The beast that is UFC 235 has finally arrived. A card so stacked, that there is a realistic possibility that it could be one of the greatest cards in UFC History. Headlining the event is no other than the pound for pound GOAT, Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, as he clashes with challenger Anthony Smith. Jones is making a quick turnaround since destroying Alexander Gustafsson to regain his Light Heavyweight Championship back on December 29, 2018. Smith has reeled of three consecutive wins, all via finish. In those three wins, two come against legends in Rashad Evans and Mauricio Rua. Meanwhile the third and the latest against former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir.
Also on the card, Tyron Woodley looks to make it four straight title defenses, as he takes on rising talent Kamaru Usman, who is a perfect 9-0 in the UFC. Funky Ben Askren debuts against Robbie Lawler, Zabit MagomedSharipov clashes with Jeremy Stephens, former Bantamweight Champion Cody Garbrandt returns and more! Without further ado, to the Predictions!
UFC 235 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones vs. Anthony Smith – Don’t get me wrong, Anthony Smith is an excellent talent. The fact that he’s gone from a journeyman who entered the UFC with a 25-11 record to a legit contender at a weight class 20 pounds heavier than his original weight class (Middleweight) is remarkable. However, this is a tall task to think he’s the one to dethrone the greatest fighter to ever grace the octagon in Jon Jones. I expect Jones to be wary of Smith on the feet, take this to the ground and finish him with those patented elbows. So with that, I have Jones winning via TKO.
170 lbs.: UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley vs. Kamaru Usman – Ever since Usman entered the octagon, I thought he was destined to be a world champion. I’ve said it in just about every one of his fight Predictions. However, this is simply the toughest matchup I can think of in the Welterweight division for him. Woodley is a solid wrestler who has freaky athleticism and power on the feet. Usman too is a solid wrestler, who’s shown excellent cardio and an ever improving striking game.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Woodley. The man has been taken down only once in the UFC and while he had early cardio issues, he’s clearly worked on it. Usman is so good at adapting to his opponents, but in this matchup I’m not sure exactly what he will do. If he attempts to wrestle, it’s only later in the fight I see him being successful. On the feet, both are patient strikers, but it’s Woodley who’s power offers the greatest threat. If there’s one thing Usman has in this fight, it’s the cardio and pace possible to make some noise late in the fight. Unfortunately, I don’t see him lasting five rounds. So with that, I have Woodley winning via knockout.
170 lbs.: Robbie Lawler vs. Ben Askren – I just don’t know. Lawler is above and beyond the better striker, but he has been prone to getting out wrestled. I mean, hell, even Donald Cerrone took Lawler down and that’s a rarity given his unwillingness to wrestle. Askren hasn’t fought in awhile, nor at Welterweight, but based on the sheer fact that he’s going to be on Lawler like white on rice from the start of the fight to end, has me edging Askren via decision.
115 lbs.: Tecia Torres vs. Weili Zhang – I feel like Torres is thought as a stepping stone in this fight. However, I feel like Torres is starting to find her groove and has shown against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, she can hang with the elite of the division. Zheng has fought a hesitant and lack of volume striker in Danielle Taylor and a washed up Jessica Aguilar thus far. I’m not discrediting her, as I believe she has a solid skill set and bright future. I just don’t believe she’s ready for the level of competition that Torres is at. So with that, I have Torres via decision.
135 lbs.: Cody Garbrandt vs. Pedro Munhoz – I think Munhoz is a solid bantamweight, but Garbrandt is among the elite of the division. I also think this is a terrible matchup for Munhoz. Garbrandt has yet to be taken down in the UFC, so there goes grappling. Munhoz is extremely hittable on the feet, so that opens it for Garbrandt to utilize his knockout power. In my opinion, this ones over inside the first round. Garbrandt via decision.
UFC 235 ‘Prelims’ on ESPN (8 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Jeremy Stephens vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov – This has pure chaos written all over it and I really believe this fight will come down to Stephens takedown defense. If he can keep it standing, his solid low kicks, fight ending power and the willingness of MagomedSharipov to brawl all aide him to victory. If MagomedSharipov can land early takedowns, control and sap Stephens cardio, then it will open up his striking. Stephens will be so worried about the takedown, that MagomedSharipov will be able to land often.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Stephens. I feel like Stephens has good enough wrestling to keep it on the feet the majority of the fight. And like I mentioned previously, MagomedSharipov is too willing to trade shots that Stephens will abide. In what should be a bar burner, I have Stephens winning via a close decision.
205 lbs.: Johnny Walker vs. Misha Cirkunov – Johnny Walker is starting the build a hype train with his vicious knockouts and celebrations. He could very well keep that going against Cirkunov, who has been finished in two of his last three fights. However, Walker is very wild and leaves openings to being taken down. Fortunately, he fought two strikers thus far who have yet to expose him.
Cirkunov is a solid wrestler and grappler, which he most certainly lean heavy on in this fight. Coming from a cerebral gym like TriStar, I expect the gameplan to feature little to no striking. Given Walker’s wildness, I see a clear route to Cirkunov finding success getting this to the mat. On the ground, Cirkunov has excellent top control and I expect him at some point to lock in a fight ending submission.
135 lbs.: Alejandro Perez vs. Cody Stamann – Quietly, Perez has won seven fights in a row. Unfortunately, I think that streak ends here. Stamann is a well rounded fighter, who mixes in striking and takedown’s very well. Perez is mainly a striker, who doesn’t throw with enough volume. He’s not exactly precise either. Stamann on the other hand, let’s his hands go a bit more. Also regarding the wrestling, Stamann has already accumulated 15 takedowns in four fights. So with that, I have Stamann via decision.
170 lbs.: Mickey Gall vs. Diego Sanchez – Gall seems like the overwhelming favorite due to his age, size and the sheer fact that Sanchez is a shell of himself. All valid points. However, last time I checked, Gall isn’t a good striker yet. He doesn’t have knockout power to crack Sanchez’s iffy chin. He’s still raw and in his four UFC fights, he’s resorted to wrestling and grappling. I expect the same approach in this fight. Gall is going to overwhelm Sanchez early with wrestling, even take him down. Sanchez is going to evade submission attempts and make Gall work though to keep him down. By round three, Gall is going to be exhausted. Sanchez like I’m so many fights, will come out fresher and is going to break Gall with his pace. I’m calling upset, Sanchez via TKO.
UFC 235 ‘Prelims’ on UFC Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Charles Byrd vs. Edmen Shahbazyan – Even though Shahbazyan was able to defeat Darren Stewart, whereas Byrd couldn’t, Shahbazyan implemented a heavy grappling approach. The fight turned sloppy with two exhausted fighters by the second round, making it anyone’s fight. As for this fight, I wasn’t all too impressed with Shahbazyan’s debut nor his regional scene fights. He literally fought cans. Other than Stewart, Byrd will be the best fighter he’s fought. Byrd isn’t the power striker Stewart is, but he’s serviceable. His grappling abilities are good enough to negate Shahbazyan too. So with that, I’ll go with Byrd via decision.
135 lbs.: Macy Chiasson vs. Gina Mazany – I fully expect Mazany to spend the majority of the time trying to take Chiasson down. However, I don’t expect her to find success. Chiasson is strong and I see her battering Mazany every attempt. Eventually Chiasson gets in advantageous position and ends it via submission.
115 lbs.: Hannah Cifers vs. Polynna Viana – If this fight stays standing, Cifers would win on her volume striking and the fact that, Viana doesn’t offer anything on the feet. If it hits the ground, Viana will easily control and submit Cifers. I’ll take the later, Viana via submission.