UFC 228 may well be the year’s most underrated fight-card so for those of you who are unsure, here’s why it has to be considered a ‘must-watch’.
Despite the news that flyweight champion Nicco Montano has been hospitalised for a yet-to-be-disclosed reason, UFC 228 will go ahead as planned and we are well and truly in for a treat.
Contrary to what many predicted, Darren Till managed to make weight in style, coming in at 169lbs – one pound under the welterweight championship limit of 170lbs.
With champion Tyron Woodley also ready to go, UFC 228 has its main-event and what a fight it is.
Stylistically, these guys will ask some very unique questions of each other and while there hasn’t been much in the way of animosity between the two, the tension is absolutely unbearable.
Sure, we might not see flyweight standout Valentina Shevchenko in action following her opponent’s apparent withdrawal, but women’s MMA is represented to the fullest on this card with several matchups with serious title implications on offer.
Jessica Andrade has been pegged by many as the next in line for Rose Namajunas’ strawweight title with her having improved massively since going the distance with Joanna Jedrzejczyk last year but in her path lies Karolina Kowalkiewicz, someone who owns a prior win over the reigning champ.
There’s a narrative there for either woman if they manage to get the win so look to this fight as one that will crown the next 115lb challenger.
Tatiana Suarez is another who could well find herself in strawweight title-contention if all goes well on Saturday night against the former-champion Carla Esparza and from what we’ve seen so far, she looks like a serious threat to those in the division’s upper-echelons.
Elsewhere, one of the hottest prospects in the game Zabit Magomedsharipov will thankfully still appear on the card despite his originally scheduled opponent Yair Rodriguez pulling out.
Facing Brandon Davis, he could well find himself in a situation where he would be free to showcase some of his incredibly dynamic striking and grappling.
If you haven’t seen Zabit in action before, he is absolutely unmissable TV.
A pivotal pair of 135lb clashes featuring Aljamain Sterling and Cody Stamann as well as Jimmie Rivera and John Dodson could potentially shake things up massively as bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw looks to re-establish himself as the divisional top-dog.
Do you like violence? If you do then the main-event pairing of Niko Price and Abdul Razak Alhassan is a barnburner in the making and if you’re into the old-school kings of brawling, both Diego Sanchez and Jim Miller will fight on this card – taking on (former Cage Warriors standout) Craig White and Alex White (no relation).
UFC 228 is absolutely stacked.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena