UFC 235: Jones vs. Smith preview

By Christian Moore, MMATorch Contributor

UFC 235: Jones vs Smith Preview


Fight #1: Women’s Strawweight– Polyana Vianna vs Hannah Cifers

Fight #2: Women’s Bantamweight– Gina Mazany vs Macy Chiasson

Fight #3: Middleweight– Edmen Shahbazyan vs Charles Byrd


Fight #4: Welterweight– Diego Sanchez vs Mickey Gall

Fight #5: Bantamweight– (#12) Cody Stamann vs (#13) Alejandro Perez

Co-Main Event: Light Heavyweight– (#14) Misha Cirkunov vs (#15) Johnny Walker

In the first huge fight on the card, we see Misha Cirkunov facing rising star Johnny Walker. Cirkunov who is coming off a win, having a 1-2 record in his last 3 is seen as by many a sacrificial lamb for Johnny Walker. Walker currently holds an 8 fight win streak, with a 2-0 record in the UFC. Walker, who debuted on short notice in November of last year has risen up the rankings quicker than his fights. His last 2 fights have gone only 2:12, with his last fight lasting just 15 seconds. A win for Cirkunov at this point could save his job, as he seems on the bubble, while a win for Walker puts him 1-2 wins away from a title fight this year, so while they fight for different purposes, both need this win.

Betting Odds: Misha Cirkunov (+110) vs Johnny Walker (-130)

Main Event: Featherweight– (#6) Jeremy Stephens vs (#13) Zabit Magomedsharipov

In our feature bout, we see a fight that belongs on the main card, possibly even in a co-main spot on certain cards. But on this loaded card, the main event the prelim card. We see KO artist Jeremy Stephens coming off a loss to Jose Aldo, facing possibly the UFC’s top prospect in Zabit Magomedsharipov who rides a 12 fight winning streak, being 4-0 in the UFC. Despite the betting gap between the two with Zabit being a favorite by a mile, this seems like a usual Jeremy Stephens fight. Stephens steps in against a prospect destined to beat him, only for Stephens to KO his opponent rather quickly. Although Stephens comes off of a loss, he held a 3 fight winning streak prior stopping prospects Doo Ho Choi and Josh Emmet. So while Zabit does have the hype, and a great possibility to defeat Stephens, don’t count out Jeremy Stephens too much, as he’s been here many times before.

Betting Odds: Jeremy Stephens (+205) vs Zabit Magomedsharipov (-245)


Fight #8: Bantamweight –  (#2) Cody Garbrandt vs (#9) Pedro Munhoz

In the fight to kick off the main card, we see the former Bantamweight Champion, Cody Garbrandt, versus a rising Bantamweight contender in Pedro Munoz. In Garbrandt, we have the only man not named Uriah Faber to defeat the Bantamweight G.O.A.T Dominick Cruz, handing Cruz his first loss in almost a decade. Now, Garbrandt rides a 2 fight losing streak, being KO’d by the “technical” champion TJ Dillashaw in back to back fights. Pedro Munhoz, on the other hand, holds a 2 fight winning streak. So the story looks like a beaten down champ versus the man to take his ranking, but the story is wrong. Cody is actually 5 years the younger of his opponent but should be able to get the win with his superior striking and grappling, but Munhoz isn’t just a feed um’ opponent, as he could get the win, because TJ did show the possible winning formula against Garbrandt.

Betting Odds:  Cody Garbrandt(-165) vs Pedro Munhoz (+145)

Fight #9: Women’s Strawweight– (#7) Tecia Torres vs (#15) Weili Zhang

In our next fight, we see two MMA veterans in Tecia Torres and Weili Zhang. Torres rides a 2 fight winning streak, although her losses come to the best of the best, while Zhang remains unbeaten since her first fight. Although statistics lead towards the hotter fighter in Zhang, Torres has more experience than almost anyone in the division, with her only losses coming at the hands of the best in Namajunas, Andrade, and Joanna. Zhang hasn’t seen an opponent with this much talent, and with Torres needing a win, she could be more dangerous then we’ve seen her. A win for either puts both just 1 win away from a title fight. This is without a doubt the biggest fight this division will see this year so far besides the upcoming Namajunas/Andrade fight.

