The UFC will return to Chicago, Illinois for the first time since June 2018 with a terrific card for UFC 238. Two titles will be on the line, sometime fan-favorite UFC titans will face off, and some exciting young fighters will get their chance to shine bright.
Note: All odds via Bovada.com
Tai Tuivasa (-140) vs. Blagoy Ivanov (+110)
Tai Tuivasa throws some heavy hands, with nine of his 10 career victories coming via KO/TKO. The 26-year-old could be the future of the heavyweight division in the UFC, a division that has been looking for some star power. The lone blemish on his record came in his last fight against MMA legend Junior dos Santos in the second round. On the other side of the octagon, Blagoy Ivanov, a 250-pound Bulgarian machine, is just as capable of submitting his opponents as he is knocking them out. This will be Ivanov’s third UFC fight after losing to dos Santos and defeating Ben Rothwell, both by judge’s decision. Tuivasa’s three-inch height advantage and his strong striking should give him the advantage in what should be a very exciting matchup. Tai Tuivasa wins via 2md-round KO/TKO.
Jimmie Rivera (+260) vs. Petr Yan (-340)
Petr Yan is one of the UFC’s most exciting up-and-comers. He’s on a seven-fight win streak, including going 4-0 since joining the promotion. The 5-foot-7 Russian is ridiculously athletic and owns a scary combination of power and lethal striking combinations. In the UFC, he’s landing a whopping 6.46 significant strikes per minute while absorbing fewer than three. Don’t underestimate Jimmie Rivera though. He’s lost two of his last three fights against Aljamin Sterling and Marlon Moraes, but he’s 22-3 and started his UFC career 5-0 with wins over names such as Urijah Faber and Thomas Almeida. Rivera has won 16 of his fights by decision and usually displays his elite cardio and solid striking. While the +260 odds look enticing for a strong fighter like Rivera, Yan is on a tear right now and it’s hard to bet against him. Petr Yan wins via unanimous decision.
Tony Ferguson (-155) vs. Donald Cerrone (+125)
Good luck thinking of a more exciting matchup than this one. Perhaps the UFC’s most popular fighter, Donald Cerrone enters this card on a three-fight winning streak, bringing his overall record to a ridiculous 36-11. He’s a wonderful striker, has 17 submission victories, and doesn’t mind taking some punches. “Cowboy” Cerrone’s cardio is also fantastic, but so is Tony Ferguson’s. “El Cucuy” is on a blazing 11-fight winning streak, including victories over Anthony Pettis and Rafael dos Anjos. Like Cerrone, Ferguson is a great striker, throwing very creative combos and keeping opponents on their heels, but he’s also a strong wrestler. The 35-year-old has done everything he needs to earn a title shot, but Cerrone could earn himself one with a win in Chicago. This should be a close fight and an absolute must-watch for every MMA fan, casual or serious. Donald Cerrone shocks Ferguson with a 3rd-round submission.
Valentina Shevchenko (-1100) vs. Jessica Eye (+650)
There’s not much to say here if we’re being honest. A Jessica Eye victory would be a massive upset, though it’s definitely not an indictment of her abilities. She’s a solid striker on a three-fight winning streak, but Valentina Shevchenko is an animal. Her only two losses in the UFC have come against Amanda Nunes, a double champion in the women’s bantamweight and featherweight divisions. In Shevchenko’s last fight, she dominated Joanna Jedrzejczyk who was once thought to be the most dominant woman in the UFC. Again, Eye is probably worthy of this title shot, but a win for her would be another huge upset in the fighting world. Valentina Shevchenko submits Eye in the second round.
Henry Cejudo (EVEN) vs. Marlon Moraes (-130)
Finally, flyweight champion Henry Cejudo will look to throw a second belt over his shoulders with a bantamweight win over Moraes. Then-bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw attempted to take Cejudo’s flyweight belt but lost in just 33 seconds and was hit with a USADA suspension, vacating his title in the process. Cejudo also defeated Demetrious Johnson, ending his insane 13-fight winning streak and his UFC career. However, Moraes has been nothing short of dominant as of late. He’s won four straight fights with the last three ending in the first round. Those three fights were all against worthy opponents as well, including Sterling, Rivera, and Raphael Assuncao. Moraes is a decent striker, but he’ll likely want to take this fight on the ground where he’ll have more of an advantage over the hard-hitting Cejudo. Still, the flyweight champion has all the confidence in the world right now and should get things done again. Henry Cejudo becomes the newest double champ with a unanimous decision victory.