Believe it or not, we’ve made it to UFC 235 without encountering any significant problems.
No one missed weight, and even more surprising is that Jon Jones hasn’t been removed from the card.
It’s on – and we can now finally get excited for UFC 235, the first truly stacked mixed martial arts event of 2019.
Just like every other week, we’re here to bring you our predictions for each of the main card bouts.
If you’re seeking more detailed analysis and insights, head on over to our UFC predictions category, where you can find all of Sriram Muralidaran’s breakdowns.
Jon Jones vs. Anthony Smith predictions
Jones (-800) is a significant betting favorite against Smith (+665)
This weekend, Jon Jones (23-1) will be making an unbelievably fast turnaround, by his standards, at least. The last time Jones fought this close in back-to-back fights was in early 2011 when he competed at both UFC 126 and UFC 128. Yeah, we’ve had more than 100 pay-per-view cards since then.
Jones steps in after seemingly cruising past Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232, where he showed improved boxing ability and hammered the lead leg of “Gus” with his controversial oblique kick. Jones earned a ground and pound stoppage in the third round.
He’ll be facing Anthony Smith (31-13), a man who many thought would never be in this position. With a career record of 31 wins and 13 defeats, it would appear as if Smith has more experience. However, Jones has had much more time inside the cage than his adversary this weekend with multiple five-round fights to his name.
Jones has stopped 16 of his opponents and Smith has been finished 12 times in 13 defeats. It’s unsurprising to see that all of us are backing in the light heavyweight champion in this main event. And for what it’s worth, no one picked Jones to win by decision.
Picking Jones: Abhinav Kini, Brandon Sibcy, DC Howard, Drake Riggs, J. Hyon Ko, Jake Nichols, Jay Cranford, Michael Fiedel, Nick Cowie, Ollie Carlson, Shane Connelly, Sriram Muralidaran, Steven Rae, Tom Tierney
Picking Smith: (none)
Tyron Woodley vs. Kamaru Usman predictions
Woodley (-160) is a slight betting favorite against Usman (+150)
The co-main event is a somewhat unexpected, but very well matched welterweight title fight.
After Colby Covington defeated Rafael dos Anjos and claimed the UFC Interim Welterweight Championship last year, many thought Covington would be next in line to face Woodley, the champion. However, Covington missed his chance, and the UFC went with Kamaru Usman, who scored wins of similar significance in the same period.
Woodley is one of the few UFC champions today who have stuck by their division and consistently defended the title against a run of top contenders. After claiming the title from Lawler at UFC 201, Woodley went on to fight Stephen Thompson twice, dominate Demian Maia and then easily submit Darren Till.
There’s an argument to be made that Usman is the toughest test of all of these challengers, and you’ll find that we’re split 8/6 in favor of the champion in this co-main event.
Read: the case for Kamaru
Picking Woodley: Abhinav Kini, Brandon Sibcy, DC Howard, J. Hyon Ko, Michael Fiedel, Ollie Carlson, Shane Connelly, Steven Rae
Picking Usman: Drake Riggs, Jake Nichols, Jay Cranford, Nick Cowie, Sriram Muralidaran, Tom Tierney
Robbie Lawler vs. Ben Askren predictions
Askren (-245) is a moderate betting favorite against Lawler (+230)
Ben Askren has arrived at the UFC and captured the attention of many. It should be surprising, considering that Askren is yet to compete inside the Octagon, but there’s something about the “Funky” one that draws so many to him.
Askren is an elite-level wrestler who has been dominating lower-level competition for quite some time, but we all know that. What we don’t know, however, is whether Askren will be able to hang with Robbie Lawler, who is arguably one of the most difficult matchups in the entire welterweight division for him.
Lawler can do it all, and that’s something that can’t be said about Askren – whose striking will soon rate amongst the lowest of all competitors in the welterweight division.
But as we’ve come to learn from watching mixed martial arts over the years, sufficient wrestling capability is often enough to secure a victory, and Askren’s ability appears to be more than sufficient to win this one in the minds of eight of us.
Picking Lawler: Abhinav Kini, Brandon Sibcy, Michael Fiedel, Sriram Muralidaran, Steven Rae, Tom Tierney
Picking Askren: DC Howard, Drake Riggs, J. Hyon Ko, Jake Nichols, Jay Cranford, Nick Cowie, Ollie Carlson, Shane Connelly
Tecia Torres vs. Weili Zhang predictions
Zhang (-132) is a slight betting favorite against Torres (+125)
Zhang (18-1) will feature on the UFC 235 not long after crushing Jessica Aguilar with vicious elbows and a brilliant armbar at UFC Fight Night 141 in November.
She’ll be up against Tecia Torres (10-3), who probably doesn’t get the respect she deserves as a contender in the strawweight division. Sure, Torres is coming off of two defeats, but they were against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, a former champion, and Jessica Andrade, who is challenging for the title again. Torres’ last defeat before then was to current champion, Rose Namajunas.
Torres is in this weird situation where she’s not quite good enough to hang with the top-tier of the division, but she’s better than the pack underneath. And for the most part, we have no idea where Zhang fits into the mix at 115-pounds right now, but this is shaping up to be an extremely competitive battle between two high-pressure fighters.
Zhang to win by unanimous decision is the consensus opinion here at The Body Lock.
Picking Torres: DC Howard, Michael Fiedel, Steven Rae
Picking Zhang: Abhinav Kini, Brandon Sibcy, Drake Riggs, J. Hyon Ko, Jake Nichols, Jay Cranford, Nick Cowie, Ollie Carlson, Shane Connelly, Sriram Muralidaran, Tom Tierney
Cody Garbrandt vs. Pedro Munhoz predictions
Garbrandt (-148) is a slight betting favorite against Munhoz (+140)
It still seems a little too early to look back on it all now, but Cody Garbrandt’s rise to the top was about as quick as it gets in the UFC.
In 2016 alone, he defeated Augusto Mendes, Thomas Almeida, and Takeya Mizugaki to leapfrog the rest of the division and earn a shot at the champion, Dominick Cruz. Garbrandt then proceeded to style on the former champion in a way that no one thought was possible.
At the hands of TJ Dillashaw, however, we’re now looking back at what was – and not what is – a dominant streak from Cody Garbrandt. He’s now lost two times to Dillashaw and finds himself desperately needing a victory at 135-pounds.
Against him is “The Young Punisher,” Pedro Munhoz, a man who has proven to be dangerous in more ways than one. The speed and efficiency of his guillotine choke victories are enough to frighten any opponent, and he’s more than capable of standing up with top-rated opponents in the division, as well.
The odds for this fight are fairly tight, and we’re not leaning to one side in particular, either.
Picking Garbrandt: Jake Nichols, Jay Cranford, Michael Fiedel, Ollie Carlson, Shane Connelly, Steven Rae, Tom Tierney
Picking Munhoz: Abhinav Kini, Brandon Sibcy, DC Howard, Drake Riggs, J. Hyon Ko, Nick Cowie, Sriram Muralidaran
Formerly the lead MMA Editor at RealSport.