UFC On ESPN+ 1 takes place on Saturday night in Brookyln, New York and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Main Card (ESPN+)
Henry Cejudo vs. T.J. Dillashaw
A superfight that may also secure the fate of the entire flyweight division takes place on Saturday night as current champion Cejudo goes up against the bantamweight kingpin Dillashaw.
Dillashaw will be the bigger fight on the night with a height and reach advantage which he’ll use to good effect with punches and kicks from range, coupled with very good footwork and smart use of angles – all of which is likely to give him a technical edge over Cejudo, whose own stand-up has developed, but is still weak defensively and is most effective at close range.
Cejudo does of course excel in the wrestling department as you’d expect from a former Olympic gold medalist, but Dillashaw is an assured all-round MMA fighter who can hold his own on the mat and quickly scramble back to his feet.
That’s not to say Cejudo can’t land some takedowns, and his durability suggests he might be able to stick around for the full five rounds, but overall I think Dillashaw’s slicker, sharper striking will be the biggest difference between the two and lead to him earning a decision victory that sadly could well be the final nail in the coffin for the 125lb division.
TJ Dillashaw wins by decision
Allen Crowder vs. Greg Hardy
It doesn’t really seem right that this fight gets co-main event status, but with Greg Hardy being a disgraced former NFL star, his UFC debut gives ESPN something to generate additional interest in the promotion’s first broadcast on their network.
Hardy’s history of domestic abuse is always going to be an issue that looms large over his career, but from a fighting standpoint there’s no doubt he has the talent to suceed in the Octagon.
Of course it almost goes without saying that he’s a high-level athlete who knows what it takes to compete at the highest level, and so far he’s showcased big knockout power with three finishes inside the first minute to start his career.
That was against low level opposition however, so it remains to be seen how he’ll do as he starts to climb up the heavyweight ranks. However, booking him against Crowder, a smaller heavyweight who is 0-1 in his UFC career to date due to a first round knockout indicates that the promotion is going to take things slowly with him for now.
Greg Hardy wins by KO in Rd1.
Gregor Gillespie vs. Yancy Medeiros
Gillespie has remained undefeated in his 12-fight career to date and he’ll need to be cautious of Medeiros’ stand-up here if he wants to keep that intact.
Medeiros brings plenty of aggression on the feet, power and has the reach advantage here, which could pose problems for Gillespie, who might be sucked into a firefight at times that isn’t in his best interests.
However, Gillespie knows fighting on the mat is his strong suit and that happens to be Medeiros’ weak point, so he’ll surely be looking to chain takedown attempts early and often and even though his opponent’s takedown defense is generally good, I don’t think he’ll be able to stop it from happening here and will eventually succumb to a submission.
Gregor Gillespie wins by submission in Rd2.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Dustin Ortiz
It’s been more than four years since Benavidez first defeated Ortiz on the scorecards and now they meet again at a time when Ortiz is building a head of steam after winning three fights in a row for the first time in his UFC career to date.
Nevertheless, I’m not so sure that will be enough to see Ortiz secure victory this time around, as though he has notched up a couple of first round KO victories during his recent run, the standard of competition simply hasn’t been close to Benavidez, who has beaten pretty much everybody not named Demetrious Johnson in the division over the years – including current champion Henry Cejudo.
I think Benavidez will be able to keep this one standing and will outstrike Ortiz over the course of three rounds to continue being the division’s No.1 contender – assuming the flyweight division is still in existence after the conclusion of Saturday night’s main event superfight.
Joseph Benavidez wins by decision
Rachael Ostovich vs. Paige VanZant
It’s been a tough year for PVZ, having lost her third fight in a row back in January of 2018 and then spent much of the 12 months that followed recovering from a broken arm that required multiple surgeries.
That means she’s not had much opportunities as she’d like to grow as a fighter during that time, which is unfortunate as it does feel like the 24-year-old is still a work-in-progress, despite now being a seven-fight veteran in the UFC’s Octagon.
That means that VanZant’s toughness and athleticism are still going to be key assets for her in this fight against Ostovich, who is primarily a submission finisher, but has been working to round out her skills by adding more striking tools to her belt.
I think PVZ’s own striking is still the better of the two, albeit generally not being particularly potent, and if the fight hits the mat she’s the more likely to be on top dictating the action, leading to a win on the scorecards.
Paige VanZant wins by decision.
Karl Roberson vs. Glover Teixeira
Roberson comes in on a week’s notice for this fight with 205lb veteran Teixeira, who has lost 2 of his last 3 fights.
At this stage in his career the 39-year-old Teixeira is starting to show signs of slowing down and not having as durable a chin as he once had.
That could be a concern against Roberson, who is over a decade his junior and comes from a kickboxing background, but given his late arrival into this match-up and the fact he’s stepping up a weight class into the bargain, together with his natural fighting style it’s unlikely he’ll be letting his hands fly early and often in an attempt to knockout Teixeira.
Instead he’s likely to fight at a more measured pace, and that will suit Teixeira, who may well pick his moments to utilize his wrestling skills since that is where Roberson is weakest and would put himself at less risk of being finished, and I believe that strategy will lead the Brazilian to a ground and pound stoppage within the first 10 minutes of the fight.
Glover Teixeira wins by TKO in Rd2.
Donald Cerrone vs. Alexander Hernandez
Joanne Calderwood vs. Ariane Lipski
Alonzo Menifield vs. Vinicius Moreira
Mario Bautista vs. Cory Sandhagen
Dennis Bermudez vs. Te Edwards
Belal Muhammad vs. Geoff Neal
Chance Rountree vs. Kyle Stewart