At UFC Fight Night 143 on ESPN, Henry Cejudo will defend his flyweight title from the current bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw. The super fight is a brilliant way to get things started over at ESPN now that the deal with FOX has concluded.
The card is relatively stacked for a non-pay-per-view event and features many fan-favorites as well as extremely competitive matchups between rising stars and debutants.
Henry Cejudo vs. TJ Dillashaw
After dethroning the long-reigning Demetrious Johnson last year, Henry Cejudo is now setting out to do something that “Mighty Mouse” wasn’t able to do – defend his title from a bantamweight champion.
There had been talks of a 135-pound champion, such as Dillashaw or Cody Garbrandt, dropping down to challenge Johnson for quite some time. However, the champion would never accept the challenge.
So, straight after winning the title from Johnson, Cejudo took to the microphone and announced that he wanted to defend his title from the big guys.
TJ Dillashaw now steps in, as arguably one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in the sport today.
Best odds for Henry Cejudo vs. TJ Dillashaw:
Now on a three-fight winning streak, Cejudo has become the first ever athlete to win Olympic gold as well as a UFC championship when he defeated Johnson at UFC 227.
An incredibly accomplished wrestler, Cejudo has utilized his wrestling to defeat all of his opponent’s inside the cage so far. Whether it’s offensively, by moving forward and taking his opponent to the mat or defensively to keep the fight standing, Cejudo is a highly talented grappler and has proved trouble in the UFC.
However, recently, he’s developed as a striker and is now using somewhat of a karate-style stance to outwork his adversaries. For instance, Cejudo dropped Wilson Reis in the second round with a beautiful series of punches; something unimaginable many years ago.
Both his striking and grappling will be tested by the ever-dangerous Dillashaw, who is dangerous wherever the fight ends up.
Dillashaw steps into this fight after defeating Cody Garbrandt twice in a row – the first two defeats in Garbrandt’s career. Those wins came after topping John Lineker and Raphael Assuncao, both highly rated contenders in the bantamweight division. The only recent downfall was to Dominick Cruz in 2016 when he lost his title to Cruz via split decision.
Dillashaw’s boxing should be the edge. Whether it’s the same check-hook that tagged up Garbrandt and finished him early in the fight, or another technique, expect Dillashaw to gain an edge while standing and finish Cejudo inside the distance.
Of course, Cejudo has his wrestling to lean on, but Dillashaw is a talented wrestler (for mixed martial arts standards) and will likely nullify his advantages across the board.
Take Dillashaw to win.
Bet on TJ Dillashaw to win: -191 (Pinnacle)
Greg Hardy vs. Allen Crowder
Ex-NFL star Greg Hardy has racked up three consecutive wins to start his professional career and now finds himself making his UFC debut on the biggest stage in recent UFC history – the first-ever event on ESPN.
Hardy will be up against Allen Crowder, who lost his own UFC debut against Justin Willis in December 2017.
Best odds for Greg Hardy vs. Allen Crowder:
Hardy has picked up three first-round wins, all in the first minute. Two of these wins occurred during Dana White’s Contender Series, which is currently a stepping stone to the UFC.
With almost unparalleled athleticism in the UFC’s heavyweight division, Hardy is going to be a threat to ranked competitors in the future. But not right now. Hardy’s effectively a rookie mixed martial artist who has leaned on raw power and explosiveness to carry him over the line in all of his bout so far. With relentless forward pressure, pace and aggression, Hardy has stormed out of the gates in all of his bouts.
Unfortunately for Allen Crowder, he doesn’t appear to have the required tools to slow down a quickly advancing opponent. With relatively slow strike speed and poor defensive awareness, Crowder was repeatedly tagged while moving backward against Willis in his first UFC bout.
Whereas Crowder was landing with some strikes, he didn’t have the same impact as his opponent was. Expect the same in this fight as Greg Hardy lands with monstrous attacks and gets rid of Crowder inside the first round.
Bet on Greg Hardy to win: -519 (Pinnacle)
Gregor Gillespie vs. Yancy Medeiros
Gregor Gillespie, one of the best prospects in the UFC, is up against his toughest test to date when he meets Yancy Medeiros at UFC Fight Night 143.
Undefeated in his 11-fight career, Gillespie has proven to be one of the most exciting and highest-potential additions to the UFC’s roster in the last couple of years. Joining the organization in late 2016, Gillespie has now won five-straight and all last four wins via stoppage.
Medeiros was recently on an impressive three-fight winning streak of his own and was climbing through the UFC’s welterweight rankings before running into Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 126. Medeiros was finished in the first round early last year and all of his work against Alex Oliveira, Erick Silva, and Sean Spencer was untied.
Best odds for Gregor Gillespie vs. Yancy Medeiros:
Yancy Medeiros is a striking-focused fighter with a poor chin and a tendency to get clipped. Against Gillespie, we should expect reckless striking exchanges from the very start. This will favor Gillespie, who has a superb chain takedown wrestling game and an ability to control the fight on the mat.
