UFC 238 takes place tomorrow in Chicago, IL. The main card kicks off at 8:00 p.m. (MT) on pay-per-view (PPV). Our mixed martial arts (MMA) writers make their main card predictions ahead of a highly anticipated fight card.
Bantamweight – Henry Cejudo vs. Marlon Moraes
Flyweight champion Henry Cejudo returns to the octagon for a shot at the vacant bantamweight title as he takes on surging contender Marlon Moraes in the main event.
Ashkon: The main event of UFC 238 sees two complete mixed martial artists going head to head. This one is very tough to call. On the one hand, Cejudo has shown leaps of growth since first joining the UFC in 2014 and has dethroned 2 of the best P4P fighters. On the other, Moraes has looked untouchable. This match-up will come down to speed and cardio. There have been insider reports that Cejudo may have incurred a knee injury, although Cejudo has denied them. My prediction for this one is The Messenger but this fight is about as 50/50 as it gets. My answer could change depending on what time of the day you ask me. Prediction: Cejudo via TKO (Rd. 1).
Kassim: This is an interesting match-up because Cejudo is coming off a big win. He will be the favourite, but sometimes when the underdog has nothing to lose and no pressure on them, they can easily cause an upset. However, I think Cejudo’s has too many tools in his toolbox to lose this match. Prediction: Cejudo via TKO (Rd. 3)
Kiefer: I think Cejudo is the complete package — amazing wrestling, grappling, and his striking continues to improve. However, Moraes is on a war path and I think his size and strength will be a big factor in the fight. Prediction: Moraes via KO (Rd. 2)
Women’s Flyweight – Valentina Shevchenko (C) vs. Jessica Eye
“Bullet” Shevchenko is set to become the first woman to ever defend the women’s flyweight title against Jessica Eye who is 3-0 since moving to the division.
Ashkon: Although Eye is on a three fight win streak, it’s hard to overlook her four straight losses at bantamweight prior to that. Two of her three wins in her resurgence are split decisions. Valentina does a great job of nullifying her opponents, and overall is a much more complete mixed martial artist than Eye. I have this one as a unanimous decision win for The Bullet. Prediction: Shevchenko via Decision (Unanimous).
Kassim: Shevchenko should win, but the women’s division is always unpredictable. We’ve seen it with many female fighters, who seem to be the “best” female fighters. However, I think Shevchenko wins this comfortably. Prediction: Shevchenko via TKO (Rd. 2)
Kiefer: Jessica Eye is the biggest underdog on the card (+900) and it is for good reason, as Valentina Shevchenko may just be the best female fighter on the planet. Prediction: Shevchenko via Rear-Naked Choke (Rd. 1)
Lightweight – Tony Ferguson vs. Donald Cerrone
Two of the most exciting fighters on the planet will finally meet as Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone meet in battle in what promises to be one of the best fights of the year.
Ashkon: I have a love/hate relationship with this fight. It’s a fight that we obviously all want to see, but I don’t want anyone losing their chance at the title. Cerrone has looked phenomenal as of late, even conquering his demons in defeating the pressure fighter that is Alex Hernandez. In the other corner we have Tony Ferguson who has looked unstoppable despite being tagged, dropped, and taken down a couple times over his last few fights. As hinted at before, Cerrone has a history of looking mediocre against pressure fighters and I think we see the same thing here. Ferguson’s relentless pace and barrage of strikes from all angles may just be too much for Cerrone. With that said, Ferguson’s durability hovers in the back of my mind, and a kick from Cerrone on a marching Ferguson may just be the shot that hands him his first KO loss. Prediction: Ferguson via Unanimous Decision.
Kassim: This fight has the potential to be fight of the year. It deserves to headline its own fight-card. Both Ferguson and Cerrone are legit fighters. They are OG’s in the fight world. Both fighters can stand up and strike and they’re not afraid to turn this into a legit scrap. Ferguson is a man on a mission and I think he will come out the victor here. Cowboy has been on a run since the birth of his child, but I think his great run comes to an end. Prediction: Ferguson via Unanimous Decision
Kiefer: This is arguably one of the greatest matchups in UFC history and it could honestly go either way. Both fighters have wild styles and continue improve as the fight goes on, but I don’t think anyone is stopping Ferguson from finally getting that deserved title opportunity. Prediction: Ferguson via TKO (Rd. 3)
Bantamweight – Jimmie Rivera vs. Petr Yan
Jimmie Rivera hopes to get back on track after a tough outing against Aljamain Sterling when he meets surging bantamweight contender Petr Yan who has yet to lose inside the octagon.
Ashkon: This fight will give us the evidence we need to know if Yan is the real deal or not. He has looked really good in all of his UFC wins and we’ll see if he can keep up the consistency. Rivera, on the other hand, is either not as good as we thought he was or is just facing a mental hurdle. Up until the Moraes fight he was perfect when it came to nullifying his opponents but since then has shown a performance against Dodson that was nothing to write home about and a lackluster attempt against Aljamain Sterling resulting in two losses in his past three fights. I think Yan takes this one and puts his name in the mix for the next title shot at 135. Prediction: Yan via Unanimous Decision.
Kassim: There is a lot of hype on Yan and when that happens, fighters can choke on the big stage. However, I think Yan is the real deal so I think he wins this fight. Prediction: Yan via KO (Rd. 3)
Kiefer: I am on the Petr Yan hype train, but Rivera has a tough fight style to deal with. I think this will be a highly contested grappling affair with Yan edging out a tough decision. Prediction: Yan via Decision
Heavyweight – Tai Tuivasa vs. Blagoy Ivanov
Both of these heavyweight prospects have a loss to Junior dos Santos, but one will continue their climb up the heavyweight ranks after they square off in the Windy City.
Ashkon: I think we have yet to see the best of Ivanov in the UFC, and this could be his breakthrough performance. In terms of Tuivasa, he hasn’t evolved enough in his 4 UFC fights for my liking. I personally thought he lost the fight against Arlovski, and has only shown us that he is trying to be Mark Hunt 2.0, a man that went 8-8 with two no contests in the UFC. I believe Ivanov will take this via split decision. Prediction: Ivanov via Split Decision.
Kassim: I feel like this will be slow burner and will go the full-distance. The heavyweight can either end in dramatic fashion, or two fighters get gassed and go the full distance. I think this goes the distance. Prediction: Ivanov via Split Decision.
Kiefer: I think “Shoeyvasa” bounces back after his first career loss against Dos Santos, but Ivanov is a live dog in this fight. Wouldn’t be surprised with a TKO from either fighter. Prediction: Tuivasa via TKO (Rd. 2)