UFC 238 picks: Ferguson over Cerrone in a thriller

Kevin IoleCombat columnist

CHICAGO — The sound that will emanate from the United Center on Saturday by the time Donald Cerrone and Tony Ferguson finish whaling on each other will be a familiar one to fans in this sports-crazed city.

It will sound like it did when the Bulls won the NBA championship, or when the Blackhawks captured their third Stanley Cup in six years. People in the stands will be hugging strangers. Jaws will be agape. Hands will slap foreheads. Everyone will be standing.

I’m not saying it’s going to be the greatest fight in UFC history, because who could predict that?

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What I am saying, though, is that there has never been a UFC fight that was made in which the anticipation for violence was greater than it will be on Saturday when Cerrone and Ferguson meet with a lightweight title shot presumably hanging in the balance.

This is the kind of fight we’d imagine in our dreams. Sylvester Stallone never came up with a fight like this, because who would believe anyone could survive the kind of abuse each man is going to take?

Ferguson has won 17 of his last 18 fights, including his last 11 in a row. In that 11-fight winning streak, he’s been in the Fight of the Night four times, had a Performance of the Night three times and a Submission of the Night once.

Tony Ferguson, left, and Donald Cerrone face off for the media during the UFC 238 Ultimate Media Day at the United Center on June 6, 2019, in Chicago. (Getty Images)
Tony Ferguson, left, and Donald Cerrone face off for the media during the UFC 238 Ultimate Media Day at the United Center on June 6, 2019, in Chicago. (Getty Images)

Cerrone has won his last three, which have been honored with two Fight of the Night and two Performance of the Night bonuses. He’s the UFC’s all-time leader in both wins and finishes.

The outcome is almost irrelevant except to the men involved because it promises to be so entertaining.

I say Ferguson extends his winning streak to 12 with a final-round submission. Ferguson should get the winner of the UFC 242 bout on Sept. 7 between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Dustin Poirier, except for one thing:

How could we resist calling for Ferguson-Cerrone II? And Ferguson Cerrrone-III? And Ferguson-Cerrone IV? And …

Other UFC 238 picks

Henry Cejudo by unanimous decision over Marlon Moraes: This match for the vacant bantamweight title is another fight that could be sensational, but I get the sense that Cejudo’s wrestling could be the difference. He’s beaten Demetrious Johnson and T.J. Dillashaw back-to-back, which says a lot about his talent.

Moraes’ teammate, Frankie Edgar, said Moraes is the toughest guy in their training room to take down. He’s also one of the most powerful strikers in the UFC.

Cejudo has multiple ways to win and it says here he’ll grind it out over a thrilling 25 minutes.

Valentina Shevchenko by third-round submission over Jessica Eye: Shevchenko is only 14th in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings, which is ridiculously low. She’s a mega-talent with one of the best all-around games in the sport.

Eye hasn’t beaten anyone remotely close to Shevchenko’s level, and she comes up short against the champion in just about every metric.

Peter Yan by decision over Jimmie Rivera: This will be Yan’s fifth UFC bout in under a calendar year, and he’ll show why many regard him as a potential champion.

Tai Tuivasa by second-round KO over Blagoy Ivanov

Tatiana Suarez by decision over Nina Ansaroff

Aljamain Sterling by decision over Pedro Munhoz

Karolina Kowalkiewicz by third-round KO over Alexa Grasso

Calvin Kattar by decision over Ricardo Lamas

Yan Ziaonan by decision over Angela Hill

Bevon Lewis by third-round KO over Darren Stewart

Eddie Wineland by first-round KO over Grigory Popov

Joanne Calderwood by decision over Katlyn Chookagian

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