UFC 228 - Dallas Breakdown & Predictions
AT A GLANCE
When is UFC 228? Sunday 9th September, 2018 – 01:00 (UK)
Where is UFC 228? American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
What channel is UFC 228 on? BT Sport 2
Where can I stream UFC 228? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT website
Tyron Woodley vs Darren Till
Tyron Woodley is finally back to defend his welterweight belt after recovering from a shoulder injury. While he has been out, Colby Covington has brashly talked and earned the interim belt to set up this unified title fight. However, nasal issues requiring surgery has forced the UFC to strip him of the title and seek a replacement.
That replacement is Liverpool’s own Darren Till, who many say provides a better match-up. Till is unbeaten and carries an aura around him with an unusual mix of cockiness and humility. His unique charisma is helped by an ultra-aggressive style developed from a Muay Thai background, accompanied with the size of a large middleweight that makes him extremely dangerous.
However, Woodley is also as dangerous as it gets. He is an athletic specimen who climbed up the ranks with tremendous wrestling and devastatingly explosive hands. His power and speed has overwhelmed opponents but he has also added a cerebral element to his game.
He was criticized for the lack of action in his title defences with Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia but these contenders represent completely contrasting and top-of-the-food-chain skill but Woodley was able to nullify the threats of both men which has to appreciated.
Woodley did a great job in nullifying those threats but that is all he did. He did not take the fight to them and look for the finish and that is what Till is renowned for. Till is expected to be aggressive, walk Woodley down and pepper him on the feet and he knows a few clean strikes is all it takes to finish the fight.
However, this style is a great opportunity for Woodley to prove he is still a finisher. Any break in the pressure of Till will allow him to explode with his trademark one-two and swarm with punches but any hesitation will leave the door open for Till to dominate octagon control.
So, this will be intense and ferocious if it stays on the feet but a key weapon of Woodley is his wrestling which he will resort to if Till gets comfortable. There is a big size advantage for the Liverpudlian but Woodley’s stocky, explosive build is perfect to launch in for takedowns as a counter-attack.
This is a fascinating stylistic match-up and Till has the attributes, mentality and aggression to become the second ever British UFC champion but it is easy to forget just how good Woodley is and his repertoire of skill and elite experience may just edge this in his favour.
Winner: Woodley via Decision
Nicco Montano vs Valentina Shevchenko
The first women’s title defence for the UFC flyweight is upon us at UFC 228. Since winning The Ultimate Fighter finale in December 2017 for the inaugural championship, Nicco Montano has been unable to defend her title due to injuries and health issues putting the whole division on hold before it even got started.
Thankfully, we get to see Montano but unfortunately for her, she has the toughest possible match-up for her first defence. Valentina Shevchenko is one of the most talented and decorated fighters in MMA and remained at the top of the bantamweight pile. However, the bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes proved her kryptonite and squeaked two narrow decision wins against her – her only losses in the UFC.
Montano will be an overwhelming underdog but she was also an underdog in The Ultimate Fighter tournament as the 14th seed. This was a poor judgement call as she convincingly powered her way to the finale and grinded down the veteran Roxanne Modafferi for five rounds.
On paper, Shevchenko has it all and has proven it by out-striking the likes of Holly Holm and out-grappling Julianna Pena. She will be confident wherever the fight goes but you can’t sleep on the grit and determination of Montano who is a fighter in every sense.
Her grappling is the only likely route to victory and she will have to rely on her strength and cardio to obtain any control. However, considering Shevchenko’s record at 135 lbs and 125 lbs being her more natural weight class, we could witness the start of a lengthy title run for the Kyrgyzstani.
Winner: Shevchenko via Submission
Zabit Magomedsharipov vs Brandon Davis
The glamour featherweight scrap between the electrifying Zabit Magomedsharipov and Yair Rodriguez was eventually scheduled for UFC 228 but unfortunately Rodriguez pulled out with an injury. Gutting for the fans but we will still get to see the much-hyped Magomedsharipov who we will call ‘Zabit’ for short. This is because Brandon Davis has stepped in on short notice – a brave move considering how lethal Zabit has looked.
After an eye-catching win on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Davis has gone 1-2 in the UFC and struggled to match the high-calibre competition so he will have his hands full in Dallas.
The hype that surrounds Zabit is not just due to his record and 11-fight winning streak – it is his skillset which is as entertaining as it is talented. He can wrestle, grapple and submit at will and then we have his array of flashy striking techniques which we expect to see against Davis.
Zabit is a threat everywhere so Davis is going to have to be aggressive and take the fight to the Russian like Kyle Bochniak did in their fight. He needs to turn the fight into a brawl but Zabit has the class to take the fight anywhere and finish from everywhere.
Winner: Magomedsharipov via KO/TKO
Jessica Andrade vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Two of the best strawweights in the world meet each other, both on two straight wins and need a third to get a chance to fight the current champion Rose Namajunas. Jessica Andrade is a monster at 115 lbs and after moving down from 135 lbs she has looked outstanding with a power advantage over every girl she has faced.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk is the only fighter to beat her since moving down and she has since ground out convincing decisions over two other top contenders, most recently Tecia Torres and Claudia Gadelha who is in fact the last fighter to beat Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
This may give an indication of how this fight may go. Gadelha is the closest fight stylistically to Andrade. She is a stocky, powerful grappler who demonstrated her level of class by dominating Kowalkiewicz. She took her down with ease, controlled her and finished the fight with a rear-naked choke in the first round.
Now, Andrade didn’t dominate Gadelha but she proved to be the better version and was just more bullish, aggressive and outclassed her fellow Brazilian. So, Kowalkiewicz is going to have to drastically improve her takedown defence to stand a chance.
The Pole is one of the best strikers in the division and has the technique to duck and weave away from the aggressive onslaught of strikes Andrade will throw but the takedown and punishment almost seems inevitable despite the class of Kowalkiewicz.
Winner: Andrade via Decision
Abdul Razak Alhassan vs Niko Price
The main card in Dallas kicks-off in style with two up-and-coming talents who both only have one blemish on their records. Both men are showing huge potential in the welterweight division and have firmly bounced back from the sole career losses.
After a tight decision loss to Omari Akhmedov, Abdul Alhassan removed all doubt by knocking out Sabah Homasi after their first fight ended prematurely. Niko price has also secured a rear-naked choke over George Sullivan and a knockout of Randy Brown after getting submitted by Vicente Luque.
These men are real showstoppers, especially the explosive Alhassan who hits like a truck. We know what to expect from the Ghanaian who has finished every win with a knockout. However, we may finally get to see his renowned Judoka skills as Price is a dangerous grappler.
Price is also more than capable of a knockout but combining his takedowns and submission prowess makes him a threat to anyone. This fight is going under the radar but it has everything. If they choose to stand, it will be a violent affair and probably won’t last long but if they decide to grapple we’ll witness skill of the highest level.
Winner: Price via Decision
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric