THE Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) features a pair of world title fights when it descends on Los Angeles, California, on Sunday (Manila time) for “UFC 227.”
Happening at the Staples Center, UFC 227 will have the bantamweight title clash between reigning champion TJ Dillashaw and number one contender and immediate former champ Cody “No Love” Garbrandt in the headlining fight with the flyweight championship battle of longtime titleholder Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson against familiar foe Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo as the co-main event.
It will mark the second time that the protagonists will be colliding against one another and all are hell bent on having their respective goals succeed.
Messrs. Dillashaw (15-3) and Garbrandt (11-1) last met in November 2017 where the former reclaimed his title by way of knockout (punches) in the second round.
Mr. Garbrandt said that win was a “fluke” and is determined to prove that such is true in UFC 227.
Mr. Johnson (27-2-1), meanwhile, has been undefeated as flyweight champion since 2012 and has Mr. Cejudo (12-2) as one of his conquered, beating the latter by technical knockout (knees and punches) in the first round of their title clash in April 2016.
For local combat sports analyst Mike Miguel, the significance of the headlining fights at UFC 227 goes beyond what happens in Los Angeles as the players could well face each other in a big money fight down the line, thus, fans should watch the outcome of Sunday’s fights with keen interest.
“With the winner of these two title fights possibly facing each other in a big-money fight down the line, what will go down this weekend is a must-see,” said Mr. Miguel, who writes for local site, when asked by BusinessWorld for his thoughts on UFC 227.
He went on to say that all the championship protagonists are not lacking in motivation, which is why he is expecting competitive contests.
“In the main event, TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt will try to take each other’s head off more than just for bantamweight supremacy. For Garbrandt, he wants to make up for his costly error that led to his short-lived reign and regain his title. This match-up is a perfect recipe for another fight to be remembered and may exceed the expectations of their first encounter. Reigning champion Dillashaw, on the other hand, wants to close the book on his rivalry with his former Team Alpha Male teammate and prime himself for a big-money fight,” Mr. Miguel said.
“Meanwhile at flyweight, Demetrious Johnson keeps himself busy by cementing his place as one of the greatest who stepped inside the cage. Gunning for yet another historic feat (his 12th title defense) he faces Henry Cejudo who has shown during his last two fights that he is more prepared to face Johnson this time around. While the odds still favor Johnson, one can expect Cejudo making the proper adjustments in this fight,” the analyst said.
Mr. Miguel said reigning champions Dillashaw and Johnson are favorites to retain their titles but is not discounting the challengers’ abilities to spring a surprise.
“If both challengers come out confident and more calculated this time around, they will have a better shot at coming out victorious, especially Garbrandt, who lost the first bout because he allowed his emotion get the better of him,” Mr. Miguel said.
Other fights at UFC 227 are featherweight Cub Swanson against Renato Moicano, women’s strawweight Polyana Viana versus JJ Aldrich and middleweight Thiago Santos vs Kevin Holland.
UFC 227: Dillashaw vs Garbrandt 2 will be shown live on Sunday beginning at 10 a.m. over Hyper Ch. 91 in SD or 261 in HD on Cignal TV with replay at 6 p.m. on the same day.
In the Philippines, Cignal TV, the country’s foremost direct-to-home (DTH) company, is the home of the UFC after the two groups agreed to an extensive deal that will see the UFC beamed on various platforms. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo