UFC 300 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Calvin Kattar vs. Aljamain Sterling: Back Ex-Champ in New Division (Saturday, April 13)

UFC 300 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Calvin Kattar vs. Aljamain Sterling: Back Ex-Champ in New Division (Saturday, April 13) article feature image
Credit:

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Former UFC bantamweight champion and current featherweight Aljamain Sterling

Calvin Kattar vs. Aljamain Sterling Odds

Kattar Odds
+140
Sterling Odds
-165
Goes to Decision?
Yes (-150) / No (+110)
Location
T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas
Time
9 p.m. ET
TV/Streaming
ESPN
UFC 300 odds as of Saturday afternoon and via BetMGM. Bet on UFC 300 tonight with our BetMGM promo code.

Here's our Calvin Kattar vs. Aljamain Sterling pick for UFC 300 on Saturday, April 13 – with our expert prediction.

Former bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling is making his featherweight debut at UFC 300, following a two-and-a-half-year run at the top of 135 pounds. While we rarely see fighters claim UFC gold after losing it in a lighter division – with UFC 300 headliner Alex Pereira a noted exception – at absolute worst Sterling is a top-10 featherweight.

He has a chance to prove himself in his new 145-pound home against Calvin Kattar, a fixture of the featherweight rankings over the past few years. He's returning from a knee injury that's kept him out of action since October 2022.

Both fighters are on the older side for the division, with Sterling 34 and Kattar 36. That means it's probably now or never if either wants to go on a title run, adding significantly to the stakes for this UFC 300 preliminary-card bout on ESPN.

Below are my Sterling vs. Kattar picks for UFC 300.

Tale of the Tape

KattarSterling
Record23-723-4
Avg. Fight Time14:4413:12
Height5'11"5'7"
Weight (pounds)145 lbs.145 lbs.
Reach (inches)72"71"
StanceOrthodoxOrthodox
Date of birth3/26/19887/31/1989
Sig Strikes Per Min5.124.73
SS Accuracy39%52%
SS Absorbed Per Min7.102.41
SS Defense54%58%
Take Down Avg0.421.97
TD Acc29%24%
TD Def91%45%
Submission Avg0.10.8

Aljamain Sterling's run atop bantamweight doesn't get the respect it deserves. It's understandable, of course. He won the title via disqualification against Petr Yan, whom he defeated by mildly controversial split decision in the rematch. Still, we see precious few four-fight title reigns in the modern UFC.

A multiple-time Division III All-American wrestler, Sterling leaned heavily on his grappling throughout his title run. Perhaps most impressively, he landed four takedowns on Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo in his final successful defense (Cejduo had been taken down just once in 12 other UFC fights).

Sterling earned his "Funkmaster" moniker from his unorthodox amateur wrestling, but that style has followed him into MMA. He finds takedowns from awkward positions, diving low at his opponents' shins or using his long limbs to find trips and back-takes in unexpected places. His length also forced opponents to come forward aggressively, opening up further takedown entries for Aljo.

Sterling's striking attack also relied heavily on his length at bantamweight. Coupled with his excellent grappling, it allowed him to snipe from range with kicks and pick apart shorter fighters with jabs.

"Why not just skip the line instead of getting in the tough gauntlet of a queue?"

Aljamain Sterling believes he could be fast tracked to a featherweight title shot with an impressive performance at #UFC300 πŸ† pic.twitter.com/RSvUC9TEsW

β€” MMA Fighting (@MMAFighting) April 10, 2024

You may notice my use of the past tense here. That's because Sterling's 71-inch reach was well above the bantamweight average, but isn't especially impressive at featherweight.

Sterling's bantamweight run came to an end by a pull counter right hand from a taller, longer fighter in Sean O'Malley – and there are plenty of those at featherweight.

That list includes Kattar, who has four inches in height and an inch in reach against Sterling. That will certainly help his chances of keeping this one standing since he can attempt to fight Sterling from the outside.

That will almost certainly be the game plan from Kattar. Despite a wrestling background of his own, he does his best work while boxing. His striking style suits his build perfectly, jabbing from the outside and feinting to draw out opponents for counterstrikes.

Which might just be the best way to beat Sterling. Two of his four UFC losses came via knockout, most recently with the exact style of attack that Kattar excels at.

Kattar has, on paper, excellent 91% takedown defense that will certainly be tested at UFC 300. However, he's had very few matchups against grapplers and none against one of Sterling's caliber.

The elephant in the room is the knee injury Kattar suffered in his last appearance against Arnold Allen. Both the time away from competition and the questionable health of his knee are red flags for a 36-year-old fighter who relies on his movement as much as Kattar does.

Kattar vs. Sterling Pick

While I'm typically wary of fighters moving up in weight at this stage in their careers, Sterling might be the rare exception. He'll probably be the heavier and stronger fighter in the cage on Saturday night, and he was an absolutely massive bantamweight. We've seen Sterling in some pro grappling matches since his last UFC appearance, and he weighed in at a lean 170 pounds for the last one.

I'm also much more wary of a fighter coming back from a significant injury than I am one changing weight classes. Some fighters return from similar injuries with no issues – Tom Aspinall looked great – while some never regain their former form. Given his age, I expect Kattar to fall more into the latter category.

While stylistically Kattar at his best could be kryptonite to Sterling, I have enough concern that he isn't at his best to take Sterling. Besides, Sterling quickly finished Cory Sandhagen at 135 pounds, and he has a very similar fighter in build and style with better grappling credentials than Kattar.

I'm sticking with my early lean from my UFC 300 Luck Ratings in which I suggested taking Sterling at -160 odds. Those are gone, but you can still get -165 at BetMGM as of this writing.

Additionally, I'll be taking a quarter-unit sprinkle on Sterling inside the distance at +300. He should be able to find a stoppage if he gets it to the canvas.

The Picks: Aljamain Sterling (-165 at BetMGM) | Sterling Inside the Distance (+300 at BetMGM)

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