While the most anticipated fight on UFC 228 is clearly the main event between UFC Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and challenger Darren Till, the show certainly isn’t what you’d call a one-fight card. Not only does it have a title fight as its co-main event, but it’s also one of the most intriguing cards of the year in terms of title implications.
Will it sell millions of pay-per-views? Perhaps not, but that shouldn’t sour you on the show – here are five reasons to watch UFC 228 outside of the main event.
#1 We could be about to witness a new era in the Women’s Flyweight division
It’s been almost a year now since the UFC introduced the Women’s Flyweight division with the 24th series of The Ultimate Fighter and if we’re frank, the jury is out on whether the addition of the division has been a success. On the plus side it’s provided some female fighters – Jessica Eye for instance – with a home closer to their more natural weight, but on the minus side, it still feels very much like a division in the early stages of its development.
Part of the reason for that is the fact that the UFC Women’s Flyweight title hasn’t been defended yet. Current champion Nicco Montano won the title by defeating Roxanne Modafferi in the TUF final back in December, but since then she’s been on the shelf with various injuries. UFC 228 will mark her first defense, and realistically, it could also be her last, too.
Challenger Valentina Shevchenko is an absolutely fantastic fighter; a year ago she came closer than anyone to dethroning UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes despite giving up a lot of size, and the likes of Holly Holm and Julianna Pena – top fighters – are amongst those she’s beaten. When she debuted at 125lbs in February she utterly destroyed Priscilla Cachoeira in one of the year’s most one-sided contests.
I’m not suggesting Montano isn’t a tough competitor, but despite winning the TUF tournament, her professional record is still modest – 5 wins and 2 losses – and she’s never fought anyone close to Shevchenko’s level. If ‘Bullet’ can dethrone the champion on Saturday in fact, it’s hard to see anyone in the division beating her for some time. This could be the beginning of a dominant title reign for the Kyrgyz fighter.