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February 17, 2024 | Posted by Robert Winfree
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MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
(c) Alexander Volkanovski (144.5 lbs.) vs. #3 Ilia Topuria (144.5 lbs.) – for featherweight title
#6 Paulo Costa (185.5 lbs.) vs. #3 Robert Whittaker (185.5 lbs.)
#10 Ian Machado Garry (170.5 lbs.) vs. #8 Geoff Neal (170.5 lbs.)
#3 Henry Cejudo (135 lbs.) vs. #2 Merab Dvalishvili (135 lbs.)
#15 Anthony Hernandez (185.5 lbs.) vs. Roman Kopylov (185 lbs.)

#7 Mackenzie Dern (116 lbs.) vs. #3 Amanda Lemos (115.5 lbs.)
#15 Marcos Rogerio de Lima (261 lbs.) vs. Junior Tafa (249 lbs.)
Rinya Nakamura (135.5 lbs.) vs. Carlos Vera (135.5 lbs.)
Zhang Mingyang (204.5 lbs.) vs. Brendson Ribeiro (205.5 lbs.)

Danny Barlow (171 lbs.) vs. Josh Quinlan (169 lbs.)
Oban Elliott (170.5 lbs.) vs. Val Woodburn (169.5 lbs.)
Andrea Lee (125.5 lbs.) vs. Miranda Maverick (126 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC 298, I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the evening. This is the first UFC PPV of 2024 and they’ve brought a pretty darn good main card. The main event is the best fight you can make in MMA right now from where I sit, UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski trying for his sixth title defense against the undefeated Ilia Topuria. Volkanovski has a few things working against him here, firstly being knocked out in October of last year and now having crossed the mythical 35 year old mark. In the realm of statistical oddities the fact that on the men’s side of things only one fighter has won a UFC title fight at welterweight or lower, Tyron Woodley if you’re curious, has recently grown into a near mythical one and Volkanovski is trying to buck that particular trend while Topuria is looking to graduate towards superstardom especially in his adopted home of Spain. Our co-main event is a good middleweight fight that might crown the next title challenger, former champion Robert Whittaker is trying to avoid his first losing streak at middleweight when he welcomes back Paulo Costa. Bantamweight will be highlight on the main card as well when Henry Cejudo and Merab Dvalishvili fight to most likely crown the next title challenger, somewhat assuming Sean O’Malley sticks around the division at all but that’s another story. On the prelims the rising prospect Rinya Nakamura tries to keep up his momentum, Mackenzie Dern might be nearing the end of her nine lives when she takes on Amanda Lemos, and kicking everything off Andrea Lee tries to salvage her run against Miranda Maverick who could use some righting of the ship as well.

UFC 298 comes to the world from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, USA. Commentary will be provided by Jon Anik, Joe Rogan, and Michael Bisping. On the rules front I do think California allows replay but we’ll see if it comes up, and while I know they’re working on revising the definition of a downed fighter I’m not sure it’s been made official yet though I assume we’ll be informed if it has. Lastly remember we’re in the 30 foot Octagon instead of the 25 footer they use for the Apex or other smaller venues.

Andrea Lee has shown flashes of ability and even had a nice winning streak going at one point, but some close decision losses and tough matchmaking have her at just 2-6 in her last eight fights and she’s on a three fight losing streak. Lee badly needs a win to salvage her UFC run. Miranda Maverick has gone 3-3 in her last six fights though at least one of those was a split decision most people thought she won, but she’s coming off of a win and now looks to build another winning streak. The odds like Maverick at -200 to Lee’s +165.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Andrea Lee (13-8, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Miranda Maverick (12-5, 126 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Lee is two and a half inches taller with four inches of reach advantage, she’s also nine years older. Southpaw for Maverick and they touch gloves. Some lead hand fighting from both women as the drunken primates in the crowd already begin “woo”-ing, we’re gonna be in for a long one folks. Bit of a left from Maverick and she clinches up then looks for a takedown. Lee winds up based on all fours then Lee drags her back but Lee blocks a hook going in and comes out on top in side control. Maverick fights up but Lee is on her back and hits a German suplex but Maverick bounces up though still clinched. They hit the fence and Lee lands an elbow then they break. Maverick lands a left hand. Inside leg kick from Maverick. Knee from Lee. Maverick catches a kick and lands a left to the body. Another left hand from Maverick lands. Maverick lands an inside leg kick. Lee lands a body kick but eats a counter left. Both women block body kicks. Bit of a left from Maverick. Glancing left from Maverick, she’s just tossing that at Lee over and over again. Side kick from Maverick. They clinch again, and Maverick gets an inside trip to land on top in full guard. Some punches from top position from Maverick close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Maverick but a close one

ROUND TWO: Lee comes out looking to jab. Inside leg kick from Maverick. Jab from Lee. Bit of a combination from Maverick. Maverick lands a body kick, Lee returns it. Both women keep showing the body kick. Maverick tries a single leg, they hit the fence though and settle into a clinch. Some knees from Maverick to the head and body then she hits an inside trip to get on top. Lee half tries a guillotine on the way down but Maverick passes to half guard on the safe side. Maverick is landing body shots while kind of half trying to set up an arm triangle but she loses that attack. Lee shrimps to full guard. Lee scrambles up and free. Maverick avoids a few rights then lands a left hand. Side kick from Maverick. Left hand from Maverick. Maverick with a combination then a body kick. Bit of a body kick from Lee but she’s not got a read on the range and movement. Maverick tries a takedown, Lee tries a headlock throw but Maverick counters that and ends the round on top.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Maverick, 20-18 Maverick overall

ROUND THREE: Lee comes forward but walks into an elbow. Some leg kicks go back and forth as they circle. Bit of a left from Maverick. They clinch up and Maverick slips to the back. Lee is able to break the grip and fight free. Both women trade a bit as commentary discusses pickles of all things. Front kick then a left hand from Maverick. Calf kick from Maverick. They trade a few punches but Lee is behind pretty much all of these exchanges. Lee blocks a knee tap attempt, but then Maverick lands a high kick. Spinning back fist from Lee lands. Maverick hits a single leg and gets on top. Quick triangle attack from Lee but can’t get around the shoulders of Maverick. Some body to head punches now from Maverick. Lee tries the triangle choke again, she’s got the legs backwards though and while that’s still dangerous it’s not the same and wont come close to getting a tap as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Maverick but Lee might have stolen it at the end, 30-27 Maverick overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Miranda Maverick via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)

Mic time for Maverick, she was happy to show off that she can be more than a bully in here. She says the triangle wasn’t that tight at the end and she was getting out before the end. To close she says she’ll be auctioning off her gear to support victims of human trafficking, then thanks her family and God.

