UFC 298: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria Prediction, Pick and Odds (Follow 30-2 Betting Trend)

This 2-30 trend in UFC history suggests a new champion will be crowned on Feb. 17

Jul 8, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Alexander Volkanovski (red gloves) prior to the fight against
Jul 8, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Alexander Volkanovski (red gloves) prior to the fight against / Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
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In what may arguably be the best fight of 2024 to date, Alexander Volkanovski will return to the featherweight division to defend his belt against the undefeated rising star Ilia Topuria.

Though Volkanovski enters the main event fight as the longest reigning champion in the UFC and the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, 'The Great' enters the fight as just a slight favorite against the 14-0 No. 3 ranked contender. Much of the talk during fight week has surrounded the age of Volkanovski, who turned 35 last September and is 1-2 in his last three outings. However, those two losses came against lightweight champion Islam Makhachev.

The champ should never be overlooked, especially one as decorated as Volkanovski, but the numerical value all lies with the challenger in this specific matchup.

Here's the odds and our full betting preview for Saturday's main event.

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Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria odds, total

Volkanovski: -135
Topuria: +114

Over 3.5 rounds: -135
Under 3.5 rounds: +100

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria best bet

As you have probably heard all week, Volkanovski is now 35 years old which appears to be the magical — or cursed — number in UFC championship fights at or below 170 pounds.

In those scenarios, all fighters 35 or older in such fights are a combined 2-30, a six percent success rate, with the two victories both owned by Tyron Woodley. Volkanovski is already 0-1 in that category with his short-notice fight with Islam Makhachev at UFC 294 coming after his 35th birthday.

On paper, certain factors surely favor Volkanovski. He has always fared well against boxers — his world-class performance against Max Holloway at UFC 276 standing out — and Topuria has notoriously not even attempted a kick above the waist in the UFC. But there is a solid argument that Topuria is the most powerful boxer and pure grappler he has faced thus far, including Holloway and Brian Ortega.

For the bulk of his career, the biggest worry with Topuria was with his striking defense, as he has a bad habit of over-swinging in hopes of landing a big shot. Those openings are still there, and it would not be surprising to see a veteran like Volkanovski exploit them, but the precision, speed and discipline Topuria showed against Josh Emmett was an extremely encouraging sight.

Coming off of the first knockout loss of his career since 2013, there are few worse matchups for the champion in the division than Topuria. In the UFC, Topuria has knocked down or knocked out five of his six opponents, with the other being a grappling masterclass in his debut.

It is hard to feel confident betting against Volkanovski but his speed certainly appeared slower at UFC 294. Matchup aside, age is a legitimate concern for the champion, especially against a lightning-quick and powerful striker like Topuria who has shown improvement and perfect game planning each time out. Club and sub for the challenger in round three!

Prediction: Ilia Topuria by submission in round three

Best Bet: Ilia Topuria ML (+114)

Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change