UFC 238 - Chicago Breakdown & Predictions
When is UFC 238? Sunday 9th June, 2019 – 01:00 (UK)
Where is UFC 238? United Center, Chicago, Illinois
What channel is UFC 238? BT Sport 1
Where can I stream UFC 238? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT website
For viewers in the United States, the event will be shown live and you can take advantage of a free trial with ESPN+ and subscribe now by clicking here!
Are tickets still available for UFC 238? http://uk.ufc.com/event-ticket-info?utm_source=ufc&utm_medium=tab&utm_campaign=tickets
Henry Cejudo vs Marlon Moraes
The disgraced former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw will be looking on from the sidelines as Henry Cejudo moves up and looks to snatch his belt fresh off knocking him out in their flyweight title fight. However, Marlon Moraes has other ideas and hopes to prevent him from becoming a two-division champion after carving through the top contenders in the division.
Cejudo is enjoying a whirlwind of attention and accolades at the moment. After shocking the world by scraping a decision in his rematch with the imperious champion and pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson, he managed to set up a super fight with TJ Dillashaw and shocked the world again by knocking him out in the first round. Now, the Olympic gold medallist is reaping the rewards and earned another title fight but this time for the vacant bantamweight championship.
Standing in his way is the legitimate number one contender and surging star Moraes who has only lost once in his last 18 fights. After losing a split decision to Raphael Assuncao on his UFC debut, he bounced back with a hard-fought split decision of his own over John Dodson. Moraes then begun to light up the division by kneeing Aljamain Sterling and head kicking Jimmie Rivera into a different dimension before avenging his loss to Assuncao by knocking him down and brilliantly setting up a guillotine.
Both fighters have been improving at a dramatic rate and we should expect them to be an even more polished version of themselves. After dethroning Johnson and knocking out Dillashaw in 32 seconds, Cejudo will back himself and his newly adopted karate style to outclass Moraes on the feet.
However, this confidence may work against him. Johnson fought with an injured knee for the majority of the bout and Dillashaw was incredibly depleted going into his fight whereas Moraes is a monster on the feet. He is a high-level black belt in Muay Thai and is devastating with all eight limbs so Cejudo should call upon his wrestling as a plan A.
He will back his striking but any taste of adversity and Cejudo will look to get his hands on Moraes. However, the Brazilian is also a monster on the floor and man-handled Assuncao – a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – and set up a guillotine so he will be very dangerous on the mat.
Cejudo needs to control the fight by clinching up, timing takedowns and catching leg kicks as he did against Johnson. If Moraes can avoid the takedown or use his Jiu-Jitsu to help him separate or get back to his feet he can force the stand-up battle where he has the power, speed and importantly the composure to seriously trouble Cejudo.
As long as Moraes respects Cejudo’s striking and paces himself he will find opportunities to hurt him on the feet and based on his recent performances, we could easily see another finish.
Winner: Moraes via KO/TKO
Valentina Shevchenko vs Jessica Eye
The queen of the flyweight division Valentina Shevchenko makes the first defence of her crown after outpointing Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the vacant title with Jessica Eye emerging as the unlikely contender after rejuvenating her career in her rightful division.
Shevchenko is one of the most skilled and decorated fighters in MMA and it is no surprise to see her with a belt on her shoulder after only two fights in the flyweight division. She previously fought her whole UFC career up at 135 lbs and the only fighter to beat her is the consensus pound-for-pound best female fighter in the world and current bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes, and these were two close decisions.
She fights Eye for her first defence who was on the brink of losing her place on the UFC roster after losing four in a row but flyweight is also her natural weight class, proven by winning her three fights in the division against Kalindra Faria, Jessica Rose-Clark and Katlyn Chookagian. She only scraped past these women in decisions but the division is still growing and she is one of few contenders worthy of standing in the octagon with Shevchenko at the moment.
Eye’s experience will be crucial as she makes her 11th UFC appearance and although she hasn’t had much success in the octagon, we are only now witnessing here at her best as she is fighting in the right division. She is ready to display the best version of herself but unfortunately she is up against a fighter who is just on a different level.
Eye is a terrific boxer but Shevchenko is a multiple kickboxing and Muay Thai world champion. Eye is also a strong wrestler and dangerous in the clinch but Shevchenko is a black belt and master of sport in judo and after making a habit of out-grappling the bigger bantamweights, any flyweight will be foolish to tangle with her.
Shevchenko will have to be wary of Eye’s power but she is expected to outclass her on the feet and gradually pile on the damage with her timing and technique. Expect her to counter violently with combinations starting with the jab and ending with kicks while moving to avoid any damage coming her way.
