A breakdown of the fights on the main card of Saturday’s UFC 228 card at American Airlines Center in Dallas, with picks from the Review-Journal’s Adam Hill and Heidi Fang:
Tyron Woodley (18-3-1) vs. Darren Till (17-0-1)
Class: For Woodley’s welterweight title
Line: Woodley -140
Storyline: For much of his time in the UFC, making weight has been a bigger struggle for Till than his opponents. He hit the mark with ease on Friday, coming in one pound below the limit at 169 pounds. The difference this time around is that the man standing across from him in the cage on Saturday night will be his most difficult challenge to date. Woodley is an elite wrestler with a ton of power in his hands. He has really developed technique and confidence as a striker as he continues to reign over the division as champion. Till is a massive welterweight and will look quite a bit bigger when they face off in the cage. He’ll no doubt look to overwhelm Woodley early, but the champion can answer with either a power right hand or takedown. With so much power on both sides, this could become a chess match.
Hill’s Pick: Woodley by fourth-round knockout
Fang’s Pick: Till by decision
— — —
Jessica Andrade (18-6) vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-2)
Class: Women’s strawweight
Line: Andrade -450
Storyline: Andrade has been a runaway freight train since dropping all the way from 135 pounds to 115 two years ago. She has swarmed opponents and wore them down with her size and relentless pressure. The formula has worked as she has gone 5-1 at strawweight. Her only loss was when she abandoned that plan in a title fight against Joanna Jedrzejczyk because she was worried about her conditioning holding up over five round. There’s no such concern in this fight. Kowalkiewicz is more than capable of pulling the upset, but she’ll have to figure out a way to neutralize Andrade’s aggression.
Hill’s Pick: Andrade by decision
Fang’s Pick: Andrade by decision
— — —
Zabit Magomedsharipov (15-1) vs. Brandon Davis (9-4)
Line: Magomedsharipov -1400
Storyline: Magomedsharipov is one of the top prospects in the entire organization. Though he is 27, he has only three fights in the UFC. A winner of 11 straight bouts overall, Magomedsharipov is 6-foot-1 and uses his length to create angles for his dangerous strikes. He is also a gifted submission artist. He was supposed to fight Yair Rodriguez in a truly intriguing bout that would have surely propelled the winner near the top of the ranks. Instead, he draws a showcase bout against Davis, who accepted the matchup on two-weeks’ notice.
Hill’s Pick: Magomedsharipov by third-round knockout
Fang’s Pick: Magomedsharipov by third-round submission
— — —
Jimmie Rivera (21-2) vs. John Dodson (21-9)
Line: Rivera -145
Storyline: This matchup of bantamweight contenders got bumped up to the main card when the women’s flyweight title bout was scrapped on Saturday. It’s good exposure for whichever veteran comes out on top. It will be interesting to see how Rivera bounces back from a devastating 33-second knockout loss to Marlon Moraes in June. The loss snapped his 20-fight winning streak and left him trying to find a way to bounce back after going a decade without enduring the disappointment of a defeat. Dodson has won two of three with the loss also coming against Moraes.
Hill’s Pick: Rivera by decision
Fang’s Pick: Rivera by decision
— — —
Abdul Razak Alhassan (9-1) vs. Niko Price (21-9)
Line: Alhassan -140
Storyline: Alhassan is very dangerous early in fights. Any of the nine opponents he has knocked out in the first round can attest to that. The judo black belt has the credentials to grapple should it become necessary, but he has figured out an early knockout is the path of least resistance to a victory and it has landed him a spot as the opening act on a pay-per-view card. Price will likely look to stretch the fight out. He tends to get better as he gets more comfortable in the cage and has more roads to victory. While Price has power, he tends to be a more creative striker who can keep his opponents off balance.
Hill’s Pick: Alhassan by second-round knockout
Fang’s Pick: Alhassan by first-round knockout