UFC 238 takes place tomorrow night in Chicago and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Main Card (PPV)
Henry Cejudo vs. Marlon Moraes
With impressive wins over Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw at flyweight, Cejudo now moves up to try to claim the vacant bantamweight belt against No.1 contender Marlon Moraes.
An Olympic gold medalist, Cejudo has always had a tremendous wrestling base, but he’s gradually become more comfortable and confident in his striking game too, which has helped make him a formidable foe in the Octagon.
Nevertheless, he still has his hands full against Moraes, who has razor-sharp striking and has been demolishing some of the best bantamweights in the world lately in surprisingly short-order courtesy of dynamic kicks, punches and knee strikes.
Cejudo’s pressure, power and technical proficiency, not to mention his height and reach disadvantage, may well come off second best in that regard, so he’ll need to be careful not to get lured purely into striking battle and would well advised to pursue takedowns instead.
However, Moraes can handle himself on the mat and will be a moving target, so I think that’s not going to be an easy task, and with his pinpoint counters, killer instinct and finishing power I’m going to take Moraes to emerge with a first round finish here.
Marlon Moraes wins by TKO in Rd1.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Eye
As expected, Shevchenko has settled in well to life at 125lbs and quickly captured the flyweight crown, but eye has also found a new lease of life in the divison and racked up three wins in a row, having lost her previous four at bantamweight.
Eye’s boxing has always been a strong point and that together with her wrestling seem to be well suited to the weight class, but it’s hard to see an area in which she excels over Shevchenko.
‘Bullet’ should hold all the aces here and as well as being the more skilled fighter, she’s stronger, more consistent and more tactically sound, but as is often the case in her fights, she’ll likely have to go to the distance to get the job done here.
Valentina Shevchenko wins by decision.
Donald Cerrone vs. Tony Ferguson
What a fun fight this is between two of the most exciting fighters in the sport. That being said, both are prone to being slow starters and Ferguson has a troubling tendency to get hurt before he starts firing on all cylinders, though he does showcase excellent powers of recovery.
Cerrone isn’t as slow off the blocks as he used to be, but I still question whether he’ll fully capitalize on those early opportunities. Once they get into their groove though this should live up to everybody’s expectations and I think that Ferguson’s relentless forward pressure, volume and variety of strikes has the potential to unsettle Cerrone.
Ferguson also works well to the body, and that could be a key component of his attack her as Cerrone has been vulnerable there in the past.
That being said, Cerrone is an excellent striker in his own right and Ferguson’s offensive style will leave openings for him to make his mark, and like his opponent he’s a tried and tested finisher, who will capitalize if he smells blood in the water.
Cerrone also transitions well to takedowns and has finished many fights by submission, but Ferguson’s creativity also extends to the mat and will ensure that there’s never a dull moment here, wherever the action takes them.
Of course the elephant in the room is Ferguson’s mental health issues which were made public earlier this year by his wife and leave concerns over whether he’s now coming back too soon after apparently getting himself back on track.
It’s impossible to say how that’ll affect him, but I still believe that his pace, pressure and body strikes are good reasons to believe he can make life uncomfortable for Cerrone on Saturday night, leading to a third round TKO stoppage.
Tony Ferguson wins by TKO in Rd3.
Petr Yan vs. Jimmie Rivera
Not so long ago Rivera was riding a long winning streak, but has since dropped two if his last three fights, while Yan is now one of the surging forces in the division with four wins in the UFC so far.
Yan is an excellent striker who pushes the pace and throws at a high clip, looking to overwhelm his opponents with his offensive salvos.
Rivera on the other hand is far more of a counter striker and that should make for an interesting contrast in styles here.
I don’t think Rivera’s got the knockout power to stop Yan from coming at him though and by the end of three rounds Yan’s far higher output and aggression should earn him a decision victory.
Petr Yan wins by decision.
Tai Tuivasa vs. Blagoi Ivanov
Tuivasa is more athletic than his build might suggest and he backs up his heavy-handed power with surprisingly quick movement for his size, but as hard-headed and willing to scrap as he is, there are definitely holes in his ground game waiting to be exploited.
That’s good news for Ivanov, who is definitely the superior grappler here and will threaten both with ground and pound and submissions on the mat.
Ivanov can mix it up on the feet if required and has never been finished, but it would be a mistake to risk taking Tuivasa on standing, so if he sticks to a grappling based gameplan I can see him controlling the action here and winning on the scorecards.
Blagoi Ivanov wins by decision.
Prelims (ESPN) (Predicted winners in bold)
Tatiana Suarez vs. Nina Ansaroff
Aljamain Sterling vs. Pedro Munhoz
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Alexa GrassoO
Ricardo Lamas vs. Calvin Kattar
Prelims (Fight Pass)
Angela Hill vs. Xiaonan Yan
Bevon Lewis vs. Darren Stewart
Katlyn Chookagian vs. Joanne Calderwood
Eddie Wineland vs. Grigory Pipov