There were no official fight announcements from yesterday to report on, but the first UFC card of 2019 has been revealed, and I’ll give my initial thoughts on it in today’s MMA odds and ends.
UFC 233 Announced For January In Anaheim
The LA Times reported yesterday that UFC 233 will take place Saturday, January 26 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California, the first UFC event of 2019 to be announced so far. The UFC will be going head-to-head against Bellator, who will be holding the Heavyweight Grand Prix Finals featuring Fedor Emelianenko and Ryan Bader across town at The Forum in Inglewood.
According to the report, no bouts have been officially added to the card yet, but the rumored main event for UFC 233 will see UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw take on UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo in a superfight. Again, that fight is not official, but the rumors of that bout have been floating out there for a while, and considering both fighters’ connection to LA and to California, it seems like the perfect main event for this card in Anaheim. Not to mention the recent rumbling thats the UFC may be cutting the flyweight division, so it makes sense.
UFC president Dana White also recently announced Ben Askren would be fighting a top-five opponent in his Octagon debut, and this card could be the perfect opportunity for him to have his first fight in the UFC. Perhaps a matchup against another California native in Robbie Lawler could make sense. Either way, the article did mention Askren as a potential fighter on this card.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this announcement is that the UFC is going head-to-head against Bellator the same night in essentially the same city. This isn’t the first time the UFC has done that, but it’s interesting nevertheless. Clearly, the UFC feels a bit threatened by Bellator’s supercard in the same area that night. After all, the fight between Fedor and Bader is going to be one of the most-anticipated bouts outside the UFC all year. The UFC doesn’t want Bellator getting all the eyeballs on it that night, although ultimately that hurts the hardcore fans the most as most hardcores will want to watch both events.
The fact the first card of 2019 has now been revelaed is a good thing. Recently the UFC has only been announcing fights up until the end of 2018 and we had no idea what the schedule for 2019 was going to look like. Now we at least have some idea. With the ESPN deal kicking in to ring in the new year, the UFC should be announcing many more cards and bouts for 2019 in the coming weeks. If I had to guess, UFC 230 this weekend would be a perfect opportunity to announce the first part of the new schedule for the new year. The UFC has a lot of momentum heading into the new year, and with the recent blockbuster trade of Demetrious Johnson for Askren, I’m excited to see what other tricks the promotion has up its sleeve.