UFC 297 Preview

UFC 297 Preview

Liam Lindsay|
January 18, 2024|

The UFC returns this weekend for the first Pay-Per-View event of the year, with two title fights and a main card filled with ranked fights. Let's discuss the main fights from UFC 297 and how they impact the division.

Arnold Allen vs. Movsar Evloev

The first fight of the main card is a matchup between two top-10 up-and-comers in the Featherweight division. England's Arnold Allen will face Russias Movsar Evloev in a pivotal matchup to determine who moves into the title conversation in the 145-pound division. Arnold Allen has won ten of his eleven UFC fights, only dropping a competitive decision loss to Max Holloway in his last bout in his first UFC main event. Arnold Allen wants to build another winning streak and move toward the title shot in a wide-open Featherweight division.

Movsar Evloev is one of two ranked Featherweights to be undefeated professionally. In his last bout, he won his first UFC performance bonus with a Fight of The Night winner against Diego Lopes. Against Allen, he'll be looking to get his eighth UFC victory and his most significant win to date. He could be one fight away from a title shot with a victory in this fight.


Chris Curtis vs. Marc-André Barriault

The next bout is a featured Middleweight fight against two veterans of MMA. "The Action Man" Chris Curtis will be looking to live up to his moniker, deliver a violent performance in enemy territory, and try to rebuild this year after going 0-1-1NC in 2024. Curtis is ranked #13 at Middleweight and will be looking to defend his ranking against the streaking Barriault.

Marc-André Barriault has won three of his last four fights, the best streak of his UFC career. He'll be fighting in front of his home crowd for the second time in a row since 2019 against one of his toughest opponents yet. Barriault will be looking to use his insane pressure to break Curtis and earn his third straight win in the UFC.

Neil Magny vs. Mike Malott

Toronto, Canada, will also host a typical prospect vs. veteran matchup, pitching together longtime UFC vet Neil Magny against rising Canadian star Mike Malott. Neil Magny had competed in thirty-one UFC bouts and hadn't lost two straight fights in years. He's coming off a difficult loss to Neil Magny, but will be looking to upset the odds and the Canadian crowd with an impressive performance.

On the other hand, Mike Malott will be looking to acquire his first win over a ranked opponent. "Proper" has blasted through all his previous opponents, securing three finishes and two performance bonuses. Malott is one of Canada's best hopes for a Champion and, so far app,ears to possesses all the skills to become a ranked contender in the UFC Welterweight division.


Raquel Pennington vs. Mayra Bueno Silva

The co-main event will feature the #2 ranked Women's Bantamweight "Rocky" Raquel Pennington against the #3 ranked rising contender Mayra Bueno Silva. Following the retirement of WMMA Goat Amanda Nunes, there's big shoes that need to be filled heading into this matchup. Both women are looking to capture the vacant title to bring in a new era for the Women's Bantamweight division.

Pennington challenged Amanda Nunes for the title in 2018 and, since then, has battled her way back to the top of the division for another crack. She's riding a five-fight-win streak over names like Ketlen Vieira and Aspen Ladd. On the other hand, Bueno Silva hasn't lost since 2021, and it was a competitive decision loss to Manon Fioro, who's riding an impressive win streak of her own. Despite being overturned to a No Contest in her last fight, Bueno Silva submitted Holly Holm with a ninja choke in her first UFC main event and now is attempting to bring the Women's Bantamweight title back to Brazil.

Sean Strickland vs. Dricus du Plessis

The main event will be a stylistic clash between brash UFC Middleweight Champion Sean Strickland and aggressive South African superstar Dricus du Plessis. Sean Strickland will be looking to make his first title defensive after the best year of his career in 2023, where he defeated Nassourdine Imavov and Abus Magomedov before earning a crack at Israel Adesanya and defeating him via a dominant unanimous decision. Strickland will be looking to put on a striking masterclass and move into 2024 with a victory on his resume.

Du Plessis also has a huge opportunity to become the first UFC fighter from South Africa to win a title. "Stillknocks" is headstrong on winning the title, and his mentality plays into his fighting style. Dricus constantly puts pressure on his opponent and has an underrated ground game. But most importantly, du Plessis possesses immense power, shown in his last two fights where he TKOed Derek Brunson and Robert Whittaker. Now, he heads into the most important fight of his career with nothing but victory on his mind.

Which fight are you most excited about? As a member of the Verdict Community, let us know in the comments below.

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