HENRY CEJUDO VS. TJ DILLASHAW
In the latest champion versus champion showdown, flyweight king Henry Cejudo will put his title on the line against TJ Dillashaw, who moves down from 135 pounds for the opportunity to win a second belt.
Dillashaw has been an elite bantamweight for several years and he enters the contest off back-to-back knockouts over former champion Cody Garbrandt. Dillashaw has never fought at flyweight previously and even during his college wrestling career he competed at 133 pounds. That means Dillashaw will have a big spotlight on him this week as he makes the cut down to 125 pounds for the championship fight. Meanwhile, Cejudo is an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling who is coming off a career defining win where he dethroned former champion Demetrious Johnson. Cejudo has won three fights in a row while looking better than ever in his most recent performances. To make his first successful title defense, Cejudo will have to beat another champion and arguably one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport when he takes on Dillashaw on Saturday night.
GREG HARDY VS. ALLEN CROWDER
Former NFL player turned mixed martial artist Greg Hardy will make his UFC debut after just three professional fights while amassing a 3-0 record with all his wins coming by way of first-round knockout. As a natural athlete, Hardy has all the tools to become a top-flight heavyweight, and he enlisted the coaching staff at American Top Team in Florida to help him prepare for this move into the big leagues. This weekend, Hardy faces his most experienced opponent as Allen Crowder comes into the fight with a 9-3 record, including a TKO victory on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. To get his first win in the UFC, Crowder is going to have to derail Hardy and the considerable hype surrounding his Octagon debut.
GREGOR GILLESPIE VS. YANCY MEDEIROS
Former NCAA Champion wrestler Gregor Gillespie might be one of the brightest prospects to join the lightweight division since Khabib Nurmagomedov first made his debut. Gillespie has looked unstoppable through the early part of his UFC career, with a perfect 5-0 record including his last four wins that all came by way of knockout or submission. To move to 6-0, Gillespie will have to go through one of the toughest outs in the entire lightweight division as Yancy Medeiros returns to 155 pounds after several fights spent at welterweight. Medeiros is one of the most exciting fighters on the entire UFC roster while racking up three performance bonuses in his past five fights. Now he looks to hand Gillespie his first professional loss in his return to the lightweight division.
JOSEPH BENAVIDEZ VS. DUSTIN ORTIZ
It’s been more than four years since Joseph Benavidez first defeated Dustin Ortiz and now the two flyweight contenders will do it again. Benavidez makes a quick turnaround from his last fight where he earned a vicious TKO over highly touted prospect Alex Perez. Benavidez holds a win over current flyweight champ Henry Cejudo, so he undoubtedly wants to make a statement in this fight to once again knock on the door of title contention. As for Ortiz, he will seek revenge after falling to Benavidez the first time back in 2014. Ortiz has won his last three fights, including two by knockout, so he will definitely be gunning for the win and the finish when he faces Benavidez on Saturday night.
PAIGE VANZANT VS. RACHAEL OSTOVICH
Following a disappointing outing in her flyweight debut that ended with a broken arm, Paige VanZant makes her long awaited return to action to face former Ultimate Fighter competitor Rachael Ostovich. At her best, VanZant was top 10 threat at strawweight, but the exhausting weight cuts forced her to move to 125 pounds. Now she will look to prove that she’s adjusted to her new weight class while facing a true flyweight in Ostovich, who comes into the fight with a 1-1 record in the UFC, including a submission victory in her debut against Karine Gevorgyan.
GLOVER TEIXEIRA VS. KARL ROBERSON
Former title challenger Glover Teixeira has been bouncing back and forth between wins and losses over his past four fights as he returns to action against late notice replacement Karl Robertson. Throughout the majority of his UFC career, Teixeira has been a top five-ranked light heavyweight, but he’s faced some adversity in recent years while trying to maintain momentum in a very top-heavy division. To get back on the winning track this time around, Teixeira will face a ferocious striker in Roberson, who moves up from 185 pounds for this opportunity after scoring wins in two of his first three fights in the UFC, as well as a vicious 15-second knockout on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
ALEXANDER HERNANDEZ VS. DONALD “COWBOY” CERRONE
Alexander Hernandez burst onto the scene last year with back-to-back wins in the UFC, including a stunning first-round knockout against Beneil Dariush on short notice in his debut. Now Hernandez will get his biggest step up in competition to date as he takes on a true legend of the Octagon in Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the featured bout on ESPN. Cerrone returns to lightweight for the first time since 2015 while spending the last few years competing at 170 pounds. As a new father, Cerrone says he has a new level of motivation to make another run at winning the UFC title, and his first test back at lightweight comes against one of the best up and comers in the division. This could be a pick for Fight of the Night when these two lightweights clash in Brooklyn.
