In the famous words of UFC announcer Bruce Buffer “IT’S TIIIIME!”. UFC 197 is upon us and with two of the greatest fighters in UFC history headlining and co-headlining, the event it is sure to be one to be remembered. It also begins the countdown to UFC 200 as the title fights are coming thick and fast over the next few weeks.
In another event to be majorly affected by the injury bug, UFC 197 has a makeshift main event as Ovince St Preux steps up on short notice to take on pound for pound number one Jon Jones in his long awaited return to the Octagon. In UFC 197: Predictions Part 1 we looked at the opening two bouts on the main card as well as the FOX Prelims feature bout.
In Part 2 we look ahead to a Lightweight clash of two of the best strikers in the division and the co-main event and the main event itself.
Anthony Pettis vs Edson Barboza (Lightweight)
Former lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis (18-4) is coming off two losses in a row for the first time in his career, and will be looking to get his career back on track. ‘Showtime’ is one of the most exciting strikers in the UFC, and holds exceptional victories over Donald Cerrone, Ben Henderson, Joe Lauzon and Gilbert Melendez.
He will be happy to be fighting someone who will stand and trade with him so he can showcase his arsenal of strikes.
Barboza (16-4) will be making his 15th walk to the octagon on Saturday night and after losing two of his last three finds himself badly in need of a win, similar to Pettis. Most noted for his sensational spinning wheel kick knockout of Terry Etim at UFC 142, Barboza’s kicks are feared throughout the Lightweight division, and he will be looking to stand and bang with the former Champion.
Demetrious Johnson vs Henry Cejudo (Flyweight Title)
Johnson (23-2-1) will defend his Flyweight Title for the eight time on Saturday night, and is now just three defences away from Anderson Silva’s all time record of 10. Undefeated in his last 10 fights, Johnson has looked unstoppable at Flyweight, beating every challenger put in front of him on his way to making history.
Cejudo (10-0) will provide one of ‘Mighty Mouse’s sterner tests to date though as a former Olympic gold medallist wrestler and undefeated fighter. His wrestling is just a base from which Cejudo built a set of skills for MMA that under normal circumstances would see him undoubtedly hold a gold strap. He just so happens to be fighting in Johnson’s division.
Jon Jones vs Ovince St Preux (Interim Light Heavyweight Title)
The return of Jon Jones (21-1) has been one full of controversy and anticipation. With run-ins with the law and Cormier having to withdraw through injury, nothing ever seems to go as planned when Jones is atop the card. Jones will look to make a statement in his comeback fight, having not fought since he defeated DC in January ’15.
OSP (19-7) was a surprise announcement as Jones’ next opponent, but he will look to make the most of it, with an interim title on the line. Perhaps a step up too quick in competition for Knoxville MMA prospect, OSP is facing a determined Jones. OSP however, recently knocked out Shogun Rua in just 34 seconds after taking the fight on short notice, and therefore does pose a very real threat to ‘Bones’.
Tune in on Saturday night to see the two greatest fighters of our generation showcase their skills on the biggest stage in Las Vegas. The main card kicks off at 3am GMT.