While everyone was sweating over whether Darren Till would make the 170 lbs limit, no one thought to look over to check the women’s flyweight champion.
In all too frequent fashion, on the eve of a UFC event, the PPV co-main has been scrapped following Nicco Montano’s failed weight cut. With Valentina Shevchenko removed from the card and set to vie for the now vacant title, UFC 228 has unequivocally had some of its shine taken away.
Nevertheless, in the main event of UFC 228, a vitally important welterweight title fight is set to take place between Tyron Woodley and his Scouse challenger Darren Till. A win for Woodley and the 36-year old would undoubtedly become a pound-for-pound great while a win for Till could see the birth of a new star for the UFC.
Elsewhere at the Dallas, Texas event, there are a host of really intriguing match-ups in the lighter weight classes. From preliminary bouts like Aljamain Sterling vs Cody Stamann and Tatiana Suarez vs Carla Esparza to main card contests like Jessica Andrade vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz, UFC 228 is a must-watch event that could dictate the future of the UFC.
Tyron Woodley (18-3-1) vs Darren Till (17-0-1)
This fight really could play out two ways. It could easily be a tentative feeling out process for five rounds or it could burst into life and be a back-and-forth war.
In the champion Tyron Woodley, you have a fighter who is criminally underrated and criminally underappreciated by his own promotion. With a resume filled with some of the best fighters in welterweight history, Woodley has held the title for over two years and imposed his game plan of reducing risk on pretty much all of them.
With Darren Till however, you have another upcoming martial artist who is phenomenal in his discipline as opposed to being incredibly well-rounded. With his already favourable physical tools, Till’s use of his long frame and power help him to dominate the cage his bouts. With a more busy output than Woodley, you would expect Till to once again try to boss his opponent with his trademark set-ups.
It’s a really tough fight to pick but with the experience and fight IQ that Woodley has, I struggle to see Woodley having a performance similar to his last loss at the hands of Rory MacDonald. With the threat of the takedown, I think Woodley would be wise to test Till’s ability to keep the fight standing and that will be his key to victory.
Pick: Tyron Woodley
Jessica Andrade (18-6) vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-2)
Andrade vs Kowalkiewicz does seem to set to be a classic brawler vs technical-savvy stand-up battle.
Andrade has made a habit out of walking down her opponent, battering in hooks and using her physicality in the clinch to dominate proceedings.
Kowalkiewicz is deceptively strong in the clinch to her credit but her strengths do lie in pumping out her jab and keeping the striking battle within her wheelhouse.
This should be a good fight but Kowalkiewicz has struggled with effective pressure and Jessica Andrade may be the best in the division at imposing her will. In a three-round fight as well, you have to favour Andrade to repeat a performance similar to the one she put in against Claudia Gadelha.
Pick: Jessica Andrade
Zabit Magomedsharipov (15-1) vs Brandon Davis (9-5)
With Brandon Davis as game as Kyle Bochniak, I think this fight will resemble Zabit’s last outing in that it’ll be a really fun watch.
Despite Davis’ gameness, however, Magomedsharipov is a different level to his opponent and should really coast to victory here.
His striking is better, his ground game is excellent and he has had a full camp while Davis entered this bout on short notice.
Pick: Zabit Magomedsharipov
Jimmie Rivera (21-2) vs John Dodson (20-9)
For all of Dodson’s speed, he rarely uses it to major success. With little output or variety to his striking, I think his ability to win fights boils down to his elusiveness and footspeed which is amongst the very best at bantamweight.
Rivera meanwhile will enter this bout off of a devastating knockout to Marlon Moraes so it will be interesting to see how he rebounds.
With Rivera possessing a very decent ability to counter, I think Rivera will be able to find his timing against Dodson and have the deeper bag of tricks to pull from to find a way to win.
Pick: Jimmie Rivera
Abdul Razak Alhassan (9-1) vs Niko Price (12-1, 1 NC)
This is such a good fight to open up the main card.
Both guys have big power and know how to finish fights.
While Alhassan is a little crisper in his stand-up out of the two, Price can keep his finishing ability later into the fight.
The longer this fight goes, the more it tips in favour of Price but I think Alhassan’s speed can capitalise on openings early on.
Pick: Abdul Razak Alhassan
(Last Predictions: 4/6, Total: 73/123, 59% Success Rate)
(2017: 60% Success Rate)