An argument can be made that Henry Cejudo saved the UFC Flyweight division with his championship level dominance over the past couple of years. After taking down Demetrious Johnson and T.J. Dillashaw, Cejudo has set his sights on becoming a dual champion by challenging for the UFC Bantamweight title. One of the better pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC right now, Cejudo will certainly have his hands full versus Marlon Moraes in the main event at UFC 238. We took the time to break down that entire fight card in order to predict which fighters the smart money is on. Here is a look at the best bets to win on the main card at UFC 238.
Bantamweight Championship Bout
(14-2) Henry Cejudo vs. Marlon Moraes (22-5-1)
Recent history has provided plenty of examples when it comes to fighters struggling in their first fight after moving up in weight class. Will Cejudo suffer a similar fate making the move up to bantamweight? The fact that he is listed as the sports betting underdog in this fight hints that some people think that will in fact be the case. After all, Morae has absolutely dominated the division over the past couple of years including knockout wins over Alijamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera, followed by a submission win over Raphael Assuncao.
Opponents have had a very difficult time dealing with Moraes’ punching power, which should factor heavily in this bout. Cejudo is an excellent wrestler and an intelligent fighter but this will be his toughest challenge yet. While some will be enticed to bet on Cejudo at decent odds, the smart money is on Moraes to extend his win streak and spoil Cejudo’s move to the bantamweight division at UFC 238.
Women Flyweight Championship Bout
(16-3) Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Eye (14-6)
The co-main event will feature the UFC Women Flyweight champion Shevchenko defending her title against a hungry and capable challenger in Eye. While many have already written her off, Eye has had an impressive rise to contender status and she shouldn’t be overlooked. It makes sense that she would have her doubters following a pair of split decision wins over Kalindra Faria and Katlyn Chookagian but she has had four months to prepare for this fight and should be ready. Shevchenko is a very worthy champion that proved her merit with a decision win over Joanna Jedrzejcyk at UFC 231. However, she wasn’t able to finish off Jedrzejcyk and it might not be worth it to take a chance on her in this spot at such terrible odds. Eye is still a long shot but considering her price tag and the fact that she is actually very capable of winning this bout outright, it might be worth taking the chance on her to get it done. If you are going to bet on this fight, you might want to bet on Eye as a capable underdog that might just have it in her to shock the MMA world at UFC 258.
(17-3) Aljamain Sterling vs. Pedro Munhoz (18-3)
T.J. Dillashaw’s suspension has pushed the doors wide open in the UFC’s bantamweight division. In addition to Cejudo’s championship fight, we also get an intriguing bantamweight bout between a couple of legitimate contenders in Sterling and Munhoz. Sterling has won three straight fights including a decision over Jimmie Rivera in his last outing.
Meanwhile, Munhoz is also coming off three straight wins including back-to-back knockouts over Bryan Caraway and Cody Garbrandt. Both fighters have knockout power. Both fighters are competing for a shot at the title. The smart money is on Sterling to bring his absolute best and secure his third straight knockout win to get that title shot that he has been lobbying for over the past couple of months.
(22-3) Jimmie Rivera vs. Petr Yan (12-1)
Everything seemed to go Rivera’s way until he ran in to Moraes back in June of last year. Now he is just looking to get his career back on track after losing two of his last three fights, including a decision loss to Sterling in his last fight. Rivera should have the slight edge in his next matchup versus Yan, who has an impressive resume at 12-1 but is still a little bit unproven. This will be Yan’s toughest fight to date and it will show on the tape. Rivera should be able to control the tempo and pace of this fight in order to wear down Yan and keep him on his heels. That will prove to be the distance in the final two rounds as Rivera simply overwhelms him. Rivera will find a way to win this bout with a good chance that it ends up going the distance.
(8-1) Tai Tuivasa vs. Blagoy Ivanov (17-2)
The main card will begin with a heavyweight bout between two big guys in Tuivasa and Ivanov. Tuivasa is coming off the first loss of his career after suffering a TKO at the hands of Junior dos Santos back in December. However, the Australian had compiled an impressive start to his UFC career before that with three straight wins, including a unanimous decision victory over Andrei Arlovski at UFC 225. Tuivasa should have an excellent opportunity to get back on track against an opponent that also suffered the wrath of dos Santos in Ivanov.
The former WSOF champion lost to dos Santos by decision back in July of 2018, but rebounded with a decision win of his own over Ben Rothwell in March. For as impressive as he has been dating back to his WSOF fights, the reality is that Ivanov could experience some fatigue in his third fight in less than a year. Tuivasa is a smart, powerful fighter with seven of his eight career wins coming via knockout. Expect that trend to continue with Tuivasa getting his career back on track with a knockout win over Ivanov at UFC 238.