UFC 302 Preview: Jailton Almeida – Alexandr Romanov

Jan 21, 2023; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Jailton Almeida (blue gloves) reacts after the fight against Shamil Abdurakhimov (red gloves) during UFC 283 at Jeunesse Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

On the prelims of UFC 302, we are going to see a matchup between ranked heavyweights that was originally supposed to be on the PPV main card. Top heavyweight contender Jailton Almeida (20-3) is back as he’s taking on fellow grappler Alexandr Romanov (17-2).

At one point, both of these guys were looked at as real title threats in the UFC’s heavyweight division. However, one has really fallen off while the other one just had a major setback. Starting with the latter, Jailton Almeida looked like a champion in the making heading into 2024.

He was a perfect 6-0 in the UFC and his only non-finish was a dominant five-round decision win over Derrick Lewis. In March, he was given a title eliminator against Curtis Blaydes. Blaydes is known for his wrestling but Almeida took him down ten times in the first round.

In the second round, Almeida went for another takedown but got caught with some major elbows while going for the takedown and was stopped. His inability to adjust and relying strictly on his grappling gave fans some pause about his future as a potential champion.

Alexandr Romanov was 15-0 to start his professional career including 5-0 in the UFC. He looked like a monster in terms of his grappling and finished four of his first five opponents. However, after a dominant first round against Marcin Tybura, he completely gassed and lost his first fight. He was then utterly dominated and stopped by Alexander Volkov. He bounced back against Blagoy Ivanov last July but he’s really lost a lot of momentum in the division.

UFC 302 Prediction

I think this fight was moved off the main card because Dana White and his team sees what’s coming. You’re going to see a very grappling heavy matchup with this one. While typically two grapplers result in a standup fight, I don’t see that happening with this one at UFC 302.

Romanov is strong, but I think the speed and explosion is going to be too much for him. I fully expect Almeida’s grappling speed and pressure to tire and frustrate Romanov. Eventually, Romanov will have his back taken or he’ll get mounted in one of the first two rounds and I see Almeida getting a submission or TKO in this one. Romanov might surprise us, but I’m going with the smart money here.

Prediction: Jailton Almeida by Submission or TKO – Round 2

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