The throne atop the 135-pound division currently sits empty.
After T.J. Dillashaw relinquished the Bantamweight Championship following a two-year suspension from USADA, the division was left in disarray. But almost as quickly as the news broke, two new challengers were announced to piece together the rubble.
In front of a raucous crowd at the United Center in Chicago, Flyweight champion Henry Cejudo and No.1 contender Marlon Moraes will battle for the vacant UFC Bantamweight Championship.
But that's not the only title on the line. In the co-main event, Valentina 'Bullet' Shevchenko will make the first defense of her Women's Flyweight Championship against Jessica Eye.
To top it all off, Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone go to war in a fight that has fans around the world salivating at the mere thought of.
With so much on the line, here's how we think things will play out at UFC 238.
UFC 238 Predictions
Henry Cejudo vs. Marlon Moraes
Nobody — and we mean nobody — saw Henry Cejudo's decimation of T.J. Dillashaw in 32 seconds coming. But no one saw his defeat of the Flyweight great Demetrious Johnson coming either. Basically — the Olympic Gold Medalist is full of surprises.
While Cejudo has earned the respect that he feels he deserves, it now comes with the expectation of excellence. The 125-pound Champion is moving up to Bantamweight in hopes of taking the title that Dillashaw forfeited.
In his way stands Marlon Moraes, the man who has patiently waited for years to get a shot at the belt. Moraes has taken out every contender in his path to a title shot, including John Dodson, Aljamain Sterling, Jimmie Rivera and Raphael Assunção. After three straight Performance of the Night bonuses, there's not much in the way of the Brazilian.
This is a dream matchup for any fan of high-level grappling — Cejudo made his name as an Olympic wrestler and Moraes is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Where this fight becomes interesting is on the feet. Cejudo's stand up has improved mightily over his last handful of fights, including the starching of Dillashaw, but it doesn't compare to the weapons that Moraes possesses on his feet.
The other important factor is the weight difference. Moraes is a natural Bantamweight, while Cejudo is moving up 10 pounds to contend for the title. While 2019 has been the year of fighters succeeding outside of their own weight class, Cejudo's small frame could be impacted by the move up.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Moraes via KO
Valentina Shevchenko (C) vs. Jessica Eye
It was always a question of "when" and not "if" for Valentina Shevchenko getting UFC gold. The dream was realized at UFC 231 when 'Bullet' picked apart Joanna Jedrzejczyk over five rounds to win the vacant UFC Women's Flyweight Championship.
Now as the queen of the 125-pound division, Shevchenko is ready to take on all challengers. First up is Jessica "Evil" Eye.
The 32-year-old Eye is riding a three-fight winning streak, including a split decision victory over Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 231. While Eye is an accomplished challenger, her inclusion in this title fight speaks volumes about the current lack of depth in the Women's Flyweight division. Eye has lost five out her last nine fights, making her claim as the best in the division one lacking weight.
In her first title defense, expect Shevchenko to command the fight and bring Eye along for the ride. The Russian is arguably the best counter puncher in women's mixed martial arts, cracking her way through opponents over 25 minutes en route to a decision victory. Don't expect much more here. Unless Shevchenko finishes Eye early, 'Bullet' will take this one by decision and win at least four rounds.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Shevchenko via unanimous decision
Tony Ferguson vs. Donald Cerrone
It's quite poetic that Tony Ferguson is looking to get back on the horse against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone.
And while the 'getting on the horse' mantra is normally reserved for fighters coming off a loss, Ferguson's 11-fight winning streak is currently the longest in the UFC. After a myriad of personal problems that plagued his life over the past couple of months, 'El Cucey' announced that he was ready to return to The Octagon and get back into title contention.
In his way stands another man aiming to get a chance at gold — all-time UFC wins leader Donald Cerrone.
In typical fashion, Cerrone is fighting Ferguson on a quick turnaround after beating Al Iaquinta by decision on May 4. The win was Cerrone's third straight, earning him a spot at No. 4 in the Lightweight rankings. A victory over Ferguson would put 'Cowboy' into position to face the winner of the eventual Khabib Nurmagomedov/Dustin Poirier title unification fight.
If you're going to bet on anything at UFC 238, put money down on this bout being named Fight of the Night. Both Ferguson and Cerrone will be looking to end the other man's night quickly, throwing quick and often. However, both men have shown to have incredible chins lately and have taken an obscene amount of damage without faltering (ie. Ferguson's victory against Anthony Pettis at UFC 229). Expect blood, a few back elbows from 'El Cucey' and for both men to look to roll on the mat after an initial stand-up flurry. .
While either man can come out on top, we're buying into Ferguson's story of destiny, especially if it leads to the biggest hypothetical matchup in the sport between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Ferguson via TKO
Jimmie Rivera vs. Petr Yan
Two top Bantamweight contenders clash when Jimmie Rivera and Petr Yan meet at UFC 238.
The loser of two of his last three fights, Jimmie Rivera is not taking the easy road back to the top. Russian prospect Petr Yan is 4-0 since joining the UFC in 2018, including a unanimous decision victory of division mainstay John Dodson at UFC Fight Night: Blachowicz vs. Santos in February. He's made waves in the 145-pound division with his constant pressure and quick counter ability on his feet.
Rivera also lays claim to being a pressure fighter, but has not seen the fruits in terms of finishes in recent years. Rivera's last win by way of stoppage came in 2015 in a KO victory over Marcus Brimmage. While this strategy has worked for the 22-3 Rivera, it has shown signs of fault recently. Rivera was knocked out in thirty seconds by Marlon Moraes last summer, and was duked by Aljamain Sterling for three rounds in February.
Rivera has been more susceptible to damage in recent fights, and Yan has a style that will only put more focus on that. Yan is known for reading distance by throwing a straight left and following up with a right hook or uppercut and then rinse and repeat until connecting. If he can land cleanly on Rivera in the opening round, it will change the whole course of the fight.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Yan via TKO
Tai Tuivasa vs. Blagoy Ivanov
After starting his mixed martial arts career at 8-0, Tai Tuivasa was rewarded with a headlining bout against former Heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos in his home country of Australia back in December.
Dos Santos was the biggest challenge in the 26-year-old's young career and it showed — 'Bam Bam' fell by way of TKO in the second round to the legendary Heavyweight.
Instead of taking a tune-up fight to get back in the win column following his first defeat, Tuivasa is putting his feet right back into the fire against Bulgarian brute Blagoy Ivanov. Ranked No.13 in the Heavyweight division, Ivanov is coming off a decision victory against Ben Rothwell at UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Dos Santos in March.
The two Heavyweights are heavy punchers, with 13 TKO or KO stoppages between them. Tuivasa holds the reach and height advantage, so expect him to maintain distance and try to pick away at Ivanov in hopes of opening up a pocket for the big blow. Ivanov is the more rounded fighter on the ground, holding five submission victories by rear-naked choke, so expect the Bulgarian to shoot early on to test his Australian foe.
Tuivasa is hungry to get back into the Top 10 and the 32-year old Ivanov is trying to establish his name in the UFC after two fights, so expect this fight to end in a stoppage. While Tuivasa packs more in his punches, he hasn't faced someone with the grappling strength and technique of Ivanov, which could be the ultimate factor.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Ivanov via submission
Be at UFC 238 with an Official Ticket Package
There's still time for you to be at the United Center to witness history unfold at UFC 238. With an Official Ticket Package from the UFC VIP Experience, you can attend the UFC 238 pre-fight weigh-ins, enjoy premium hospitality, meet current and former fighters and even grab a picture with the new Legacy Championship Belt.