History is sure to be made on Saturday, March 2, when one of the most anticipated events makes its way to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
At UFC 235, Jon Jones will make a quick turnaround when he puts his light heavyweight title on the line against Anthony Smith. With these fighters set to collide, there is potential that this scrap could go down as one of the greatest light heavyweight fights of all-time. Smith has been perfect since moving up to 205-pounds.
The co-main event of UFC 235 is probably one of the best matchups at welterweight, where world champion, Tyron Woodley puts his belt on the line against the Nigerian, Kamaru Usman. Both men are very similar in their fighting styles. Usman comes into his championship opportunity riding an 11-fight win streak. Meanwhile, the champ will be looking to defend his title for the fourth time. With a win from Woodley, it would be one of the most impressive title reigns at welterweight since Georges St. Pierre.
The prelims also feature fights like Jeremy Stevens as he faces the Russian prospect, Zabit Magomedsharipov. The matchup is one to watch with Max Holloway moving up to challenge for the lightweight title, likely leaving the featherweight belt open for the taking. Misha Cirkunov takes on Johnny Walker who makes a very quick turnaround looking to make a name for himself against top-level talent. Even the early prelims feature fighters like Edmen Shahbazyan and Macy Chiasson who will look to become household names of the UFC in the near future.
Check out our UFC 235 staff predictions:
Cody Garbrandt (#2) vs Pedro Munhoz (#8) (Bantamweight)
Hiram: This is such a great fight for Garbrandt to come back to after losing back-to-back fights to the champ, TJ Dillashaw. Garbrandt is still considered by many to be one of the top bantamweights in the world. Garbrandt looked his best in the destruction of Dominick Cruz to win his first title. This will never go unnoticed and should never be forgotten. Munhoz on the other hand is 4-1 in his last five fights, and his last loss was to John Dodson a year ago, via split decision. I expect to see Garbrandt back to fighting at his prime, and hope to see new things as well.
Cody Garbrandt def. Pedro Munhoz via KO in round 2.
Connor: It will be good to see Cody Garbrandt back in the saddle after two heartbreaking losses to TJ Dillashaw. Garbrant just let the emotion of the fights with TJ get the best of him, and he says he is having fun again with training and fighting in general. I believe we will see the best version of Garbrandt yet in this fight now that he is able to focus on the fight and not the disdain he has for his opponent. This should be a fight to get back on track, but Munhoz looks to break into the discussion for a chance at the belt with what would be the biggest win in his UFC career. Munhoz has a deadly ground game that Garbrandt will have to be weary of, as he should look to keep the fight on the feet where he will clearly have the advantage over Munhoz.
Cody Garbrandt def. Pedro Munhoz via KO in round 1.
Tecia Torres (#7) vs Weili Zhang (Strawweight)
Hiram: Tecia Torres is currently riding a two-fight losing streak to former strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and perennial strawweight title challenger Jessica Andrade. Zhang has almost a perfect record with only one loss. The strawweight is looking to make a jump in the ranking by beating the “Tiny Tornado”. Styles makes fights and I feel that this fight benefits Torres’ style.
Tecia Torres def. Weili Zhang via split decision.
Connor: This is a tough fight to predict, both fighters are highly skilled and have plenty of MMA experience. Torres has a longer tenure in the UFC than Zhang, but Zhang is 18-1 with her first loss being in her MMA debut. She has won by KO and by submission, and looks dangerous every time she fights. Pair that with Torres being in a bit of a slump as of late, and Zhang has a perfect chance to slingshot herself into the rankings at strawweight. Torres tends to be a decision fighter, but Zhang is a finisher.
Weili Zhang def. Tecia Torres via KO in round 2
Robbie Lawler (#6) vs Ben Askren (Welterweight)
Hiram: For the first time, Ben Askren will make his long-awaited walk to the Octagon. Askren will take on one of the most violent men in the UFC welterweight division, and maybe the UFC altogether, Robbie Lawler. There is no warmup for Askren in his octagon debut. There may not be tougher fighter in the UFC than Lawler. This fight will go one of two ways, either Askren will out-wrestle Lawler, or Lawler will be able to stop the take down and punish Askren on the feet.
Ben Askren def. Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision.
Connor: Ben Askren was traded from ONE Championship to the UFC in exchange for Demetrious Johnson, a move that shocked the MMA world. To my knowledge, this had never happened before, but it was a smart move as both fighters had cleared out all the competition in their respective promotions. Johnson lost and was traded almost immediately, but now Askren gets to take on a whole new talent pool and see if his skill set is at the level that he believes it is. Askren said he wanted to fight the best in the world, and Robbie Lawler is in that category. No warm up, no tune up, Askren asked for the best, so that is what the UFC gave him to start. Lawler is one of the toughest fighters in the UFC, if you do not believe me, watch his fight with Rory MacDonald. This fight will show exactly how good Askren actually is. I think Lawler hurts Askren in this fight, but the fight will end up on the ground, which is Askren’s world.
Ben Askren def. Robbie Lawler via submission in round 3.
Tyron Woodley (C) vs Kamaru Usman (#2) (Welterweight)
Hiram: Considered one of the most anticipated fights of the year so far, this co-main event should be nothing less than amazing. Both these men are very well matched and this will not be a walk in the park for either men. Both of these fighters will have to bring their best, I just feel Woodley is a step ahead of Usman.
Tyron Woodley def. Kamaru Usman via TKO in round 4.
Connor: I am unsure if it is smart to doubt Woodley. Woodley has shown that he can win a fight any way he has too. He does not let the fans dictate the fight, and he sticks to his game plan. Watching just Woodley’s title fights; he has shown the ability to end the fight with his right hand, outlast his opponent, outscore them, and submit his opponent. Usman is on quite the winning streak that has now reached 13. Usman has the ability to KO anyone who does not get out of the way, and controls where the fight goes with his wrestling skills. This should be a fight to remember.
Tyron Woodley def. Kamaru Usman via unanimous decision.
Jon Jones (C) vs Anthony Smith (#3) (Light Heavyweight)
Hiram: This is such an amazing fight for the light heavyweight division. Although the odds makers are not giving Anthony Smith much of a chance, anyone who understands fighting knows that Smith could be one of the most dangerous fighters Jones has faced. Smith has nothing to lose, and he has true knockout power to match his dangerous ground game. Jones will study Smith and has said he does not take him lightly. From what I have seen from Jones last fight, he looks like he is in his prime he is ready for the second half of his career. I truly believe Jones will make another long run defending his belt.
Jon Jones def. Anthony Smith via unanimous decision.
Connor: I knew this fight would happen. Smith has risen to stardom in the 205-pound division in a short period of time. This will be the toughest test of his career as he faces maybe the best fighter in UFC history. Jones looked to get off to a slow start in his last fight, but eventually found his rhythm, took the fight where he wanted to, and finished the fight. Jones showed that he is picking back up right where he left off, but Smith has the ability to finish the fight wherever it goes. Jones has taken notice and I believe he will come into the fight with a great game plan.
Jon Jones def. Anthony Smith via KO in round 3.