Once there, expect him to pin down Medeiros and work him over with brutal ground and pound.
Bet on Gregor Gillespie to win: -519 (Pinnacle)
Joseph Benavidez vs. Dustin Ortiz
The flyweight division might be disappearing sooner or later, but Joseph Benavidez is sticking around.
One of the best fighters in the UFC not to win a title, Benavidez will be fighting against Dustin Ortiz this weekend.
Dustin Ortiz is on a three-fight winning streak dating back to mid-2017 and has since defeated Hector Sandoval, Alexandre Pantoja and now Matheus Nicolau. His win over Nicolau was most impressive, as he dismantled the talented flyweight inside the first round with a well-timed head kick and punches.
Benavidez recently returned to winning form by defeating Alex Perez in the first round at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale in November last year. That win helped him get back to track after losing a split decision to Sergio Pettis in the middle of 2018.
Best odds for Joseph Benavidez vs. Dustin Ortiz:
Joseph Benavidez is regarded as a near top-tier talent in the UFC’s flyweight division. Equally well-rounded, Benavidez is a tricky opponent whether he is standing in front of you or down on the mat. With his experience, he brings a calm and composed level of focus with him at all times. Unfazed by strikes and a fight that isn’t going his way, he’s masterful at finding a way to win.
Ortiz might be regarded as a middle-of-the-road fighter, but he is bound to be a tougher test than Alex Perez, Benavidez’s last opponent. Relatively quick on his feet, Ortiz moves around and attempts to control the center with occasional forward pressure. Feinting and dipping his head to either side, he’ll eventually step forward and launch bombs. He’ll also change up his attacks by using kicks to the head or punches.
Benavidez is a deserving favorite, but not by this much. Ortiz is coming off a big win against Matheus Nicolau and might extend his winning streak. At these odds, it’s worth a stab.
Bet on Dustin Ortiz to win: +190 (Bovada)
Paige VanZant vs. Rachael Ostovich
Paige VanZant and Rachael Ostovich are set to square off in what should be a thrilling female flyweight bout at UFC Fight Night 143.
Best odds for Paige VanZant vs. Rachael Ostovich:
This fight is Paige VanZant’s to lose. She’s better at all aspects of mixed martial arts and has distinct advantages in the striking aspect of this contest. Ostovich does have the occasional ability to grab a dominant position on the mat – such as taking the back or mount – and could potentially hold control enough to win a round or two, but VanZant should do enough to scramble out of position and get back to working Ostovich with kicks.
It’ll be in the later moments of this fight (think rounds two and three) where VanZant takes over and earns the victory.
Bet on Paige VanZant to win: -160 (Bovada)
Glover Teixeira vs. Karl Roberson
Glover Teixeira gets a short-notice opponent in Karl Roberson to replace Ion Cutelaba at UFC Fight Night 143.
Best odds for Glover Teixeira vs. Karl Roberson:
Once regarded as one of the most dangerous light heavyweight competitors out there, Glover Teixeira has declined recently – and it all began with that stunning first-round knockout at the hands of Anthony Johnson. Probably most renowned for his boxing and jiu-jitsu abilities, Teixeira has recently lost fights in a multitude of ways. Against Alexander Gustafsson, he was boxed up for the majority of the fight before being dropped with a thunderous series of punches late in the contest.
That’s where Roberson will have the most significant advantage in this fight. If it hits the mat, he might find himself being mauled just like how Jared Cannonier was against Teixeira. However, if he can keep upright against this opponent, Roberson has a remarkable power and boxing advantage that will help him over the line.
Teixeira’s aging and Roberson is a rising star. Although it’s short-notice, Roberson had been training alongside Corey Anderson recently and will be in shape.
Take him to win.
Bet on Karl Roberson to win: +100 (Bovada)
UFC Fight Night 143 fight card
UFC Fight Night 143 begins on ESPN+ from 6:00 pm ET (10:00 pm GMT) on Saturday, January 19.
UFC Fight Night 143 on ESPN+ (10:00 pm ET / 2:00 am GMT)
- Henry Cejudo vs. TJ Dillashaw
- Greg Hardy vs. Allen Crowder
- Gregor Gillespie vs. Yancy Medeiros
- Joseph Benavidez vs. Dustin Ortiz
- Paige VanZant vs. Rachael Ostovich
- Glover Teixeira vs. Karl Roberson
Preliminary Card on ESPN+ (8:00 pm ET / 12:00 am GMT)
- Donald Cerrone vs. Alexander Hernandez
- Joanna Calderwood vs. Ariane Lipski
- Alonzo Menifield vs. Vinicius Moreira
- Mario Bautista vs. Cory Sandhagen
Early Preliminary Card on ESPN+ (6:30 pm ET / 10:30 pm GMT)
- Dennis Bermudez vs. Te Edwards
- Belal Muhammad vs. Geoff Neal
- Chance Rencountre vs. Kyle Stewart