UFC 302 Odds, Predictions: Islam Makhachev Heavily Favoured To Retain UFC Lightweight Title

Opponents Islam Makhachev of Russia and Dustin Poirier face off during the UFC 302 press conference at Prudential Center on May 30, 2024 in Newark, New Jersey.

Newark, NJ of all places has turned into a second home of sorts for the UFC. The MMA has hosted nine events at the Prudential Center in Newark since 2007, with the last one coming in May 2023 when Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo headlined UFC 288. The UFC will return to Newark once again on Saturday, June 1 for its 10th appearance in the city as part of the highly-anticipated UFC 302 event.

This time around, current UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev will take on former Interim UFC Lightweight Champion Dustin Poirier in the main event. And while many MMA fans are definitely looking forward to this fight, the betting odds for it suggest it could be the least competitive bout of the night. Other matchups on the main card, like Sean Strickland vs. Paulo Costa and Niko Price vs. Alex Morono, could end up being much closer than the main event.

Islam Makhachev to win fight vs. Dustin Poirier

-600

Check out our predictions for UFC 302 below along with the best betting odds for each fight on the UFC 302 main card.

Randy Brown vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos

Best odds on Brown to win fight: -174 @ Pinnacle
Best odds on Zaleski to win fight: +140 @ bet365

The main card for UFC 302 will kick off with 33-year-old Randy Brown squaring off against 37-year-old Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos in what could be the most closely contested fight of the night. Brown is a slight favourite to beat Zaleski, but it wouldn’t shock anyone to see Zaleski use his power to overcome Brown in the Octagon.

Brown should have a few different things going for him when he fights Zaleski, though, as he’s both younger and quicker than his Brazilian nemesis. He also has a five-inch reach advantage that he should be able to put on full display throughout his fight against Zaleski.

Zaleski can muck things up and make life difficult for Brown if he’s able to land a few punches and/or kicks early on in the fight. But if we had to guess what’s going to happen, we suspect Brown will use his reach advantage to keep Zaleski at bay and prevent him from starting one of his patented wild exchanges in the middle of the Octagon. As long as he’s able to stick to this game plan, it should help him either wear Zaleski out toward the end of the fight so he can knock him out or enable him to earn an easy decision by frustrating Zaleski and forcing him to make silly errors.

We don’t necessarily see this fight being the most exciting match of the night. But it should set the tone by going the distance and providing plenty of action along the way.

Prediction: Brown via decision (+180 @ Betway)

Niko Price vs. Alex Morono

Best odds on Price to win fight: +195 @ Betway
Best odds on Morono to win fight: -235 @ 888sport

It obviously isn’t all that out of the ordinary to see rematches in the UFC, but when was the last time you saw a rematch take place seven years after the first fight? That’s exactly what the world will see at UFC 302 when Niko Price and Alex Morono cross paths again for the first time since their 2017 fight that ended with Price knocking out Morono only to have his victory overturned later after he tested positive for marijuana.

The length of time between the first Price vs. Morono fight and the second one helps explain the betting odds for the matchup. Even though Price manhandled Morono the first time around, he has struggled since then, assembling a record of just 5-7 and getting knocked out in half of his last 10 fights. Morono, meanwhile, is 11-6 since fighting Price the first time and looking to avenge the knockout he sustained during their previous fight.

Morono doesn’t knock out other UFC fighters very often — just six of his 24 wins have come via knockout — but we have reason to believe he could score knockout number seven at UFC 302. He specifically requested a rematch with Price after the UFC was forced to scratch Price’s scheduled fight against Jeremiah Wells at UFC 302 due to a Wells injury. He also did an interview recently and revealed how he wants to see things play out. “I’m looking for the knockout,” Morono said.

Seven years is a long time to wait to get revenge. We expect Morono to capitalize on the opportunity.

Prediction: Morono via KO (+225 @ bet365)

Kevin Holland vs. Michał Oleksiejczuk

Best odds on Holland to win fight: -288 @ Pinnacle
Best odds on Oleksiejczuk to win fight: +225 @ bet365

Of all the fights on the main card at UFC 302, this one might be the most difficult one to call. Even though Kevin Holland is a relatively big favourite over Michał Oleksiejczuk, the truth is that both fighters can end this match quickly. They’re reliable finishers, so all it’ll take is one misstep for Holland or Oleksiejczuk to knock out the other.

