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Justin Gaethje vs. Max Holloway pick, prediction, time, odds: UFC 300

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MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom goes in depth to break down the biggest fights in the UFC. Today, he takes a closer look at the UFC 300 BMF title fight between former interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje and former featherweight champ Max Holloway, who’s moving up to 155 pounds for the second time in his career.

Justin Gaethje UFC 300 preview

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 35 Weight: 155 lbs. Reach: 70″
  • Record: 25-4 MMA, 8-4 UFC
  • Last fight: Knockout win over Dustin Poirier (July 29, 2023)
  • Camp: ONX Labs (Denver)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:
+ BMF belt holder
+ Former interim UFC lightweight champion
+ WSOF lightweight title
+ NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestler
+ 20 KO victories
+ 1 submission win
+ 9 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Improved striking acumen
^ Shifting combos and counters
+ Accurate left hook
+ Hard leg kicks
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Heavy hips and good dirty boxing
+ Strikes well off the break
+ Good wrestling and scrambling ability

Max Holloway UFC 300 preview

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 32 Weight: 155 lbs. Reach: 69″
  • Record: 25-7 MMA, 21-7 UFC
  • Last fight: Knockout win over Chan Sung Jung (Aug. 296 2023)
  • Camp: Gracie Technics/Legacy Muay Thai (Hawaii)
  • Stance/striking style: Switch-stance/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:
+ Former UFC featherweight champion
+ Regional MMA titles
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt
+ 11 KO victories
+ 2 submission wins
+ 3 first-round finishes
+ Building pace and pressure
+ Solid feints and footwork
+ Excellent shot selection
^ Variates well to the body
+ Deceptively counters clinches
^ Strikes well off of the breaks
+ Underrated ground game
^ Slick submissions in transition

Justin Gaethje vs. Max Holloway point of interest: The builder vs. the destroyer

Jul 2, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; (EditorÕs Note: Graphic Content) Alexander Volkanovski (red gloves) and Max Holloway (blue gloves) fight in a bout during UFC 276 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The featured title fight for UFC 300 will be a battle for the “BMF” belt between an unabashed destroyer of men and a building striker who isn’t afraid to light the fuse.

Gaethje, for all intents and purposes, is the destructive force at hand.
Initially stepping onto the scene as a relentless forward mover, Justin Gaethje naturally embodied the phrase “a bull in a China shop” with his unabashed aggression and hard-wiring to inflict damage. Traditionally doing his best work when initiating attacks, Gaethje will gain his opponent’s respect with hard hooks and crosses, looking to punctuate his presence with crushing uppercuts and leg kicks when appropriate.

Similar to a Spartan behind his shield in a phalanx, Gaethje would lean heavily upon his double-forearm guard, planting and looking to counter with immediacy.

Although Gaethje no longer strictly relies on a shelling defense, the 35-year-old still seems to have an inherent hunger to exchange that can sometimes encourage his aggressiveness (which is arguably reflected in the strikes absorbed department of his statistics).

That said, Gaethje – under the tutelage of longtime coach Trevor Wittman – has shown improvements in his feints, footwork and fundamentals since sustaining back-to-back losses to Eddie Alvarez and Poirier. In his fight against Tony Ferguson, Gaethje took things to yet another level in the head movement and counter-striking department, putting together an intelligent process that still incorporates the former interim champion’s inherent power and tenacity.

Whether Gaethje is countering off of an inside parry or looking to roll under hooks to deliver left hands of his own, the hard-hitting American has steadily developed a taste to counter.

Akin to other Wittman fighters like Rose Namajunas, Gaethje has also utilized more lateral and shifting footwork to facilitate sneaky kicks and counters. Should Geathje decide to wear the hat of a matador, then I’ll be curious to see if that brings out the bull in Max Holloway.

Displaying solid striking and footwork fundamentals since storming onto the UFC scene (as one of the promotion’s youngest signees, no less), Holloway, who was already improving from fight to fight, turned a big corner in his career after his encounter with Cub Swanson.

Since then, we have witnessed a technical evolution unfold from the Hawaiian, who embraces his creativity and range with a diverse arsenal of attacks. Whether Holloway is shifting his stance mid-combination or adjusting his timing on the fly, the former featherweight kingpin makes for a hard read on the feet.

