UFC 231: Preview and Predictions
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Friday, December 7, 2018
Saturday night live on pay-per-view, the UFC bring an exciting card to Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada. The event will be headlined by the UFC featherweight championship fight between reigning champion Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway and Brian ‘T-City’ Ortega, and Valentina ‘Bullet’ Schevchenko taking on former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the vacant UFC women’s flyweight championship. Other bouts on the card include: Alex Oliveira vs Gunnar Nelson at welterweight, Hakeem Dawodu vs Kyle Bochniak at featherweight, and Jimi Manuwa vs Thiago Santos at light-heavyweight.
UFC Featherweight Championship: Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway (c) vs Brian ‘T-City’ Ortega
One of the most highly anticipated featherweight bouts in UFC history main events Saturday’s card when the undefeated Brian Ortega finally gets his title shot against the champion Max Holloway. The two were originally scheduled to fight in July at UFC 226 however, Holloway was forced to withdraw from the card because of concussion-like symptoms.
This fight is very intriguing because both are coming off impressive victories. Ortega recently fought Frankie Edgar at UFC 222 in March, where he defeated the former UFC lightweight champion by a vicious first round knockout to earn him a title shot at Holloway.
The champion Max Holloway on the other hand is coming off back-to-back title defenses over former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who is considered by many as the greatest featherweight fighter of all-time.
The fighting styles both these fighters will surely bring some excitement into the main-event. Ortega is a black-belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under the Gracies which will pose many problems for the champion if the fight goes to the ground and as seen in his fight with Edgar, Ortega does have knockout power. Holloway has been a resilient fighter in the octagon, with 9-of his-19 wins coming via knockout and 8-decision wins.
Prediction: Max Holloway retains
UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship: Valentina Shevchenko vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk
The co-main event will crown a new UFC women’s flyweight champion after former champion Nicco Montano failed to make weight for her title defense with Shevchenko.
Both women are no stranger to competing with one another as this will be their fourth fight with each other. They had previously fought in muay thai and kickboxing, all of which went to a decision and won by Shevchenko. Joanna has had much more success in the UFC; she is a former UFC strawweight champion and defended her title six-times. Although Shevchenko has the same number of wins, 15, she couldn’t capture a UFC title when she had her opportunity against Amanda Nunes.
Since Shevchenko fought at bantamweight in the past, she will probably be the bigger fighter when they eventually meet in the octagon. Taking both skillsets into account, this will also likely be a stand-up fight with Shevchenko looking to use her past victories as an advantage.
Even though Shevchenko will be the favorite heading into this fight, I feel that Joanna will pull of the upset and finally get a victory over Shevchenko and add another UFC championship to her resume.
Prediction: Joanna Jedrzejczyk wins
Light-Heavyweight bout: Jimi Manuwa vs Thiago Santos
The card will be starting off strong as the light-heavyweight bout between Jimi Manuwa and Thiago Santos is expected to open the pay-per-view. These two fighters were originally scheduled to fight at UFC Fight Night 137, when Santos stepped in to replace Glover Teixeira, but Manuwa also ended up being forced off the card due to injury and was replaced by Erik Anders.
Santos had an impressive showing in that fight and was victorious by referee stoppage when Anders failed to make it to his corner. After that performance, the UFC set up Santos vs Manuwa for UFC 231, which is now a very important fight for both.
Manuwa is coming into this fight on a two-fight losing streak; he was defeated by Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 214 and Jan Blachowicz at UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs Volkov. A loss for Manuwa could put his UFC tenure in jeopardy because that would extend his losing streak to three-fights.
This will be Thiago Santos’ fifth fight in 2018; he defeated top-ranked light-heavyweight Anthony Smith, lost to David Branch at middleweight, and now is on a two-fight win streak with wins over Kevin Holland and Erik Anders.
Prediction: Thiago Santos wins
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Photo Credit: @UFC