UFC 235 Main Card Preview
The UFC heads to Las Vegas this weekend with 2 title fights topping the bill. Here, we take a closer look at the fights on the main card.
In the main event of the evening, Jon Jones will defend his light heavyweight title against Anthony Smith. Jones is coming off a victory against Alexander Gustafsson back in December 2018 after a 17-month layoff. Anthony Smith has been nothing short of sensational since his move up to 205lbs in June 2018. 8 months and 3 finishes later Smith finds himself in a title fight. Both Jon and Anthony’s striking game is second to none and both fighters have a habit of finishing fights early. A massive point of interest in this fight will be the Grappling Exchanges. Considering how chaotic striking exchanges could get, I would not at all be surprised to see these two fighters tie up early and often. With Smith being so tall, he is a pain to deal with in the clinch and a KO against Rashad Evans proves that.
However, ‘Lionheart’ has sometimes has shown tendencies to forget his clinch work and he cannot afford to do that against someone like Jones, who is one of the greatest clinch fighters of all time. Even against Daniel Cormier who is a world class wrestler, he was able to stop DC’s gameplan during the clinch and enforce his own strategy to win the fight. Both men are no slouch on the ground, with Smith recently being awarded a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. If Smith ends up on top, then he could change the scope of this fight but if he doesn’t he will need to show urgency to get back up to his feet as Jones as shown back in December, can finish the fight in a second.
In the co-main event, the welterweight title will be on the line as ‘The Chosen One’ Tyron Woodley will defend his crown against the streaking Kamaru Usman. Woodley is looking to defend his title for the 5th time after taking out some of the division’s top names. Usman, on the other hand, is riding a 13 fight win streak and is one of the most feared fighters in the promotion. His win over Rafael Dos Anjos back in November proved to the UFC that he is worthy of this title shot. Defeating a fighter of RDA’s credentials was what earned him the biggest fight of his life. Whether he can top that on Saturday with a win, remains to be seen. Tyron Woodley is one of the most explosive fighters on the roster. At any time, he can turn a fight on its head as proven back in October 2018. Finishing Darren Till at UFC 228 was a true high-point in the sense that he finally turned in a high-profile performance that showed him utilising every part of his game. Many had criticised Woodley for his disciplined displays against the division’s specialists Stephen Thompson and Damien Maia. However, when he was faced with the most dangerous striker in the 170lbs division, he rose to the occasion and answered his critics with a brutal beating.
Robbie Lawler will return after a 14-month layoff against Ben Askren. Askren will make his long-awaited UFC debut this weekend in a classic Striker vs Grappler matchup. Lawler an ex UFC Welterweight champion, is a knockout artist known for his savage attacks, sharp counter punches and power kicks. The fight against Rory MacDonald back at UFC 189 in July 2015 is still to this day regarded as the greatest UFC fight of all time. Askren, meanwhile, has dominated promotions like Bellator and ONE FC. He is still undefeated and a former titleholder in both organizations, Askren’s ability to chain wrestle offensively and defensively is perhaps unmatched in mixed martial arts (MMA). But the main question will be answered this weekend; How good is Ben Askren?
Two strawweight fighters will go to war this Saturday as Teica Torres will square off against Weili Zhang. In 2017, Torres was on a 3 fight win streak and on her way to a title shot at 115lbs. She then came up against 2 of the divisions best with losses against Jessica Andrade and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Zhang last fought in November, submitting Jessica Aguilar in a dominating fashion. It was so dominating that the unranked Chinese strawweight has been immediately raised from the undercard for a highly-regarded opponent in Torres. This is a difficult matchup for Torres, as Zhang is an athletic kickboxer with a good MMA experience too. However, Torres does have a major advantage in that she’s faced a much higher level of competition.
Flashback to UFC 207, December 2017 in Las Vegas, Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt dominated Dominick Cruz to claim the UFC Bantamweight Title. Garbrandt then came up short in a pair of bouts with arch-rival T.J. Dillashaw in 2018 to bring his record to 11-2. Now looking to rebound for the first time in his career, Cody will fight in a non-five round fight for the first time since 2016. He will face off against Pedro Munhoz. The Brazilian has really come into a rich vein of form of late, winning six of seven fights and establishing himself as a top contender. A win over Garbrandt would put Munhoz potentially just 1 fight away from a title shot at 135lbs. Garbrandt is an exceptional athlete. The 27-year-old has unique speed and power for the Bantamweight division. Munhoz is a well-rounded fighter best known for his aggressive Muay Thai and his guillotine chokes.
UFC 235 promises to be a fantastic night of action with 2 belts up for grabs.
Main Card: 10 p.m ET
(C) Jon Jon vs Anthony Smith- Light Heavyweight Championship
(C) Tyron Woodley vs Kamaru Usman- Welterweight Championship
Robbie Lawler vs Ben Askren- Welterweight
Tecia Torres vs Weili Zhang- Women’s Strawweight
Cody Garbrandt vs Pedro Munhoz- Bantamweight
Prelims: (ESPN) 8 p.m. ET
Jeremy Stephens vs Zabit Magomedsharipov- Featherweight
Misha Cirkunov vs Johnny Walker- Light Heavyweight
Cody Stamann vs Alejandro Perez- Bantamweight
Diego Sanchez vs Mickey Gall- Welterweight
Fight Pass Prelims: (UFC Fight Pass) 6:30 p.m. ET
Edmen Shahbazyan vs Charles Byrd- Middleweight
Gina Mazany vs Macy Chiasson- Women’s Bantamweight
Polyana Viana vs Hannah Cifers- Women’s Strawweight