Does The UFC 300 Lineup Live Up To The Hype?

Does the UFC 300 card live up to the hype

When you set expectations high, people’s minds start to race. And wow, race did they ever once chatter about UFC 300 started.

UFC 300 was billed as a fight card like none before: Can’t-miss fights from the earliest prelim to the main event. UFC CEO Dana White said he wanted it to be “the best card that’s ever been built.” It’s a card that will celebrate UFC’s 30-plus-year tradition of numbering their top events, bringing them to the impressive tri-centennial number arriving in April.

For some, it might be hard to judge whether UFC 300 has lived up to the hype. If you go back and see some of the lineups that fans fantasy booked months ago, you will soon realize that many had far higher hopes for the show than the already ambitious lineup that is now being promoted. While the pay-per-view offering is easily the strongest card produced by the promotion this year or even in recent years, people’s expectations previously were through the roof.

Hopes for the show were so high that White had to come out and say, “No, you aren’t going to get Ronda Rousey, or Georges St-Pierre, or some other retired fighter who people constantly discuss potentially returning.”

It’s a card without the promotion’s top active star, the name that defined a generation for the sport’s popularity, Conor McGregor. However, it seems like the promotion has struggled greatly to get him on any lineup, not just their biggest show in some time.

And even some of the more successful champions of recent years: Jon Jones, Islam Makhachev, and Sean O’Malley, all aren’t on the show. With all of these facts combined, is UFC 300 actually as good as people should have expected?

When looking at the logistics surrounding the promotion’s schedule, UFC 300 is arguably the best it could be. There’s a fair explanation for a large amount of the major absences on this show, and the matchups that were made are all quality. 

The three big fights

Alex Pereira agrees deal to fight at UFC 301 in Brazil title fight just 21 days after UFC 300 return
Mandatory Credit: Chris Unger – Zuffa LLC

The headlining spot of the UFC 300 card will go to a clash between UFC light heavyweight Champion Alex Pereira and former title holder Jamahal Hill. The matchup provides a solid storyline, pitting an incumbent champ against a fighter who had his reign ended due to an out-of-competition injury. Pereira is a name that, while only a few years into his UFC run, has earned a significant amount of popularity. He’s no McGregor or Jones, although his rivalry with Israel Adesanya and recent title bid at light heavyweight has made him a substantial figure in the promotion’s current landscape.

The evening’s co-main event is a match that isn’t receiving as much hype as it arguably deserves. Strawweight champ Zhang Weili will look to defend her belt for the second time when she faces Yan Xiaonan. Zhang has been an incredibly dominant name in her repeat run as champion, absolutely slicing through Carla Esparza to claim the belt within two rounds and then dominating Amanda Lemos last year. From a pure in-cage talent standpoint, she is one of the most fun champions to watch in the promotion currently. Yan is coming off an impressive first-round win over former champ Jessica Andrade, putting the biggest win yet on year lengthy climb toward the 115-pound division’s top.

In what is being billed as the first of three title fights, Justin Gaethje will meet Max Holloway at lightweight. They’ll be competing for the “BMF” title, a belt that exists somewhere in between kayfabe and reality. It’s easy to have mixed feelings about this fight: While it’s a matchup between two fan favourites that will likely be enjoyed by viewers, it’s two contenders in packed divisions essentially putting themselves on the sidelines for the first half of the year.

The matchup undoubtedly is a huge addition to UFC 300, but in the same arguably breathe does more long-term damage to the promotion’s booking. When completely ignoring the logistical issues that it presents, it’s a massive fight to have on the card.

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An incredibly stacked prelim card

Arman Tsarukyan unfazed by Charles Oliveira ahead of UFC 300 fight he's nothing special
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari – Zuffa LLC

An important factor to the UFC 300 lineup is the depth. The card’s quality from start to finish—something that was hyped up before even one fight was known—has absolutely lived up to the hype. The undercard has numerous former champions or veteran names in the company’s history, telling a story about the events that led up to the big 300. Holly Holm, Charles Oliveira, Jessica Andrade, Deiveson Figueiredo, and Jim Miller are all fighters who have undoubtedly been an important part of the promotion’s history since UFC 200 and thus are stellar additions to the card.

There are also interesting glimpses into the present and future. Former PFL champ Kayla Harrison will make her bantamweight debut and test Octagon waters for the first time at UFC 300. Jiri Prochazka will look to begin another climb towards a belt against Aleksandar Rakic. And while the placement of Bo Nickal high up in the lineup has caused controversy, there’s no doubt that his inclusion on the card is solid.

The prelims are well crafted, with the perfect amount of relevant and popular names throughout the card.

Breaking down who couldn’t be at UFC 300

Islam Makhachev set to fight twice this year ahead of expected UFC return
Mandatory Credit: Giuseppe Cacece

There are many big additions to UFC 300 that would have been big, but simply couldn’t be made. Let’s go through all of the possibilities and discuss why:

Lightweight champ Islam Makhachev turned down a fight due to the event coming just days after Ramadan, which is a completely valid reason. Many other champs have either fought too recently or already have their next assignment. Four champions (Ilia Topuria, Dricus Du Plessis, Raquel Pennington and O’Malley) have all fought in the past three months, and another titleholder, Alexandre Pantoja, is booked for an upcoming PPV (UFC has to book fights for PPVs after this event, don’t forget that!).

Alexa Grasso is also locked into a fight in late 2024 against Valentina Shevchenko. Jones said he wouldn’t be back from injury by that point, and it’s hard to tell what the UFC wants to do with interim champ Tom Aspinall. That leaves things down to just one more champ: Leon Edwards.

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If there is a fight that could have been a strong fight to add, it might have been a clash at welterweight between Belal Muhammad and Edwards. Muhammad mentioned that Ramadan wouldn’t cause an issue with his training for the fight and that he was willing to compete on that date. While we potentially don’t know all of the backstage politics of why that fight didn’t happen — especially if Muhammad has been publicly campaigning for it — it seems like a matchup that would have made sense to be on the card.

The verdict?

UFC 300 is great, even spectacular, but arguably falls short of the claim that it will be the best card ever. Which, to be fair, is a standard that is hard to live up to. Three-title fight lineups like UFC 217 and UFC 205 were arguably stronger, presenting three high-quality matchups at the top of divisions. However, it feels like there wasn’t much more they could do. UFC put together the best possible card for 300, and it’s hard to not consider it the best lineup we have seen in over a year.

UFC has crafted a card that features names of the promotion’s past and present. It’s a show that is stacked way far beyond the average PPV lineup and features fights that will appeal to both casual and hardcore audiences. Could it have been better? Sure. But with all things considered, it seems like UFC did as best they could with what was available, making it a suitable celebratory show. All that’s left to see is if the UFC 300 card will be as entertaining as it has the potential to be.

What are your thoughts on next month’s UFC 300 card?