UFC 228 goes down next weekend from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, and features two great title fights at the top of the card with reigning welterweight champion Tyron Woodley taking on Darren Till as well as Nicco Montaño taking on Valentina Shevchenko for the women’s flyweight title. But, there are also a couple other compelling bouts on the main card that we’ll also breakdown below, starting from the top.
Tyron Woodley (c) vs. Darren Till
This is a very interesting bout between longtime champion Tyron Woodley taking on the surging young gun Darren Till to see who’s the man in the stacked welterweight division. Darren Till may very well be Woodley’s biggest challenge yet, both literally and figuratively as he is absolutely HUGE for the weight class and, hopefully, there are no weight issues this time around for Till. Woodley has been out for a while now due to a shoulder injury so ring rust may perhaps be an issue for the returning champion. Expect Woodley to go back to his wrestling roots in this one and expect Till to try his best to keep it on the feet.
Nicco Montaño (c) vs. Valentina Shevchenko
This is one of the rare examples in combat sports where the champion will be a pretty big underdog. Montaño was awarded the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight title after winning season 26 of the Ultimate Fighter, however, she only has 6 professional MMA bouts to her name with a modest 4-2 record to boot. Shevchenko, on the other hand, is coming down from bantamweight where she was one of the best fighters in the world at that weight and has way more experience than Montaño, both in MMA and high-level kickboxing. This one has mismatch written all over it but hopefully, Montaño makes a fight of it somehow.
Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Brandon Davis
If you’ve never heard of Zabit Magomedsharipov, you probably will after this card. Although Zabit’s original opponent, Yair Rodriguez (who had to pull out of the bout due to an injury), would have made for a much more compelling matchup, Brandon Davis is stepping up on relatively short notice and you’ve got to give him respect for that. As previously stated, Zabit is highly-touted and is fully expected to be a future title-contender at 145. Expect this to be a showcase fight for Zabit who will probably get a finish within the first 2 rounds.
Jéssica Andrade vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
This should be a very competitive fight between two of the very best at women’s strawweight in the UFC. Andrade is ranked 2nd in the world right now and Karolina is ranked 4th so whoever comes out on top in this bout will probably be challenging Rose Namajunas next for the title very soon. Andrade tends to be more of a brawler and Karolina more so of a technician so whoever is able to implement their gameplan more effectively will take this one. Expect this one to be a very close, fan-friendly fight that will probably go the distance.
Carla Esparza vs. Tatiana Suarez
Rounding out the main card is another women’s strawweight bout between former champion, Carla Esparza, taking on the undefeated TUF 23 tournament winner, Tatiana Suarez. Since losing her title to Joanna, Esparza has gone 3-2 and is currently coming off of a close split decision loss to Cláudia Gadelha. While Esparza has quite a bit more experience compared to her opponent here, Suarez has shown a lot of promise so far in her career and with a win over Esparza, she could very well place herself in the mix for a title shot at strawweight.