Tricentennial Milestone: Ranking the Best Fights of UFC 300

UFC 256 Charles Oliveira
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 12: (L-R) Charles Oliveira of Brazil punches Tony Ferguson in their lightweight bout during the UFC 256 event at UFC APEX on December 12, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

UFC 300 arrives this Saturday, the UFC’s milestone tricentennial event.

For a fight promotion once on the verge of a “Going Out Of Business” sale, it’s a remarkable feat. Of course, Saturday’s PPV card isn’t the company’s 300th event, or even its 300th Pay-Per-View. Mix in Fight Nights and they’re creeping up on 700. If you’re looking at straight PPV or numbered cards, well, there’s the odd cancelled event to consider, plus a .5 card in UFC 37.5: As Real As It Gets back in 2002.

UFC 151, 176, and 233 were all cancelled and never rescheduled (subsequent events were not renumbered, probably due to marketing materials already having been produced), but really, what’s in a number? This is UFC 300, as far as the promotion and fans are concerned. And the UFC has certainly done its best to stack the card, even if the main event picture was a mess for a bit.

How does the card stack up? We break it all down below!

1. Charles Oliveira vs Arman Tsarukyan

The lightweight title eliminator between Charles ‘do Bronx’ Oliveira and Arman Tsarukyan is one of the best fights in mixed martial arts at present. Charlie Olives’ title run and twelve-fight unbeaten streak, with eleven finishes along the way, made him a fan favorite. Beating fan favorite action-fighters like Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier, and Justin Gaethje will do that for a fighter. Not everyone can hold on to their superstardom after a devastating loss, like that which he suffered against Islam Makhachev, but the fanfare he received during his last fight week and during this one show that Charles Oliveira is still one of the most popular fighters in the sport. Popularity does not always correlate with skill or even necessarily with action, but Charles Oliveira is one of the best fighters in the world in one of, if not the, most entertaining divisions of all time.

Arman Tsarukyan stands in stark contrast to that, a relatively unheralded young prospect without a hyper-entertaining style. His wrestling-heavy skillset is one that Charles Oliveira can, and will, make entertaining whereas many other fighters would not. And it must be said, although Arman does not necessarily excite the masses, in his last five wins he has had four knockouts and his sole loss in that time frame received ‘Fight of the Night’ honors, a main event which he deserved to win based on doing more damage than Mateusz Gamrot. He also earned that honor in his UFC debut when he came in to fight now-champion Islam Makhachev on short notice and more than held his own, being the first man to take Islam down, doing well in the striking, and causing exciting scrambles in the few instances he could not defend the takedowns.

His striking, although flawed, is underrated. Tsarukyan’s body kick is his greatest tool and can be genuinely devastating. His ground and pound can be brutal too, but it relies on opponents like Joel Alvarez being willing to lay on their back in a static position, something Oliveira will not do. There certainly is a perception that Charles Oliveira willingly goes to his back to play guard, and to an extent that is true, but Charles understands the theory of grappling in MMA well. He and his team understand that one cannot lay on their back for an entire round and expect to win fights. When Charles is on his back he is always looking to use submissions, entanglements, and leverage to find sweeps or simply initiate scrambles. Against Beneil Dariush he did get taken down relatively easily in the first round, but after a minute or so playing guard he realized it was futile and made sure to instantly work on getting up, which he did so with ease before knocking Beneil out.

The point is that although Oliveira may get taken down he will not just let Arman lay on him. Do Bronx has never been in a boring fight and I am sure he does not intend to start now, not when he is so close to getting back to a title fight. His fight IQ is questionable at times but his grappling IQ is not. This should be a great match between one of the greatest lightweights of all time and the best rising lightweight prospect of the last few years, and will hopefully determine who gets the next shot as Islam Makhachev, both men having fought him once already.

Fight Rating: 10/10 (Can I say 11/10? Is that Allowed?)