As expected, Jon Jones is a heavy betting favorite at UFC 235 against 44-fight veteran Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith, who is coming off a three-fight winning streak since his move up to Light Heavyweight last year.
In the buildup to the fight, Jon ‘Bones’ Jones predicts that he will make Smith look like a fool, while Nebraskan-raised brawler Smith insists that he has the skillset to upset the technically superior MMA opponent.
In the co-main event, Tyron Woodley takes on Kamaru Usman, who has not been defeated in the UFC since winning The Ultimate Fighter in 2015.
The stacked fight card will also feature Ben Askren’s debut against Robbie Lawler and Cody Garbrandt’s return against Pedro Munhoz. Rising light heavyweight star Johnny Walker faces his biggest test in Misha Cirkunov while Jeremy Stephens and Zabit Magomedsharipov is a potential Fight of the Night bout.
Here is the UFC 235 fight card and predictions and picks for the main card and preliminary fights.
Jon Jones vs. Anthony Smith
Jon Jones is the same height as 6’4 Anthony Smith but has an 8-inch reach advantage. Smith will look to get into boxing range with Jones and turn the fight into a brawl.
However, Jones is an effective inside fighter with his elbow strikes and a strong clinch. Smith also has to worry about Jones’ leg kicks early in the fight that he uses to disable many of his opponent’s movements. Lionheart will likely need the elusive knockout to defeat Jones.
Pick: Jon Jones via second-round TKO.
Tyron Woodley vs. Kamaru Usman
In the stacked Welterweight division, Woodley is up against another phenom in Usman. The Nigerian Nightmare or Marty from Nebraska maintains a relentless pace over five rounds and will have a cardio advantage. The champion has superior striking and wrestling to Usman, who says he will test the champion’s heart.
Usman’s only loss is a rear-naked choke in his second fight in the UFC. Woodley may have to use his high-caliber submission skills that served him well against Liverpool’s Darren Till.
Pick: Tyron Woodley
Robbie Lawler vs. Ben Askren
This is your striker versus wrestler matchup. Ben Askren is an undefeated wrestler with limited striking ability. On the other hand, Robbie Lawler is a good grappler and excellent striker.
Askren brings a caliber of wrestling comparable to fellow undefeated phenom Khabib Nurmagomedov. Ben Askren will look to take the fight to the ground immediately and has the ability to keep it there.
Pick: Ben Askren
Tecia Torres vs. Weili Zhang
Chinese prospect Weili Zhang meets a step up in competition in Tecia Torres. Zhang is well-rounded and should look to avoid getting to a clinch with Torres, who can finish the fight on the ground.
Pick: Weili Zhang
Cody Garbrandt vs. Pedro Munhoz
Garbrandt returns after losing two fights to his rival and former teammate TJ Dillashaw. Pedro Munhoz is hard to put away but has lost on the judges’ scorecards against elite competition.
Cody ‘No Love’ is a well-rounded disciple of UFC legend Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male. Cody should have a striking and grappling advantage over his opponent to win a decision or another knockout to his impressive resume.
Pick: Cody Garbrandt
Picks and predictions for the UFC 235 undercard
Jeremy Stephens defeats Zabit Magomedsharipov
Johnny Walker defeats Misha Cirkunov
Alejandro Pérez defeats Cody Stamann
Mickey Gall defeats Diego Sanchez
Charles Byrd defeats Edmen Shahbazyan
Macy Chiasson defeats Gina Mazany
Marlon Vera defeats Frankie Saenz
Polyana Viana defeats Hannah Cifers