UFC 235: Jones vs. Smith was a fight card for the ages. I couldn’t think of a better way to welcome in the new UFC/ESPN relationship than stacking an event full of top ten fighters, up-and-coming stars, and two title fights. I made my predictions for the fights earlier in the week, and I thought it would be a good night for the betting favorites. Overall, I went 7-2 with my picks. While I successfully predicted one of the upsets, I didn’t see Cody Garbrandt falling three in a row. And, nobody could have predicted the demoralizing manner in which Kamaru Usman would physically and mentally break Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley to take UFC gold.
I was a perfect four for four with my preliminary picks, correctly choosing the underdog in Diego Sanchez, then Cody Stamann, Johnny Walker and Zabit Magomedsharipov. Although Mickey Gall entered the fight the betting favorite, I thought that Sanchez matched up well against the grappler, and that the seasoned veteran Sanchez would prove too much for the inexperience of Gall. I expected the fight to go the distance, but Gall tired himself out early on, and Sanchez was able to get the second round TKO.
The next two fights went exactly as I predicted, as Cody Stamann got the decision over Alejandro Pérez and Johnny Walker pounded out yet another first round KO/TKO over Misha Cirkunov. In the main event of the preliminary card, I expected Zabit Magomedsharipov to grind Jeremy Stephens down and get the third round submission, but the fight ended up going to the judges. Although I thought Stephens did enough to get the nod, Magomedsharipov won the judge’s favor and helped me go four for four on the card.
Overall, I went three and two on the main card of UFC 235. While I chose all five betting favorites, there were two upsets that I did not see coming. In the opening act of the main card, Cody Garbrandt took on Pedro Munhoz, and although coming into the fight Munhoz had secured only three of his seventeen victories by KO/TKO, he got another one here, knocking Garbrandt out in the very first round. I just did not see any chance of the former UFC Bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt falling three in a row. And, yet again it appeared Garbrandt threw caution to the wind, allowing his emotions to override his logic, and getting KO’d/TKO’d in terrible fashion for the third straight fight.
Next up, I predicted the second fight of the main card perfectly, with Weili Zhang getting the unanimous decision over Tecia Torres. Zhang dominated every aspect of the fight over UFC veteran Torres, and I anticipate seeing her eclipse the top ten of the UFC women’s Strawweight very soon.
In Ben Askren’s UFC debut, I expected him to weather a first round barrage from the seasoned Robbie Lawler, and turn the second round into a ground and pound clinic for the finish. However, Lawler nearly got the upset and KO’d Askren early on, but he couldn’t quite get the finish. Askren survived and, somewhat controversially, locked down a first round submission by bulldog choke. Although I missed on the round and type of victory, my pick of Askren over Lawler proved true.
The Biggest Upset of the Night
In the co-main event, I predicted the champion Tyron Woodley to get the second round TKO victory over challenger Kamaru Usman. I couldn’t have been any more wrong with this pick. Not only did Woodley not get the second round TKO, but he didn’t even win a single round, and two judges scored two out of the five rounds 10/8 for Usman.
Lastly, in the main event I perfectly predicted that Jon Jones would get the decision win and retain his Light Heavyweight title against the challenger Anthony Smith. While I expected Jones to get the victory, I also believed Smith to give Jones more trouble than what the oddsmakers predicted, as Jones was a heavy betting favorite (-1100 as of 2/27/19). However, Jones absolutely steamrolled Smith, winning all five rounds and getting the unanimous decision.
Check back soon for my predictions and the betting odds of UFC Fight Night 146: Lewis vs. Dos Santos, Saturday, March 9.
My record predicting fights for MMABetz: 7-2