Over three rounds, Eye is good enough to take her to a decision but we may see Shevchenko up the assault in the championship rounds, inflicting enough punishment to set up a submission.
Winner: Shevchenko via Submission
Tony Ferguson vs Donald Cerrone
Two fan-favourites – one currently on the longest winning streak in lightweight history and the other with the most wins in UFC history – do battle in a fight worthy of headlining any card.
It’s great to see ‘El Cucuy’ back in action after that horrific and freak knee injury deprived him of his title fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. He is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC and won 11 fights in a row whilst picking up eight performance bonuses as well as an interim title.
Barely recovered from that injury, Ferguson returned after a year out and quickly picked up where he left off by putting on a show with Anthony Pettis and winning a bloody war. Hopefully, he is physically as well as mentally fit as the UFC have set up a mouth-watering fixture.
It’s hard not to respect ‘Cowboy’ who treats the fans to his incredible skill set as often as he can. He is on a good run at the moment after submitting Mike Perry and then dropping back down to lightweight to knock out top prospect Alexander Hernandez and outclassing and outpointing the #4 ranked Al Iaquinta in a five-rounder.
Something very special needs to happen on the card to prevent this from being the ‘Fight of the Night’. Their styles create a dream of a match-up as they are not only electrifying in every area skill-wise but also incredibly aggressive so we are guaranteed action of the highest level.
Expect violent exchanges, technical combinations, wild scrambles and elite-level grappling. This fight should have it all. They are both prolific finishers with complete striking and submission games but they are so tough and skilled that they are likely to avoid getting finished.
So, over five rounds it may boil down to who takes the least amount of damage and who has the better endurance and when it comes down to endurance, nobody outlasts ‘El Cucuy’.
Winner: Ferguson via Decision
Jimmie Rivera vs Petr Yan
As one bantamweight prospects title hopes fade, another prospect has emerged with a keen eye on the main event. Jimmie Rivera looks to bounce back from a loss as the new young contender Petr Yan hopes another good performance will put him in line to take on the new champion.
After building an impressive record of 21-1 and winning his first five UFC fights, Rivera was beginning to stake a claim for a number one contender spot but met the current number one contender along with his left foot. After suffering the first knockout of his career, he bounced back with a decision over John Dodson but suffered the third loss of his career against Aljamain Sterling in another decision.
He now meets another bantamweight beast in the form of Yan who is on a seven-fight winning streak. There is a lot of hype behind the talented Russian but he needs to prove himself in the upper echelon in the division and Rivera will be another great test.
This is going to be a tense and gritty affair with neither man giving an inch. They are both incredibly well-rounded but most of this contest is likely to be fought on the feet which Rivera will prefer.
Rivera can keep up a suffocating pace and although he doesn’t have blistering knockout power, he has the technique and defence to grind out decision after decision. However, so can Yan which he proved against Dodson in his last outing and although this is bound to be a tough call for the judges, Yan has more tools in his locker to earn the points and land more significant strikes on Rivera.
Winner: Yan via Decision
Tai Tuivasa vs Blagoy Ivanov
Two slabs of heavyweight beef kick-off the main card for UFC 238 as fan-favourite Tai Tuivasa looks to bounce back from the first loss of his career as he takes on the Bulgarian Blagoy Ivanov.
Tuivasa was gutted to not enjoy a ‘shoey’ at UFC Fight Night 142 in Adelaide as he suffered his first loss to Junior dos Santos. It was a fierce battle and, as expected, both men were constantly inches away from a knockout. The Brazilian displayed his class on the night to finish ‘Bam Bam’ in the second round which has Tuivasa forced back to the drawing board.
He takes on Ivanov who is not a devastating striker like Dos Santos but is one of the most durable heavyweights around. Dos Santos could not put him away over five rounds but lost the decision for the second defeat of his career. He bounced back with a win over Ben Rothwell but the decision could have gone either way and now he takes on another bruiser.
Ivanov is a dangerous striker but needs to call upon his grappling skills. The Bulgarian is a black belt in judo and successfully represented his country in the World Sambo Championships.
There is a huge gulf in class when it comes to grappling but there is also a clear advantage for Tuivasa when it comes to striking. Not so much technically, but the Aussie possesses ferocious power and deceptive athleticism. He will no doubt hunt the knockout but Ivanov has never been knocked out in his career.
If Ivanov can survive the first round and sap the energy out of Tuivasa with his grappling he can cruise to a decision. Tuivasa is so dangerous and could easily hand Ivanov his first knockout loss but if he can avoid the power, he will exploit the Aussie’s weakness.
Winner: Ivanov via Decision
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric