UFC on ESPN+ 1 Cejudo vs Dillashaw – Flyweight Championship – Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, 19th Jan 2019
This Saturday’s event in Brooklyn, New York marks a new TV era for the UFC with a flyweight championship bout between Henry Cejudo (13-2) and TJ Dillashaw (16-3). The deal with ESPN has already had an impact on some UFC employees, most notably commentator Jimmy Smith, who did not receive a contract renewal after only 1 year with the company. Dana White will be hoping for a memorable night of fights to mark this new relationship with ESPN.
Main Event – Flyweight Championship Bout – Henry Cejudo vs TJ Dillashaw
Henry Cejudo enters Saturday’s main event bout with the weight of a division on his shoulders. A loss for him could be the final nail in the division’s coffin as TJ Dillashaw confirmed this week that he could care less about the division’s future.
In his last bout back in August 2018, Cejudo made history by beating Demetrious Johnson (27-3-1) for the flyweight title in his second attempt at the former champion. Now the Olympic gold medallist looks towards a new challenge in the form of TJ Dillashaw, the current bantamweight champion and TUF 14 finalist.
TJ has been very vocal about his desire to fight for the flyweight belt and join the elite club of double champions but has now expressed his plan to become the first 3 division champion in a live stream on his Instagram page. Discussing his plans for the future TJ vowed to “run through Cejudo” and look to move up and fight Max Holloway (20-3) for the featherweight strap. Whether or not Dana and the UFC would allow the bantamweight division to be at odds for such a length of time is yet to see, but crazier things have happened.
The striking competition will go to TJ who has incredible knockout power and an array of attacks, but the real interest will be whether TJ can compete with an elite wrestler of Cejudo’s class. Ironically, Cejudo is looking in fantastic shape and looks physically the strongest he has been so far in his career and a big question in this bout is just how much this new weight cut will be for TJ, who is already looking incredibly lean.
How will it go?
TJ’s footwork may well be the key to him winning this fight, his speed and ability to vary his attacks from striking to flash takedowns will be a lot for Cejudo to deal with in the early rounds but if Cejudo can score some early takedowns and start to grind the wind out of TJ he could show the world his win over DJ was no fluke.
My pick: TJ Dillashaw via 2nd Round KO.
Co-Main Event – Heavyweight Bout – Greg Hardy (3-0) vs Allen Crowder (9-3)
The inclusion of former NFL athlete Hardy in the UFC has been widely questioned and often condemned across the MMA community with both fans, fighters and journalists due to his history of domestic violence back in 2014. In a purely professional viewpoint, Hardy has been impressive in the cage by finishing all three of his opponents less than 1 minute into the first round via KO 2 of which under the DWTNCS lights.
Crowder is stepping up to face the UFC debutant Hardy after his own debut loss to Justin Willis (8-1) back at UFC 218. Crowder has a record complete with KO’s, submissions and decision wins and certainly brings a lot of experience into the cage. While Crowder has the experience advantage, it is tough to see past an early KO win for Hardy.
My pick: Greg Hardy via 1st Round TKO.
Other notable fights:
Gregor Gillespie (12-0) vs Yancy Medeiros (15-5): Gillespie is on an absolute tear coming into the highest profile fight of his young career. Finishing his last 4 fights look for Gregor to push the pace early and try to get Yancy out in impressive fashion. Medeiros on the other hand is making his return to lightweight after a short stint at welterweight culminating in a loss to Donald Cerrone (34-11). Always game to stand in a phone box and throw hands, this fight should be dynamite.
My pick: Gillespie via Decision.
Donald Cerrone vs Alex Hernandez: The aforementioned Cerrone is also making his return to lightweight from welterweight to take on the fired-up Hernandez. Cerrone is no stranger to fighting the young prospects accelerating through the ranks and Hernandez has been certainly showing the veteran no respect in the build-up to the fight.
My pick: Hernandez via 1st Round TKO.
Joanne Calderwood (12-3) vs Ariane Lipski (11-3): Scotland’s own JoJo takes on Lipski in this flyweight bout and will want to build on her 1st round submission win over Kalinda Faria (18-8-1) back in August 2018. Lipski, fighting in her UFC debut, earned her nickname of “The Violence Queen” from her spectacles in KSW and hasn’t suffered a loss since 2015. This fight could steal the show and will not be short of brutality.
My pick: JoJo via Decision.
What fight are you most looking forward to this Saturday? Did you agree with my picks? Let us know in the comments.