UFC 298 gets Cejudo vs Dvalishvili, Ian Garry has a new fight

UFC 298 looks like it's warming up to be a really good fight card.

By: Zane Simon | 2 months

It looks like extra Christmas gifts. The UFC is currently filling out their winter schedule, and have announced a whole slew of fights for their centennial 300th PPV card—including Aljamain Sterling vs. Calvin Kattar and Jiri Prochazka vs. Aleksandar Rakic. But that’s not all. With UFC 298 also on the horizon, the world’s largest MMA promotion is hoping to hook fans with another fight card loaded with elite talent.

It’s a welcome return to form after and of the year run for the UFC that felt somewhat lacking in the kinds of big fights the company is used to putting together. Hopefully these next few events avoid the injury bug and we get a few top tier fight cards.

UFC announces Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa

Fans already knew about the main event for UFC 298, set to feature Alexander Volkanovski’s return to the featherweight division to defend his featherweight title against top contender Ilia Topuria. But now they’ve got a co-main event to get hyped about as well. In a recent video posted to his social media accounts, UFC president Dana White announced that former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker would make his return to the Octagon against former top contender Paulo Costa.

This news marks the latest step in Costa’s ongoing ‘return to competition’ saga. ‘Borrachinha’ hasn’t fought since August of 2022, when he beat Luke Rockhold by decision, in an absolute bloody war of a bout. That fight was followed by months of contract dispute with the UFC, which was settled this past spring. Unfortunately, despite the monetary agreements in place, Costa still has yet to appear back in the Octagon.

The Brazilian was initially announced for a fight with Ikram Aliskerov back in July, but that booking was soon cancelled for a fight against Khamzat Chimaev in October. Unfortunately a nasty elbow infection forced the 32-year-old off that card as well.

For Whittaker, the bout provides a clear opportunity for the New Zealand born fighter to maintain his role as gatekeeper to the belt. ‘The Reaper’ is fresh off a shocking upset loss to Dricus Du Plessis back in July, a fight that netted the South African his own chance for UFC gold this coming January. Prior to that bout, the 33-year-old went 1-1 in 2022, with a loss to then-champion Israel Adesanya and a win over Marvin Vettori.

Ian Machado Garry to fight Geoff Neal

Something of a surprise for UFC 298 is the announcement of a new fight for fast rising Irish prospect Ian Machado Garry. The Future had been all set to take on hard-punching Brazilian Vicente Luque back at UFC 296 before a nasty bout of pneumonia say him forced from the card. With the cancellation coming so shortly before the event, Luque was left without a replacement opponent—which usually means a re-booking from the UFC for sometime in the near future.

Not this time, however. Instead, the UFC is headed back to a fight they had planned for mid-August. Garry had been all set to face Geoff Neal at UFC 292, before ‘Handz of Steel’ was forced out of the card and replaced by Neil Magny.

When the Neal/Garry fight was still booked, the 26-year-old Dubliner took the opportunity to stoke the flames of rivalry, printing up a shirt with Geoff Neal’s mugshot in hopes of getting under his opponent’s skin. Whether or not that will end up having been an effective tactic remains to be seen, but it seems like the move created enough of a narrative that both men still want the fight.

Garry will enter the re-booking with a still pristine 12-0 record, having defeated Magny his last time out. For Neal, this fight represents a bounceback opportunity for the 33-year-old, following a submission loss to Shavkat Rakhmonov at UFC 285 this past March. That loss broke a two-fight win streak for the Fortis MMA talent, having defeated Vicente Luque in 2022, and Santiago Ponzinibbio in December of 2021.

Henry Cejudo vs. Merab Dvalishvili

While UFC 298 also incudes excellent bookings between Tatiana Suarez and Amanda Lemos, as well as Anthony Hernandez vs. Ikram Aliskerov, the other ‘big’ fight on the card is a bantamweight booking between former two-division double-champ Henry Cejudo and Team Serra-Longo’s Merab Dvalishvili.

‘Triple C’ returned to action for the first time in three years this past May to take on Aljamain Sterling for his previously vacated title belt. Sterling eked out a narrow split decision at UFC 288 to retain his title (losing it just 3 months later to Sean O’Malley).

After the bout, Cejudo suggested that he might consider returning to retirement, but quickly nixed the idea for a potential fight against Dvalishvili. With the Georgian getting passed over as a title contender in favor of Chito Vera, it seems the former Olympic gold medalist is going to get his wish.

‘The Machine’ will enter this booking on a 9-fight winning streak, stretching all the way back to a 2018 hail Mary submission defeat at the hands of Ricky Simon. In the time since, Dvalishvili has bested former champions Jose Aldo and Petr Yan, along with former title contenders John Dodson and Marlon Moraes among others. A win over Henry Cejudo seems like it would make the 32-year-old undeniable for a shot at gold.

UFC 298 fight card

Here’s a look at the UFC 298 fight card as it currently stands:

  • Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria
  • Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa
  • Geoff Neal vs. Ian Machado Garry
  • Merab Dvalishvili vs. Henry Cejudo
  • Tai Tuivasa vs. Marcin Tybura
  • Tatiana Suarez vs. Amanda Lemos
  • Anthony Hernandez vs. Ikram Aliskerov
  • Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Justin Tafa
  • Zhang Mingyang vs. Brendson Ribeiro
  • Yusaku Kinoshita vs. Danny Barlow
  • Andrea Lee vs. Miranda Maverick
  • Rinya Nakamura vs. Brady Heistand
  • Oban Elliott vs. Valentine Woodburn

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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