A new era for the UFC starts this weekend in Brooklyn, New York.
The deal with ESPN is ready to kick off with a superfight between flyweight champion Henry Cejudo and bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw which will stream exclusively on ESPN+. In a rather stacked card, two matchups stand out to me: undefeated prospect Gregor Gillespie will take on the always exciting vet Yancy Medeiros and Joanne ‘JoJo’ Calderwood looks to make some noise in the women’s flyweight division as she takes on newcomer Ariane ‘The Violence Queen’ Lipski.
New York native Gregor ‘The Gift’ Gillespie, former ROC lightweight champion, came into the UFC with a 7-0 record and three years later is still undefeated. His last four wins coming by way of stoppage against Andrew Holbrook, Jason Gonzalez, Jordan Rinaldi and most recently Vinc Pichel at UFC Fight Night 131 back in June, Gillespie is looking to crash the lightweight title picture and should get that push from the company.
Yancy Medeiros, who has been with the promotion since 2013, started out at lightweight before moving to welterweight; is now back a lightweight for this bout after a loss to Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone just under a year ago. Ripping off three straight at welterweight, (finishes against Sean Spencer, Erick Silva and Alex ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira, respectively) Medeiros is no stranger to fight bonuses, collecting five over his stint with the promotion. Keep an eye on the weigh-ins, as Medeiros promised his opponent a ‘rude awakening’ if he gets too close after they hit the scales.
Former kickboxing champion Joanne ‘JoJo’ Calderwood was part of the Ultimate Fighter season 20, where the first UFC strawweight champion was crowned. Calderwood lost to current champion Rose Namajunas in the quarterfinals. A lot has changed since then. The UFC implemented the women’s flyweight division in 2017 and Calderwood was eager to move up, feeling more comfortable at that weight, and it’s shown. JoJo is undefeated at flyweight, besting former strawweight title challenger Valérie Létourneau and Kalindra Faria. The only other flyweight without a loss and on a win streak is Jessica Eye, someone who Calderwood is keeping an eye on as current champ Valentina Shevchenko waits for her next opponent.
UFC newcomer Ariane ‘The Violence Queen’ Lipski is finally here. The former KSW women’s flyweight champion signed with the big show after her latest win this past March (she was scheduled to face Maryna Moroz in November before Moroz sustained an injury). Lipski is known to be a rare knockout artist among the flyweights and carries a nine-fight win streak into her upcoming bout. The Brazilian prospect was most recently seen training with former UFC women’s featherweight champion, the heavy-handed Cris Cyborg.
Gillespie versus Medeiros is an interesting fight. Gillespie is looking to crack the top 10 while Medeiros is trying to find himself back in the win column with a move back down to lightweight. If this fight manages to stay on the feet, it could be another bonus for both fighters; but if it hits the ground, I give Gillespie the advantage.
Calderwood versus Lipski is a fight I’m very excited to see. I expect both fighters to stand and bang, as this will be the toughest test yet for Lipski, but I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘JoJo’ brings it to the ground, as she looked rather comfortable there in her last fight.
UFC Fight Night: Cejudo Vs. Dillashaw streams live on ESPN+ which feature the early prelims (6:00PM ET/3:00PM PT) and the main card (10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT) (which feature Gillespie/Medeiros), while the preliminaries air live on ESPN (8:00PM ET/5:00 PM PT) (which feature Calderwood/Lipski).