UFC 238: Analysis and Predictions

UFC 238 takes place on June 8th at the United Center in Chicago.  It features two titles fights at bantamweight and womens’ flyweight, plus a number one contender match in the extremely deep lightweight division.  While not stacked with big names that a casual audience would recognize, this a rock solid card with fun fights going all the way down to the early prelims.

 Henry Cejudo vs Marlon Moraes

Bantamweight Title Bout

Cejudo (14-2) (Flyweight Champion)

Moraes (22-5) (#1 Ranked)

 It may not be the TJ Dillashaw rematch at 135 that most of us were hoping for, but it’s nonetheless a big fight where Cejudo still has the opportunity to become a two division champion.  Standing in his way is an extremely dangerous Marlon Moraes.

It’s hard to bet against Cejudo given what he’s done over the last year.  Defeating Demetrius Johnson and TJ Dillashaw in back to back fights is about as impressive as it gets.  That said, Marlon Moraes is extremely dangerous striker who packs a lot of power.  His opportunity to win this fight will be if he can keep the fight standing and turn the first round into a brawl.  For his part, Cejudo needs to play it safe in this fight.  Moraes’ has a limited number of paths to victory, and Cejudo just needs to avoid those situation.  He needs to use his wrestling, continually go for takedowns, and never let Moraes get comfortable with the standup.

Henry Cejudo is the no brainer pick here.  Moraes could pull off an upset if he lands big in the first, but I don’t think it’s likely

Cejudo by Unanimous Decisions

Valentina Shevchenko vs Jessica Eye

Women’s Flyweight Title Bout

Shevchenko (16-3) (Flyweight Champion)

Eye (14-6) (#1 Ranked)

 In the women’s flyweight division you basically have Valentina Shevchenko, and then everyone else.  The division is very shallow, and Shevchenko is pretty clearly the 2nd best female in all of mixed martial arts.  This is going to be a challenging fight for Eye.

In thinking about this fight, I’m really not sure if any path to victory exists for Eye.  She’s not a grapler so she will need to strike her way to victory.  She also isn’t a power striker so she can’t attempt win through an early round blitz.  Rather, she’s a striker who depends on quickness and accuracy to win on points.  Unfortunately, this is a style that Shevchenko excels at dealing with.  Shevchenko is a defensive counter striker, and unfortunately a much more seasoned veteran.

I’m huge Shevchenko fan and I’m hoping she can use this mismatch to get a much needed KO / TKO to boost her star power in the UFC.  I believe it’s going to happen sometime in the 2nd round.

Shevchenko by 2nd Round TKO

 

Tony Ferguson vs Donald Cerrone

Lightweight Title Bout

Ferguson (24-3) (#2 Ranked)

Cerrone (36-11) (#4 Ranked)

 It’s too bad we didn’t get Tony Ferguson vs Nurmagomedov, but this is just about the next best thing we could possibly hope for.  This is great fight between two awesome fighters in the ultra-stacked lightweight division.

 Ferguson and Cerrone are both high level stand-up strikers with well rounded ground games.  Ferguson will forever be an enigma to me because it seems that he can do almost anything in the ring and it somehow works out for him.  He’s famous for making bizarre posts to Twitter and Instagram which show unorthodox training techniques that many consider questionable in value at best.  He’s a strange and fascinating character that seems to just have fighting in his genetics.

 In many ways Cerrone is no different.  He has been fighting in the UFC seemingly since the beginning of time.  He’s been through hot and cold streaks, and is now coming off a big win over Al Iaquinta.  Last year he departed from his longtime training camp at Jackson’s and the change seems to be really paying off for him as he’s looked fast and sharp in his recent fights.

 It’s impossible for me to pick against Tony Ferguson in this fight.  Ferguson is on an 11 fight win streak, hasn’t lost in 7 years, won the interim lightweight title, and yet somehow isn’t considered the number one contender.  Ferguson just has some freakish ability to pull of victories regardless of the situation. 

 I foresee this being a fight that is very evenly matched on the feet.  I think the more interesting parts of the fight will come if this ends up in a grappling exchange.  Both of these guys are extremely good grapplers but I would likely give Ferguson the advantage due to his reputation with 10th planet jiu-jitsu.  I’m hoping you get to see Ferguson showcase his ground game and pull of a submission in the 3rd.

 Ferguson by 3rd Round Submission