UFC on ESPN+ 98 Main Event Breakdown

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This Saturday evening, the college basketball season reaches a crescendo when Phoenix hosts the 2024 NCAA Division I Men’s Final Four. Not everybody in America will be watching hoops over the weekend. While almost all of the country’s brackets have been long ripped to shreds, another notable event takes place on the West Coast, this one from MMA‘s top promotion.

While Cage Warriors 170‘s main card will be going on in Ireland, Las Vegas will be abuzz with activity from the UFC. Seven days before the landmark UFC 300 originates from T-Mobile Arena in nearby Paradise, NV, Enterprise will be the host city for UFC on ESPN+ 98 and the UFC on ESPN+ 98 main event.

Live coverage of Saturday’s event will be streamed gavel-to-gavel on (where else?) ESPN+ inside the United States with the prelims kicking off at 3 pm ET/ noon PT. Main card action follows at 6 pm ET/ 3 pm PT on the streaming platform.  Internationally, this card will be streamed over UFC Fight Pass, except in Canada, where it’ll be shown on Sportsnet+, the subscription-based media arm of Rogers Sportsnet.

Allen vs Curtis II in UFC on ESPN+ 98 Main Event Saturday

All told, absent of any late postponements between now and Saturday afternoon, the final version of UFC on ESPN+ 98 features 13 total fights. Topping the night’s itinerary is a rematch in the UFC on ESPN+ 98 main event.

No. 6 contender Brendan Allen (23-5 MMA, 11-2 UFC), seeks to go 2-for-2 under Dana White‘s banner when he fights No. 14 contender Chris Curtis (31-10, 1 NC MMA, 5-2, 1 NC UFC) in a middleweight headliner. As with all UFC main events, Saturday’s is an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round.

The Series So Far…

This week’s main event is the second all-time meeting between Allen and Curtis. Back on Dec. 4, 2021, Curtis scored a second-round knockout of Allen. How will the rematch play out less than 2 1/2 years later?

UFC on ESPN+ 98 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into the UFC on ESPN+ 98 main event on Saturday night, Brendan Allen stands as the taller man at 6-foot-2, while Chris Curtis counters with a 5-foot-10 frame. “The Action Man” owns a 1/2-inch reach advantage (75 1/2 inches to 75 inches even) over “All In”, who has a two-inch leg reach advantage (42 inches to 40 inches).

Currently, the oddsmakers have Brendan Allen installed as a -230 betting favorite on the money line, while Chris Curtis is a +180 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.

Allen With Glowing Words For Curtis Ahead of Rematch

Brendan Allen comes into the UFC on ESPN+ 98 main event having gone 5-0 in his last five fights as part of an ongoing six-fight winning streak. Last time out, he scored a third-round submission via rear-naked choke after 38 seconds against Paul Craig (17-7-1 MMA, 9-7-1 UFC) on Nov. 18. It was his second consecutive win by that method.

Originally, Brendan Allen was attached to an April 6 main event vs. Marvin Vettori (16-9-1 MMA, 9-5-1 UFC.) That bout, however, fell apart once the latter withdrew from this weekend’s card due to what he termed a freak accident.

Curtis stepped in with three weeks to go before fight night, making the rematch official. During Allen’s media session, he complimented his new opponent.

“I think Chris is a lot more technically capable in the striking realm,” Allen began. “He’s been around a long time, fought a lot of good guys, he’s game as they come. [It’s been] more mental. I had to prepare in a whole different realm mentally, but again, Chris is– how he approaches the fight– his IQ is better. He’s got better technical abilities, in my opinion, so I would say Chris is a lot tougher [of] a test than Marvin is.”

The time for talk is over. Will Allen get revenge on Saturday night?

Curtis Glad to Accept Short-Notice Fight

In the other corner, Chris Curtis has gone 2-2 with one no-contest in his last five fights. On Jan. 20, he scored a split decision win over Marc-Andre Barriault (16-7, 1 NC MMA, 5-6, 1 NC UFC) during UFC 297. “The Action Man” also met with the press Wednesday, and he’s happy to step in on a few weeks’ notice.

“We had an agreement with coaches, like my strength coach and everything else like, ‘OK, we’re going to stay at 185 (lbs.)'”, Curtis mentioned. “‘We’re going to put on some weight.’ I’m walking around 200 lbs. and wanted to get to 210, put on muscle and be 210, be a little bigger. Then this happened.”

Will having only three weeks to prepare be detrimental to Curtis on Saturday?

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the UFC on ESPN+ 98 main event looks to favor Brendan Allen, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to Chris Curtis having a purple belt in BJJ.

Look For Allen to Shoot for a Submission

Given the fact that Brendan Allen owns a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, it stands to reason that he’ll go for a submission on Saturday. Just look at the tape of his November fight vs. Paul Craig.

During the third round of a scheduled five, after bloodying Craig in round two, Allen scored with a left-handed punch and completed a takedown of his opponent. The round didn’t last too long, with Allen locking up a rear-naked choke after abandoning a guillotine attempt and forcing Craig to tap out in under a minute.

If Brendan Allen can take Chris Curtis to the mat in the UFC on ESPN+ 98 main event, he’ll control the momentum without much hassle. As long as he has Curtis on the canvas, this fight is his.

Curtis Can Mix Up His Strikes

In the other corner. watch for Chris Curtis to showcase a variety of strikes. He already did this once against Allen.

During the second round of the original fight, while both fighters traded shots, Curtis pieced Allen up with a barrage of strikes, including an elbow and a knee, the last of which put Brendan Allen down and out in less than two minutes. If Chris Curtis can vary his shots, he’ll win the rematch on Saturday night.

Final Thoughts

Anytime an MMA promotion can deliver a rematch for a main event, excitement reigns supreme. Will the sequel be as good as the original?

Prediction: Brendan Allen by Second-Round Submission.

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.

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