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Alexander Volkanovski will look to bounce back from big loss in October with a win over Ilia Topuria. Can Volk find success in Anaheim on Saturday night at UFC 298? Ben Rajavuori analyzes the matchup and provides his best bet in Volkanovski vs. Topuria.
ANALYSIS

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria Prediction: Can Volkanovski Bounce Back at UFC 298?

A long-awaited matchup for the featherweight belt goes down in the Honda Center on February 17th when Alexander Volkanovski and Ilia Topuria meet in the main event of UFC 298. Volkanovski is coming back down to his usual weight class after trying to become the double champion when he lost to Islam Makhachev back in October. Ilia Topuria is coming off a five-round war with Josh Emmett that gave him the opportunity to fight for gold Saturday night. What should we expect in this fight with a razor-close line?

VOLKANOVSKI VS. TOPURIA DATE, TIME, AND WHERE TO WATCH

  • Date: February 17, 2024
  • Time: 10:00 p.m. ET
  • Where to Watch: PPV

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria Prediction

Breaking down the fighters, Alexander Volkanovski stands as one of the longest-reigning UFC champions with a skill set that is nearly perfect for UFC success. He is 26-3 in his MMA career, which includes a perfect 12-0 record at featherweight in the UFC. His consistent performance, coupled with the ability to make subtle adjustments in each bout, has established him as a top pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, and arguably the greatest featherweight fighter of all time. The arsenal of calf kicks, boxing, distance management, and cardio management make Volkanovski a well-rounded powerhouse.

On the flip side, Ilia Topuria is an offensive workhorse with lightning-fast hands and fight-stopping power. Topuria is a perfect 14-0 in his MMA career, including a 6-0 record in the UFC. With a talented skill set in both striking and grappling, Topuria has showcased championship-caliber well-roundedness.

Octagon control will be a deciding factor in this fight. Volkanovski, known for his strategic approach, is expected to dictate the pace and location of the fight. Topuria, usually the aggressor, might face a challenge if Volkanovski successfully implements his forward pressure and calf kicks to disrupt Topuria's rhythm.

Both fighters bring a complete skill set to the table, making the grappling exchanges a potential stalemate. However, the experience and championship-level encounters of Volkanovski in the featherweight division provide him with a slight edge if this fight hits the mats, especially later in the fight.

Some may be concerned that Volkanovski is coming off a knockout loss, but context is important. Volkanovski took that fight against Islam Makhachev on short notice after Charles Oliveira pulled out, and he was up a weight class out of his normal 145-pound frame. I do not put that much weight into that loss, and it has only given us a better price on Volkanovski and a "reason" for people to doubt him here.

No matter who wins, this featherweight title fight promises fireworks. I'm betting on Alexander Volkanovski to continue his reign as the best in the division tonight. Expect a tactical battle with Volkanovski's pressure boxing/calf kicks, cardio advantage, and championship experience giving him a victory. Volkanovski has much more experience against higher-caliber opponents, while Topuria is still on his way to his prime. Topuria has just recently stepped into the highest-level featherweight fights, and Volkanovski should be too much for him on Saturday night.

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria Betting Pick

Pick: Alexander Volkanovski ML (-125) Click here to see which sportsbook has the best odds

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Article Author

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Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.

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