Witness history at UFC 232!
What a year of MMA it has been! With highlights such as Daniel Cormier becoming a simultaneous two-division champion after defeating the terrifying Stipe Miocic along with the highly anticipated super fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor, 2018 called for something spectacular to end with, and it seems we’ve got it. UFC 232 is set to be a thrilling night of fighting, with some of the greatest athletes the sport has ever seen ready to step into the octagon to battle it out for our entertainment. The stage for this great event will be the Forum Inglewood in Los Angeles, California. For us Europeans, the action will go down from on the 30th of December at 00:30 CET, with the main card ready to start at around 4:00. In other words; another sleepless night or very exciting Sunday morning for fighting enthusiasts. Below you can see the line-up of the main card, followed by a closer look at the two spectacular title bouts of the night.
Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson – Title bout (Main event)
Cris Cyborg vs Amanda Nunes – Title bout (Co-main event)
Carlos Condit vs Michael Chiesa
Illir Latifi vs Corey Anderson
Chad Mendes vs Alexander Volkanovski
Cris Cyborg vs Amanda Nunes
The upcoming superfight between Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes is most likely the greatest fight in the history of the female UFC. The Brazilian-American Cris Cyborg is the current UFC Women’s Featherweight champion of the world and holds a 20-fight unbeaten streak ahead of the upcoming bout. She is listed as the 11th best in the UFC pound-for-pound rankings, making her the best female on the chart. So far she has defended her Featherweight belt on two occasions, the last being against Yana Kunitskaya earlier this year. Her background in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing means she masters a vast variety of styles, but her striking is by far her strongest side. She is, with no doubt, the most feared female MMA fighter in the world and it will take a very special opponent to defeat her.
Cyborg’s fellow Brazilian countryman, Amanda Nunes could be just that opponent, though. The current UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion has for long been terrorising her division, beating the likes of Ronda Rousey while defending her belt 3 times in a row. The time has now come for “The Lioness” to move up a division to challenge the fearsome Cyborg and possibly become the first female two-division champion in UFC history, and only the third fighter of any gender to hold two belts simultaneously (Conor McGregor and Daniel Cormier being the two others). Her raw force has been described as that of a good male fighter and her background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing and judo means that Nunes masters all areas of the octagon.
The leadup to this fight has been time consuming to say the least. When Nunes first called Cyborg out it was revealed that she needed quite a lot of time to prepare, something that didn’t impress the Lightweight champion much. After much back and forth it now looks like we will finally have our superfight, although Cyborg has pointed to Nunes’ history of pulling out of fights before. Most bookmakers hold Cyborg as the clear favourite, which is understandable. While both women are extremely skilled strikers, especially on the boxing side of things, it seems clear that Cyborg has more discipline and efficiency in this field. Her size advantage will help her get more out of her connections, although she is unlikely to have ever faced a woman with a bigger punching force before. Both women prefer to keep the fight standing and have the skills to knock out the other at any given time.
On the ground it seems that Nunes’ talents are more manifested with 3 submission finishes in her MMA career and some impressive ground work in general. She is more likely than her opponent to go for a submission, probably a choke, if she manages to get her to the ground with her brawling. Cyborg is no stranger to putting in work on the ground either though, evident by her numerous training videos. Nevertheless, the chances of this fight being fought on the ground are very slim. One thing’s for sure; it’s going to be a very exciting matchup as these two fighters are similar in many ways, but still bring their own unique touch to the octagon as they are both facing the toughest fight in their careers. Who have you got?
Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson
The last time these two men met it was a 5-round thriller that is viewed as one of the greatest bouts the UFC has seen. It was an extremely close contest but, in the end, Jones won by unanimous decision and retained his Light Heavyweight belt. Now, with the very same belt vacant after Cormier moved up a division, they meet again for a highly anticipated rematch to headline UFC 232. Currently ranked as number 3 on the UFC pound-for-pound rankings, Jon Jones is by many seen as the greatest UFC fighter of all time. The American really has it all; lethal finishing, takedowns, grappling, submissions and an impressive physique. He has never been defeated by an opponent in his professional MMA career, but has instead been haunted by no-contests, disqualifications and suspensions due to illegal elbows, criminal charges and positive drug tests. His matchup with Gustafsson will be his first after a 15 months long ban, and “Bones” is keen to regain his belt.
Standing opposite of Jones on the 30th of December will be the man who gave him the toughest ever fight and performed the first successful takedown on him in his career back in 2013, a man who has been chasing the Light Heavyweight belt for over a decade. Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson has a long background in boxing, but also masters the other elements of the cage, having won 3 fights in his MMA career by submission. The Swede of course gets a little bit extra appreciation here at ScandiBet due to his Viking origins, but it’s no secret that he will have to deliver the fight of his life in order to beat Jones and finally get his hands on that belt.
5 years is a long time, but both these athletes seem to have remained at the top of their game during this period. It has also been approximately a year and a half since both of them fought their last fights in the UFC, which can leave you wondering who has handled the time away better, there is no room for “ring rust” at this level. Both have improved their game since their last meeting and will surely try to avoid the mistakes of the past. Jon Jones was surprised by Gustafsson back in 2013, especially by his takedowns and takedown defences, this element of surprise is most likely now gone and will remove an edge from the Swede. If the fight is taken to the ground, most people will hold the American as the favourite, but he will have to be careful as “The Mauler” poses a big threat wherever this fight goes.
Striking-wise there should be few doubts surrounding who the bigger man is, Jones’ creativity, elbows, kicks and precision are in a class of their own and was also displayed in the last meeting, even if Gustafsson impressed with his boxing and endurance. Gustafsson’s biggest chance in this fight will be accessed by threatening Jones in every area at once like he did back in 2013. Keeping Jones on his toes and always having to be on the guard for the takedowns will be vital if he is to exploit the few weaknesses he has. It’s also worth mentioning that Jones showed clear signs of having been a significant time away from the octagon in his fight against Ovince Saint Preux following a long suspension in 2016, something that would help the Swede a long way if it was to repeat. Jones vs Gustafsson II is sure to be yet another close affair, but Jones is still the clear favourite with most bookmakers. Do you agree?
UFC 232 is going to be an event to savour for any MMA fan, and if you feel like making it even more exciting you can count on finding great odds for any outcome in any of the fights at ScandiBet! We are in your corner as the octagon door closes.