Oban Elliott brings a five fight winning streak into his UFC debut and now looks to capitalize on his only chance to make a good first impression. Val Woodburn was unable to make a good first impression in his UFC debut, his last time out he got run over by Bo Nickal but now he’s back at welterweight hoping that a more appropriate level of opposition might yield better results. Elliott is your favorite at -380 while +300 for Woodburn might be a tempting little value bet all things considered.

Welterweight Bout: Oban Elliott (9-2, 170.5 lbs.) vs. Val Woodburn (7-1, 169.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Elliott is four inches taller but Woodburn has two inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Elliott lands a calf kick. Woodburn is pushing forward but winds up clinched after missing a punch. Elliott with a knee then an elbow and he pulls free. Southpaw for Elliott now and he lands a head kick but Woodburn then lands a right hand that staggers him. Woodburn follows up with a flurry but Elliott is able to clinch up. They break and Woodburn lands a right hook but Elliott grabs a double leg and gets him down to his knees against the fence. Elliott gets the back and flattens Woodburn out then lands punches while trying to open up a choke. Woodburn is trying to hand fight while Elliott is landing some hammer fists and trying to open up the choke. Elliott keeps trying to flatten Woodburn but Woodburn is avoiding that, the man has incredibly strong legs. Woodburn is able to break the hooks but Elliott lands elbows then transitions to top position in half guard. Elliott moves to full mount with 30 seconds left, he’s looking to tee off and Woodburn gives up the back again. The round will end with Elliott still on the back.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Elliott

ROUND TWO: Woodburn looks a little fatigued as the round starts. Elliott is switching stance as he circles. Solid right hand from Elliott, but Woodburn fires back and Elliott backs off. A few lefts from Elliott then a left body kick. They clinch up and Elliott forces things to the fence. Elbow from Elliott as they break. Bit of a right from Woodburn. Both men block head kicks. Woodburn catches a kick and gets to the back of Elliott, Elliott fights the grip then looks for a switch and comes out hitting a single leg against the fence. Elliott moves to the ride position and lands some punches. Both hooks in now for Elliott and he starts fishing for the choke. Some more short punches from Elliott but he’s not able to mount devastating offense yet. Woodburn is able to spin and get on top just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Elliott, 20-18 Elliott overall

ROUND THREE: Circling from Elliott and he’s starting to poke out the jab. Woodburn misses a left hook and they clinch up. They break as Woodburn misses an uppercut. Some jabs from Elliott now. Woodburn misses a right hand but then he lands an uppercut in close. One two from Elliott and then he manages to avoid a right hand. Woodburn lands a right hand to counter a kick. Woodburn sprawls on a double leg but Elliott switches to a single leg and is able to push Woodburn over and get on top in half guard. Elliott works to keep top position while Woodburn is trying to come up on a hip and scramble. Elliott passes to full mount with 2:25 left. Some lefts from Elliott, he’s working short punches and elbows. Woodburn tries to scoot under the right leg and then scrambles to come out on the back of Elliott. Elliott stands but they’re still clinched. Woodburn looks for a double leg against the fence then slips towards the ride but Elliott stands. A few lefts from Woodburn, he needs a finish but he’s just grappling still. Elliott eats an uppercut then breaks. A bit of a left hook from Elliott lands to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Elliott, 30-27 Elliott overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Oban Elliott via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)

Not sure which round Woodburn got, maybe the first because he dropped Elliott but he spent way too much time with his back taken there. Mic time for Elliott, he says with a tear in his eye this is the greatest moment of his life because it’s hard to improve on that line from Ric Flair. He knew Woodburn was going to be tough but thought he had him with that first round head kick only to get rocked in return and he had to work it out the rest of the round. To close he says he’s better than this performance and says he’s the man now and to be the man you’ve got to beat the man, because we’re still just ripping off Ric Flair I guess.

Josh Quinlan has gone 1-1 in the UFC and is coming off of a loss, he’s trying to avoid his first losing streak but also stepped up here on short notice to replace Yusaku Kinoshita. Danny Barlow is undefeated coming into his UFC debut and now tries to maximize his only chance at a good first impression on the wider audience. The odds are with Barlow at -200 while a Quinlan win would payout at +165.

Welterweight Bout: Danny Barlow (7-0, 171 lbs.) vs. Josh Quinlan (6-1 1 NC, 169 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Barlow is two inches taller with a solid seven inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Barlow, who looks very big for the weight class. Quinlan misses a right hand. Some jabs from Barlow then a left hand lands. Quinlan is switching his stance now and lands a bit of a right hook. Barlow lands some jabs and Quinlan goes back orthodox. Body kick from Barlow. Barlow with a few more jabs. Quinlan lands a body kick. Left from Barlow lands, his frame and reach are just stifling Quinlan. Quinlan with a leg kick then a blocked high kick. Quinlan lands a jab. Quinlan lands a body kick but eats a counter punch. Barlow snaps out a few more jabs then a left hand. Left hand from Barlow lands. Quinlan lands a left hand then a right hook. Bit of a knee from Barlow. Both men miss some punches. Leg kick from Quinlan, he’s still moving between southpaw and orthodox. We get a time out as Quinlan took a thumb to the eye but he doesn’t take long to get back into the fight. They trade rights. Sharp left from Barlow lands then a leg kick behind it. A last couple of punches from Barlow close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Barlow

