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One of the best fighters on the planet will return to the Octagon on Saturday night when Alexander Volkanovski defends his featherweight championship against top contender Ilia Topuria. The action goes down on pay-per-view from Honda Center in Anaheim, California when UFC 298 commences.

The fight with Topuria is Volkanovski's sixth defense of his title. The big question heading into the fight is whether Volkanovski is on the decline after suffering a brutal knockout in October in his second bid to win the lightweight championship from Islam Makhachev. Topuria is eight years younger and undefeated in his career at 14-0.

"[I see myself] as one of the greatest in the featherweight division," Topuria said during Wednesday's UFC 298 media day. "They are going to remember me, too, as they remember Jose Aldo, Conor McGregor and Alex Volkanovski. I'm going to put myself in that book."

The undercard features some fun matchups that should have fans buzzing ahead of this epic title clash. A former champion and a former title challenger meet in the co-main event when Robert Whittaker takes on Paulo Costa in the co-main event. Rising welterweight contenders Ian Machado Garry and Geoff Neal should deliver the violence. Another former champion is set for the main card when Henry Cejudo takes on red-hot contender Merab Dvalishvili. And middleweights open the main card when Anthony Hernandez takes on Roman Kopylov.

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The weigh-ins on Friday also produced one of the most unique things that could happen in this wild sport. Justin Tafa was scheduled to take on Marcos Rogerio de Lima on the prelims in a heavyweight throwdown. However, Tafa suffered an undisclosed injury during fight week and was scratched from the event. Many expected de Lima to also be removed from the event given how late notice it was, but Tafa's brother, Junior Tafa, stepped up to the scale and weighed in. It marks the first time that a brother has replaced his sibling for a matchup in UFC history.

As with every UFC pay-per-view event, there will be plenty of action at sportsbooks around the country. We closed out 2023 with a 35-30 record but 2024 got off to a rough start with our best bets only coming in at 1-4.

Let's take a look at what we've identified as our choices for the best bets on the UFC 298 pay-per-view main card and as we look to turn things around.

Anthony Hernandez vs. Roman Kopylov

Anthony Hernandez moneyline (-250)

The price is right at the top end of where we're usually willing to go for our Best Bets columns. That said, I do have a lot of faith in Hernandez's ability to close distance, smother and work for takedowns. While Kopylov is a good striker, he doesn't always manage distance well and the will likely cost him against Hernandez. I'm a bit tempted to run with Hernandez via TKO/KO/Submission, which currently sits at +100, but Kopylov could gut out three rounds to get to the scorecards. In a fight like this, with two men coming in with a lot of momentum at the right time in their careers, I'd rather play it safe and see the value in the Hernandez moneyline, especially as something that could get worked into a parlay.

Merab Dvalishvili vs. Henry Cejudo

Merab Dvalishvili by decision (-135)

I think the real play on the early main card fights is an all-favorites parlay that puts together the moneylines for Hernandez, Dvalishvili and Ian Garry at +189. Cejudo is a little undersized at bantamweight, which doesn't always matter. It does matter, however, against someone who fights like Dvalishvili. Add in that Cejudo is 37 with just one fight since May 2020 and there are just too many factors working against the former two-division champion. Dvalishvili should be able to break down Cejudo through pure pressure. Dvalishvili has just one stoppage victory in his 11 UFC fights and Cejudo is not likely to be the second man Dvalishvili has stopped, which makes the extra value of Dvalishvili by decision the better play over the straight moneyline of -210.

Geoff Neal vs. Ian Machado Garry

Total rounds: Under 2.5 rounds (+110)

Again, parlaying Garry, Dvalishvili and Hernandez is the real play here. For the sake of different angles to explore, we're taking the under here. In 28 combined career victories, Neal and Garry have a total of nine decision wins. Neal can be a hard guy to pin down, not always looking like he can handle elite opposition, while also being able to turn things up and giving Shavkat Rakhmonov a hell of a fight. There's high potential for explosive action here, with Garry being able to finish a fight in an instant and Neal having the potential to do the same.

Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa

Robert Whittaker by decision (+100)

Fights involving Costa can get ridiculously unpredictable. Add in Costa not having fought since having to go blow-for-blow with a faded Luke Rockhold in August 2022 and who knows what to expect out of one of the UFC's weirdest guys. Whittaker is the better fighter but he's coming off a fight where he was pummeled by Dricus Du Plessis. I expect Whittaker's reaction to that loss is to approach the fight by safely picking Costa apart and avoiding any big fire fights. You also have to go all the way back to April 2017 for Whittaker's last stoppage victory. Getting even money on the better fighter to win by the far and away most likely outcome is too good to pass up here.

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria

Alexander Volkanovski moneyline (-125)

Topuria is a deserving challenger, but he has some big flaws that someone as good as Volkanovski can exploit. Until given more of a reason to believe Volkanovski is in decline than coming up short in a weight class above against the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, I'm backing the champion. There's a lot of talk about the records of champions over 35 below a certain weight but trying to apply broad conclusions without thinking through individual cases seems like a losing game. Maybe Volkanovski was ruined for good by the head kick of Islam Makhachev but don't gamble your money on maybes. Volkanovski is the best featherweight on the planet until further notice. Pull the trigger on a solid line like -125 for one of the best fighters on the planet when you have the opportunity.

Who wins UFC 298: Volkanovski vs. Topuria, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on UFC 298, all from the MMA expert who profited more than $6,200, and find out.