When Zuffa sold the UFC to WME for 4 billion dollars (yes with a B) fans knew the next important domino was a new tv contract. That came in the form of a 1 billion dollar tv deal with none other than the worldwide leader in sports, ESPN. And this weekend marks the debut of the world leader in MMA to showcase their athletes on the network. I know we all remember what happened the last time the UFC debuted on a new network.
So let’s get into the preview for UFC on ESPN+ 1, I am going to do this differently than the boxing previews because MMA is very different business wise from boxing (may or may not be hinting toward a future blog). I will not highlight every fight on the card, however I will preview the fights I feel have a story to tell.
Alexander Hernandez (10-1) vs. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (34-11, 1 NC)
This fight is headlining the prelims on ESPN and it is an absolute war. We have one of my all time favorite fighters in Cowboy, vs an up and comer who looks like a god damn greek god. Cerrone is a savvy veteran who has seen everything in the game, and is coming back down to 155 to prove he still has it. He is coming off basically breaking Mike Perry’s arm, and getting the all time lead in wins and finishes in the UFC. Hernandez is 2-0 in the UFC and looking to make a move up the rankings, after beating Olivier Aubin Mercier.
I think Hernandez will be too much for Cowboy as the fight goes along and win this in a decision.
Main Card on ESPN+ at 10ET/7PT
Glover Teixeira (27-7) vs. Karl Roberson (7-1)
This is another classic matchup of wily veteran vs up and comer. We all know Glover Teixeira mostly from his brutal knockouts at the hands of Rumble and Gus. However, he is still a great fighter who is tough as nails, and will still beat fighters who are not on his level. Roberson is a guy that won on Dana White’s Contender series and is now trying to reinvigorate the UFC Light Heavyweight division. He is stepping in here to face Glover on Short notice and that is a very tall task. The UFC would for sure like him to get a win in order to get some new blood at the top of 205 lbs.
I do not see that happening though as Glover will have a vintage performance and TKO Roberson in the second round.
Paige VanZant (7-4) vs. Rachel Ostovich (4-4)
I know you are looking at the records and thinking what is going on here, but if you know anything about these two, you know why they are placed here on the card.
They can absolutely fight and both are looking to get a shot at 125 champ Valentina Schevchenko. They still need some seasoning though, so I hope to see good improvements in both of their games here. The big story on this one is Ostovich fighting with everything going on her life.
I have VanZant in a Decision for this one.
Gregor Gillespie (12-0) vs. Yancy Medeiros (15-5, 1 NC)
This is an interesting fight in the lightweight division because Gillespie has been absolutely dominant to start his UFC career. He just wrestles people until they are gasping for air, and he continues to push. Yancy is a guy who always brings it and never is in a boring fight, so he will be a good litmus test for where Gillespie actually is.
I think Gillespie wins this again by probably beating the hell out of Yancy and submitting him at some point in the second round.
Greg Hardy (3-0) vs. Allen Crowder (9-3, 1 NC)
I am having a hard time writing about this co main event because of the situation with Greg Hardy. If you do not know the story, basically he was a star NFL player for the Cowboys who was accused but never convicted of major assault against his girlfriend. However, I will try and separate that and just talk about the fight itself. Clearly, the UFC is trying to build a new star here with a name brand athlete. He has been absolutely dominant in his 3 pro appearances (all first minute KO’s), and the hope for the UFC is he will do the same here. Allen Crowder is a name not many have heard of in the MMAsphere and that usually means he is a pig for slaughter.
Hardy by early and devastating KO.
Henry Cejudo (13-2) vs. TJ Dillashaw (16-3)
Our main event of the evening is a Superfight, Dillashaw the UFC Bantamweight (135 lbs.) Champion is coming down to face Cejudo, the UFC Flyweight (125 lbs.) Champion. He is trying to become the 7th double champ in UFC history, and he is doing it against an Olympic Gold Medalist. Dillashaw has always been an underdog, he knocked out PFP great Renan Barao twice and knocked out UFC golden boy Cody Garbrandt twice as well. He is one of the greatest fighters in the world right now (I have him at 6 in my PFP rankings).
Cejudo (number 9 in my PFP rankings) is a guy who came to MMA after Olympic wrestling and was rushed into a title show with Demetrious Johnson. Cejudo was knocked out in that fight, but came back a couple years later and beat Johnson by Split Decision (I thought he lost). So he is the champion of a division in flux. I believe if TJ wins this fight they will close the 125 lb. division because it was never truly promoted properly.
This is a massive fight with two of the most skilled Mixed Martial Artists in the World and I hope it delivers everything it promises too. I believe Dillashaw will be too skilled for Cejudo to overcome, and finish him by TKO in the third round.
That’s all folks, I hope you enjoy watching this great sport on the biggest sports network in the world!
*My pound for pound rankings can be found here.