The UFC’s deal with broadcaster ESPN is a big deal Stateside, but it’s more than likely that we won’t see too much difference here on this side of the pond.
However, the UFC’s event this weekend in Brooklyn has been given the special treatment by the UFC’s matchmakers, who have put together one hell of a card, featuring a world title fight, a sprinkling of rising stars of the future and a decidedly questionable decision to feature a man accused of domestic violence (Greg Hardy) offences and a woman who was recently the highly-publicised victim of a separate domestic violence incident (Rachael Ostovich) on the same card.
Amazingly, Ostovich actually met with Hardy to clear the air ahead of their respective bouts as she explained to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani here…
Ostovich may already have won our hearts – and our immense respect – for how she’s approaching fight week this week, but who’s going to win the big fights in Brooklyn this weekend?
THE MAIN EVENT
UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo says he is fighting for the honour – and the survival – of the UFC’s 125lb division. It has been a poorly-kept secret that the UFC are seriously considering binning off the flyweight class, and it seems they’ve sent UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw down to 125lbs to finish them off by toppling the champion.
Cejudo is playing up his role as the flyweight knight in shining armour. In truth, it was more of a shining jacket, which was so sparkly even UFC president Dana White couldn’t resist having a cheeky pop at his flyweight champion, saying “You look like you’re going to host a game show!”
But judging by some of the shouts from the crowd at the pre-fight press conference, Cejudo has a few fans on his side, including a couple of famous female fans, as the WWE’s Bella Twins, Brie and Nikki, shared a selfie with the UFC champ on his flight to New York.
Dillashaw, on the flip side, seems equally at ease as the bad guy, the hired gun sent to put an end to the flyweight division. He’s also looking remarkably good ahead of the his first-ever fight at 125lbs. Some of his training shots show him looking just about as lean as a human being should ever really look, and he looked absolutely ripped at Wednesday’s open workouts.
By the time he steps on the scale, he’ll likely look like one of those models from Gunther von Hagen’s Body Worlds exhibition.
Assuming all goes well at the official weigh-ins, and assuming Dillashaw rehydrates safely and comes in at 100%, this should be Dillashaw’s fight to lose. He is the better striker, his MMA wrestling should be sufficient to nullify Cejudo’s gold medal-winning mat skills, and he has proved himself in world title fights against bigger, stronger, more powerful fighters.
But keep an eye on the weigh-in results, and re-watch the weigh-in footage itself. If Dillashaw looks like a cadaver on the scale, Cejudo’s underdog odds may be worth a look.
Ultimately, though, Dillashaw has the skillset to shut down Cejudo’s best assets, and has the striking power to finish anyone in his own weight class, let alone the division 10lbs below him.
The 11/5 on a Dillashaw win by decision looks solid value, but I have a feeling he’ll catch Cejudo at some point during the five rounds. And when it does, it’ll be game over for Cejudo, and possibly game over for the UFC flyweight division.
Octagon legend Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone is returning to the lightweight division to meet rising star Alexander Hernandez, whose press-conference trash talk was either brilliant or a little too forced, depending on who you ask (I’m in the latter camp, it was cringeworthy at times). Cerrone certainly didn’t seem that impressed – he’s seen it all before.
But whatever you think of Hernandez’s attempt to get a rise out of ‘Cowboy’, one thing everyone can agree on is the fight is a must-watch contest.
Cerrone fancies a run towards the UFC lightweight title, and is angling for a fan-friendly fight against Conor McGregor, but defeat to Hernandez will bury those ideas very quickly indeed.
Hernandez, meanwhile, wants a big-name scalp to build his name off, and Cerrone fits the bill perfectly.
The smart money is on a Hernandez mauling – his wrestling may well prove to be the difference-maker. But Cerrone is a wily old dog, and if Hernandez goes into the contest with even the slightest shred of complacency, ‘Cowboy’ will take advantage.
*All odds correct at time of posting