Presented by ESPN+ for UFC 238…
And so the bantamweights will take center stage at UFC 238 …
Constructing a fight card is no simple task. Promoters and matchmakers need to create an event, a marketable event, with title fights and important divisional matchups, mixing new and veteran talent in an effort to build new stars and household names. It’s a tricky puzzle of sorts that has many moving parts and pieces, not to mention contractual concerns, and more often than not, a big Pay Per View card will feature a number of key bouts from a single weight class.
As is the case with UFC 238 and the bantamweight division.
The UFC 238 Pay Per View card on ESPN+ features a very clear hierarchy, with UFC flyweight champion Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo moving up a weight class to face “Magic” Marlon Moraes in the main event, as both vie to become the new undisputed champion at 135 pounds. But UFC 238, which goes down at the United Center in Chicago on June 8, also features another pair of compelling bantamweight contests, as third-ranked Aljamain Sterling takes on fourth-ranked Pedro Munhoz, and seventh-ranked Jimmie Rivera meets ninth-ranked Petr Yan. Both matchups have significant stakes in one of the UFC’s more underrated divisions.
The truth is, the UFC bantamweight division is finally hitting its critical mass, and while it features a handful of notable names and a bevy of promising talent, it’s also the only division currently without a champion. UFC 238 will not only clear the air but will also give the weight class new life, as it moves on from the T.J. Dillashaw era.
With their names atop the UFC 238 marquee, Cejudo, the 125-pound champ, and Moraes, the number-one contender, are rather unlikely dance partners. But, just because no one ever imagined these two exchanging punches and kicks doesn’t mean they can’t throw down in an exceptional display of mixed martial arts.
Of the two, Cejudo is the more well-rounded athlete, thanks in part to his Olympic gold-medal wrestling caliber. But on the feet, Moraes owns a distinct advantage, not just because of his height and reach, but also because of his knack for delivering mesmerizing, highlight-reel-worthy knockouts. Seriously, since December 2017, Moraes has needed all of 4:57 to dispatch of three opponents, finishing all of them with Performance of the Night-level knockouts and submissions.
Now, because MMA is a combat sport, where fighters are contractually obligated to meet certain weight requirements the day before the fight, matchmakers will often throw an insurance policy into the mix, booking other fighters from the same weight class on the same card, you know, just in case something goes wrong at the scale with the top dogs.
In the case of UFC 238, UFC president Dana White and matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard have scheduled an amazing crop of bantamweights on the card, beginning with Aljamain “The Funkmaster” Sterling and Pedro Munhoz, who compete on the evening’s preliminary card.
Both riding three-fight winning streaks heading into UFC 238, Sterling and Munhoz are both coming off of the biggest wins of their careers. Munhoz, in particular, recorded an impressive Fight of the Night knockout over former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt at UFC 235, significantly elevating his profile. Right on the cusp of a title, the stakes are higher than ever for Sterling and Munhoz.
A few fights later, on the UFC 238 Pay Per View main card on ESPN+, one of the UFC’s most promising prospects, Petr “No Mercy” Yan meets Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera in another pivotal contest at 135 pounds.
Perhaps a bit of a showcase fight for Yan, who is 4-0 in the Octagon, this bout is a major step up in competition for the Russian fighter. Yan has spent the entirety of his short UFC career calling out the biggest names in the sink-or-swim bantamweight division, and the fight against Rivera will ultimately prove if he is really ready to become the contender many believe Yan is.
Yan vs. Rivera is an intriguing matchup given both fighters’ preference for keeping the action on the feet. Rivera, who comes from a traditional karate background likes to commit to power strikes. Yan also throws with intent, but his style is a little more kickboxing focused, and always action-packed, which bodes well for fans tuning in to catch this Pay Per View fight on ESPN+.
And with all this great action, the bantamweight division is in full effect at UFC 238, as Cejudo and Moraes look to take the reins of a weight class badly in need of a champion, while Sterling, Munhoz, Rivera, and Yan all look to cement themselves as the next contender at 135 pounds.
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