ROUND TWO: Quinlan comes out looking to pressure forward again. Barlow with some jabs to keep distance. Quinlan lands a body kick. Some leg kicks go back and forth. Quinlan is just falling a little short with most of his punches, then lands a bit of a left hand. Barlow with some more jabs then a bit of a left hand. Both men land a few punches in close but nothing’s really landing cleanly. Quinlan lands a couple of jabs. Quinlan swings wild and eats a couple of jabs for his troubles. Barlow sticks in some jabs then tries a jumping knee that’s partially successful. Glancing left from Barlow. Quinlan kicks Barlow square in the groin so we’ve got a time out. No doubt about that one. Barlow doesn’t take too long and then we’re back to fighting. Left hand from Barlow connects. Knee to the body from Barlow. Left hand from Barlow then a one two. Uppercut then a follow up left from Barlow. Quinlan tries a takedown but Barlow immediately sprawls away from it. Another knee from Barlow partially lands. Solid left hand from Barlow will be the last blow of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Barlow, 20-18 Barlow overall

ROUND THREE: Quinlan looks to shift forward and misses a right hook. Barlow lands a left hand. Quinlan lands a body kick. Body kick from Barlow and he’s backing Quinlan towards the fence. Barlow misses a flying knee. Quinlan with a stiff jab. Both men land in close but Quinlan walks into a left hand, Barlow then drops him with another left. Barlow keeps landing, Quinlan fights up but gets dropped, bounces up again but a few more punches from Barlow prompt the stoppage despite Quinlan still being upright, the fact that his right eye is now fully shut might have played a role there.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Danny Barlow via TKO, punches, at 1:15 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Barlow for his work this evening. Mic time for Barlow, he feels good and is here to stay in the UFC. He came out here to finish the fight and executed what they had planned. He is happy to have finished a guy who’d never been finished, and says he might have broken his left arm in the first round but fought through it. To close he puts over Memphis, God, and his coaches.

Here’s the finish. Barlow had been trying to snipe all fight and just finally landed enough to hurt Quinlan then never let him recover.

Zhang Mingyang brings a solid nine fight winning streak into his UFC debut, and he’s looking to add his name to the list of rising talent from China in the UFC. Brendson Ribeiro brings a three fight winning streak into his UFC debut and he’s hoping to spoil the aspirations of Zhang tonight while these two battle of that all important first UFC win. Close one here by the odds but the tilt towards Zhang at -130 to +110 for Ribeiro.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Zhang Mingyang (16-6, 204.5 lbs.) vs. Brendson Ribeiro (15-5, 205.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Ribeiro is an inch taller with four and a half inches of reach advantage. Zhang comes out and lands a leg kick. Ribeiro avoids some kicks. Zhang lands a body kick. Some jabs from Ribeiro then a right hand. Both men swing in close but can’t quite land clean. Bit of a left hook from Zhang and then they trade in close. Bit of a right from Ribeiro. Jabs from Ribeiro now, they get close and Zhang lands a jab then right hand followed by a left hook and Ribeiro drops then Zhang pounds him out on the mat to get the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Zhang Mingyang via KO, punches, at 1:41 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Zhang for his work this evening. Mic time for Zhang and the translator, he actually has some English and says he’s here and will be coming back. He notes how long he’s been out and really wants to get more cage time but he had to acknowledge the power of Ribeiro and then finish him as quickly as possible. To close he talks us through the finish and says he’s willing to fight Alex Pereira at UFC 300 which seems. . . ambitious before asking for more big fights and thanks his coaches before asking for a bonus. Once again I have to point out, asking for bonuses has not paid off over the last year or so.

Pretty standard one, two, three here from Zhang but the classics work for a reason.

Rinya Nakamura is undefeated including two wins in the UFC that have seen some hype start building around him, he’s trying to remain perfect and continue building his profile with another win here. Carlos Vera lost on the last season of TUF but in fights that matter he’s on a four fight winning streak and is hoping to at least slow the ascent of Nakamura. Nakamura is the biggest favorite on the card at a prohibitive -1350 while +800 on Vera might tempt some bettors out there given the volatility of MMA in general and the somewhat junior status of both men’s careers.

Bantamweight Bout: Rinya Nakamura (8-0, 135.5 lbs.) vs. Carlos Vera (11-3, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Nakamura is an inch taller while Vera has half an inch of reach advantage, Nakamura is also eight years younger. Southpaw for Nakamura and both men come out jabbing. Inside leg kick from Nakamura. Vera tries a spin kick but Nakamura gets him down off of it and they wind up on the mat. Vera is after a leg but Nakamura is able to pull his leg free and spin to get to the ride position. Knees to the body from Nakamura, Vera tries to invert for a leg but Nakamura stays above him and lands a left hand while standing over him. More punches from Nakamura as Vera keeps trying to tie up a leg. Calf slicer attempt from Vera but Nakamura gets free and settles into the guard of Vera. Solid left hand from Nakamura. Up kick from Vera, a legal one, but Nakamura keeps punching back then going through the guard. Nakamura moves to side control now and settles things down a little bit. Vera is able to get guard back then Nakamura punches him in the body a few times. Eventually Vera closes his guard to try and stifle the posture Nakamura has been getting. A few more punches from Nakamura land then he passes to half guard. Vera tries to get going for a leg but he can’t find it and Nakamura stands over him but Vera keeps attacking his legs. A few more punches from Nakamura on top to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Nakamura

