The first UFC PPV of 2024 is finally here and it’s UFC 297, live from Toronto, Canada. Headlining the event is a middleweight title bout between the reigning champion, Sean Strickland and the former KSW welterweight champion, Dricus du Plessis.
The co-main event sees Raquel Pennington look to make it second time lucky as she challenges for the vacant bantamweight championship, taking on Brazil’s Mayra Bueno Silva.
A five fight main card is joined by a four fight preliminary card and three early prelims.
We provide you with some best bets for UFC 297 as well as giving some predictions!
UFC 297 Best Bets
Strickland vs Du Plessis: Under 4.5 Rounds (-255)
Although Sean Strickland is notorious for not having legitimate knockout power (11 knockouts in 28 wins), there is plenty of bad blood attached to the main event (or not as fight week has shown), which could go one of two ways for Strickland. It will either allow him to put an extra bit of power on his shots, causing the South African problems or Strickland could fight emotionally and throw caution to the wind and get caught.
Du Plessis has legitimate knockout power, but can also finish things on the ground. His record sits at nine knockouts, 10 submissions and a single decision victory. Du Plessis knocked out the notoriously granite chinned, Robert Whittaker last time out and will be full of confidence heading into his first UFC title shot. With that being said, he absorbs 3.79 strikes per minute (which isn’t as many as Strickland at 4.24).
What we’ve got is two guys who don’t like each other, absorb plenty of strikes and will be doing anything to walk away with the belt. Don’t expect this one to go the full 25 minutes!
Mike Malott via Finish (-190)
Fighting at ‘home’ in Canada for the second straight fight, Mike Malott will look to continue where he left off last time out. At UFC 289, Malott finished Adam Fugitt via guillotine in the second round and will look for the same outcome on Saturday night. Malott has 10 wins to his name, recording four knockouts and six submissions. He’s enjoying a run of six straight finish wins and, with Canada behind their man, expect him to continue this run of form.
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Malott’s opponent, Neil Magny is 2-3 in his last five fights, suffering two submission losses and a dominant, unanimous decision loss at the hands of Ian Garry. The blueprint is out there for Malott to defeat Magny. Take elements of what Garry did (smash the low leg kick) as well as elements of Gilbert Burns’ game (get the takedown and work a submission) and it should be a straightforward night for Canada’s own.
Malott via submission is likely, but play it safe and go for Proper via finish. For context, the line on the sub finish is +110.
Gillian Robertson Outright (-290)
The woman with the most submission finishes in UFC women’s history returns to her native Canada to clash with Polyana Viana. Having gone 1-1 since moving back down to strawweight, Gillian ‘Savage’ Robertson will look to get back to winning ways and do so in the manner in which she is best, submissions. If she can take the fight to the floor, it’s in her wheelhouse and it often goes her way. With a career nine wins via submission, everyone knows not to clash with her on the ground.
Viana has twice lost in her career via submission, which certainly isn’t a good sign. 33% of her losses have come via submission. With that being said, Viana is more than competent on the ground herself, scoring eight career wins via submission. She also has knockout power, with five knockouts to her name. None of Viana’s 13 fights have gone the distance so a finish in this one is likely.
Robertson is far more capable on the ground, however, and there’s a good chance that she gets it done by forcing the Brazilian to tap. Viana should be wiley enough to survive on the ground with Robertson, so picking the Canadian outright is a safe bet.