The UFC is back in action with a hell of a PPV event. Two title fights and an absolute barnburner between two of the absolute best in the Lightweight division. However it’s the main event that takes the cake. For the vacant Bantamweight Championship, Flyweight Champion Henry Cejudo looks to become a double champ, as he takes on one of the very best Bantamweights in the world, Marlon Moraes. Cejudo has taken the UFC by storm, upsetting the Flyweight kingpin Demetrius Johnson and then starching the former Bantamweight kingpin T.J. Dillashaw. A win over Moraes would absolutely solidify as one of the pound for pound greats. However, Moraes has other plans. On the heels of four victories, the Magician has hit another level. He’s defeated three top ten Bantamweight’s in less than five minutes combined. It could be argued, Moraes is in his prime and an new era could be upon us.
UFC 238 PPV Main Card on ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: UFC Flyweight Champion Henry Cejudo vs. Marlon Moraes – Gosh I’m excited for this fight. Cejudo is on another level and perhaps it could be all smokes and clouds, but this fight is going to clear all that up. Moraes has been one of the very best Bantamweights for the last five years and we all knew as hardcore fans, it was only a matter of time before he’d contend for a belt. The last three fights though, perhaps have shown that Moraes has hit his prime. To finish Aljamain Sterling, Jimmie Rivera and Raphael Assunacao is a ridiculous feet.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Cejudo. I have a feeling that not having to cut that extra ten pounds will have Cejudo moving at an extra gear. I also envision that he’ll be able to take down Moraes several times in the fight. In my opinion, Cejudo is going to do anything in his power to keep Moraes from standing in front of him and striking. If he doesn’t and obliges a striking contest against the Magician, then well he’s going to disappear in short order. So with that, I believe in the heels of his wrestling and easier weight cut, Cejudo becomes a double champ via decision.
125 lbs.: UFC Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Eye – I love Eye. She’s a badass and can absolutely crack. Problem is, and I’ve stated it before, Shevchenko is never going to lose the Flyweight belt for as long as she remains in the sport. She’s the complete package and there is nothing she hasn’t faced. Eye has power, but not like Nunes. And Shevchenko has fought eight rounds with Nunes and never got finished. So with that, I have Shevchenko winning via doctor stoppage in the fifth round.
155 lbs.: Donald Cerrone vs. Tony Ferguson – This is going to be a ridiculous fight and easily the number one contender for fight of the night. Cerrone since becoming a dad is 3-0 and looks to have found the fountain of youth. I still can’t believe he tuned up Al Iaquinta for five rounds like that. As for Ferguson, the man has won eleven fights in a row and is being robbed at this point of a title shot. Mental issues have also gotten in the way and that’s a real question heading into the fights. From what I’ve seen in interviews though, he seems to be in a good place.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Ferguson. The mans been rocked before and never finished. He’s a pressure fighter and aggressive to default. Cerrone has notoriously had issues with fighters who bring the fight to him and Ferguson is perhaps the very best at that. I expect a fun fight fight for however long it last, so with that, I have Ferguson winning via submission.
135 lbs.: Jimmie Rivera vs. Petr Yan – Honestly, Rivera could counter Yan and end the hype in one shot, but his recent fights don’t give me any indication of that happening. Give me Yan winning via decision.
265 lbs.: Blagoy Ivanov vs. Tai Tuivasa – Ivanov is tough as nails and durable, but did he really win that fight against Ben Rothwell? Tuivasa is coming off his first professional loss, looks in the best shape of his life and is ready to get back his footing in his climb to the top. I think Bam Bam is going put on a show and win this fight via TKO.
UFC 238 Prelims on ESPN (8 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Nina Ansaroff vs. Tatiana Suarez – Ansaroff is a beast and she’s progressed so much in such little time. The problem is, I’ve been touting Suarez as a Champion since I saw her UFC debut. She’s a next level wrestler, that can take anyone down. With that in your back pocket, and a controlling top game…it’s only a matter of time before she’s a Champion. This fight is no different then the rest, takedown after takedown. So with that, I have Suarez via decision.
135 lbs.: Pedro Munhoz vs. Aljamain Sterling – I guess this is a Prelim fight because it’s on ESPN, but it’s easily the 3rd or 4th best fight on the card. As for a prediction, I’ve got Sterling. In what should be a barnburner, I believe that Sterling’s striking defense and rangy kickboxing should be able to fluster and keep Munhoz at bay. Make no mistake though, Munhoz is a killer and that Garbrandt knockout was no fluke. The man’s got a chin and his striking is starting to catch up to his grappling, which is scary. However, at this present moment, I’ve got Sterling taking this via decision.
125 lbs.: Alexa Grasso vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz – I’m really conflicted in this fight. I believe Grasso is the better fighter, but Kowalkiewicz desperately needs a win. I expect her to pull out all of the stops to edge this out via split decision.
145 lbs.: Calvin Kattar vs. Ricardo Lamas – I truly believe Lamas could be the complete package if he’d shore up his striking and actually threw more. In this fight, I expect Lamas to wrestle and bully Kattar against the cage. However, I believe Kattar has the takedown defense to nullify Lamas from flooring him. On the feet, Kattar’s volume is going to ultimately be the deciding factor. So with that, I have Kattar winning via decision.
UFC 238 Prelims on UFC Fight Pass (6:15 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Angela Hill vs. Yan Xiaonan – This is going to be a fun technical striking matchup, that features a lot volume from both. Going based off strength of competition, I edge Hill. I’m just not sure what to make of Xiaonan, but this is a good test. So with that, I have Hill winning via decision.
185 lbs.: Bevon Lewis vs. Darren Stewart – Lewis looks like a good edition in the Middleweight division. In his UFC debut, he was dominating Uriah Hall for over two rounds. Then, Hall landed a perfectly timed counter right hand that halted the bout. Lewis showed good clinch work and a rangy kickboxing game. He’ll need that here, as he faces an absolute blitzkrieg in Stewart. A fun, wild and heavy handed striker, Stewart has showed he can put anyone out if they stand with him. However, I’m siding with Lewis. I believe he will pick apart Stewart, staying on the outside and avoiding any power shots. So with that, I have Lewis winning via decision.
135 lbs.: Eddie Wineland vs. Grigory Popov – Back in the WEC, Wineland was an absolute killer. Nowadays, he’s more or less a gatekeeper. However, make no mistake about it, Wineland still has the striking to stop anyone. Especially the debuting can crusher Popov. So with that, I have Wineland winning via TKO.
125 lbs.: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Joanne Calderwood – Tough fight to call, but I got Calderwood. In what should mainly be contested on the feet, I believe that Calderwood’s power shots should edge out Chookagian’s low accuracy volume. I’m expecting this to be a tight one, but Calderwood getting the victory via split decision.