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UFC on ESPN+: Cejudo vs Dillashaw Preview

Credit: @SportWire via Twitter

The first UFC event of the year is a big one as it’s the promotion’s first show on ESPN. The UFC flyweight title is on the line as Henry Cejudo makes his first title defence against current UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw. This super fight has been in the works for some time, with previous talk around TJ fighting former flyweight kingpin Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, before he lost the belt to Cejudo. The card is also littered with other stars that are sure to bring in the audience including former NFL Star Greg Hardy competing in a heavy weight bout against Allen Crowder. UFC veterans Yancy Medeiros, Joseph Benavidez, Glover Teixeira, Donald Cerrone, Joanne Calderwood and Dennis Bermudez all feature as well.

Flyweight Henry Cejudo (c) vs TJ Dillashaw

The biggest questions so far heading into this main event have been of TJ Dillashaw. Can he make 125 pounds? Will his knockout power come down with him? The consensus has been that, if this fight was taking place at bantamweight, Dillashaw would be the clear favourite. Not many “champ champ”s move down in weight to take on the division’s champion. It’s arguably a much easier task to move up to a heavier weight division. However, TJ thus far has been adamant that he can make weight easily on Friday 17th January.

This is the most opportune time for TJ Dillashaw to move down a division to try and make history. This will be a tough challenge against Henry Cejudo. Henry found ways to stop Demetrious Johnson that no flyweight before him had ever managed to do. With that said, if he could take down Johnson then he most certainly can take down Dillashaw. Ultimately, I think TJ has one of the best coaches in MMA by his side in Duane Ludwig. I feel that TJ will be able to nullify Henry’s takedowns and utilise his more diverse striking to finish Cejudo inside 3 rounds.

Prediction: Dillashaw by TKO.

Heavyweight Greg Hardy vs Allen Crowder

The co-main event has been setup in favour of a potential star in Greg Hardy. With popular heavyweight faces imminently riding off into the sunset, including Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez, the UFC is on the look out for the next heavyweight star. Greg Hardy was first made famous by being a defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys american football team. However, his NFL career was ultimately cut short due to domestic violence incidents involving his ex-girlfriend in 2014.

Prediction: Hardy by TKO.

Lightweight Gregor Gillespie vs Yancy Medeiros

Gregor Gillespie has been on an absolute tear from the beginning of his mixed martial arts career. Gregor currently holds a 12-0 record with just 2 of his 12 wins coming by decision. Gregor came into the UFC with a lot of hype and has so far managed to match that with exciting fights and finishes. More often than not he finds a way to win and this seems like a tricky match up for the Hawaiian Yancy Mediros. Yancy hasn’t fought in just under a year and is coming off of a knockout loss to Donald Cerrone at welterweight. For this fight he is moving back down to the lightweight division. His defence against striking and grappling attacks are flawed, with many pundits believing that Medeiros only has a punchers chance of winning this fight.

Prediction: Gillespie by TKO.

Flyweight Joseph Benavidez vs Dustin Ortiz

Joseph Benavidez had been talked about as an alternate for main event should one man miss weight. However, both TJ and Henry have made weight as of writing this article. Joseph is still a credible fighter in the flyweight division. Benavidez is currently 8-2 in his last 10 bouts with many considering him, for a long time, the second best flyweight behind Demeterious Johnson. Joseph had two fights against Demetrious, the first being a close decision and the second went by way of first round knockout for Johnson. Now that Johnson has been dethroned this favours Benavidez, who is currently ranked number 2 in the division and has a victory over Henry Cejudo. A win on Saturday night would present a strong case for a rematch and a shot at the title.

Saturday’s fight is a rematch from 2014, where the pair met on UFC Fight Night 57. On that night, Joseph took the decision victory. Ortiz in his fight career has been a very well rounded fighter and most recently holds two very impressive first round knockouts over Hector Sandoval and Matheus Nicolau Pereira. With that said, he could very well knockout Benavidez. However, Joseph is the more seasoned fighter and posses more skills and more top level experience than his opponent.

Prediction: Benavidez by decision.

Women’s Flyweight Paige VanZant vs Rachael Ostovich

Paige VanZant and Rachael Ostovich are two fighters looking to make a mark on arguably the promotion’s biggest stage yet. However, the fight’s media focus so far has been tainted by the promotion’s decision to have Rachel fight on the same card as Greg Hardy. This is because Ostovich was recently assaulted by her husband in November 2018 in a domestic abuse case which left the female fighter with a broken orbital bone. Back in July 2014, former NFL player Greg Hardy was found guilty of assaulting an ex-girlfriend and was suspended for 10 games by the NFL. However, the charges and suspension were dropped due to the victim failing to testify. This case was highly controversial and the UFC’s actions have been deemed as careless and a cheap bid to garner media attention.

Focusing back on the fighters, neither are championship contenders yet and not many pundits believe they have the potential to be either. Rachel currently has 4 wins and 4 losses, being finished in each of her defeats. Paige has lost 3 of her last 4 UFC bouts, with the consensus being that her potential as a star fighter was fast tracked too soon. Both women have something to prove coming into this fight and have everything to gain. Rachel has strength and grappling over Van Zant. Whereas Paige has the striking and athletic advantage. This fight could go either way, but if Rachel can avoid getting his and utilises her grappling edge, this will be a long night for Paige.

Prediction: Ostovich by decision.

Light Heavyweight Glover Teixeira vs Karl Roberson

Glover is an ageing fighter at 39 years of age. The evidence of his decline can be seen in his last bout against Corey Anderson, where he lost by a unanimous decision. However, Teixeira has been a gate keeper of the light heavyweight division for some time and has been a problem for fighters outside of the elite of the division. The Brazilian still possesses great grappling skills and a solid striking game.

On the other side, Karl Roberson is 11 years younger than Glover but comes in on short notice against the Brazilian. This favours Glover whose had a full fight camp behind him for the bout. Glover’s experience should be enough to get past Karl, however, the younger fighter is still very dangerous and capable of winning the fight. Karl has good skills all around, with knockout and submission wins in his 7-1 career thus far. But ultimately he is still very much finding his feet.

Prediction: Glover Teixeria.

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