UFC 228 takes place in Texas this coming Saturday night and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights for you below.
Main Card (PPV)
Tyron Woodley vs. Darren Till
Woodley has had a habit of putting on extremely cautious, risk-averse performances in the Octagon since winning the title, opting to only do just enough to eek out razor-thin decision victories to retain the title.
His KO power and wrestling base means that no-one has so far been able to do enough to throw him off that gameplan so far, and it’s hard to see him changing things up against Till, who is another dangerous opponent who could make him pay if he lets his guard down.
Till is much more of an action-orientated, pressure fighter with excellent striking and the power to put his opponents away, but he also showed in his last fight with Stephen Thompson that he can fight at a much slower, more measured tempo himself when required.
As such I’m leaning slightly towards Till here. Woodley’s wrestling is a concern if he opts to use it, but I think Till’s size, forward pressure, superior cardio and razor-sharp striking will help him to just edge out the champion’s lethargic workrate and earn the UK fighter a close decision victory.
Darren Till to win by decision.
Nicco Montano vs. Valentina Shevchenko
An underdog on The Ultimate Fighter, Montano did exceptionally well to win the show and at the same time become the first ever flyweight champion, but I don’t see her being able to hold onto it against a fighter of Shevchenko’s caliber.
On the feet Shevchenko is at the top of her game and though she’s not a devastating finisher she’s very technical and assured, not to mention being the physically bigger fighter too.
Montano could look for takedowns to attempt to balance things out, but Shevchenko is no slouch on the mat and has shown an ability to be able to put opponents away with submissions.
All of which leaves Montano with no clear route to victory and I think Shevchenko should dominate the fight and I’m actually going to tip her to put Montano away with strikes.
Valentina Shevchenko to win by TKO in Rd3.
Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Brandon Davis
Davis comes in on short notice to fight the in-form Magomedsharipov after his previous opponent Yair Rodriguez was forced out due to an injury.
Davis is the type of fighter that will do his best to bring the fight to his opponent, but Magomedsharipov has so far proven to be several steps ahead of the competition so far in the UFC and I don’t see that changing on Saturday night.
He’s extremely tall and rangey for the division, but Magomedsharipov is still very agile and light on his feet, has dynamic, effective striking, particularly with his kicks, and also happens to be a very good wrestler and uses his long limbs to good effect for submission finishes too.
The evidence so far suggests Magomedosharipov could be a future title contender at 145lbs and I think he’ll brush aside Davis, outstriking and outgrappling before seizing upon a second round submission.
Zabit Magomedsharipov to win by second round submission.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jessica Andrade
Two former strawweight title contenders clash here as they both look to return to the top of the heap to get another shot at the title.
Kowalkiewicz is very much a striker first and foremost, and a very capable one at that, making up for her lack of stopping power with a high output and good technique.
Andrade fights at an even higher tempo though, relentlessly attacking and she has bigger power and a sturdy chin to go with it. In addition the stocky Brazilian is also extremely strong and even though Kowalkiewicz has generally proven to have very good takedown defense, she’ll be hard pushed to stop Andrade if she wants the fight on the mat.
I like Andrade to get the win here. She might eat some shots on the feet, but she’ll fire back with plenty of her own and her takedowns and control on the mat should be the biggest difference here, leading her to a decision victory.
Jessica Andrade to win by decision.
Niko Price vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan
Alhassan has proven to be a deadly finisher in his career to date, but all his stoppages have via punches in the first round and beyond that point his all-action style appears to be less potent as his cardio fades.
That should be good news for Price if he can weather the early storm as he’s also a finisher, but has a better gas tank, is the more well-rounded fighter and as such should have several routes to victory beyond the first five minutes.
It’s certainly possible that Price could put Alhassan away with strikes of his own, but I think it’s more likely that he gets him down and ends his night via submission mid-way through the fight.
Niko Price to win by submission in Rd2.
Carla Esparza vs. Tatiana Suarez
Aljamain Sterling vs. Cody Stamann
Jimmie Rivera vs. John Dodson
Charles Byrd vs. Darren Stewart
Prelims (Fight Pass)
Diego Sanchez vs. Craig White
Jim Miller vs. Alex White
Irene Aldana vs. Lucie Pudilova
Jarred Brooks vs. Roberto Sanchez
Frank Camacho vs. Geoff Neal