The UFC is returning to Chicago in early-June, and they’ll be bringing at least one title fight with them. Following a few pay-per-views that feature several title-fights, what’s left for UFC 238 and its main event?
We’re being treated to two title fights at UFC 235 and 236, and currently have one slated for UFC 237, with another expected. Although UFC 239 hasn’t yet been announced, we can expect a couple headed for the annual July event as well, which is generally one of the bigger of the year for the promotion. That’s a lot of title fights surrounding UFC 238 in Chicago.
This is the second consecutive year the UFC has brought a pay-per-view to Chicago. Last year’s event, UFC 225, featured two title fights. The main event was Whittaker-Romero 2, while Colby Covington fought Rafael dos Anjos for the interim welterweight title in the co-main. The card also featured former champs Holly Holm, Andrei Arlovski, and Alistair Overeem, along with former WWE Superstar and hometown kid CM Punk.
Chicago is a major market, and the promotion obviously wants to make the most of their visit. Don’t be surprised if a major title fight, or two, headline UFC 238 this summer. Given the busy summer schedule, which champions are left for the UFC to call upon?
As we mentioned, there’s a lot going on this spring and summer. More than a few champions are already spoken for, and are likely not available for UFC 238 in June.
At UFC 235 in early-March, welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is defending his belt against Kamaru Usman. Light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones is defending his new(?) championship as well, fighting Anthony Smith in the main event.
The following month at UFC 236 in Atlanta, a couple of interim title fights are headlining the card. In the main event, featherweight champion Max Holloway makes the move to lightweight, fighting surprise title challenger Dustin Poirier for the interim 155-pound championship. UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is slated for a November return, following his suspension.
Right before them, an interim middleweight champion will be crowned, when Israel Adesanya takes on Kelvin Gastelum. The winner of that bout will (probably) get a shot at champion Robert Whittaker later this year.
When the promotion heads to Brazil for UFC 237 in May, they’ll have the strawweight champion with them as well. Rose Namajunas is slated to defend her belt against Jessica Andrade in Rio. While it’s an awesome fight that we’re very much looking forward to, it’s unlikely to be the first ever strawweight bout to main event a pay-per-view.
The initial talk for 237’s main event was about featherweight and bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes. There were reports of a main event matchup with former bantamweight titleholder and featherweight title challenger Holly Holm. Nunes has since come out and said she won’t be on the card, and is targeting a return later in 2019. So, the promotion will need to look elsewhere if they’re looking to add another title-fight to the Brazil card.
Flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko is available to fight, and wants to defend her belt soon. Whether she fights Jessica Eye, or gets a rematch with one of the two women to defeat her in MMA: Liz Carmouche, the bout probably won’t be the main event for UFC 238. But, it would make for a fun co-main.
The promotion could also feature their other flyweight champion in Henry Cejudo. What exactly they do with him, and the division, will be a story to follow in 2019. Several flyweights have been cut, others have moved to bantamweight, while contenders like Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga keep winning fights. Cejudo doesn’t look out of place atop an event, but with the current landscape of the division, we’d be surprised to see the promotion feature a couple of flyweights in the main event of a pay-per-view.
They could even run back the superfight from January, and pit Cejudo against bantamweight titleholder TJ Dillashaw. The interest would be there, despite how the first fight ended. While it’s a possibility, it’s more likely the promotion gives human-highlight Marlon Moraes the next shot at the 135-pound belt. Despite Dillashaw’s recent loss, the promotion could do worse than Dillashaw-Moraes in the headline slot of UFC 238.
The promotion could use a new featherweight champion as well. With current title-holder Max Holloway making the move to 155-pounds at UFC 236, crowning a new champ at UFC 238 wouldn’t be the worst idea. Depending on who they’d want to put in that fight, we’re thinking Jose Aldo-Brian Ortega sounds fun, the bout could headline the pay-per-view in Brazil as well. Regardless of the combination of contenders, Chicago’s pay-per-view is definitely an option for a vacant/interim featherweight title fight.
Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier might be available by then as well. Currently healing up from a busy 2018, the former two-division champ is playing the waiting game. Hoping for a matchup with former heavyweight titleholder and current WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar, Cormier is in no hurry. Lesnar’s schedule will likely clear up in April, after Wrestlemania. Depending on when exactly he’s free, June could be an option.
The annual major card in July seems like the more probable landing place for Cormier-Lesnar. But if Lesnar isn’t available, Ohio’s Stipe Miocic would be a good fit atop a Chicago PPV. He, like Cormier, is being patient, and hoping to get a rematch with Cormier later this year.
The promotion has a few solid options for their trip to Chicago in June. We’re partial to the featherweight and bantamweight title-fights, but with this group, there aren’t many wrong answers. Let us know who you think will fight in the main event of UFC 238, and who you want to see in Chicago! Comment below, on Facebook, or reply on Twitter.