The UFC heads to Dallas, Texas for the UFC 228 PPV. Tyron Woodley will defend his welterweight belt against Darren Till, and Nicco Montano will finally defend her women’s flyweight belt against Valentina Shevchenko. I’m not overly interested in either main event, but there are a few other solid fights on the card including Andrade vs Kowalkiewicz, Alhassan vs Price, Suarez vs Esparza and Stamann vs Sterling.
I’ve given my picks for the four main card fights below. All of the odds are taken from BetOnline.ag, our top rated betting site for MMA. Here’s our full BetOnline review for you to check out if you’re interested in opening an account and placing some bets.
Tyron Woodley vs Darren Till
I’m not a fan of this fight. I was very excited to see Woodley vs Covington and I don’t understand the UFC possibly ruining that huge fight just to get another title fight on this Dallas card, which is still not going to do well from a PPV perspective.
That said, I also don’t think Till has earned his title shot. He didn’t do anything against Wonderboy and won the fight based on cage control and home fan advantage, while never really initiating anything in that fight. The only actual good performance Till has in his entire career was his 1st round finish of Donald Cerrone and the size difference was just ridiculous in that fight. Cowboy has only won 1 of his last 5 fights now, so I also don’t see how that win puts Till in this position. The UFC obviously sees a potential star in Till, but I don’t think his work inside the octagon justifies that yet. Before his Cowboy win, Till only won decisions over Velickovic and Ayari, while drawing Nicolas Dalby. All three of those fighters weren’t good enough to stay in the UFC with all 3 having been cut, while Till couldn’t even finish any of them.
Woodley is a big step up in competition for Till and although I do think Till has a legitimate chance because I’m also not high on Woodley, I think this is a solid matchup for Tyron. Till has never fought a wrestler, so that’s a huge question mark as to whether he will be able to stop a power double leg from Woodley, who is an explosive wrestler when he decides to engage.
Till’s best bet will be to go back to his very aggressive style, which he gave up for the Wonderboy fight. Woodley has shown cardio issues in the past and when Rory MacDonald stayed on him for the entire fight Woodley didn’t have an answer. If Till can keep the pedal down and avoid being taken down I think he has a shot.
That said, Woodley is my bet in this fight. There are too many question marks with Till at this point in time and Woodley generally has a good game plan, and could very well get takedowns and make this fight very boring while working for another title defense.
Play: Woodley -118
Valentina Shevchenko vs Nicco Montano
Shevchenko and Montano are on entirely different levels. Shevchenko should be able to win this fight easily, but at these odds I’m not going to be betting her personally.
Play: Shevchenko -1250 **Lean
Jessica Andrade vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz
This is an interesting fight. I tend to think of Kowalkiewicz as the poor-man’s version of Joanna Jedrzejczyk. She has a good long range striking game and has the ability to get in and out of range while landing damage. Joanna absolutely pieced Andrade up with this style when Andrade got her title shot back in May of 2017. Andrade has looked good since this loss getting the better of both Gadelha and Torres, but these are two smaller girls who don’t have the range striking ability of Joanna or Karolina.
I think this fight could be much closer than many think and I see a clear path to victory for Karolina by using the same striking style that Joanna used to starch Andrade. I’m not convinced the style will work as well for Karolina, but at these odds I do see value in Kowalkiewicz.
Play: Kowalkiewicz +330
Abdul Rakaz Alhassan vs Niko Price
I’m surprised Niko Price is the underdog in this fight. Yes, Alhassan has some crazy good striking, but the guy is already 33 years old and he lost to Omari Akhmedov after getting taken down 6 times in that fight. Since that fight he had to knock out Sabah Homasi twice after there was controversy with his first win. This is a massive step up in competition for Alhassan and to be honest I really haven’t been too impressed with the top prospect.
Niko Price is a crafty fighter as we saw when he knocked out Randy Brown from bottom back in July. The guy is 5-1 in the UFC with wins over Morono, Jouban and Brown. He’s finished each one of his wins within 2 rounds and has shown both knockout power and submission skills. His only loss is to Vicente Luque, who I consider a future contender at welterweight. I see far more paths to victory for Price in this fight, so long as he can avoid getting knocked out by Alhassan early on.
Play: Price +135