UFC Fight Night 143 - ESPN 1 NY Breakdown & Predictions
When is UFC Fight Night 143? Sunday 20th January, 2019 - 01:00 start (UK)
Where is UFC Fight Night 143? Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
What channel is UFC Fight Night 143 on? BT Sport 2
Where can I stream UFC Fight Night 143? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT Sport website
Henry Cejudo vs TJ Dillashaw
What better way to kick off 2019 and the UFC’s new deal with ESPN than a superfight between two world-class fighters. TJ Dillashaw is looking to become the fourth simultaneous double champion as he drops down from bantamweight to meet Henry Cejudo at flyweight.
Dillashaw has evolved into one of the best fighters on the roster and after claims of being able to cut down to 125 lbs with ease many called for a superfight with one of the pound-for-pound kings Demetrious Johnson. However, at UFC 227 Henry Cejudo shocked the world by beating Mighty Mouse via a split decision to claim the belt and earn this superfight for his first title defence.
A few months ago not many people would have given Cejudo a chance against Dillashaw but after beating Mighty Mouse he has all the confidence and we don’t know how this weight cut will affect the bantamweight champion. He is shredded at 135 lbs so dropping an extra 10 lbs won’t be easy, and if he successfully makes the weight we don’t know how depleted he will be come fight night.
This fight will depend on the weight cut of Dillashaw as his style is all about high energy, movement and a relentless output of powerful combinations. If the cut takes too much out of him his weapons will be compromised.
As for Cejudo, he never finds this cut easy but he is experienced, and if Dillashaw starts to gas out it will completely fall into the hands of the Olympic gold medallist wrestler. He surely knows he will be outclassed in the striking department so he will hope to take Dillashaw down and keep him there.
That said, Dillashaw’s wrestling is underrated and he is rarely ever taken down. If the cut goes as smoothly as he claims he will have too much speed, too much power and will be able to have his way with Cejudo on the feet. Even with a bad cut, he will have the cardio to perform at the highest level for five rounds but an energised Dillashaw will be capable of a knockout.
Winner: Dillashaw via KO/TKO
Greg Hardy vs Allen Crowder
The former NFL star Greg Hardy makes his debut for the first ESPN card which has been heavily in the spotlight, mainly for the wrong reasons. The signing has been clouded in controversy due to Hardy’s troubled past involving an assault on a former girlfriend. After his promising NFL career was cut short he carried over his athletic prowess to MMA where he won all three of his amateur fights via KO/TKO and has mirrored that record in his first three professional fights.
Hardy will always be under scrutiny for his past actions but the UFC have handed him an opportunity to kick start his MMA career. He takes on Allen Crowder who was also successful on Dana White’s Contender Series. However, he suffered a knockout loss to Justin Willis on his UFC debut and now he is out for redemption against the number one villain.
Morals aside, Hardy is a freak athlete. The former defensive end has the perfect attributes to cause chaos in the heavyweight division. He is 6’4” and 265 lbs but frighteningly quick and explosive. He has also clearly worked on the fundamentals of striking and despite his ferocity, he has looked very composed in the exchanges with a sound left jab and a calculating counter right.
So, Crowder will have to execute a game plan to make up for the athletic discrepancy. He is obviously a knockout threat as well, with five knockouts to his name, but he is also a good grappler and needs to take the fight to the floor.
However, what Hardy lacks in experience he makes up for in raw athleticism and power which is likely to result in an early knockout.
Winner: Hardy via KO/TKO
Gregor Gillespie vs Yancy Medeiros
The lightweight division is stacked with some of the very best talent in MMA and Gregor Gillespie is the dark horse. His talent is well respected but he hasn’t had many UFC fights and walks out in New York to take on his most formidable opponent to date – Yancy Medeiros.
Medeiros is a veteran with big wins including knockouts over Erick Silva and Alex Oliveira. Gillespie doesn’t quite have the experience yet, but he is unbeaten, and with the skill set he possesses it is easy to see him as a title contender in the future.
Gillespie’s game plan usually consists of him taking his opponents down and finding a finish. As an incredibly accomplished NCAA Division 1 Wrestler he has experienced nothing but success in his MMA career, and he will hope to keep the run going against Medeiros.
The Hawaiian will be aware of these threats and will look to keep the fight on the feet where he will have a clear advantage. If he can avoid the takedown he can easily find a finish of his own, but Gillespie’s wrestling is too good and will be relentless for three rounds.
Medeiros has all the skills but this may only help him in avoiding a finish.
Winner: Gillespie via Decision
Joseph Benavidez vs Dustin Ortiz
Benavidez makes his third appearance after a long injury lay-off and has an important role in being the alternate for the Henry Cejudo TJ Dillashaw fight. The perennial top contender was originally scheduled to fight Deiveson Figueiredo but now faces Dustin Ortiz, who is on an impressive three-fight winning streak including knockouts over Hector Sandoval and Matheus Nicolau as well as a dominant decision over Alejandre Pantoja.
These two fought back in 2014 where Benavidez took home the spoils via a unanimous decision. Ortiz went on to lose three more of his following five fights but is now in the form of his life after three big wins.
Benavidez looked rusty after his come back fight against Sergio Pettis but turned back the clock with a knockout over Alex Perez in his last fight so expect him to be near his best. Ortiz will come out full of energy seeking redemption and will be confident of matching Benavidez in every department.
This will be crucial, as these fighters are comfortable everywhere, so expect exchanges on the feet, clinches and takedown attempts. Benavidez’ speed will give him the advantage, which may see Ortiz shoot in for takedowns after a feeling out process, but it may not be enough.
Winner: Benavidez via Decision
Paige VanZant vs Rachael Ostovich
Rachael Ostovich has been on the end of some unwanted attention as her fight with Paige VanZant has been in serious jeopardy due to an attack by her husband that left her with a broken orbital bone. It is hard to imagine what she has been going through, especially prior to a fight, but against the UFC’s wishes she was adamant on remaining on the card.
VanZant is grateful, and eager to get back to winning ways after suffering her second straight loss against Jessica Rose-Clark and breaking her arm in the process. It has been a difficult recovery, but she is ready and confident of handing Ostovich her own second straight loss.
UFC fans hope Ostovich is in a healthy state of mind and she performs to her best ability, as this is a great fight on paper. Both fighters are aggressive and very well-rounded. They are strong grapplers, but the difference is likely to come on the feet as VanZant has the technique and speed advantage.
Winner: VanZant via Decision
Glover Teixeira vs Karl Roberson
Unfortunately, Ion Cutelaba picked up an injury and has been forced out of the fight only a week out, but Karl Roberson has stepped up to the plate and back up to light heavyweight to take on the veteran Glover Teixeira.
It’s always great to see a fighter put themselves on the line to take a fight on short notice, and no one is happier than Teixeira, but this will not be an easy fight. The Brazilian hasn’t strung two wins together since 2016 and is coming off a loss to Corey Anderson.
Roberson has had just eight fights but only lost once - via submission to Cezar Ferreira. However, he bounced back with a dominant decision over Jack Marshman.
Roberson will still have weight to cut so it remains to be seen if he hits the mark on weigh in day. That said, he will still be explosive and prepare to show off his well-rounded striking and grappling skills especially as Teixeira is exceptional in every area.
The Brazilian will love to Box with Roberson and search for a knockout but will not mind if Roberson shoots in for a takedown to scrap on the floor. The odds are stacked against Roberson, and with his lack of training he will hope to find a finish early, but he has nothing to lose which is always a dangerous factor.
Winner: Teixeira via Decision
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric.