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UFC 300 rundown: Alex Pereira bringing order to light heavyweight


UFC 300 is in the books.

Alex Pereira retained the light heavyweight title for the first time Saturday, defeating Jamahal Hill via first-round knockout in the centennial main event in Las Vegas.

In the co-headliner, Zhang Weili held onto the strawweight belt with a unanimous decision win over Yan Xiaonan. Plus, Max Holloway scored a Knockout of the Year candidate with a last-second finish over Justin Gaethje to become the new BMF champion.

Here are five takeaways from the pay-per-view event.

UFC 300 lived up to - and maybe exceeded - expectations

What a night.

On paper, UFC 300 was one of the deepest and most ambitious fight cards the promotion has put together. It didn't have a larger-than-life main event featuring the likes of Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, or Ronda Rousey, which hampered some MMA fans' expectations. But it did have a historically long list of current and former UFC champions and top contenders in action from top to bottom. And you know what? UFC 300 freakin' delivered. Maybe more than it was even supposed to.

From Deiveson Figueiredo choking out Cody Garbrandt in the opening bout to Pereira crumpling Hill in the first round to close the show, almost every single fight entertained. Pereira and Zhang further cemented their cases as two of the world's best pound-for-pound fighters. Holloway stole the show, pulling off one of the most iconic UFC highlights of all time with the help of Gaethje's willingness to bite down and throw like a madman. A bunch of rising contenders kept rolling, and a handful of former champs picked up key wins. Eight of 13 fights ended inside the distance, with a nice mix of knockouts and submissions. There was basically only one boring fight all night. The in-cage action was everything you could've asked for - and then some.

Actual fights aside, the production value of UFC 300 was top-notch - just how it was supposed to be. There was a nice amount of nostalgia with the early-day UFC intro music and graphics, "Face The Pain" finally making its grand return, and the old-school highlight packages. UFC Hall of Famer and real-life hero Mark Coleman got a nice moment on the broadcast, one month after saving his parents in a house fire. It sounds cliche, but everything about it was perfect. It made UFC 300 feel special.

Whether you want to call UFC 300 the greatest pay-per-view event of all time is up to you. I can't definitively say it is, but it's at least in the conversation. What I can tell you is that UFC 300 served as a reminder that when the world's premier MMA promotion actually cares and is at its best, those three letters - UFC - can make a whole lot of magic in one evening.

Pereira bringing order to the light heavyweight division - violently

Chris Unger / UFC / Getty

Did you know that Pereira's win marked the first successful title defense in the light heavyweight division since Jan Blachowicz beat Israel Adesanya in March 2021? And that it's the first successful title defense in which the challenger was a career light heavyweight since Jon Jones beat Dominick Reyes in February 2020? Pereira has only been the champ for five months, but he's already giving the division more stability than anyone else since Jones gave up the throne over four years ago.

Of course, Pereira is bringing order to 205 pounds in the least orderly manner possible - by blasting everyone he fights into the stratosphere with his borderline disturbing knockout power.

Hill became the latest victim of that "Poatan" power Saturday. It was a huge win for Pereira, given Hill was the most recent light heavyweight champion and never lost the title inside the Octagon. Even after Pereira knocked out former champ Jiri Prochazka to win the vacant title in November, it was hard to know for sure that he was the best light heavyweight in the UFC. Hill captured the belt against Pereira's teammate, Glover Teixeira, in January 2023 but relinquished it six months later after rupturing his Achilles tendon. Hill was ranked No. 1 in the division entering Saturday's fight with Pereira, ahead of the likes of Prochazka and Magomed Ankalaev.

But now we know for sure that Pereira is the very best. He's tied up all the loose ends in the division (and there were a lot of them), beating the two former champs who were toppled from the throne by nothing more than a bit of bad luck. The fact that Pereira has fought just three times as a light heavyweight in the UFC - following a run at middleweight in which he won that division's title, too - makes it all the more impressive.

Until Ankalaev or another contender does something about it, there's a man sitting quite comfortably on the UFC light heavyweight throne right now. It's been a damn long time since we've been able to say that.

Holloway's legend status went up a notch with BMF win

Jeff Bottari / UFC / Getty

Sometimes, you have to risk it for the biscuit. And that's exactly what Holloway did against Gaethje.

As the seconds ticked away in the fifth round, Holloway was in full control, an upset victory well in his grasp. But no, a fighter as gangster as Holloway - and a fighter about to become the BMF champion - wasn't about to cruise to a win. Instead, Holloway met Gaethje in the middle of the Octagon, pointed to the ground, and all hell broke loose. Holloway sent Gaethje into unconsciousness with one second left on the clock, giving his career a new No. 1 highlight and sending his star power flying like a rocket into space.

Holloway's knockout has gone viral on social media, and for it to happen on as big of a stage as UFC 300, there's no doubt the Hawaiian has more fans now than he did last week. It's kind of like when Dustin Poirier beat Conor McGregor back in 2021. That win had an enormous impact on Poirier's drawing power and mainstream appeal, and this could very well do the same for Holloway. All because he took a risk.

For Holloway to move up in weight and not only beat but finish one of the top lightweights in the UFC, that's supremely impressive. "Blessed" has shaken up the title picture at both 145 pounds and 155 pounds. Although it seems likely a featherweight title fight with Ilia Topuria will be next, he should absolutely be in the conversation for a lightweight title shot down the road, too, if that's what he wants.

Holloway was already on the shortlist of greatest featherweights in UFC history before Saturday. He had the title defenses, the striking records, and the masterclass against Calvin Kattar. He was already a future Hall of Famer. But now he's in the conversation as a genuine all-time great more than ever before.

Harrison put the women's bantamweight division on notice

Jeff Bottari / UFC / Getty

It's just a matter of time before Kayla Harrison rules over the UFC women's bantamweight division.

The former two-time PFL champion finally debuted in the Octagon on Saturday against ex-UFC champ Holly Holm and couldn't have looked better. We had been waiting years to find out how Harrison would fare against UFC-level talent, and now we know: very well. Every other fighter in the women's bantamweight division - champion Raquel Pennington included - should be on high alert, because Harrison is coming.

In her postfight interview, Harrison vowed to win the UFC title by the end of 2024, and honestly, that might just happen. Pennington doesn't have her first title defense booked yet, and although Julianna Pena was a solid option, it would be promotional malpractice if the UFC doesn't jump at the opportunity to push Harrison into a title fight with Pennington right away. The American Top Team product will be a heavy favorite against anyone she fights, including Pennington. Harrison is a star in the making and exactly what the women's bantamweight division needs to thrive again.

Sterling fits in at 145 pounds

Carmen Mandato / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Former UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling didn't put on a show in his featherweight debut, but he got the job done in one-sided fashion against Calvin Kattar - and that's what mattered most.

Though Sterling was favored to beat Kattar, there were a lot of questions going in about whether "Funk Master" would be undersized and able to compete with a career featherweight. After seeing him manhandle Kattar and use a grappling-heavy attack to control most of the fight, most of those questions have been answered.

Of course, Kattar was only ranked No. 8 in the division, so beating him doesn't necessarily confirm that Sterling will be able to contend with the very best featherweight has to offer, like Ilia Topuria, Alexander Volkanovski, and Holloway. But it's a step in the right direction.

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