Betting Odds: Tecia Torres (+105) vs Weili Zhang (-125)

Fight #10: Welterweight– (#6) Robbie Lawler vs (NR) Ben Askren

So here we go. The first MASSIVE fight on the card. For people not familiar with MMA outside of the UFC, you may have no clue who Ben Askren, other than that the UFC traded DJ for him. Askren who is possibly the greatest current fighter not to step foot in the UFC, sees his time come, and his undefeated record put on the line in perhaps the toughest 1st fight draw anyone in the UFC has ever had in their first fight in Robbie Lawler. Lawler who is as much as a grizzled UFC vet as anyone, currently sees himself losing 2 of his last 3 fight, losing his last fight to RDA, but he isn’t out of it yet. this is a tough fight for both, as in Askren, Robbie faces a man who could easily toss him around for 15 minutes, as possibly the greatest grappler Lawler has ever faced. In Lawler, Askren gets the best striker of his career, with someone who could KO him at any point. A win for either doesn’t get a title shot but puts them next for Kamaru Usman if he loses, or a Stephen Thompson type fighter next.

Betting Odds: Robbie Lawler (+240) vs Ben Askren (-280)

Co-Main Event: WELTERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP- Tyron Woodley (c) vs (#2) Kamaru Usman

Here we go with the first title fight on the card with the current longest reigning UFC champion Tyron Woodley facing a difficult task in Kamaru Usman. Usman who rides a 13 fight winning streak, being unbeaten in the UFC, comes off a 1 sided beating against RDA. Usman has seemed to follow in the footsteps of #1 ranked Welterweight Colby Covington, facing Covington’s previous opponent, and beating them just a little bit better, that being the reason he jumped Covington. He draws one of the best fighters in UFC and second greatest welterweight of all time in Tyron Woodley. The champ rides a 3 fight winning streak, and a 7 fight unbeaten streak beating all of the best in the Welterweight division, except Covington and Usman. Woodley does see himself with a preparation advantage, seeing that he has prepped for an almost identical of Usman in Covington for almost a year now. Usman on the other hand last saw himself against a striker that he could toss around. Usman doesn’t stand a chance on the feet, but may have the slightest of advantages on the ground, he would just have to find a way to get, and keep Woodley there. Woodley won’t be tossed around for 25 minutes like Usman’s former opponents, so Usman will have to pull something special to get the win, most likely starting by a lucky strike.

Betting Odds: Tyron Woodley (-175) vs Kamaru Usman (+155)


Main Event: LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP- Jon Jones (c) vs  (#3) Anthony Smith

And here it is! The main event of the evening in which we see the G.O.A.T challenge a contender given a 1% chance to win. Lets start with the contender, that being ‘Lionheart’ Anthony Smith. Smith who rides a 3 fight winning streak, and an unbeaten record at Light Heavyweight, seems to think he has the formula no one else has had against Bones. Smith has seen himself destroy 2 legends, and a top contender in Volkan in his last 3 fights, but now draws an opponent who is light-years better than any opponent he’s ever faced before. Enter Jon Jones. Jones, who has had a controversial few years that seem behind him now, rides a dominant win over top contender Alexander Gustafson to win the vacant Light Heavyweight crown. Jones has not lost in 14 fights, never really losing, his only “loss” being a controversial DQ stoppage. Jones who is a 3 time Light Heavyweight Champ, and 1 time Interim Champ, has never truly been tested. Jones has seen the best the sport has ever offered, going through all with ease most of the time. His list includes: Cormier x2, Gustafson x2, OSP, Glover, TMT Vitor, and Lyoto Machida just to name a few. Smith, who has seen defeat recently, in a lower division against Thiago Santos, seems to be at his best at LH, and although has never been tested like this before, seems to be counted out already. Smith doesn’t seem to stand a chance, having lesser striking, clinch, and ground game then the champ, but people seem to forget that it only takes one shot. Many times, the fights where the champ is to be the easy victor, is where the champ is brutally finished. Serra defeating GSP, Holm defeating Rousey, and most recently Nunes defeating Cyborg. “Unbeatable” champions time and time again, see them lose to those they aren’t supposed to lose too, so don’t count out Anthony Smith.

Betting Odds: Jon Jones (-850) vs Anthony Smith (+575)

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