ROUND TWO: Vera misses a high kick to start the second round. They clash on kicks then Nakamura gets a takedown and starts looking to land punches from top position. Vera tries to invert for the leg but Nakamura passes to side control and starts elbowing the body. Nakamura moves to the ride position as Vera goes to turtle but Vera rolls back and gets full guard. Nakamura looks to posture and punch but he’s not landing a whole lot yet. It would serve Nakamura more to punch the body instead of trying the head given how Vera is using his guard and legs for defense. Nakamura moves to half guard then moves to the back as Vera tries to roll. Vera is able to break that and roll but he’s getting controlled more now and there might be an issue with one of his shoulders. Nakamura keeps riding the back and lands some lefts. Vera tries to granby roll but they’re right against the fence and Nakamura gets on top threatening an arm triangle but Vera defends that. More wrestling from the knees from Nakamura, his riding is impressive and he’s slowly breaking down Vera physically. Vera gets full guard and eats a few short punches. The round will end with Nakamura still on top.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Nakamura, 20-18 Nakamura overall

ROUND THREE: Vera comes out kicking but not landing. Nakamura lands a right hand. Right hook from Nakamura. Vera slips on a wheel kick and Nakamura gets on top landing some punches. Nakamura to the ride position as they scramble on the mat. They stand and Nakamura lands a knee to the head before Vera tries to roll for a leg again. Nakamura lands a right hand as he returns to the guard of Vera. Nakamura moves to half guard, then spins out of a leg lock but Vera tries an inverted triangle but doesn’t like the angle and bails on it. More top control from Nakamura as Vera is in donkey guard then tries to switch for a leg but he can’t find the heel hook. Nakamura gets his leg free and fires some punches. Vera rolls to his shoulders but Nakamura smothers him and gets to the ride again. Some punches from Nakamura partially land now as he moves to half guard. Nakamura to the ride again and lands some more punches to close the fight.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Nakamura, 30-27 Nakamura overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Rinya Nakamura via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Vera’s left shoulder looks to be in serious pain, hopefully it’s not injured. Nakamura gets an interview with the translator, he starts with English and apologizes but broke his right hand in the first round and it messed with his ability to get a finish. He puts over Vera’s martial arts pedigree and admits to struggling to finish, then says he knows he has a lot to work on before he’s ready to really climb the ranks.

Marcos Rogerio de Lima just had a two fight winning streak broken by Derrick Lewis but has gone 4-3 in his last seven fights, he’s trying to avoid his first losing streak since 2012 with a win here. Junior Tafa stepped in on weigh in day to fill in for his brother Justin Tafa who apparently had some kind of injury, Junior got his first UFC win in his last fight and is looking to build on that momentum here. Given the very short notice change of opponents it’s not hard to see why de Lima is the favorite at -220 to +180 for Tafa.

Heavyweight Bout: #15 Marcos Rogerio de Lima (21-9-1, 261 lbs.) vs. Junior Tafa (5-1, 249 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Tafa is two inches taller and 11 years younger but de Lima has three inches of reach advantage and is 12 pounds heavier. They touch gloves to get us going. De Lima stalks forward. Calf kick from de Lima. Tafa lands a jab but then eats another calf kick. Some jabs from Tafa then de Lima lands a left hand in close. Calf kick from de Lima, those are not pleasant. De Lima hobbles Tafa with a calf kick then forces a clinch for some reason. That left leg of Tafa is still a problem as they break. Jab from Tafa. Calf kick from de Lima, then another one. Tafa is hobbling now and backs to the fence then tries to encourage a brawl. De Lima with a combination then hits a double leg to get on top in half guard. Some lefts from de Lima now as he’s smothering Tafa. De Lima with some punches now while Tafa tries to wall walk, Tafa can’t get the big man off of him though before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 de Lima, borderline 10-8

ROUND TWO: Tafa’s left leg is still compromised. De Lima lands a calf kick then they trade some punches. Tafa is trying out southpaw now to protect his left leg. They clinch up but de Lima pushes things to the fence then shoves free. Tafa with a couple of jabs then a right hand but he gets chopped down and dropped by a calf kick, de Lima then tosses a few hammer fists to prompt the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Marcos Rogerio de Lima via TKO, calf kicks, at 1:14 of Round 2

Respect to Tafa for stepping up on ridiculously short notice but he was never really in that one. Mic time for de Lima and the translator, he thanks the fans and UFC, then thanks Tafa for taking the fight and is glad to be showing off his evolution despite a decade in the UFC. He talks us through some highlights then to close he thanks his team and advocates to bring Augusto Sakai back into the promotion.

Just nasty calf kicks from de Lima, a few of those will take you out of a fight in a hurry.

Amanda Lemos sort of backed into a title fight her last time out by virtue of no one else being available, and she was summarily battered and soundly beaten by Zhang Weili. Lemos is trying to put that loss behind her and maybe start another move towards the title picture with a win here. Mackenzie Dern has traded wins and losses while going 3-3 in her last six fights but she’s coming off of a truly terribly performance when she was battered and stopped by Jessica Andrade last November, if she wants to make good on some of her promise and the potential the UFC still sees in her she pretty badly needs to avoid her first ever losing streak. Fairly close one here but the odds are with Lemos at -130 to +110 for Dern.

Strawweight Bout: #7 Mackenzie Dern (13-4, 116 lbs.) vs. #3 Amanda Lemos (13-3-1, 115.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Lemos has two inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Calf kick from Lemos. Darn misses a few punches. Body kick from Lemos. A right hand from Lemos lands, Dern does land a bit of a counter left hook though. Dern is moving forward but she’s walking into traffic right now. Calf kick from Lemos. Dern misses a couple of punches. Bit of a left from Dern but her left calf is already swelling pretty badly. Dern misses a right hand. Another calf kick from Lemos. Lemos with a hard body kick. Dern just doesn’t have anything going right now, but she’s able to hit a takedown and technically move to side control against the fence. Lemos tries to squirm around but Dern puts herself in half guard for greater control. Dern lands a few lefts to the head. A few short rights from Dern and she looks to pass to full mount but can’t quite get around the left butterfly hook. Elbow from Dern. The round will end with Dern still on top.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Lemos but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Dern starts moving forward right away. Lemos lands a body kick. Some southpaw work from Lemos, and she lands another body kick then switches back. Dern double jabs forward but misses a right hand. Lemos lands a calf kick. Dern pushes forward but walks into a right hand that drops her. Lemos is looking to swarm with punches, then a left hook drops Dern. Dern turtles up and catches half guard as Lemos gets on top, that was very very close to being stopped. Lemos is trying to posture up but can’t get free of Dern’s grip on the mat. Dern looks to invert for a leg but Lemos postures through that then stands and makes Dern regain her feet. Dern’s right eye is swelling and could be a problem, but she lands a right hand. Body kick from Dern then another calf kick. Bit of a right from Lemos. Dern eats a calf kick but bulls forward and ties up then Lemos gets a takedown into full guard. Dern is trying to angle her hips and sweeps to get on top of Lemos in half guard. Short time though and that’s where the round will end.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Lemos but a marginal one, 20-17 Lemos overall

