The UFC’s first trip to Las Vegas next year comes in early March with UFC 235. Although 2019 is already off to a weird start, thanks to the cancellation of UFC 233 in January, it looks like the promotion has a few solid options for their Las Vegas’ main event.
UFC 233 wasn’t the first time, and likely won’t be the last, that the UFC canceled one of their larger events. In combat sports, things rarely go according to plan. With a packed slate of fights each month, it’s not surprising that Dana White and Co. sometimes struggle to find enough headline-worthy bouts for their numerous pay-per-view events. Now, with one less PPV currently scheduled, who could the promotion call upon to main event UFC 235?
The Las Vegas card has already gained from Anaheim’s loss. The highly anticipated promotional debut of former ONE Championship and Bellator MMA title-holder Ben Askren will now take place at the T-Mobile Arena. His bout with former UFC champ Robbie Lawler has been shifted from UFC 233 to UFC 235. The card also currently features Jeremy Stephens versus Zabit Magomedsharipov and Diego Sanchez versus Mickey Gall.
There has also been talk of Nick Diaz making his long-awaited return to the Octagon against Jorge Masvidal in Las Vegas. Although you’d be foolish to believe that anything regarding Diaz’s return is set in stone until he’s actually in the Octagon.
Even with those high-profile bouts, the card still needs a headline fight. If the past is any indicator, that means the promotion wants a title fight in the main event. There’s not a ton to choose from, between already scheduled bouts, superfights, and more. But thanks to the cancellation of UFC 233 and one less championship being tied up, UFC 235 has a few top-tier options for their main event.
A two-to-three month turnaround for some fighters isn’t unheard of. Still, it’s rare, even considering the promotion has few options for UFC 235. So we’re going to rule out the current and future champions competing at UFC 231 and 232 this December. That means we probably won’t be seeing Valentina Shevchenko, Max Holloway, Amanda Nunes, or Cris Cyborg. Or the winner of the light heavyweight title rematch between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC 235.
Well, maybe we could see one of them. But we’ll get to that later.
A couple more titles are spoken for in January as well. The “superfight” between TJ Dillashaw and Henry Cejudo for the 125-pound championship means neither title-holder will likely be ready to fight again around six weeks later.
The same goes for UFC 234 headliners Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum. They will be competing in the main event of February’s PPV in Australia.
Women’s strawweight champ Rose Namajunas is expected back in the spring of 2019. Could she defend the belt at UFC 235? Maybe. If she does, it’s unlikely the event will be the first in promotion history to feature strawweights in the main event of a pay-per-view.
Dana White and Co. could just use their plan for UFC 233 and see if welterweight title-holder Tyon Woodley is ready to go by then. The situation is still a little tricky though. Contenders Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman both have legitimate claims to title shots. Then again, if Woodley is unavailable, a (you guessed it) interim title could be utilized once again. Regardless of the combination of opponents the promotion uses, don’t be surprised to see some form of the 170-pound title on the line at UFC 235.
If we’re talking cloudy title-pictures, current light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier should be involved. He’s turning 40 in late-March, and has mentioned retiring around that time in the past. Much like Woodley, it gets more confusing when trying to find an opponent for the champ.
As of now, it looks as though Brock Lesnar is a legitimate option. Whether or not the former heavyweight champ is ready to fight by then remains to be seen. There isn’t a whole lot else going on in the title picture in the promotion’s heaviest division. Why not have some fun?
Even more fun though, would be the third and final installment of the Cormier-Jones rivalry. Yeah, DC has lost to him twice. Yeah, it was in decisive fashion in the most recent bout. But given the circumstances surrounding the two, and the title pictures at 205 and 205+, the promotion could do much worse than Cormier-Jones 3 at UFC 235. Of course, Jones still needs to fight Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 before anything moves in that direction. That doesn’t mean we can’t get our hopes up.
Although he’s on the unliklier end of these options, Khabib Nurmagomedov might be available. He still has his hearing with NSAC in late-January. The idea of him competing in Nevada less than two months later doesn’t sound very plausible. Yet, depending on how desperate the UFC is come 2019, and the outcome of Nurmagomedov’s hearing, the lightweight champ defending his belt could be an option the promotion considers to top UFC 235.
Let us know who you think will be in the main event of UFC 235! Who do you want to see headlining the pay-per-view in Las Vegas this Spring? We’re leaining towards Tyron Woodley or Daniel Cormier defending their respective belts. As 2019 has already showed us, there’s not telling what could happen. For now, there are a few top-notch options, any of which we’d be more than happy to see atop the card. Share your thoughts with us by commenting below, on Facebook, or replying on Twitter!