UFC 303 Co-Main Event Preview and Prediction: Brian Ortega – Diego Lopes

*Update* – Brian Ortega was not able to make featherweight so the promotion moved the fight to 155 pounds. Lopes was presented the options of either taking the fight at lightweight or the fight would be off. Lopes is getting a bump in pay by the UFC for his troubles.

Tomorrow night in the co-main event of UFC 303, we are going to see an absolute banger in the featherweight division. Former two-time title challenger Brian “T-City” Ortega (16-3) will be taking on rising superstar Diego Lopes (24-6).

This fight came together just a couple of weeks ago with many fights on this card falling through. Ortega and Lopes were both being talked about for fights at The Sphere card in September, but they both stepped up for the UFC and took this fight against each other.

Brian Ortega said this week that the fight in September was likely going to be at lightweight. Having challenged for the featherweight title twice already, Ortega is thinking that his best path forward is at 155. With that, UFC 303 will likely be the last time we see him at 145. Earlier this year he took on Yair Rodriguez and submitted Rodriguez in the third round after a bit of a rough start.

Diego Lopes lost to Joanderson Brito on The Contender Series a few years ago and missed his opportunity to join the UFC. Last May, he was asked to step in against top contender Movsar Evloev on extremely short notice and nearly finished the unbeaten contender multiple times. After that, the UFC signed him and he’s been unreal since. In three fights, he has three first round finishes including a knockout over Sodiq Yusuff back in April.

UFC 303 Prediction

Diego Lopes has sensational ground skills but what’s really stood out about his run in the octagon so far is his striking. Lopes is extremely fast and very powerful with his striking. I mean the fact that he knocked out Sodiq Yusuff really says a lot about how elite his hands are and we saw in the Evloev fight just how good his grappling is.

Brian Ortega obviously has incredible grappling himself and has much improved striking. However, I really think he might struggle in this matchup at UFC 303. First of all, I think the fact that he’s wanting to move to lightweight and the fact that this is a short-notice fight might mean he could struggle making the weight.

He’s going to be at a speed and power disadvantage on the feet in this one. I also don’t think he has the wrestling to take and keep Diego Lopes down. I could see Lopes hurting him on the feet and Ortega looking to scramble into a submission. However, I think Lopes is just too slick on the ground and will avoid those submissions from T-City.

A star is going to be born tomorrow at UFC 303. I think Diego Lopes not only wins, but I think he stops Ortega in the second round. With that kind of win, he’s going to be on the short-list for title challengers at featherweight.

Prediction: Diego Lopes by TKO

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