UFC 303 predictions, best bets, odds: Anthony Smith, Alex Pereira among top picks to consider this weekend

It’s time for another UFC PPV event. This week’s festivities caps off International Fight Week where fight fans from across the world descend on Las Vegas to celebrate mixed martial arts with events all week long. UFC 303 has made headlines for the last few weeks, but not for the reasons many involved in the promotion would hope for. Instead of the return of Conor McGregor, the card has undergone some major changes in the last two weeks.

The new main event sees light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira taking on an old foe in Jiri Prochazka. The two first battled last December when Pereira first claimed the 205-pound title at Madison Square Garden. Now, Prochazka gets his chance at revenge after picking up a stunning knockout of Aleksandar Rakic at UFC 300 in March.

The co-main event now sees a battle of featherweight contenders when Diego Lopes and Brian Ortega collide. The two jumped in on short notice and because of the difficult weight cut for Ortega, the fight will now take place at lightweight.

After going 2-3 with our best bets for UFC 302, we are sitting with a record of 14-16 on the year. That’s not a winning record, but we’re on track to get out of the red, hopefully starting with UFC 303. Check out UFC betting sites if interested in picking any fight on this card.

Ian Machado Garry vs. Michael Page

Fight to go the distance: Yes (-170)

Page has become something of a different beast in recent years. Against soft competition, he was fearless in going wide-open for finishes. It’s not that Page fights scared now, but against more skilled opponents, he has learned to utilize his length and technique to nullify aggression. If a finish presents itself, Page will take it, but this likely looks a lot like Page’s win over Kevin Holland in terms of pace. Garry is the favorite for a reason, but I think Page is a very live dog. Watching Garry against Geoff Neal and Neil Magny, however, doesn’t make me think this fight ends before the final bell. This could be a far more boring fight than it appears on paper.

Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Macy Chiasson

Mayra Bueno Silva moneyline (-110)

Chiasson’s lack of consistent performances has become an issue. After winning five of her first six fights in the UFC, Chiasson has now alternated between losses and wins for four straight. Bueno Silva isn’t a perfect fighter, but she is a dangerous one and dangerous fighters are at their best against mistake-prone opposition. Chiasson is going to want to push the pace relentlessly and never allow Silva to settle into a rhythm. The problem with pushing the pace is that it also creates openings for Bueno Silva to find success. For a pick ’em fight, it feels like Silva is in a good place to get the win.

Anthony Smith vs. Roman Dolidze

Anthony Smith moneyline (+124)

Under normal circumstances, this feels like a fight Dolidze should be expected to win. These aren’t normal circumstances, however. This fight was originally Khalil Rountree vs. Jamahal Hill, then Rountree vs. Carlos Ulberg after Hill was injured, then Ulberg vs. Smith after Rountree pulled out. Smith has at least had a bit more time to prepare for the fight, if not ideal circumstances. Dolidze, however, is stepping in on even shorter notice. Smith is a guy with a lot of experience on the big stage while this is only Dolidze’s second PPV card. That may not play a massive part in how a fight goes, but there are just a lot of little things adding up to Smith being in a good position to pull off a minor upset.

Brian Ortega vs. Diego Lopes

Fight to go over 1.5 rounds: Yes (-190)

The matchmakers at UFC pulled a rabbit out of their hat with this fight. Where I lean toward the over is that while both are exciting fighters who can produce a finish, Ortega’s iron chin is not going to make it easy for Lopes to roll over him. Ortega is not usually a quick finisher and if he isn’t hunting for the quick finish, it’s going to take some accumulation for Lopes to dent his chin. From there, we just need 2:30 more of action, and for fighters at this level, that should be a realistic thing to bank on. Things should start picking up in the second round, especially with this being a three-round fight, but there aren’t likely to be any easy finishes to be had.

Alex Pereira vs. Jiri Prochazka

Alex Pereira moneyline (-130)

There aren’t many reasons to expect this rematch to play out much differently than the first fight. Prochazka is a thrilling fighter but even his rebound win over Aleksandar Rakic doesn’t lay out a new approach to facing Pereira. Prochazka basically dared Rakic to hit him and managed to eat those shots before turning the tables and getting the finish. Pereira isn’t Rakic, though, and any one of his punches can turn the lights out. Maybe Prochazka comes in purely focused on takedowns and trying to work Pereira over on the ground but that isn’t the typical Prochazka approach, nor do I believe that is now the “easy” way to beat Pereira. As exciting as the fight will be, Pereira is simply too good at finishing fighters who are as wide-open as Prochazka.

Who wins UFC 303: Pereira vs. Prochazka 2, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on UFC 303, all from the MMA expert who profited more than $1,500 on his UFC main-card picks, and find out.

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