UFC 238 Fight Card: PPV Schedule, Odds and Predictions for Cejudo vs. MoraesJune 8, 2019
Henry Cejudo and Marlon Moraes will close out an intriguing UFC 238 fight card at the United Center in Chicago with the vacant bantamweight belt on the line.
Cejudo most recently defeated the former bantamweight king T.J. Dillashaw in a flyweight bout, but Dillashaw was forced to relinquish the belt while serving a suspension for a USADA violation. Now a surging contender in Moraes meets a one-division champion.
The co-main event is technically a women's flyweight championship bout between Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Eye, but the odds are indicative of how lopsided a matchup it is for the champion. Instead the real second draw is a likely lightweight title eliminator between Donald Cerrone and Tony Ferguson.
Ferguson will be returning to the Octagon for the first time since October and looking to continue one of most impressive winning streaks in the UFC, which stretches all the way back to 2012.
Here's a look at the complete offerings as well as some of the bigger questions surrounding the evening.
Main Card (ESPN+ pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET)
- Henry Cejudo EVEN (bet $100 to win $100) vs. Marlon Moraes -130 (bet $130 to win $100)
- Valentina Shevchenko (c) -1,100 vs. Jessica Eye +650
- Tony Ferguson -155 vs. Donald Cerrone +125
- Jimmie Rivera +260 vs. Petr Yan -340
- Tai Tuivasa -140 vs. Blagoy Ivanov +110
Prelims (ESPN at 8 p.m. ET)
- Tatiana Suarez -850 vs. Nina Ansaroff +525
- Aljamain Sterling -135 vs. Pedro Munhoz +105
- Karolina Kowalkiewicz -125 vs. Alexa Grasso -105
- Ricardo Lamas +125 vs. Calvin Kattar -155
Early Prelims (Fight Pass at 6:15 p.m. ET)
- Yan Xiaonan -170 vs. Angela Hill +140
- Bevon Lewis -175 vs. Darren Stewart +145
- Eddie Wineland -145 vs. Grigory Popov +115
- Katlyn Chookagian -120 vs. Joanne Calderwood -110
Odds via Action Network
Can Henry Cejudo Successfully Transition to Bantamweight?
Henry Cejudo's early MMA career started at bantamweight, but his UFC existence and rise to prominence has all taken place at 125 pounds. Facing a true bantamweight in Marlon Moraes, Cejudo will need to overcome a size disadvantage if he wants to become a two-division champion.
Moraes isn't a huge bantamweight by any stretch, but he's had a history of success in the division. He's finished Aljamain Sterling, Raphael Assuncao and Jimmie Rivera leading up to this fight. All three of those fighters are bigger than Cejudo.
However, it's worth noting that Cejudo has historically struggled to cut down to 125 pounds. He missed weight twice in Legacy FC and was forced out of a bout at UFC 177 because of a bad weight cut.
The weight is a legitimate question. Much of Cejudo's game depends on his ability to overpower opponents, and it's unclear how much of that will transfer a division up.
But given that this weight cut will be easier for him, there's a chance we see an even better version of Cejudo. His improvement from fight to fight has been remarkable throughout his career, and it wouldn't be surprising for him to put on his best performance yet.
Prediction: Cejudo via decision
Does Jessica Eye Have Anything to Offer Valentina Shevchenko?
The long odds indicate how wide the disparity is between the champion and challenger in this matchup.
At this point, finding legitimate contenders for Shevchenko at 125 pounds is going to be difficult. She threw down the gauntlet in the way she handled Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and this simply is not a deep division.
Jessica Eye fell into this opportunity by process of elimination. She's on a three-fight win streak, but none were overly impressive. There's not really anyone else who has stood out in the division, so here we are.
Eye's game is straightforward. She has strong, conventional boxing. She does a great job of working off her jab and has good enough wrestling to keep the fight where she wants it.
She's also durable. She's only lost one fight by stoppage in her career, and that was by submission.
Eye is not going to shy away from exchanges, and she's not going to go lightly.
That may be enough to make this an entertaining fight, but it's also likely to make her the target of a lot of Shevchenko highlights.
Prediction: Shevchenko via decision
Will Tony Ferguson Earn a Title Shot?
The fact that Tony Ferguson hasn't fought for a title is one of life's vexing situations. Between injuries and personal issues—his wife filed a restraining order against him in March that included domestic violence allegations, though it has since been dropped—his win streak hasn't yielded a shot at anything other than an interim title.
He, of course, won the interim title in 2017 but was later stripped because of injury.
Coming into this bout healthy with an opportunity to beat a streaking Donald Cerrone, this could finally be the fight that sets him up with a title shot.
Getting the win won't be easy, though. Cerrone has put on two impressive performances since returning to lightweight and has become a more calculated and wise fighter in the latter stages of his career.
Ferguson is one of the most unique talents in MMA. He's unconventional in scrambles, willing to try anything on the feet and has the kind of funky movement in the cage that makes him unpredictable.
Cerrone is already known for getting off to slow starts, and Ferguson's style will make him even more hard to figure out in the early going.
El Cucuy should be able to secure an early lead, and, while Cerrone will likely rally at some point, it's hard to stop Ferguson once he has momentum.
Prediction: Ferguson via fourth-round TKO