ROUND THREE: Dern swings a right hand that off balances Lemos, but Lemos gets up and they clinch then Dern tries to jump guard but Lemos drops on top in full guard. Lemos is trying to stack Dern up, Dern is after another sweep or an armbar but Lemos pulls her arm free. Dern tries to transition towards a leg attack but Lemos is keeping her weight on it so it can’t be extended. Dern just wont give up on that leg though, she’s angling it and works to extend it, she sweeps to be sort of on top while Lemos is defending the leg. Lemos avoids the leg attack but Dern fully transitions to top position in half guard. Dern’s got about two minutes to finish this. Some rights from Dern and she keeps Lemos from wall walking. Elbow from Dern. Lemos is able to wall walk but Dern is still pressed into her on the fence. Single leg from Dern, they scramble on the mat and Lemos winds up on top but Dern switches towards a leg lock. Dern tries one last leg attack but the clock runs down before it can develop.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Dern, 29-27 Lemos overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Amanda Lemos via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

No interview for Lemos because we’re short on time, but I’m surprised by the lack of 10-8’s for her in that second round.

That’s it for the prelims, on to PPV for the main card.

Anthony Hernandez is on a four fight winning streak with three of those being finishes which has seen him crack the top rankings, now Hernandez looks to defend his position and set his sights on someone ranked above him next time out. Roman Kopylov stepped in to replace the injured Ikram Aliskerov but is on a four fight winning streak as well with all of those being finishes, if he can play spoiler here it should see him crack the rankings and would set him up for a big year. Hernandez is your favorite at -225 while +185 for Kopylov might tempt a few bettors out there.

Middleweight Bout: #15 Anthony Hernandez (11-2 1 NC, 185.5 lbs.) vs. Roman Kopylov (12-2, 185 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These have the same height and reach measurements. Southpaw for Kopylov, Hernandez lands a right hand. Bit of a left from Kopylov then he avoids a sort of takedown attempt. Left hand from Kopylov. Kopylov lands a body kick, Hernandez didn’t like that one but he does avoid a head kick. Hard body kick from Kopylov, Hernandez lands a right hand and tries a takedown but again Kopylov blocks the takedown. Kopylov lands a left hand. Hernandez with a bit of a right hand. Another left from Kopylov then a body kick. A series of rights from Hernandez, not many land but he uses them to clinch up and go for a takedown. Kopylov is able to remain upright then pushes free. Hernandez pushes for another takedown, that hits the fence and he switches to a single leg but Kopylov is remaining upright so far. Kopylov is defending well so Hernandez lands an elbow. Hernandez forces things down to their knees but he can’t really get Kopylov down. Hernandez slips to the back in the clinch and lands a couple more elbows before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Hernandez

ROUND TWO: Hard body kick from Kopylov lands. Hernandez lands a right to the body. Left to the body from Kopylov then a right hook behind it. They trade in close, Hernandez isn’t as technically sound but he just wont stop pressing. Kopylov with a combination then a high kick, that stopped Hernandez for a second but he’s back on pressure right away. Knee to the body from Kopylov. Kopylov lands a body kick but Hernandez bulls him over against the fence. Hernandez gets the back in the clinch and looks to resume drowning Kopylov. Kopylov gets chest to chest but is struggling to actually get space from Hernandez. Hernandez gets a double leg and moves to the back then starts fishing for a choke. Full back mount for Hernandez but Kopylov is on his knees, Hernandez grabs the choke and pulls things back and while Kopylov is hand fighting he’s able to break the grip. Hernandez just grabs the choke again and this one is super tight and forces the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Anthony Hernandez via Submission, rear naked choke, at 3:23 of Round 2

Heck of a win for Hernandez, that man is going to be a real problem for the top of the division. Mic time for Hernandez he says he had to get out of his own way mentally and thanks his coaches for all their work with him, he’d like to make a run for the title and puts over Kopylov’s powerful kicking. To close he feels ready to show the world just how good he can be.

We announce the next inductee in the 2024 UFC Hall of Fame, it’s MMA legend Wanderlei Silva. I love The Axe Murderer and if you’re not familiar with what he could do at the peak of his ability go watch his Pride run and enjoy the violence. The man unequivocally deserves recognition in MMA history.

Merab Dvalishvili is on a nine fight winning streak against ever increasing opposition and if he can get a win here the only fight left would be for the title. Henry Cejudo is a former champion in this weight class and last year returned from a three year retirement to challenge again for that belt only to come up short, now he’s trying to earn another crack at the belt and has also indicated he might retire again if he can’t get by Dvalishvili here. The odds like Dvalishvili at -290 against +235 for Cejudo.