When feeling in stride, the 32-year-old looks to pay off his previous bodywork by punctuating his presence with everything from spinning sidekicks to digging left hooks to the liver. Coupled with his ability to counter effectively from either stance, Holloway can hypothetically take a fight in many different directions.

That all said, it is the building nature of the champion’s game that makes him stand out from the rest of the UFC stable.

Embodying a fighter archetype that I like to refer to as “a builder,” Holloway will not only build on his output, but his understanding of the fight’s traffic will also increase as he intelligently takes tools from his opponent and incorporates them into his game.

Nevertheless, offensive volume – no matter how clever – comes with a price.

Justin Gaethje vs. Max Holloway breakdown: Potential grappling threats

Apr 14, 2018; Glendale, AZ, USA; Dustin Poirier (right) against Justin Gaethje during UFC Fight Night at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Considering the chaos that is being forecasted on the feet, no one should be shocked if Holloway elects to take things to the floor.

As seen in his fight with Yair Rodriguez, Holloway is not beyond mixing in takedown looks when pitted against dangerous strikers. However, getting to Gaethje’s hips is an endeavor that’s easier said than done.

Aside from being an accoladed wrestler, Gaethje also offers up a nasty game in closed quarters that Poirier will need to respect.

An unforgiving clinch fighter, the former Division I All-American wrestler has the hip triggers to stop deep takedown attempts while still maintaining the aggressive wherewithal to throw uppercuts and leg kicks in small spaces, consistently striking and making his opposition pay off the breaks (from either stance).

Gaethje also does a good job at framing off his opponent’s hips in close quarters, utilizing solid head position to help steer in his desired direction.

Whenever Gaethje’s opposition has been able to get deep on a takedown attempt, he is quick to utilize an overhook as he looks to separate grips with his spare hand, bellying down when necessary. Nevertheless, as good as Gaethje’s first layers of defense may be, he will still need to show improved grappling if Holloway is able to successfully ground him.

Holloway, who earned his Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt in recent years, has implemented more grappling offense that ranges from slicing elbows in close to opportunistic takedowns against the cage. If Holloway ends up on top, the Hawaiian has almost a swarming style to his grappling game, as he primarily focuses on floating positions and landing punishing strikes.

But with both men being difficult to control, I suspect that grappling entanglements will be short and sweet for as long as they last.

Justin Gaethje vs. Max Holloway odds

The oddsmakers and the public favor the BMF belt holder, listing Gaethje -178 and Holloway +138 via FanDuel.

Justin Gaethje vs. Max Holloway prediction, pick

Between my fandom for these fighters to the matchup itself, this is probably the hardest fight for me to pick on the card. Although I don’t disagree with who is favored, you can make the argument that each man offers stylistic kryptonite to the other in some shape or form.

Holloway, for example, embodies the timing change-ups, counters and bodywork that has traditionally troubled Gaethje. That said, Gaethje’s newfound love for keeping his feet beneath him and countering could prove problematic to the building sensibilities of Holloway given how that dynamic played out in the Hawaiian’s fight against Dustin Poirier.

Despite operating out of the opposite stance of Gaethje, Poirier’s countering acumen was able to disrupt the progress needed for Holloway’s building archetype to be successful – – so don’t be shocked to see Gaethje try and replicate his performance against Tony Ferguson this Saturday.

Holloway’s improved kicks, knees and southpaw counters will also be incredibly lively in this fight, especially if he can get Gaethje dipping or reacting strongly to his actions.

Even though Gaethje is clearly the safer pick, I suspect that Holloway’s ability to properly prepare for this fight at 155 pounds (both physically and game plan-wise) could be a real X-factor in the former champion’s favor. Both fighters will be live for finishes in the late rounds, but I’ll semi-reluctantly side with Holloway to get his reads early and pull away down the stretch for a hard-fought win on the scorecards.

Prediction: Holloway by decision

Justin Gaethje vs. Max Holloway start time, where to watch

Gaethje and Holloway are expected to make their walks out to the octagon at approximately 11:15 p.m. ET (8:15 p.m. local time in Las Vegas). The fight streams on ESPN+ pay-per-view.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 300.

Be sure to visit the MMA Junkie Instagram page and YouTube channel to discuss this and more content with fans of mixed martial arts.

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