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Despite a glaring lack of Conor McGregor on the UFC's annual International Fight Week pay-per-view card in Las Vegas, the sport's leading promotion still brings an action-packed event into Saturday's return to T-Mobile Arena. 

After McGregor withdrew from a long-awaited return against Michael Chandler with a toe injury, light heavyweight king Alex Pereira took the call on short notice to replace "The Notorious" in the main event when he faces former champion Jiri Prochazka in a 205-pound title rematch. 

Elsewhere on the undercard, Diego Lopes and Brian Ortega are set for an intriguing battle. The pair of featherweights will meet at 155 pounds instead of their normal weight class after being a short notice addition to the card. Both men are vying to stay in the title picture at 145 with a new champion now in the fold. Plus, light heavyweight veteran Anthony Smith is back when he takes on Roman Dolidze, who makes the jump up from middleweight. Macy Chiasson and Mayra Bueno Silva are set for a women's bantamweight throwdown. And welterweights open the PPV when Ian Machado Garry takes on Michael "Venom" Page.

As the annual summer showcase gets closer to fruition, let's take a look at the biggest storylines entering this weekend. 

1. Alex Pereira remains the hero that UFC fans deserve

Who ya gonna call? When the UFC is in need, they call "Poatan," and the two-division champion from Brazil continues to answer the call in historic ways. What's crazy about the time Pereira bailed the promotion out in April by signing to become a late addition to the main event against Jamahal Hill at UFC 300, it was later reported that Pereira had a broken toe coming in. Pereira would go on to break an additional toe during the first-round stoppage win just two months ago yet agreed upon the quick turnaround (after McGregor pulled out for ironically the same injury) because of how quickly his window is closing to maximize his potential at age 36. In just eight trips to the Octagon since first debuting in 2021, Pereira has been close to perfect by winning seven times, including three times in title bouts over two divisions, including five wins over former champions. Remember the days when critics used to debate whether Pereira's lack of wrestling experience would cost him in the Octagon? Instead, he has passed just about every challenge he has been given. And he even bounced back in a huge way from what could've been a disastrous loss when he was knocked out cold by Israel Adesanya in their 2023 rematch only to claim a world title in a second division just seven months later. 

2. There's a window for Pereira to potentially make some huge history

It would likely take him scoring a second victory over Prochazka in an eight-month period but Pereira, should he continue his dominant ways, is approaching an all-together new dream that just might be possible. Most critics have debated whether Jon Jones should even be allowed to defend the heavyweight title against Stipe Miocic later this fall considering he has teased retirement so strongly and has openly avoided any talk of fighting interim titleholder Tom Aspinall. But can you imagine the type of discussions that might take place should Pereira defeat Prochazka a second time and make another public plea for UFC to book him at heavyweight? No one in UFC history has won titles in three weight divisions, which would make the idea of a Jones-Pereira fight special enough should the two reigning champions defend their respective titles. But considering Jones is becoming more and more widely considered as MMA's G.O.A.T., a victory over him at heavyweight could be Pereira's ticket (and only chance) to steal such a lofty crown from "Bones." The fact that this is even remotely possible speaks to how incredible Pereira's success has been in the UFC in just over three years. 

3. The short turnaround should have equal effect on Pereira and Prochazka

While it was Pereira who delivered when called upon some two months ago when he knocked out the former champion Hill at UFC 300 in Las Vegas, Prochazka scored a resounding finish of Alexsandr Rakic on the same night in the featured preliminary fight. Outside of the lingering issues with Pereira's broken toes, the pair of light heavyweight sluggers will face the same turnaround after both agreed to replace the McGregor-Chandler bout just 17 days' out. What would be most preferred for the standpoint of the division is that the two create a finish with more closure after Pereira's second-round stoppage of Prochazka at UFC 295 was initially ruled a controversial one after it never appeared that the native of the Czech Republic had gone out after being hit with clean punches. Prochazka, however, would later confirm during the postfight press conference, which removed much of the debate regarding referee Mark Goddard's ruling. Either way, the 31-year-old Prochazka, who enters just his sixth UFC walk overall, has an expedited opportunity to regain the title he initially lost in 2022 due to injury. 

4. Banger alert: Brian Ortega-Diego Lopes will be straight fireworks

He might not be the most active fighter on the UFC roster, but Ortega is certainly among the most exciting that the promotion can offer. His last-minute booking against the explosive Lopes is just perfect matchmaking as Ortega, who came back from nearly two years away to finish Yair Rodriguez in their February rematch, appears to be reborn at age 33. But the two-time title challenger at 145 pounds will be forced to enter as the slight betting underdog given the streak that the 29-year-old Brazilian has been on over the past 11 months, which includes three straight stoppage wins over Gavin Tucker, Pat Sabatini and Sodiq Yusuff. The turnaround for Lopes is also a short one at two months given that he finished Yusuff at UFC 300. But it also gives Lopes, who enters ranked No. 14, a rare shot at defeating someone in the top 3. And from a stye standpoint, this one couldn't get any better. Both love to let their hands go on the feet while both are even more dangerous on the ground in terms of their submission games. What the fight will likely come down to is whether the veteran Ortega can curtail his all-action ways long enough to not leave himself open to so easily being lured into warfare. 

5. Different roads, same goal highlight Ian Machado Garry-Michael "Venom" Page clash

Talk about one heck of a crossroads fight for the winner to catapult into title contention at 170 pounds. Page, a longtime Bellator MMA standout, doesn't have much time given that he's 37 and is just three months removed from a dazzling win over Kevin Holland in his UFC debut. Garry, meanwhile, is the 26-year-old next big thing from Ireland who is 14-0 overall and unbeaten in seven walks to the Octagon. Both fighters could score victories which would likely fight for consideration as the biggest of their respective careers. The question comes down to whether Page can rely on the threat of his explosive and unpredictable offensive style long enough to disarm Garry or whether the young Irishman has the firepower to make a major statement. 

Who wins UFC 303: Pereira vs. Prochazka 2, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on UFC 303, all from the MMA expert who profited more than $1,500 on his UFC main-card picks, and find out.