego Lopes

Who they are: Yusuff is a hard-charging featherweight who so far has beaten all the mid-level guys he’s faced, only to lose to the really established ones. Lopes is a guy who looks like he belongs at Warped Tour in 2008, but is actually really good at fighting.

Why it matters: This is probably the least star-studded fight on the card, but has the potential to be a lot of fun to watch — especially if Lopes gets his way.

Number to remember: Zero. That’s the number of ranked featherweights Lopes has beaten. Yusuff could be his first.

Holly Holm vs. Kayla Harrison

Who they are: Holm is a former UFC bantamweight champion who is somehow still a tough out well into her 40s, even if she seems unlikely to recapture the glory days that saw her knock out Ronda Rousey to become champ. Harrison is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo who is finally making her UFC debut after demolishing the competition in PFL for years.

Why it matters: Harrison, 33, already passed the first test when she made 136 pounds Friday for the first time in her career. Judging by the pain on her gaunt face at weigh-ins, it wasn’t easy. Harrison is the big favorite, but Holm is still good enough to expose any opponent who might have left her best stuff on the sauna floor.

Number to remember: Nine. The difference in ages between these two. Another way for the 42-year-old Holm to think of it is … she has a lot of experience on her side?

Calvin Kattar vs. Aljamain Sterling

Who they are: Kattar is a hard-nosed boxer who’s been trying to break through to the top of the featherweight division, but keeps bumping his head on the ceiling. Sterling was very recently the bantamweight champ and has now decided to try his luck up a division, where the weight cuts will hopefully be easier.

Why it matters: After losses in three of his last four, Kattar needs a win to get him back on the map. Sterling is just trying to find out if his wrestling-heavy style will still work for him against bigger opponents he can’t toss around quite as easily.

Number to remember: Four. That’s the number of inches in height that Sterling is giving up here. And he’s not used to being the smaller man in that cage.

Jiří Procházka vs. Aleksandar Rakić

Who they are: Procházka is a dynamic former 205-pound champ who is also delightfully weird in a way that seems to come entirely naturally to him. Rakić is a big, scary-looking light heavyweight who really seems like he should be a lot more successful — or at least fun to watch — than he has been in recent fights.

Why it matters: If the UFC had a European title, this would be a reasonable fight to determine its fate. Procházka needs a rebound after getting stopped by strikes in his bid to regain the 205-pound belt. But if Rakić could beat him, suddenly he’s in that conversation.

Number to remember: 25. That’s the number of knockout wins Prochazka has under his belt. And he’s only had 34 total fights.

Bo Nickal vs. Cody Brundage

Who they are: Nickal was a three-time national champion as a wrestler before becoming the bluest of blue chip MMA prospects pretty much as soon as he put on the gloves. Brundage (10-5, 5 KOs) is … the guy whom the UFC called to fight him next.

Why it matters: This is supposed to be the next in a series of showcase fights for Nickal (5-0, 2 KOs). He’s yet to have a fight go beyond the first round, and his last fight showed that he’s learned some striking to complement those world-class wrestling skills. Brundage is being treated as a human sacrifice, but he could instantly become a somebody with a (highly improbable) win here.

Number to remember: +1200. That’s how big of an underdog Brundage was at one point. That’s unheard of in the UFC. If he were to win this, it might be considered the biggest upset in UFC history.

Charles Oliveira vs. Arman Tsarukyan

Who they are: Oliveira is the beloved former lightweight champ who comes into this with a ton of fan support. Tsarukyan is the up-and-comer who’s found himself in a villain role to many fans simply by being the guy who has to fight Oliveira.

Why it matters: Simply put, the winner here likely gets a lightweight title shot next. Oliveira has already knocked back one would-be contender with his demolition of Beneil Dariush, who Tsarukyan also knocked out in his last fight. Tsarukyan is trying to prove he’s different while also injecting some new blood into the title picture.

Number to remember: Nine. That’s the winning streak Tsarukyan would be on if the judges knew what they were looking at in his fight with Mateusz Gamrot.

Justin Gaethje vs. Max Holloway

Who they are: Come on, you know who they are. Gaethje is the division’s jolliest knockout artist. Holloway is the former featherweight champ moving up a division for this one-time special attraction.

Why it matters: Officially, this is for the entirely ceremonial "BMF" title (an acronym that stands for the same thing Samuel L. Jackson’s character had stamped into his wallet in “Pulp Fiction”). But this fight doesn’t need a belt to be special. It’s a wild and crazy pairing for the sake of seeing who will walk out of this cloud of dust with his face and consciousness still intact. And it should be a lot of fun.

Number to remember: 47. That’s the number of total combined rounds Holloway has fought in his last 10 fights. On one hand, that’s got to take a toll eventually, right? On the other, clearly this is a man who knows how to clock in and go to work.

Zhang Weili vs. Yan Xiaonan

Who they are: Zhang is the reigning strawweight champion and has been off and on since first winning the belt in 2019. Yan is the clear top contender, who also helps the UFC lay claim to the first title fight featuring two Chinese fighters.

Why it matters: The belt is on the line, and one that’s currently held by a champ who seems like she could keep it for a long, long time. Isn’t that enough?

Number to remember: 2013. That’s the last time Weili lost to anyone not named Rose Namajunas.

Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill

Who they are: Pereira is the current 205-pound champ, having beaten Procházka to claim the vacant title — his second UFC belt in two divisions, all in less than three full years with the UFC. Hill is the former champ who had a cup of coffee with the belt before relinquishing it after rupturing his Achilles tendon while playing basketball, of all things.

Why it matters: In its post-Jon Jones era, the light heavyweight division has struggled mightily to find any lasting stability at the top. Whoever wins here could very well be the guy to change that. Also? When you combine two big, lanky strikers with a bunch of knockouts and nary a submission win between them, it ought to be a recipe for a violent and memorable main event.

Number to remember: 15. That’s the number of months since Hill’s last fight, a decision win over Pereira’s longtime coach Glover Teixeira. That’s the longest layoff of his pro career. And with an injury that’s not especially easy to bounce back from.