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UFC 298 predictions — Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria: Fight card, odds, preview, expert picks

A massive PPV card is on deck. UFC is heading back to California on Saturday night with one of its most highly anticipated main events in a while in tow. Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski looks to defend his title against a red-hot challenger in Ilia Topuria. It all goes down from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California on Saturday night.
Volkanovski is fresh off a second failed attempt to become a two-division champion after being knocked out by Islam Makhachev in October. The loss was a humbling one after falling short six months prior by decision against the pound-for-pound great. Where he has not struggled, however, is in 145-pound title fights as Volk has held the championship for over four years.
He has arguably the toughest test of that reign in front of him in the form of Topuria, who many believe to have the capabilities of being a global superstar. Topuria is unbeaten at 14-0 with a complete game that includes incredibly violent wins over Josh Emmett, Bryce Mitchell, Jai Herbert and Ryan Hall.
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With so much happening on Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds before we get to our staff predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.
UFC 298 fight card, odds
Alexander Volkanovski (c) -130 vs. Ilia Topuria +110, featherweight title
Robert Whittaker -225 vs. Paulo Costa +185, middleweights
Ian Machado Garry -225 vs. Geoff Neal +185, welterweights
Merab Dvalishvili -210 vs. Henry Cejudo +175, bantamweights
Anthony Hernandez -205 vs. Roman Kopylov +170, middleweights
Amanda Lemos -140 vs. Mackenzie Dern +120, women’s strawweights
Marcos Rogerio de Lima -140 vs. Justin Tafa +120, heavyweights
Rinya Nakamura vs. Carlos Vera, bantamweights
A.J. Dobson -190 vs. Tresean Gore +160, middleweights
Zhang Mingyang -120 vs. Brendson Ribiero +100, light heavyweights
Danny Barlow -200 vs. Josh Quinlan +170, welterweights
Oban Elliott -300 vs. Val Woodburn +240, welterweights
Miranda Maverick -180 vs. Andrea Lee +150, women’s flyweights
With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer, co-host of “Morning Kombat”), Shakiel Mahjouri (writer), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (senior editor).
UFC 298 picks, predictions
Campbell Brookhouse Mahjouri Mormile Wise Volkanovski (c) vs. Topuria Volkanovski Volkanovski Volkanovski Volkanovski Volkanovski Whittaker vs. Costa Whittaker Whittaker Whittaker Whittaker Whittaker Garry vs. Neal Garry Garry Garry Garry Neal Dvalishvili vs. Cejudo Dvalishvili Dvalishvili Dvalishvili Cejudo Dvalishvili Hernandez vs. Kopylov Kopylov Hernandez Kopylov Hernandez Hernandez
Volkanovski vs. Topuria
Campbell: Let’s not avoid the questions following Volkanovski, which include both his age (35) and the fact that he’s only four months removed from a short-notice knockout loss to lightweight champion Islam Makhachev in their rematch. But let’s also not avoid the two skills which have helped give the UFC’s 145-pound champion the status as a living legend: his ability to mute his opponent’s offense and his super-human ability to escape potentially dangerous situations. While it might not be wrong to classify Topuria as Volkanovki’s toughest test to date in his current title reign, the champion remains unbeaten as a featherweight over 18 career fights and can move one title defense away from Jose Aldo in the division’s record books. With a full camp behind him, look for Volkanovski to record a hard-earned decision in a competitive fight.
Mahjouri: The margins are close despite Volkanovski’s status as an all-time great featherweight. Volkanovski is coming off a rare knockout loss, expressed personal struggles last year and is exiting his athletic prime. Those are significant anchors when fighting a well-rounded offensive threat like Topuria. The challenger has sharp technique, power, speed and a variety of ways to finish the fight. Topuria has all the tools necessary to be a champion but, similar to Brian Ortega’s first title fight against Max Holloway, this is too steep an escalation in opponent. Topuria’s superior finishing ability will cause a scare or two but Volkanovski’s stamina and stifling style will lead him to a unanimous decision win. Expect Topuria to have better luck in his second UFC title fight.
Whittaker vs. Costa
Campbell: The one-sided dismantling in which Whittaker suffered at the hands of new champion Dricus du Plessis in his last bout have many wondering if the 33-year-old former champion is coming or going as an elite title threat. This should be a perfect get-well opportunity for “The Reaper.” For as dangerous and explosive as Costa can be, the gap in technical skill between the two should overwhelmingly favor Whittaker. Expect his jab and left hook to play a key role in disciplining Costa who has the same kind of size advantage which du Plessis used to overwhelm Whittaker but a far different mentality in terms of how to utilize it. Whittaker knows this might be his last chance to make a new title run as the division continues to reload. A loss would drop him to three defeats in his last four fights, which was almost incomprehensible just a few years ago.
Brookhouse: It’s impossible to ignore just how thoroughly Whittaker got handled by du Plessis. It is worth considering how Whittaker looked in that fight and wondering where he sits in his career arc. Costa, however, went life-and-death with a badly faded version of Luke Rockhold, hasn’t fought since August 2022 and is closing in on five years since turning in a complete, impressive performance. There’s no reason to see this as anything other than Whittaker’s fight to lose.
Garry vs. Neal
Mahjouri: Neal vs. Garry is perfect matchmaking. Both are elite strikers looking to make a statement in the welterweight division. Neal had had mixed success climbing the UFC rankings and it’s his turn to welcome a hungry contender. Neal has more power than Garry but Garry is better at controlling the range. Garry’s range management was particularly on display as he immobilized a longer opponent in Neil Magny with vicious leg kicks. Garry’s striking differential is also very impressive. The Irishman has landed 6.67 strikes per minute while absorbing 3.58 in the UFC, according to UFC Stats. By comparison, Neal lands an average of 5.22 strikes per minute while absorbing 5.6. It’s worth noting that Neal has faced better overall competition. Still, Garry’s margins are very impressive. Neal isn’t one to count out but I suspect Garry’s elusiveness will earn him a decision or knockout win.
Dvalishvili vs. Cejudo
Brookhouse: Cejudo remains a bit undersized for the division. Dvalishvili is also a terrible stylistic opponent for Cejudo, with a deep gas tank and the ability to push through trouble to close distance and take away opponents’ striking before imposing his will. Cejudo will likely have his moments — he’s too good of a fighter not to — but Dvalishvili will have more of them as he grinds away and wears Cejudo down, and eventually out.

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