Bantamweight Bout: #3 Henry Cejudo (16-3, 135 lbs.) vs. #2 Merab Dvalishvili (16-4, 135 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Dvalishvili is two inches taller with four inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us started. Cejudo fires an early leg kick. Dvalishvili misses a wheel kick. Another missed wheel kick from Dvalishvili. Both men miss rights. Dvalishvili lands a leg kick. Bit of a one two from Dvalishvili. Cejudo misses a left hook but does land a leg kick. Dvalishvili lands a couple of punches in close. Both men land lefts in close but it’s Dvalishvili who seems more rattled. Cejudo lands a right hand in close. Leg kick from Dvalishvili. Both men miss punches, Dvalishvili tries a single leg and gets Cejudo down into half guard. Cejudo scrambles up and gets free but he took some punches along the way. Hard right hand from Dvalishvili but he gets too aggressive looking to follow up and Cejudo gets on top after a scramble. Half guard for Cejudo as he looks to settle things. Dvalishvili looks to scramble up, he gives up the back and Cejudo goes to a ride, Dvalishvili up and Cejudo just holds a rear waist lock. They get chest to chest and Dvalishvili lands some knees and punches. Knee from Cejudo as they break. Front kick from Dvalishvili lands then they circle away the final seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Cejudo

ROUND TWO: Dvalishvili looks to push forward a little more now as the round starts. Cejudo fakes a few punches. Some lefts from Dvalishvili partially land then a leg kick. Cejudo returns the leg kick then avoids a right hand. They tie up, Cejudo then hits a go behind and gets to the ride. They clinch up on the fence but Dvalishvili gets free quickly. Front kick and punches from Dvalishvili, he’s starting to up the pace now. Bit of a right from Dvalishvili. Both men with rights in close, Dvalishvili landed better. The pace is starting to add up, Cejudo tries a single leg but Dvalishvili defends and unloads with some punches. Dvalishvili lands a left hook then a front kick. Cejudo is trying to reestablish himself but Dvalishvili is coming forward and lands another left hook then a front kick. Dvalishvili with a single leg, he trips Cejudo down and gets into the ride position. Some small knees to the body and leg from Dvalishvili as Cejudo works to wall walk. Cejudo is upright but Dvalishvili is on his back still landing knees and looking for a mat return. Trip from Dvalishvili and he’s back to riding Cejudo. Some rights from Dvalishvili as Cejudo wrestles up and free. Front kick from Dvalishvili. Cejudo misses a left hook. Dvalishvili gets back on forward pressure and pushes Cejudo over, Cejudo tries a single leg but Dvalishvili uses a guillotine to dissuade him the rides him down with the front headlock. Dvalishvili keeps adjusting his grip, he might think about jumping for the choke, but instead just lands some body shots while Cejudo is just hanging out. Dvalishvili switches his grip and he’s got a tight choke but Cejudo gets a bit of an angle on his head to stay safe as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Dvalishvili, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Cejudo looks more fatigued but he lands a calf kick. Dvalishvili shows some kicks and then misses a wheel kick. Cejudo misses a few punches. Dvalishvili fires a few more head kicks that are blocked. There’s a big hematoma on the left forearm of Cejudo, not sure what that is. Dvalishvili forces a clinch and starts landing knees to the leg as they hit the fence. Cejudo’s left arm might be broken given that swelling. Dvalishvili is on the back in the clinch and keeps landing knees while Cejudo is grabbing the fence without much comment from the ref. They separate and Dvalishvili gets back on pressure. Left hand from Dvalishvili then he tries a single leg, can’t finish this one though and they break. More leg kicks from Dvalishvili, both to the leg and front kicks to the body. Bit of a right from Dvalishvili. Cejudo lands a leg kick but eats a left hand in return. Dvalishvili lands a right hook then tries a double leg, he lifts carries and slams Cejudo down. Full guard for Cejudo but Dvalishvili is unloading with punches to the body and head, just staying busy. Cejudo scrambles up and Dvalishvili gets his back in the clinch. Some more knees from Dvalishvili aimed at the leg, Cejudo still fence grabbing but Dvalishvili trips him down anyway. Some knees to the body from Dvalishvili as Cejudo sits against the fence. Cejudo is able to stand but he can’t get away from Dvalishvili. Cejudo is able to get away but Dvalishvili is still after him. Right hand from Dvalishvili. They clinch, Dvalishvili blocks an inside trip and hammers body shots before they break. Dvalishvili with a little show boating to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Dvalishvili, 29-28 Dvalishvili overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Merab Dvalishvili via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Mic time for Dvalishvili, your presumptive number one contender, he is proud of his work and says nothing has come easy to him his whole live but hard work pays off. He thanks Mark Zuckerburg for supporting him recently and then says he’s not even breathing hard because he trains incredibly hard every day. He says the choke in the second round was tight, then says he wants 10 round fights because he can fight that long and wants a shot at the champion. To close he thanks the fans for the love and reiterates just how much work he puts into this, then just says again he’s ready for whoever is champion and reminds us he’s been calling out O’Malley since 2018 which is true. Oh, one more thing apparently, he thanks Georgia and all the Georgians who made the trip here to support him, and briefly says he thinks Ilia Topuria will win the main event despite Volkanovski being one of his favorite fighters. Man that guy is chatty.

Geoff Neal has shown real ability during his time in the UFC and was looked at like a rising force back in 2019, but he’s 2-3 in his last five fights and despite a valiant effort in his last outing he missed weight and then got choked out by Shavkat Rakhmonov. Neal pretty badly needs to avoid another losing streak here if he’s going to make a real run at the top of the division. Ian Machado Garry is undefeated including six wins in the UFC, he’s been making a lot of noise and raising his profile lately and if he can get another win here it could well set him up for a title eliminator style fight his next time out. Garry is the favorite here at -240 against Neal’s +200.

