The third UFC pay-per-view to exclusively air on ESPN+ in the United States looks to be the best of the lot so far. With two genuine title fights (and none of this interim business), together with a deep main card and a fantastic selection of preliminary fights to go with it, UFC 238 is sure shaping up to be a fight card that can make every mixed martial arts fan excited.
UFC 238 will take place on Saturday, June 8, at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Here are five reasons why you’ll want to watch this pay-per-view event on ESPN+.
The People’s Main Event
Tucked just underneath the two title fights of UFC 238 is an incredible lightweight clash that will see Tony Ferguson return to action to face Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
There’s a case to be made that Ferguson is the most dangerous lightweight in the world. Although that claim isn’t helped by the mere fact that Ferguson has never held a UFC Championship, he has never had the chance to win one, either. Plagued by what seems to be a never-ending list of unfortunate circumstances and four failed fights with Khabib Nurmagomedov, Ferguson’s 11-fight win streak against top-class contenders has not yet resulted in a shot at the title. With a win this weekend at UFC 238, a shot at UFC gold will finally be within reach for him, again.
The other fighter so desperately itching to get a shot at the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier, is Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Since becoming a father in June last year, Cerrone has won three consecutive fights and has even outlined his intentions to capture a UFC title. That’s something that many long-time fans of “Cowboy” had always wanted, but may have never expected to hear.
Ferguson and Cerrone are known to be fan-friendly fighters in the sense that they always deliver incredible moments when they’re inside the Octagon. This weekend will likely be no different.
Uh… looks like The People's Main Event really is The People's Main Event after all… Ferguson/Cerrone's Countdown blows Cejudo/Moraes' and Shevchenko/Eye's out of the water on the UFC's YouTube. pic.twitter.com/PJ54ojkpti
— Michael Fiedel (@MichaelFiedel) June 5, 2019
A top-tier bantamweight bout
With Demetrious Johnson out of the picture and TJ Dillashaw sidelined after testing positive for EPO, a performance-enhancing drug, Henry Cejudo vs. Marlon Moraes may just be a battle between the two best ‘small guys’ in the world today.
Cejudo defended his UFC Flyweight Championship from Dillashaw in January, knocking out the bantamweight champion in just 32 seconds. He now gets a chance to win the title that Dillashaw held, but he’ll have to earn it by defeating the highest-regarded bantamweight fighter in the UFC right now.
Marlon Moraes has crushed three straight opponents in order to move from the position of middling contender to a top-tier talent in the 135-pound division. For Moraes, it’s not just who he has defeated, but it’s also about how he has done it. The 5-foot-6 Brazilian crashed a knee into Aljamain Sterling’s head to end his night in just 67 seconds before then managing to finish Jimmie Rivera, a fighter who had never been finished in his professional career.
After those two brilliant results, Moraes needed only to score a win against the man who ruined his UFC debut, Raphael Assuncao. Moraes finished Assuncao in just over three minutes and now has his opportunity to win a UFC title.
— Streetfight Bancho (@streetfitebanch) March 20, 2019
Petr Yan takes on Jimmie Rivera
For a man who is still yet to be featured on a UFC poster, Petr Yan sure draws a lot of attention from fans around the world. Yan joined the UFC in June 2018 as an 8-1 professional and has since managed to win all four fights in the promotion. When he steps into the cage against Jimmie Rivera on Saturday night, he’ll have competed five times in less than one year.
The skillful striker will be matched against Jimmie Rivera, a man who ranks as one of the toughest challenges for Yan so far in his UFC career. Rivera, too, is a skilled stand-up fighter who has managed big wins over the likes of Urijah Faber, Thomas Almeida, John Dodson, and Pedro Munhoz. But after losing fights to Marlon Moraes and Aljamain Sterling in the past 12 months, many are unsure where Rivera really stands in the bantamweight category.
This fight with Petr Yan is Jimmie Rivera’s chance to make a stand. It’s also an opportunity for Yan to throw himself into title contention after only one year competing for the promotion.
Can Jessica Eye do the unthinkable?
Not many are giving Jessica Eye a chance in her UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship bout against Valentina Shevchenko this weekend. Shevchenko, the champion, is regarded as one of the best female mixed martial artists in the sport today. Eye, now the #1 contender in the division, has more defeats than victories in her UFC career.
Right now, the betting odds reflect the challenge that is in front of Eye at UFC 238. The best odds for Eye have her at +917, odds that reflect an absurd 9.8% implied probability of winning the fight.
Stranger things have happened in combat sports, however, and just last weekend we saw Andy Ruiz Jr. defeat Anthony Joshua despite being a +1665 favorite (5.7% implied win probability) at some sportsbooks.
Will we witness another major upset in the world of combat sports? Or will Valentina Shevchenko cruise to yet another victory as a flyweight?
Loads of exciting preliminary fights
If you’re tuning into ESPN just before the pay-per-view section of UFC 238 gets underway, here’s what you’ll have in front of you:
- Tatiana Suarez vs. Nina Ansaroff
- Aljamain Sterling vs. Pedro Munhoz
- Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Alexa Grasso
- Ricardo Lamas vs. Calvin Kattar
- Xiaonan Yan vs. Angela Hill
As it stands, these prelims would make for an exciting main card on their own. The strategy of the UFC is clear; pack the prelims with exciting fights and fighters to capture the attention of fans and help move them toward buying the pay-per-view later in the night.
Tatiana Suarez vs. Nina Ansaroff is an important women’s strawweight battle. Suarez has been unstoppable in her career so far and remains undefeated after seven fights. Ansaroff’s four-fight winning streak was recently topped off with a brilliant unanimous decision victory against former title challenger, Claudia Gadelha.
Ricardo Lamas vs. Calvin Kattar is also sure to be a fascinating featherweight battle. The Body Lock’s expert analyst Sriram Muralidaran has covered that fight in more detail for you already.
UFC 238 will air exclusively on ESPN+ in the United States.
Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.