With this in mind, you might want to stay away from betting on this fight entirely since you won’t get much value betting on Holland, who should come out of the match victorious thanks to the seven-inch reach advantage he has over Oleksiejczuk. But this could be a closer fight than people think. It could even go the distance if there aren’t any major errors made by either fighter.

There is a good chance that the prediction we’re about to make could get derailed in the first or second round. But we’re going to bank on both Holland and Oleksiejczuk playing it safe and leaving it up to the judges to decide who won. In this scenario, we’ll give the advantage to Holland, especially if he’s able to make enough in-fight adjustments to put on a clinic against Oleksiejczuk toward the end of the fight.

If you want to roll the dice along with us, take Holland to get a hard-fought victory by earning a decision over Oleksiejczuk.

Prediction: Holland via decision (+250 @ Sports Interaction)

Holland to win via decision

+250

Sean Strickland vs. Paulo Costa

Best odds on Strickland to win fight: -215 @ 888sport
Best odds on Costa to win fight: +200 @ Sports Interaction

Sean Strickland is coming off one of the most devastating losses of his storied MMA career, as he lost his UFC Middleweight Championship at UFC 297 in January after winning the title at UFC 293 in September 2023. That might lead you to believe that Paulo Costa, who is ranked No. 7 in the UFC middleweight division, can catch Strickland at a low point and earn an upset over him. But we wouldn’t necessarily bet on that happening.

Costa is also coming off a loss to Robert Whittaker at UFC 298, and he has actually lost three of his last four fights after jumping out to a 14-0 start to his UFC career. He has also quickly earned a reputation for being a little bit of a wild card in the Octagon who is willing to take chances that other UFC fighters wouldn’t take during fights. That might not be the right approach to take against Strickland, who has shown a steady consistency during his most recent matches while showcasing his impressive boxing skills.

We anticipate this trend continuing, with Strickland standing up to Costa and wearing him down with well-timed punches throughout the fight. That doesn’t mean Costa won’t try to catch Strickland off-guard every so often, and if he’s able to do it successfully, it could result in Costa scoring a knockout victory and sending Strickland’s career reeling even further than it already has. But we’ll still pick Strickland to confuse Costa and frustrate him at times, which could very well result in him knocking Costa out before everything is all said and done.

If Strickland wants to turn things around, he needs to win this fight, and we’re betting on him to begin steering the ship in the right direction on Saturday.

Prediction: Strickland via KO (+165 @ Pinnacle)

Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier

Best odds on Makhachev to win fight: -671 @ Pinnacle
Best odds on Poirier to win fight: +450 @ bet365

Some UFC fans were a little surprised to see the betting odds for this fight when they first came out. Islam Makhachev hasn’t lost since getting knocked out by Adriano Martins at UFC 192, and he scored back-to-back victories over Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284 and UFC 294 while defending the UFC Lightweight Championship he won by beating Charles Oliveira at UFC 280. But Dustin Poirier is no stranger to big fights, having beaten the likes of Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway, and, of course, Conor McGregor over the last five years.

Because of this, we expect a whole lot of UFC bettors to throw their money behind Poirier, especially since he’s coming off a Fight of the Night performance at UFC 299 in a knockout victory over Benoît Saint Denis. But before you pound Poirier’s moneyline at the end of UFC 302 to try to capitalize on this, remember that Makhachev is the UFC Lightweight Champion for a reason. He has shown an ability to beat his opponents in a variety of ways, having accumulated five wins via knockout, 11 wins via submission, and nine wins via decision throughout his career.

Even though Poirier has a slight two-inch reach advantage, Makhachev could still catch him with one power-packed punch and end the fight early on. He could also get Poirier to the ground and end things with an arm triangle choke. There is also a chance he simply lets Poirier wear himself out in the early rounds and then cruises to a decision in the end.

Part of us will admittedly be rooting for Poirier, who has a huge heart and could, if nothing else, make this fight more interesting than it should be. But it’s hard to bet against Makhachev after seeing what he’s been able to do to his opponents since his last loss in 2015.

Prediction: Makhachev via submission (-105 @ bet365)