The UFC generally has some sort of event at least once a month, but with football season around the corner in the United States, this Saturday night’s UFC 227 pay-per-view card from Los Angeles is perhaps the last big-time MMA card of the year to which casual bettors will pay attention.
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It is a very good card, although top heavy with the “little guys.” Let’s face it, the biggest stars in mixed martial arts or boxing are usually the bigger guys. Perhaps it’s hard for fight fans to relate to guys who weigh just 125 or 135 pounds battling it out in the ring or Octagon. Those fights also tend to have fewer highlight-reel knockouts.
The main event of UFC 227 is a bantamweight (135 pounds) rematch between champion TJ Dillashaw (15-3) and No. 1 contender Cody Garbrandt (11-1), with Dillashaw a very slight -120 favorite in the matchup of Americans. This will hardly be a tickle fight as the two waged a brutal battle in November at UFC 217. Garbrandt put Dillashaw on the canvas in the first round, but Dillashaw was the aggressor in Round 2 and finished Garbrandt by TKO (punches) at 2:41 of the round as Dillashaw became a two-time bantamweight titleholder.
Forty-seven percent of Dillashaw’s wins have been by knockout or TKO, while 82 percent of Garbrandt’s have come in that manner. Garbrandt has fought seven times in the UFC and has at least a knockdown in all of them. You won’t see these guys on the ground as they are two of the best strikers around.
There has been some talk that the winner of that fight could challenge flyweight (125 pounds) champion Demetrious Johnson if Johnson beats former USA Olympic wrestling gold medalist Henry Cejudo for the second time on Saturday. Johnson is a heavy -500 favorite with Cejudo at +350.
“Mighty Mouse” Johnson (27-2-1) is an all-time UFC great and has made a record 11 straight successful title defenses of his flyweight belt. That includes at UFC 197 when he beat Cejudo with a first-round TKO via knees to the body. Johnson was last in the Octagon in October with a fifth-round submission (armbar) of Ray Borg. The UFC ranks Johnson as its No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter behind Daniel Cormier.
Cejudo (12-2), who won the freestyle wrestling gold in the 2008 Games, lost immediately after the Johnson fight to Joseph Benavidez but has since beaten Wilson Reis and Sergio Pettis to return to the No. 1 contender in the division.