Odds are out for UFC 299 fights in Miami

Odds are out for UFC 299 fights in Miami

The Octagon is returning to Kaseya Center in Miami for UFC 299 just 11 months after the promotion’s first trip to The Magic City in 20 years.

The show on March 9 will be headlined by a bantamweight title fight. ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley will defend his 135-pound belt for the first time in a rematch against the only opponent to defeat him in his 19-fight career, sixth-ranked contender Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera.

As of Tuesday morning, Caesars and BetRivers had O’Malley (17-1-0-1 MMA, 9-1-0-1 UFC) installed as a -205 favorite. The best price on O’Malley was offshore at BetOnline, where the 5-foot-11, 29-year-old was listed as -185 ‘chalk.’

The best underdog price for Vera (21-8-1-0 MMA, 15-6 UFC) was +170 at Caesars, while most other spots had him in the +155 to +164 range.

These bantamweights first met at UFC 252 on Aug. 15 of 2020, with Vera finishing O’Malley via first-round TKO (elbows and punches) with 20 seconds remaining in the opening frame. The Ecuadorian hooked up his betting backers as a +235 underdog.

O’Malley appeared to injure his right foot or ankle when Vera checked a kick. He was clearly limping for a few moments before the fighters clinched up.

Coming out of the clinch, O’Malley lost his balance and fell to his back. Vera saw the opportunity and pounced on O’Malley, and then he began to inflict damage from top position. After a slew of forearms, elbows and punches, referee Herb Dean intervened and called the fight.

O’Malley now gets his chance for redemption 3.5 years later. Since they first scrapped, O’Malley has posted a 5-0 record with one no-contest. Four of his five wins have been knockouts, and the fifth came via split decision over former champion Petr Yan at UFC 280.

The win over Yan set O’Malley up with a title shot against Aljamain Sterling, who had won the belt against Yan at UFC 259. From there, Sterling successfully defended the bantamweight championship three times in a row over former champions Yan, T.J. Dillashaw and Henry Cujedo.

But at UFC 292 in Boston four months ago, Sterling got dropped by a massive right hand from O’Malley early in Round 2. Then O’Malley landed a flurry of punches and hammer fists to his downed opponent before the bout was halted 51 seconds into the second stanza.

After beating O’Malley, Vera lost a unanimous decision to former featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo, but he recovered to rip off four consecutive victories. Vera, who is now 31, collected decision wins over Davey Grant and Rob Font in a pair of matches that garnered Fight of the Night bonuses.

Vera’s other two wins during his four-fight surge came over former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar (third-round front kick KO) and Dominick Cruz (fourth-round head kick KO), with Vera winning Performance of the Night Bonuses in both contests.

However, his winning streak was snapped in a split-decision loss to Cory Sandhagen in the UFC San Antonio main event on March 25 of this year. The split-decision result was a headscratcher, though, as Sandhagen was in complete control across all five rounds.

According to MMADecisions, 17 of 24 media members scored the bout 50-45 for Sandhagen and one had it 50-44. Five members of the press had it 49-46 for ‘The Sandman,’ and one had it 48-47 for Sandhagen.

Since losing to Sandhagen, Vera got back into the win column with a UD victory over Pedro Munhoz at UFC 292.

At the start of President Dana White’s UFC 296 post-fight presser this past Saturday, he announced four more fights for this event in South Florida: fourth-ranked welterweight Gilbert Burns vs. 11th-ranked Jack Della Maddalena, fifth-ranked bantamweight Yan vs. seventh-ranked Song Yadong, eighth-ranked welterweight Geoff Neal vs. 10th-ranked Ian Garry and 12th-ranked welterweight Kevin Holland vs. promotional newcomer Michael ‘Venom’ Page.

The promotion hasn’t officially announced which fights will be on the main card or the bout that’ll be the co-main event, but it’s obvious that three of the aforementioned contests will be on the main card along with a heavyweight battle between fifth-ranked Curtis ‘Razor’ Blaydes and seventh-ranked Jailton Almeida.

Blaydes had to pull out of a main-event slot vs. Almeida at UFC Sao Paulo last month due to an undisclosed injury. Almeida won via UD over Derrick ‘The Black Beast’ Lewis, who took the bout to replace Blaydes on less than three weeks of notice.

MyBookie has Almeida (20-2 MMA, 6-0) listed as a -125 favorite vs. Blaydes, who is a -105 underdog.

PREDICTION: I love a two-unit play on Almeida (-125) vs. Blaydes.

BetOnline has Holland (25-10-0-1 MMA, 12-7-0-1 UFC) at -141 vs. Page (+121), while MyBookie has Holland at -155 with Page listed as a +125 underdog.

The 31-year-old Holland has posted a 2-1 record in 2023, earning wins over Santiago Ponzinibbio (third-round KO at UFC 287 in Miami) and Michael Chiesa (first-round brabo choke submission at UFC 291). He lost his last bout to Della Maddalena via split decision.

However, according to MMADecisions, all 16 media members scored the contest for Della Maddalena.

At the age of 36, Page (21-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has finally inked a deal with the UFC after being one of Bellator’s biggest stars for a decade. ‘MVP’ compiled a 17-2 record under the Bellator banner, but he only fought for the title once and lost to Logan Storley via split decision at Bellator 281 in May of 2022.

Since then, Page bounced back with a 26-second TKO win over Goiti Yamauchi (leg kick) on March 10.

BetOnline has Burns (22-6 MMA, 15-6 UFC) installed as a -150 favorite vs. Della Maddalena (+130), who is 16-2 overall and 6-0 in the UFC.

Yan is a -160 ‘chalk’ vs Yadong (+140) at BetOnline, while Garry is -205 vs. Neal (+175).