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‘BMF’ title bout stands out on stacked UFC 300 card

The past, present and future of the Ultimate Fighting Championship will be on display at UFC 300 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.

An unprecedented 12 current or former champions are part of the 13-fight card, which begins at 3 p.m. and switches to pay-per-view at 7.

Yet there’s one bout that has fans and all of the other fighters buzzing more than any other, and it’s not the main or co-main event.

Lightweight stars Justin Gaethje and Max Holloway, two of the most exciting fighters in the sport, will finally face off in one of the most anticipated fights of the year.

“Oh man, that one is a banger,” said light heavyweight contender Aleksandar Rakic, who has his own pivotal bout on the card against former champion Jiri Procházka.

It’s the prevailing opinion about a fight that is as close to a guaranteed thriller as can be and why the “BMF” — baddest (expletive) — title will be on the line.

While the card is technically headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between champion Alex Pereira and former champ Jamahal Hill, as well as a women’s strawweight title bout pitting challenger Xiaonan Yan against champion Weili Zhang, it’s Holloway and Gaethje drawing most of the attention in the buildup to the event.

“Every time I see an ad for UFC 300, it’s me and Justin,” Holloway said. “I’m excited to be sharing the octagon with him. It’s going to be violent. I can’t wait for it.”

The winner could very well be in line for a performance bonus, which UFC president Dana White bumped from $50,000 to $300,000 for the most exciting and dominant fighters on the card. They will also be in position to potentially challenge for the actual lightweight title next, but Gaethje said the BMF distinction means a lot to him because it’s reserved for special fights that are drawing a great deal of attention and hype.

It’s also an honor for him to be included in such a historic event for the organization.

“Being on this card in such a high position is a testament to what myself and Max mean to the company, to the fellow fighters and the fans,” Gaethje said. “We wouldn’t have it if we didn’t have the respect of those people, That’s what’s important to me. We’re the most consistent who have ever stepped in there, so they know they’re going to get their money’s worth.

“It’s great for my legacy and great for my story.”

The event will also provide a showcase for two potential future champions.

Bo Nickal is a three-time national champion wrestler who is 5-0 in MMA and has not so much as been hit hard. He will enter as more than a -2,000 favorite against Cody Brundage.

Two-time Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison will make her UFC debut, coming over from the Professional Fighters League, where she was 16-1 and the champion at 155 pounds.

She will cut to 135 pounds to take on former champion Holly Holm with the intention of winning a title by the end of this year.

It’s difficult to avoid the comparisons to Ronda Rousey, the former UFC superstar who also made the transition from Olympic judo.

“The goal is to build off her shoulders and reach new heights,” Harrison said. “We both do judo. That’s where it ends. We’re totally different personalities. We’re totally different everything. I’m just going to do my thing.”

Still, she credits Rousey for blazing the path.

“She’s about five years older and I always had a chip on my shoulder feeling anything she can do, I can do better,” the 33-year-old said. “That’s kind of what brought me over to MMA.”

Lightweight veteran Jim Miller will look to make history of his own on the card when he fights Bobby Green.

Miller earned a victory at UFC 100 in 2009 and at UFC 200 in 2016. Now the 40-year-old seeks a UFC 300 victory.

“As for UFC 400,” he said, “if they want to make the bonuses $400,000, then yeah, I’m back.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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