JOANNE CALDERWOOD VS. ARIANE LIPSKI
Joanne Calderwood makes her third appearance in the flyweight division after earning a knockout and a submission in her past two fights at 125 pounds. The Scottish-born contender has looked healthier and happier than ever at flyweight and she’s been working with a new team at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas as she hopes to pursue a title shot in 2019. This weekend, Calderwood meets 11-3 Octagon newcomer Ariane Lipski, who carries an intimidating nickname with her as the “Queen of Violence.” Lipski has won her past nine fights, with seven of those coming by way of knockout or submission, including a victory over UFC veteran Sheila Gaff.
ALONZO MENIFIELD VS. VINICIUS MOREIRA
As the light heavyweight division continues to look for new prospects, Alonzo Menifield may be one of the brightest additions to the weight class in some time. Menifield holds a perfect 7-0 record with all of his wins coming by knockout or submission. Menifield made quite an impression to earn his UFC contract after destroying Dashawn Boatwright in just eight seconds on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Meanwhile, Vinicius Moreira comes in with a 9-1 record, including five wins in a row. Much like Menifield, Moreira earned his way to the UFC via the Contender Series as he wrapped up a second-round triangle choke submission to get his contract. Now it will be a battle to see which UFC rookie gets off to a good start when they meet on Saturday night.
CORY SANDHAGEN VS. MARIO BAUTISTA
Cory Sandhagen could be a future bantamweight title contender based on his recent resume, where he’s won four fights in a row, all by knockout. Sandhagen exploded on the scene with a body shot knockout against Austin Arnett last January and then took out veteran contender Iuri Alcantara this past August to move to 2-0 in the UFC. To stay undefeated in the UFC, Sandhagen will have to go through late replacement Mario Bautista, who accepts the fight on a week’s notice following an injury to John Lineker. Bautista comes in with a spotless 6-0 record with a trio of submissions on his resume as he looks to pull off the upset against Sandhagen in this bantamweight showdown.
DENNIS BERMUDEZ VS. TE EDWARDS
Former Ultimate Fighter finalist Dennis Bermudez returns to the lightweight division for the first time in nearly nine years when he takes on Te Edwards, who is an exciting prospect first discovered on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Now it’s safe to say this is a must win situation for Bermudez after four straight losses. While three of those defeats have come by way of split decision, Bermudez knows he doesn’t want to sit on a fifth straight loss. As for Edwards, he suffered a knockout loss in his UFC debut and hopes to turn things around when he faces a seasoned veteran in Bermudez.
BELAL MUHAMMAD VS. GEOFF NEAL
With four wins in a row, Belal Muhammad hopes to knock on the door of the top 15 at welterweight in 2019. Muhammad has looked very impressive recently while defeating the likes of Tim Means, Randy Brown and Jordan Mein. Meanwhile, Geoff Neal steps into the fight with an impressive 10-2 record with four straight wins — three by knockout and one by submission — after joining the UFC by way of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Neal has added to his highlight reel with both of his fights in the UFC, but he will face his toughest test to date when he meets Muhammad on the early prelims.
KYLE STEWART VS. CHANCE RENCOUNTRE
Opportunity knocked and Kyle Stewart answered as the veteran welterweight accepted a short notice fight against Chance Rencountre to make his UFC debut. Stewart holds an impressive 11-1 record, and he previously competed on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender series. Stewart got a win that night after his opponent Jason Jackson suffered an ankle injury, but ultimately he didn't get a UFC contract. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran now has the chance to prove he belongs while facing off with Rencountre, who fell short in his UFC debut after drawing a very tough test against Belal Muhammad. Rencountre looks to bounce back after earning four straight wins, with three ending by knockout or submission prior to joining the UFC roster.