Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made its presence known to Chicago, Illinois last night (Sat., June 8, 2019) for UFC 238. For my money, it was one of the most talent-rich events of the year, featuring highly ranked athletes and relevant match ups down to the opening fight of the night. In addition, two title fights headlining the card is usually a pretty solid sign of quality.
Let’s take a look at the best techniques and performances of the night!
Double Champ Cejudo
For roughly eight minutes, Moraes battered Cejudo. The Brazilian looked incredibly calm and well-trained, setting the tone early with a brutal lock kick. Before long, Moraes was calmly punting Cejudo’s leg around the cage, leaving Cejudo stranded along the outside. Every so often, Moraes would fire high with a quick head kick, always threatening the knockout.
There was a moment in the latter half of the second round where everything changed. Cejudo charged forward with a right hand, crashed into the double-collar tie, and landed some big knees. After that exchange, Moraes seemed stunned and dead-tired, as though all the weight of the world was suddenly upon his shoulders.
The minute rest between rounds did not help the Brazilian. Cejudo continued to apply the pressure, and with Moraes stumbling around, it was no surprise when a takedown landed moments later. From top position, Cejudo landed hard shots on the Brazilian, who clung to half-guard like it was a life raft. Just as the round came to a close, Cejudo was able to posture up and tee off on his broken foe, forcing a stoppage (watch highlights).
It was brilliant work from Cejudo. Not only is the Olympian a world-class athlete, incredibly skilled wrestler, and pretty slick puncher, but the man can fight when it comes down to it. His back was to the wall after the start of this fight, but Cejudo battled back and made it a scrap largely through grit.
Shevchenko the Surgeon
Valentina Shevchenko is, bar none, the most efficient fighter on the roster.
I’ve wrote admiringly in the past about how there is no wasted movement in Shevchenko’s approach. How she does not move unless it is absolutely necessary. How Shevchenko lands at a great clip while very rarely getting hit herself ... even at 135 pounds. Last night was a clinic — Eye landed just a single significant strike in her title bid.
It was simple work for “Bullet.” Opposite her right-handed foe, Shevchenko slammed her left round kick into the mid-section of Eye repeatedly in the first minute. When Eye desperately swung forward with a punch, Shevchenko calmly changed levels, took her down, and nearly finished at the end of the round with an Americana.
Shevchenko opened the second round with a couple cracking body kicks, which very clearly hurt. Who could blame Eye for her lowered hands when the high kick sailed into her temple moments later?
The Strange King Retains
Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone brought everything to the cage last night.
The first round was five minutes of intense competition. Ferguson danced around the cage, utterly loose. He struck at Cerrone with quick, rangy punches, connecting quite a bit with his left hand from both stances. Repeatedly, Ferguson would mix in spinning elbows, seemingly exposing his back to Cerrone with nary a care in the world. Cerrone, alternatively, was more tense, looking to stick Ferguson with his own jab. On occasion, “Cowboy” would flurry forward with combinations, and the veteran did open a cut on Ferguson’s brow.
“El Cucuy,” as he often does, pulled away in the second round. His left hand connected more and more often, and suddenly the spinning elbows were scoring as well. In addition, Ferguson won the kicking battle. His left kick/knee from Southpaw crashed into the jaw and mid-section repeatedly, and it was Ferguson who was landing low kicks. Cerrone’s kicks never seemed to connect with their full impact, glancing off the bony elbows of his foe.
Immediately after the bell rang to end the second round, Ferguson did land an illegal punch, though I don’t think it was quite as flagrant as the commentary team implied. Regardless, it had little impact on the final result, as Cerrone blew his nose and saw his eye immediately and completely shut tight (watch highlights).
The bout was waived off, and Ferguson secured his 12th straight victory in impressive fashion. Whether or not it helps get Ferguson closer to the title is impossible to say, but Ferguson extended his historic run.
- Aljamain Sterling defeats Pedro Munhoz via unanimous decision: In the best bout of the “Prelims” undercard, Sterling announced himself as the next title contender. Without scoring a single takedown, Sterling punished Munhoz with dozens of straight shots, tricky elbows, and a never ending stream of kicks. Sterling’s comfort in the pocket has improved dramatically within the last year alone. He was put in difficult positions by his aggressive foe, but Sterling stuck to the game plan and really picked apart Munhoz, who put forth an admirable effort in defeat.
- Alexa Grasso defeats Karolina Kowalkiewicz via unanimous decision: Grasso’s speed and boxing were far too much for Kowalkiewicz, whose head seldom moved except for the many moments when Grasso’s cross crashed into her chin. After a slow start to her UFC career, this was the moment when Grasso lived up to expectations. At just 25 years old, there’s still plenty of time for Grasso to keep climbing the ladder and apply her boxing skills to the to best in the world.
- Calvin Kattar defeats Ricardo Lamas via first-round knockout (watch highlights): Lamas’ movement and low kicks perplexed Kattar for roughly 60 seconds before Kattar seemed to have a complete understanding of Lamas’ movement and timing. At that point, Kattar’s boxing shined. Lamas was still hanging back, so Kattar feinted the jab often and dug into the body, finding the easiest target first. It all came to an early end when Kattar feinted a jab and fired a hook-cross combination high. Both punches connected to the jaw perfectly, sending Lamas to the mat in a heap.
- Eddie Wineland defeats Grigory Pipov via second-round knockout (watch highlights): This was both an amazing slugfest and great performance from Wineland. The veteran came out aggressive, stinging Pipov was a half-dozen right hands in the opening minute. Pipov, however, showed serious composure to hang in there and come back a bit, digging some hard kicks and stunning Wineland with a cross of his own to start the second. Overall, Wineland’s footwork and head movement saw him connecting with punches at a far superior rate. In addition, Wineland did a great job of mixing up his delivery of the cross, which was on display when Wineland switched the angle one last time to deliver a brutal right hook and end the fight.
For complete UFC 238: “Cejudo vs. Moraes” results and play-by-play, click HERE!