MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC 238, a five-round vacant bantamweight title fight between Marlon Moraes and Henry Cejudo. The event takes place this Saturday, June 8 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Marlon Moraes (-135)
Moraes (22-5-1) is a 31-year-old Brazilian who is the No. 1 contender in the UFC bantamweight division. He has an overall record of 4-1 in the UFC including notable wins over Raphael Assuncao, Jimmie Rivera, Aljamain Sterling and John Dodson. Moraes is the former WSOF bantamweight champion and has looked amazing in the UFC so far save for a split decision loss to Assuncao in his promotional debut. He’s a tremendous talent who has shown how dangerous he is during his recent win streak with three first-round finishes over Assuncao, Rivera and Sterling. His striking is incredible and his submission game is on point as well. He also has the cardio to go the full five rounds and has a strong chin. The sportsbooks have Moraes listed as a slight -135 favorite to get the win in this fight and win the vacant bantamweight belt.
Henry Cejudo (+115)
Cejudo (14-2) is a 32-year-old American who is the UFC flyweight champion. He has an overall record of 8-2 in the UFC including notable wins over Demetrious Johnson, TJ Dillashaw, Jussier Formiga, Wilson Reis and Sergio Pettis. After a successful run at flyweight, Cejudo is moving up to bantamweight to try and become a rare double champion in the UFC. Cejudo comes from an Olympic wrestling background but his striking has really improved over the years as well, making him a super dangerous fighter in the UFC bantamweight division. His KO win over Dillashaw in his last outing proved that he has developed the knockout power needed to beat the top fighters in the sport, and the fact he was able to grind out a decision over Johnson showed us he can compete with anyone. Moving up to bantamweight could be the X-factor here. Although Cejudo is actually undefeated fighting at 135lbs in the past, he was a much more dominant fighter at flyweight. It will be interesting to see how he fares now going up against an elite talent in Moraes at a higher weight class. The oddsmakers have Cejudo listed as just a small +115 dog, which shows just how much respect that bettors have for his talents.
Fight breakdown: This is a tremendous fight between two mixed martial artists at the top of their game. Both fighters are riding four-fight win streaks into this fight, with both men coming off of a string of dominant victories that have shown they are both elite fighters in MMA. This is a tough fight to predict because both guys are so dangerous and evenly matched, but I have to slightly lean towards Moraes to win the belt. First off, he’s the natural bantamweight and that size advantage should help him here. He’s much more proven at the weight class and I believe he is the better striker, as well. Cejudo should have the wrestling advantage but Moraes has excellent takedown defense and should make it hard for Cejudo to get the takedown. I believe this fight primarily takes place on the feet, and while Cejudo definitely has good boxing and fast, powerful hands, Moraes is the more varied striker and is able to mix in his knees and kicks as well, which could prove to be the difference in a close matchup. I believe Moraes will be able to outstrike Cejudo and win a competitive but clear decision to become the new UFC bantamweight champ.
Prediction: Marlon Moraes via Unanimous Decision