Welterweight Bout: #10 Ian Machado Garry (13-0, 170.5 lbs.) vs. #8 Geoff Neal (15-5, 170.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Garry is four inches taller while Neal has half an inch of reach advantage. Southpaw for Neal. A lot of circling from Neal early, both men kind of probing with the lead hand. Bit of an inside leg kick from Neal. Garry with a front kick. Calf kick from Neal. Garry side kicks the leg to keep distance. Neal with another inside leg kick. A lot of circling from Garry now, he really doesn’t want Neal in punching range. Bit of a body shot from Garry. Neal lands an inside leg kick. Garry avoids a right hook. Knee from Garry as he’s keeping range and moving around. Right hand then a left from Neal land and he clinches up. Some short strikes in the clinch from Neal as they jockey for position. Garry eventually slips free and lands a knee to the body. Neal lands a right hand. Some long range kicks from Garry but he’s not really landing yet. Elbow from Garry lands and he keeps circling. Right hand from Neal. One more brief combination from Neal closes the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Neal but a close one

ROUND TWO: Inside leg kick from Neal to start the round. Neal with some forward pressure now. Bit of a high kick from Garry. Knee from Garry. Neal clinches up and pushes things to the fence. Nothing much happens and eventually Garry slips free. Left hand from Neal partially lands. Garry lands a right hand. Body kick from Garry. Glancing left from Neal. They clinch up after a Neal right hand and they hit the fence again. Some short punches from Neal as he’s got Garry on the cage. They fight for position for a bit before Neal lands a left uppercut on the break. Bit of a one two from Neal. Garry pokes front kicks to the body. Neal avoids a few punches. Garry lands a body kick. Combination from Neal mostly lands. Garry starts working to jab and keep distance. Neal has a head kick blocked. Neal lands a combination of punches and Garry clinches up again. They fight for position along the fence as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Neal but another close one, 20-18 Neal overall

ROUND THREE: Neal gets back to pressuring forward and punches into a clinch. They break and Neal misses an elbow as they do. Garry with a combination that’s partially blocked. Body kick from Garry but Neal responds with three body shots. Neal keeps moving forward and lands an inside leg kick. Garry lands a jab then a right to the body. Neal lands a left hand. Left to the body from Neal. Garry lands a body kick. Neal lands three punches then clinches again. Not much happens in the clinch then Garry slips free. Bit of a left from Garry. Hard knee from Garry lands. Garry lands a body kick and avoids some punches. A lot of circling from Garry, it could uncharitably be described as running. Neal presses forward but he’s not really pulling the trigger. Neal lands a knee, then Neal lands a couple of punches. Garry avoids some punches and circles back to the middle of the cage. Neal punches into a clinch yet again. Bit of an elbow from Garry as they break, then Garry fires a front kick as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Garry, 29-28 Neal overall but this is probably going to Garry

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Ian Machado Garry via split decision (28-29, 30-27 x2)

That fight pretty much sucked. Garry gets an interview and plays with the crowd who is booing him. He puts over Neal’s power and knew he might have to take 15 minutes and just out point him. Asked about the future he puts over Neal again and says he really wants to fight Colby Covington next. Might as well make that fight I guess. Garry says he used to be a fan and right now he’s just living the dream no matter how the fans react.

Robert Whittaker is a former middleweight champion and in fact in this division he’s only lost to Israel Adesnya and Dricus du Plessis. Whittaker is coming off of that loss to du Plessis but he’s trying to bounce back here and avoid his first losing streak at middleweight. Paulo Costa broke a two fight losing streak back in August of 2022 when he beat Luke Rockhold, now after the layoff he’s back and if he can best Whittaker it could earn Costa his second crack at the middleweight title. As is pretty standard for him Whittaker is the favorite at -240 while Costa’s comeback sits at +195.

Middleweight Bout: #6 Paulo Costa (14-2, 185.5 lbs.) vs. #3 Robert Whittaker (24-7, 185.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Costa is an inch taller while Whittaker has an inch and a half of reach advantage. Costa comes out looking to move forward. Whittaker with a leg kick and a jab. Another calf kick from Whittaker. Whittaker with another calf kick then he avoids the return. Glancing high kick from Costa, then he checks a calf kick. Bit of a right from Whittaker. Whittaker with a calf kick. Costa fires another high kick that’s blocked. They trade jabs then Costa misses a left hook. Bit of a jab from Whittaker, then another one. Whittaker lands a calf kick. Whittaker slips a jab and lands a counter right hand. More jabs from Whittaker, Costa lands a calf kick but then eats a left hook. Whittaker blitzes forward and lands a couple of punches. Another calf kick from Whittaker, Costa returns it but he’s starting to get a little broken down. Whittaker bulls forward and lands a left hand then another calf kick. Bit of a calf kick from Whittaker. Costa avoids a right hand. Right hand from Costa. More jabs from Whittaker. Hard right hand from Whittaker connects. Inside leg kick from Whittaker. Whittaker avoids a right hand and they trade punches in close. Some jabs go back and forth but Whittaker is winning these exchanges. Side kick from Whittaker. Wheel kick from Costa wobbles Whittaker, Whittaker fires back at him as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Costa, I think he stole it at the end there

