Saturday is the UFC’s next pay-per-view event, held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where bantamweight king TJ Dillashaw will square off against Cody Garbrandt in a rematch, while Demetrious Johnson looks to extend his string of record-shattering title defenses to 12 in the flyweight division.
Co-main Events – PPV
Top bantamweight contender Garbrandt erased the aura of invincibility surrounding then-bantamweight champion Dominik Cruz in December 2016 when he claimed a unanimous decision victory as well as the bantamweight title. It was a monumental win as Cruz had not lost in nearly a decade, but Garbrandt’s reign was shorter than a cup of coffee as he would proceed to get knocked out in his first title defense by the man he meets again at UFC 227, Dillashaw.
This rematch has all the makings of another stylistic chess match, and the bad blood between the two makes it all the more compelling. Dillashaw is a master technician and has more weapons in his arsenal than Garbrandt. But it should also be noted that for every switch-kick, baiting feint, and stance change that Dillashaw employed in the first match, Garbrandt was equally as masterful in pivoting away at precisely the right time and using his scintillating speed to connect when those rare opportunities availed themselves.
Looking back at their first encounter, Garbrandt kept his composure throughout much of the first round despite looking tense, coiled and in breathless anticipation of unleashing his sledgehammer right, while Dillashaw attacked using angles and whip kicks that Garbrandt mostly parried with skilled precision. However, the battle between two of the hardest hitters at 135 would end suddenly when Dillashaw, having gotten thumped by Garbrandt’s right-counter shot at the very end of the opening round, heeded his coach’s advice at the break and began to fire away without taking such great pains to set up every combination and kick. As Garbrandt took more hits he began to ignore the discipline that won him the first round and was bent on engaging. Ultimately, it was a right counter-cross that nailed No Love and that same right hand continued to assail the soon-to-be-ex-champ before the ref waved it off.
If there is ever such a thing as a good loss then Garbrandt was the unwilling recipient of it when he was starched by Dillashaw. Now that he is in the role of challenger and has had the opportunity to experience a master tactician like Dillashaw, his extraordinary power and stunning speed could come to bear in this rematch. Garbrandt deftly handled Dillashaw’s switches, feints, angles, and assorted shenanigans in the first round before he succumbed to his own primal instincts to maul his opponent in the second. It’s the difference between holding your golf driver the right way, keeping your head down, and stroking cleanly as opposed to grabbing the grip baseball style, taking a running start and swinging for the fences.
Expect Garbrandt to be disciplined throughout in the rematch and use his bone-crushing power to exploit Dillashaw’s openings when the time arrives. A quick click over to Sportsbook Review, the one site that features the latest odds from all the best online sportsbooks, tells us that the major offshore sites are dealing the champ Dillashaw as a slight favorite (-120/+100 ) over the challenger Garbrandt.
Little did Dana White know when he created the UFC’s flyweight division that he was simultaneously paving the way for a legend-in-the-making. Johnson has never lost at 125 pounds and will be gunning for his 12th straight successful title defense. His opponent, Cejudo, is an Olympic gold medal wrestler who sustained his first and only MMA knockout at the hands, or more accurately, the knees, of the champion over two years ago. Cejudo’s three subsequent fights after his defeat to Johnson included a split decision loss to Joseph Benavidez, a TKO win over Wilson Reis, and a unanimous decision victory over Sergio Pettis in December.
It appears that no one in the flyweight division can touch Mighty Mouse. Johnson is freakishly athletic and has more tools than a Swiss Army knife in which to dispatch his opponents. Oftentimes we see fights going to the judges’ scorecards in the lighter divisions, but Johnson’s heavy hands, withering Muay Thai, and sublime submission skills don’t obey the rules. Over his last 10 fights, seven have been won by either knockout or tapout. It doesn’t appear the oddsmakers are swooning over Cejudo after his KO victory over the legendary Wilson Reis and the UD against Pettis because Sportsbook Review is showing that the best online sportsbooks in the industry are dealing Mighty Mouse as a -500 favorite with a return of +400 on the challenger.
Main Card – PPV
Middleweight – Thiago Santos vs. Kevin Holland
Women’s Strawweight- Polyana Viana vs. JJ Aldrich
Featherweight – Cub Swanson vs. Renato Moicano
Preliminary Card – FX
Bantamweight – Pedro Munhoz vs. Brett Johns
Bantamweight – Ricky Simon vs. Montel Jackson
Women’s Bantamweight – Bethe Correia vs. Irene Aldana
Featherweight – Matt Sayles vs. Sheymon Moraes
Preliminary Card – UFC Fight Pass
Flyweight – Jose Torres vs. Alex Perez
Bantamweight- Ricardo Ramos vs. Kyung Ho Kang
Women’s Strawweight – Danielle Taylor vs. Zhang Weili
Bantamweight – Marlon Vera vs. Wuliji Buren