The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC 235 on Saturday night. In the main event, Jon Jones puts his light heavyweight championship on the line when takes on Anthony Smith. It’s a quick turnaround for Jones considering he just beat Alexander Gustafsson for the title on December 29th.
Anthony Smith enters Saturday’s fight riding a three-fight win streak and winner of six of his last seven fights. Smith’s most recent victory was at UFC Fight Night 138 where he subbed Volkan Oezdemir. The thirty-year-old makes the walk for the forty-fifth time. He has twenty-eight finishes in his thirty-one career wins.
In the co-main Tyron Woodley puts his welterweight championship on the line when he faces Kamaru Usman. Woodley is 6-0 with one draw in his previous seven. He last fought at UFC 228 where he subbed Darren Till in the second round. The thirty-six-year-old welterweight champion has finished twelve of his opponents in nineteen career wins. Woodley has faced and beaten the best welterweights in the world including Kelvin Gastelum, Robbie Lawler, Damien Maia, Carlos Condit, Stephen Thompson, and the aforementioned Till. On Saturday night he looks to add Usman to his growing list.
Kamaru Usman is on a tear. He is 9-0 under the UFC umbrella with wins over Warlley Alves, Emil Meek, Damien Maia and most recently, Rafael dos Anjos. Of the thirty-one’s fourteen career wins, seven went to the judge’s scorecards.
Ben Askren makes his UFC debut against longtime UFC veteran, Robbie Lawler. Askren makes the jump to the UFC from ONE Championship where he went 6-0. In fact, the thirty-four-year-old has yet to taste defeat in his career. Eleven of his eighteen wins ended inside the distance.
After winning five fights in a row, Lawler is 1-2 in his previous three. The two losses were against Tyron Woodley and Rafael dos Anjos with the win coming against Donald Cerrone. At thirty-six years old “Ruthless” makes the walk for the forty-first time. He has twenty-one finishes in twenty-eight career wins.
Also on the card, Tecia Torres takes on Weili Zhang and Cody Garbrandt returns to action after back-to-back knockout losses to TJ Dillashaw to take on Pedro Munhoz. UFC 235 is a stacked card with intriguing match-ups from the main card and throughout the prelims.
Note: The predictions in this column do not necessarily mean that I will be betting them. I have changed my mind in the past and gone the other way after conducting more research. For all of my official bets follow me on Twitter @MichaelGrocke.
Jon Jones (23-1) vs. Anthony Smith (31-13) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.
Current Odds: Jones -845; Smith +665
Pick: Jones by (T)KO
Tyron Woodley (19-3-1) vs. Kamaru Usman (14-1) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Woodley -155; Usman +135
Pick: Woodley by (T)KO
Robbie Lawler (28-12) vs. Ben Askren (18-0) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Askren -250; Lawler +230
Pick: Askren by Decision, however, I think there is value in Lawler at these odds. I’m not a believer in Askren, but I’m also not sure which Robbie Lawler we’re going to get.
Tecia Torres (10-3) vs. Weili Zhang (18-1) – Strawweight 115 lbs.
Current Odds: Zhang -130; Torres +110
Pick: Torres by Decision, but this more by heart.
Cody Garbrandt (11-2) vs. Pedro Munhoz (17-3) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
Current Odds: Garbrandt -140; Munhoz +120
Pick: Garbrandt by (T)KO
Jeremy Stephens (28-15) vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov (16-1) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: Magomedsharipov -245; Stephens +225
Pick: Magomedsharipov by Submission
Misha Cirkunov (14-4) vs. Johnny Walker (16-3) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.
Current Odds: Walker -150; Cirkunov +130
Pick: Walker by (T)KO with little confidence.
Cody Stamann (17-2) vs. Alejandro Perez (21-6-1) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
Current Odds: Stamann -200; Perez +170
Pick: Stamann by (T)KO
Diego Sanchez (28-11) vs. Mickey Gall (5-1) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Gall -225; Sanchez +205
Pick: Sanchez by Decision
Edmen Shahbazyan (8-0) vs. Charles Byrd (10-5) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
Current Odds: Shahbazyan -140; Byrd +120
Pick: Byrd by Decision, but I wouldn’t go to the window on this one.
Gina Mazany (5-2) vs. Macy Chiasson (3-0) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
Current Odds: Chiasson -500; Mazany +400
Pick: Chiasson by (T)KO
Polyana Viana (10-2) vs. Hannah Cifers (8-3) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Current Odds: Viana -250; Cifers +230
Pick: Viana by Decision
Enjoy the fights!