ROUND TWO: Whittaker gets back to jabbing and calf kicking as the round starts. Both men land some jabs. Bit of a leg kick from Costa. Front kick from Costa then a jab. Whittaker lands a left hand then a right behind it. Glancing head kick from Whittaker. A couple of calf kicks from Costa, then Whittaker lands a hard calf kick. Bit of a right from Costa then a front kick. Whittaker lands a left hook. We get a time out as someone took a finger to the eye, it was Whittaker but he doesn’t take much time and we’re back to fighting. Replay does show the thumb of Costa hitting his eye. Hard calf kick from Whittaker then a left hook. Both men land punches in close. Another jab from Whittaker. Both men are bleeding from the face now but Whittaker’s looks worse. Stiff left from Whittaker then a calf kick. Right hand then a left hook from Whittaker. Whittaker is coming on stronger and Costa might be fading. A series of lefts from Whittaker land. Costa is trying to laugh this off but he’s getting hit consistently. Calf kick from Costa. Whittaker avoids a couple of head kicks then lands a calf kick. Body kick from Whittaker. Costa misses another high kick. Calf kick from Whittaker then a couple of punches. Costa with a calf kick. Whittaker lands another calf kick and that’ll be the last blow of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Whittaker, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Costa comes out and fires a one two, only partially lands. Whittaker with a jab then a calf kick. Whittaker with a left hook. They trade calf kicks but it’s Whittaker who fires punches off of it. Another calf kick from Whittaker. Whittaker lands a right hand. Costa with a leg kick. They get close and Whittaker lands a few punches but Costa does land a knee. Whittaker checks a leg kick and lands a left hook. Another left hook from Whittaker lands. One two from Whittaker lands. Calf kick from Whittaker then he lands a couple of punches in close. Costa wants a brawl but Whittaker isn’t biting and lands a calf kick. A few kicks from Costa partially land. Bit of a body kick from Costa. Whittaker with a left hook. Stiff jab from Whittaker lands as well. Whittaker with a calf kick then a one two. Both men land some jabs, then Whittaker lands a left hook in close. Stiff jab from Whittaker. Costa misses a wheel kick. Bit of a one two from Whittaker. They clash on kicks, both men are going to be feeling those legs tomorrow. Whittaker lands a left hook. Short elbow from Whittaker after a failed blitz then he lands a hard calf kick. Costa misses a left hook but he’s coming forward. Whittaker with a right hand. Double jab from Whittaker then a left hook. Costa tries to brawl but again Whittaker wont engage him in that as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Whittaker, 29-28 Whittaker overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Robert Whittaker via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Mic time for Whittaker, he wanted this fight and thinks it turned out to be a good fight. He jokes that the wheel kick in the first was just a flesh wound. He put a lot of pressure on himself to perform after losing to du Plessis, and he’d like a rematch with him at some point. To close he plays with the crowd just a bit.

Ilia Topuria is undefeated including six wins in the UFC with four of those being finishes, Topuria bested Josh Emmett last June and now gets his first shot at UFC gold. Topuria has become a pretty big star in Spain and if he can claim the title here it could push him almost into superstardom. Alexander Volkanovski is the reigning featherweight champion going for his sixth title defense here, and in fact has never tasted defeat in this weight class. Volkanovski has twice failed to capture the lightweight title from Islam Makhachev but is now looking to reassert his dominance over the featherweight division and prove he’s still the man here. Close odds on this title fight but they tilt towards Volkanovski at -125 to +105 on Topuria.

Featherweight Title Bout: (c) Alexander Volkanovski (26-3, 144.5 lbs.) vs. #3 Ilia Topuria (14-0, 144.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Topuria is an inch taller while Volkanovski has two and a half inches of reach advantage, he’s also eight years older and has hit the mythical 35 year old mark. Both men open orthodox but Volkanovski will do a lot of stance switching and they touch gloves to get us going. Some early feints from Volkanovski then he fires a head kick that’s blocked. Topuria has a punch blocked. Body kick from Volkanovski then an inside leg kick. Another body kick from Volkanovski, he’s keeping his lead leg active. Bit of a right from Topuria. Another body kick then inside leg kick from Volkanovski, he’s just staying busy. Volkanovski goes southpaw and fires a head kick that’s blocked then goes back to orthodox. A lot of head movement from Topuria then he lands a leg kick. Topuria jabs the body then lands a calf kick. Volkanovski probes with the lead hand then avoids a right hand. Bit of a right from Topuria then Volkanovski lands a body kick. Another calf kick from Topuria. Volkanovski is starting to play with southpaw a little more now and he avoids a couple of punches. Topuria jabs the body after taking a body kick. Volkanovski lands a calf kick. Both men land in close then Topuria lands a right hand as they exit the pocket. Topuria blocks a high kick. Volkanovski has a high kick blocked then avoids a right hand. Inside leg kick then a calf kick from Volkanovski. Bit of a left from Volkanovski. Glancing calf kick from Volkanovski. They tie up, Volkanovski with knees to the body and one to the head as they break. Jabs from Volkanovski now as he circles but Topuria is moving his head a lot. Topuria misses a right hand. They feint away the final seconds of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Volkanovski but a close one

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves again. Volkanovski gets back to jabbing right away then lands a body kick. Jab from Topuria but Volkanovski responds with two of his own. Bit of a right from Topuria but he misses the follow up. Some jabs from Volkanovski as he circles. Body kick from Volkanovski. Topuria jabs the body then lands a right hand. Topuria gets close but eats some knees before landing body shots and resetting. Volkanovski lands a right hand. Jabs from Volkanovski again now as he moves around Topuria. Volkanovski lands a jab, Topuria is bleeding a little bit from the bridge of the nose. Calf kick from Topuria. They split a few jabs, Volkanovski is trying to stay a bit more active then lands a front kick. Both men miss rights but Volkanovski fires another one that lands. Inside leg kick from Volkanovski. Bit of a double left from Volkanovski, Topuria with a counter right that partially lands. Calf kick from Volkanovski, his output is mostly what’s bothering Topuria. Topuria gets close and lands a right hand, Volkanovski is hurt then a right hand SLEEPS him!

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – and NEW UFC Featherweight Champion Ilia Topuria via KO, punches, at 3:32 of Round 2

Mic time for Topuria, he feels very happy and says you only need to believe in yourself and work tirelessly then everything is possible. He feels confident in his skills and worked incredibly hard for this moment, and says what’s in front of you is all that matters not what’s behind you. He talks us through the finish and says he needed to throw a lot of punches here and once he started doing that he had success. To close he says the UFC needs to go to Spain, and if Conor McGregor still has balls he’ll be waiting for him there. No reaction to that, Conor’s not the pop machine he used to be.

Mic time for Volkanovski as well, he knew Topuria had power and puts him over and mentions how long he’s been champion and would be happy to rematch Topuria in Spain if that’s possible. Volkanovski is a class act per usual.

Well as Topuria celebrates in the cage UFC 298 comes to a close. Thank you all for reading, be that live or after the fact, and hopefully you’ll listen to the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast where we’ll be breaking down all the results from this card. We’ll also be looking ahead to UFC on ESPN+ 95 when the UFC goes back to Mexico City for the first time since 2019. I’ll be back here for that event and I hope you will be as well. Until then thank you again for reading, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC 298, Robert Winfree