The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to pay-per-view with UFC 227 live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
The card is headlined by two title fights in the flyweight and bantamweight division. It has suffered many cancellations with Alex Gustafsson vs Volkan Oezdemir and Bethe Correia vs Irene Aldana both falling through. Nevertheless, there is a great night of fights ahead.
We preview and predict the main card action below…
MAIN EVENT – UFC BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Bantamweight – TJ Dillashaw (C) (16-3) vs Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt (11-1)Embed from Getty Images
The main event of the evening sees two arch rivals collide as TJ Dillashaw rematches Cody Garbrandt for the bantamweight strap. The pair first met at UFC 217 in Madison Square Garden, with Dillashaw becoming a two-time UFC champion winning by knockout in the second round. Despite his victory, TJ was hurt badly in the first round but was saved by the bell.
Many feel an immediate rematch was the wrong move to make but ‘No Love’ will be over the moon he has another chance to regain his gold. The first fight showed these two fighters were evenly matched and one small mistake will be punished. One wrong move and the fight could go either way.
Given the strengths of both men, it’s tough to pick a winner. Dillashaw is the smarter fighter, but Garbrandt has the power to knock any bantamweight to the mat. I’m backing Dillashaw to retain his title by a late stoppage.
PREDICTION: Dillashaw via third-round knockout
CO-MAIN EVENT – UFC FLYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Flyweight – Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson (C) (27-2-1) vs Henry ‘The Messenger’ Cejudo (12-2)Embed from Getty Images
A rematch also takes place in the co-main event of the evening as Henry Cejudo takes another crack at dethroning the UFC’s flyweight king – Demetrious Johnson. ‘Mighty Mouse’ is the only man to have held a belt in the 125lb division and has defended his title a record 11 times. He is aiming to make it number 12 against the man he beat in under three minutes back in 2016.
Since then, Cejudo has made massive improvements as a mixed-martial-artist. After an impressive stoppage victory over Wilson Reis back in September, he became the number one contender by cruising to a decision win over the surging Sergio Pettis. Despite his improvements, he has a mountain to climb to defeat the champ.
Johnson is coming off two sensational armbar submissions and looks to be getting better with every fight. He has shown he can beat Cejudo in the past and should be able to get the job done again. A win here should set up a super fight with the winner of the main event.
PREDICTION: Johnson via unanimous decision
REST OF THE MAIN CARD
Featherweight – Cub Swanson (25-8) vs Renato Moicano (12-1-1)Embed from Getty Images
Rounding off the main card action is a featherweight tilt between Cub Swanson and Renato Moicano. Swanson is hoping to end his two-loss streak and put himself back into title contention. Both losses came against elite competition in the form of Brian Ortega and Frankie Edgar. Nevertheless, the 34-year-old could have another title run left in him.
He faces another tough test in the form of Brazilian submission specialist Moicano. Victory over Jeremy Stephens in April last year catapulted him into the featherweight rankings before his unbeaten record was taken by Ortega. He bounced back at UFC 223 with a decision win over Calvin Kattar.
This one is classic veteran versus prospect match up. Swanson has good kickboxing, but Moicano showed against Kattar that he could dissect his opponent with expert striking. He has a ground game to fall back on and should get his hand raised.
PREDICTION: Moicano via unanimous decision
Women’s Strawweight – Polyana ‘Dama de Ferro’ Viana (10-1) vs JJ Aldrich (6-2)Embed from Getty Images
Surprisingly taking place on the main card is women’s strawweight bout between Polyana Viana and JJ Aldrich. The fight was moved up the bout order following the many cancellations suffered in the months leading up to fight night.
Aldrich is a TUF veteran and is riding a two-fight win streak. Her last win came in January when she defeated Danielle Taylor via unanimous decision. She will rely heavily on her kickboxing to get the victory, but her takedown defence will be tested against a grappler like Viana.
The Brazilian made her UFC debut back in February where she won via rear-naked choke in the first round. She seems a real prospect in the 115lb weight class and has finished all of her career victories. However, the majority of her opponents have been nowhere near her level of talent, and the UFC will be a real test of her merit.
Nevertheless, her submission skills are evident. If she can take the fight to the ground early, she should get the stoppage.
PREDICTION: Viana via first-round submission
Middleweight – Thiago ‘de Lima Marreta’ Santos (17-5) vs Kevin ‘Trailblazer’ Holland (13-3)Embed from Getty Images
Kicking off the main card action is a middleweight bout between Thiago Santos and Kevin Holland. This fight was another put together following the many cancellations but still should be a scrap to get the fans off their seat.
Santos has devastating kicks and has four body kick finishes on his record. An April loss to David Branch snapped a four-fight win streak for the Brazilian, and he will be looking to return to winning ways in violent fashion.
Holland will make his UFC debut after failing to win a contract on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender series. He won his fight but did not do enough to earn a spot on the UFC roster. Injuries have given him a shot at redemption.
It’s a massive step up in competition for Holland, but he has nothing to lose. On the other hand, Santos could face a real fight to regain his place in the rankings if he is defeated. This one should be a true scrap; I’m backing Santos to take home an early knockout victory.
PREDICTION: Santos via first-round knockout