Poirier returns at UFC 299 and Oliveira added to UFC 300

Poirier returns at UFC 299 and Oliveira added to UFC 300

Updated on Tuesday, 1/9/24, at 1:45 p.m. Eastern. 

Dana White announced two new fights late Sunday night. We now have four fights official for UFC 300, and Dustin Poirier is set to make his Octagon return at UFC 299.

The 34-year-old Poirier (29-8-0-1 MMA, 21-7-0-1 UFC) will be in bounce-back mode when he takes on 12th-ranked lightweight Benoit Saint Denis in a 155-pound scrap on March 9 at Kaseya Center in Miami.

Poirier, the former lightweight interim champion who is currently ranked third in the loop, meets Saint Denis in a five-round contest that’ll serve as the UFC 299 co-main event. The headliner features ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley, who will be defending his bantamweight belt for the first time vs. Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera.

As of Jan. 9, most books had O’Malley as a -198 (DraftKings) to -215 (FanDuel) favorite vs. Vera, who is an underdog in the +163 to +170 (Caesars) range.

DraftKings opened Poirier as a -175 favorite late last night. However, he became the underdog 21 minutes later. As of 1:45 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, Saint Denis was a -148 ‘chalk,’ with Poirier as a +124 underdog.

FanDuel has Saint Denis at -160 with Poirier at +124, while Bet Rivers has Saint Denis as a -150 favorite with ‘The Diamond’ at +120 on the comeback.

Poirier is tied for fifth in UFC history in career wins by finish (14) and is in a sixth-place tie for most career wins in UFC history (21) and most wins by KO/TKO (10). The Lafayette, LA., product ranks second in lightweight history with his eight wins by KO/TKO, and he’s tied for seventh among 155-pounders in career finishes with nine.

Since August of 2013, Poirier owns a 16-5 record with wins over former UFC champions like Conor McGregor (twice), Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez and Anthony Pettis. He also has a win over Justin Gaethje, who (like Poirier) is a former interim lightweight champion.

Poirier also owns quality scalps over Holloway (in their first of two meetings in 2012 at featherweight), Michael Chandler, Bobby Green, Dan Hooker and Jim Miller.

This is a huge step up in competition for the 28-year-old Saint Denis, who is on a five-fight winning streak since losing his Octagon debut to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos via unanimous decision at UFC 267.

The loss to Dos Santos was in a welterweight contest. All five of Saint Denis’s victories during his winning streak have been at lightweight and by finish (three KOs, two submissions) inside of two rounds. However, none of those wins have been over ranked opponents.

White also announced the fourth fight for the UFC 300 card in Las Vegas on April 13. In a lightweight matchup for the #1 contender position, former champion and top-ranked Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira will take on fourth-ranked Arman Tsarukyan.

DraftKings opened Oliveira as a -120 favorite late [Sunday] night (1/7). Like the Saint Denis-Poirier matchup, though, the initial ‘chalk’ moved to the underdog 20 minutes later.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Tsarukyan was a -166 favorite with Oliveira at +140 on the comeback at DraftKings.

BetRivers had Tsarukyan at -167 with Oliveira at +135.

The 34-year-old Oliveira (34-9-0-1 MMA, 22-9-0-1 UFC) is 12-1 in his last 13 fights dating back to 2018. His only loss during this span came in his third title defense when he was submitted by current lightweight kingpin, Islam Makhachev, in Round 2 at UFC 280 on Oct. 22 of 2022.

Oliveira bounced back last summer at UFC 289 when he scored a first-round KO win over Beneil Dariush, who came into the bout on an eight-fight winning streak. The Brazilian was scheduled to rematch Makhachev at UFC 294 this past October, but a cut over his eye suffered in his last sparring session less than two weeks before the fight forced him to pull out.

The 27-year-old Tsarukyan (21-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) is on a three-fight winning streak and owns an 8-1 record since losing a UD to Makhachev in his Octagon debut back in April of 2019. However, Tsarukyan has only one win over a ranked foe, beating Dariush last month via first-round KO in 64 seconds at UFC Austin.

PREDICTIONS: I like one-unit plays on both Poirier and Oliveira as underdogs. 

The three other UFC 300 scraps that were announced in late December are Calvin Kattar vs. Aljamain Sterling, Bo Nickal vs. Cody Brundage and Jiri Prochazka vs. Aleksandar Rakic.

Sterling is poised to make his featherweight debut after winning and successfully defending the bantamweight title three times. Sterling (23-4 MMA, 15-4 UFC) lost his belt in a second-round KO loss to O’Malley at UFC 292 this past August.

Kattar (23-7 MMA, 7-5 UFC) has lost three of his last four fights, but two of them should have an asterisk attached. Eight seconds into Round 2 of his bout against Arnold Allen on Oct. 29 of 2022, Kattar tore his ACL and the referee stopped the bout.

Prior to the loss to Allen in the UFC Austin main event on June 18 of 2022, Kattar dropped a controversial split-decision loss to Josh Emmett. But according to MMADecisions, 14 of 19 media members scored the bout for Kattar.

DraftKings has Kattar vs. Sterling as a pick ’em matchup (-115 either way). FanDuel has Sterling as a -120 favorite with Kattar at -106.

Nickal and Brundage will battle in a middleweight affair. The undefeated Nickal is an enormous -1450 ‘chalk,’ with Brundage at +750 on the comeback.

Rakic is a -125 to -135 favorite at most spots for his 205-pound battle vs. Prochazka, the former light heavyweight champion who is a +105 underdog.

With Oliveira and Tsarukyan booked for a #1 contender bout in the 155-pound loop, that means that Makhachev’s next title defense will be against Gaethje. In fact, I expect that bout to likely be added to this UFC 300 card later this week.

BetOnline has Makhachev installed as a -600 favorite vs. Gaethje, who is a +425 underdog.