Jon Jones vs Who?
The baddest and possibly and most controversial man on the planet in MMA: Jon “Bones” Jones makes a quick return for UFC 235 to defend his Light Heavyweight belt against Anthony Smith. While Jones is certainly a house hold name, Smith is certainly not. This card is one of the rare UFC events that the main event may be the least exciting event on the card because the rest of this card is loaded with interesting fights.
The welterweight champion Tyron Woodley will finally return to defend his belt as well as fan favorites like Cody Garbrandt and Robbie Lawler also set to appear and help stack this main card for anyone who loves MMA. I think fans who love action but also can appreciate high-level mixed martial arts should spend their dollars and tune in for what should be an incredible card. No burger-meter this week so we’ll just get right into a fight predictions to hopefully help your bank accounts as I try to keep my winning streak going. Let’s get to the card:
Light heavyweight Title Fight (205 lbs)
Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (#3) vs Jon “Bones” Jones (Champion
Odds: Smith (+600) vs Jones (-750)
Prediction: How can you not root for Anthony Smith? He’s a once cut fighter who turned his career around, got picked back up by the promotion and has won 6 of his last 7 fights to get him a shot against the best in the world. Only 3 years ago this title shot vs Jon Jones was not only improbable it would have likely been ridiculous to Anthony Smith himself if he was being honest. However, here he is after wrecking his way through most of a relatively thin Light heavyweight division to earn his shot vs Jones. I like Smith, he hits hard and puts on a show for the fans; he just doesn’t have a chance against the best in the world. Jones is bigger, stronger, faster and more skilled at every possible turn against Smith.
This is a stay busy and show he can stay out of both legal & PED (despite the recent metabolite positive test) trouble. I expect him to make quick work of Smith as he prepares his jump to heavyweight in search of a fight against Brock Lesnar or a trilogy with current heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. Smith’s only chance is to blitzkrieg Jones from the opening bell and hope Jones either came in unprepared or gets caught be a big shot which he has had happen against other opponents. This fight should have fireworks early and end early too with Jones retaining his belt.
(Jones -750 / Under 1.5 rounds +140)
Welterweight Title Fight (170 lbs)
Kamaru “Nigerian Nightmare” Usman (#2) vs Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley
Odds: Usman (+145) vs Woodley(-175)
Prediction: It’s tough to know how much of MMA beef is real or fight hype fakery but it appears to most involved in this fight that Usman and Woodley do not enjoy one another. After months of social media back and forth, press conference spats, and insult hurling they’ll get to settle their ‘beef’ in the octagon for Woodley’s welterweight belt. Usman is a impressive contender who many have underestimated and come out embarrassed betting against him. He’s truly a complete package as a mixed martial artist, the only problem is he is likely facing the only man at 170lbs who is not only as well rounded as him but better at nearly every skill set even if only slightly.
Usman has decent but not great power and unless he can use his bigger frame to muscle Woodley which would be a huge surprise I just can’t find a way he beats Woodley. I cannot in good conscience pick a underdog unless I see a clear path to victory for him and Usman’s likely only path is via a decision against a guy he can’t knockout, submit, or out wrestle which means I can’t see him winning. Woodley is not necessary super well liked amongst fans or even his own promotion but he is a helluva a welterweight champion and I think he thrashes Usman over the course of 5 rounds to get a impressive unanimous decision and retain his belt.
(Woodley -175 / Over 4.5 rounds -110)
Ben Askren vs Robbie “Ruthless” Lawler (6th) (Welterweight 170 lbs)
Odds: Lawler (+210) vs Askren (-265)
Prediction: Ben Askren thinks pretty highly of himself; as do many in the MMA community despite him never fighting a consensus top 5 opponent in his career outside of the UFC. He’s a notoriously a phenomenal wrestler whose style is not for everyone but has proven effective having never lost in his 18 pro fights in other promotions. Askren believes he’s owed a title shot or a big money fight despite never having proven himself against truly elite competition. Fortunately, the UFC did not agree with Askren and wants to see him beat some legit talent before allowing him to call any shots against champions like Woodley or Nurmagomedov.
Instead of a current champion Askren gets a former one and a tough as hell Robbie Lawler as his first fight in the UFC. There are so many unknowns for both these men due to Askren having not fought against top tier talent and been outside the octagon since fall of 2017. Lawler is the ultimate warrior who will be Askren’s toughest test by far. There are several questions for Lawler: regarding how much does he have left in the tank after so many wars at 36 years old? Does he still possess the take down defense necessary to keep a pressure wrestler like Askren off him long enough to hurt him? He hasn’t fought in over a year will ring rust be a factor against an opponent looking to make a statement in his first career UFC fight?
I will not pretend I have the answers to these questions but I am confident in one thing; Robbie Lawler is going to be a tough out against whoever they put him in against.
I think the jump in talent might surprise Askren because beating top level guys in practice isn’t the same as doing it on fight night where some of the best fighters like Lawler find another switch to go to and find ways to win big fights. Askren may very well wrestler point fight his way to his first victory but I’ll take 2-1 odds on a old war dog fighting a one dimensional fighter on the biggest stage of his life.
Pedro “The Young Punisher” Munhoz (9th) vs Cody “No Love” Garbrandt (2nd (Bantamweight 135 lbs)
Odds: Munhoz (+120) vs Garbrandt (-150)
Prediction: It wasn’t that long ago that Cody Garbrandt was one of the new stars and champions of the UFC. However, after two back to back devastating knockout losses to his arch-nemesis TJ Dillashaw and his last win coming back in 2016; Garbrandt finds himself needing a big win against a really dangerous Pedro Munhoz.
This fight has potential fight of the night or knockout of the night potential written all over it. Munhoz was known as a submission specialist but has really made an effort to improve his striking. Garbrandt will always love and trust his striking to carry him to victory but Dillashaw exposed his chin for those that can touch he can be put down. I am going to need to see Garbrandt fix his defense that lost his last two fights before I’m comfortable picking him at a favorite price so that leads me to Munhoz whose looking the sharpest of his career heading into the biggest fight of his career. This one could go either way but give me the guy with a ground game at + odds against a man who may no longer have the supreme confidence he once had. This is a fun fight.
Habit Magomedsharipov (13th) vs Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens (6th) (Featherweight 145 lbs)
Odds: Stephens (+205) vs Magomedsharipov (-255)
Prediction: Zabit is the next big thing at 145lbs and he will get his shot to prove his hype against the monstrous Jeremy Stephens coming off the toughest loss of his career against Jose Aldo. Zabit’s got a significant size advantage against Stephens but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be able to walk Stephens down like he’s done some of his previous foes.
I typically don’t like taking a guy coming off his first knockout loss before I see him fight again but I think there is some value on Stephens whose absolutely fought and beaten better than anything Zabit has faced to date. If Zabit beats Stephens he’s going to have to walk through some hellish shots to do it and I want to take some value on another old war dog who might not be ready to become a stepping stone just yet. If Stephens can find his range for his punches I think he’ll give Zabit more than he bargained for and score a nice upset.
Prediction Record since 2016 to Date (80-56-1) (+$1780.50)
- Record & predictions based on Win vs Loss predictions only. Unless specified otherwise I use increments of $100 (for + odds predictions) & $110 (for – odds bets) as hypothetical wagers for each prediction.
- Predictions & Records are for entertainment value only
All stats provided from http://UFC.COM & http://www.fightmetric.com/
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