The UFC begins their 2018 campaign with a fun-filled UFC Fight Night card that is set to take place in St. Louis, Missouri.
In the main event of the evening, Jeremy Stephens will clash with “The Korean Superboy” Doo Ho Choi in what is sure to be an electric battle. After dropping two consecutive contests, Stephens bounced back with an impressive victory over Gilbert Melendez at UFC 215. Stephens worked behind devastating leg kicks to take out his tough opponent and score himself a position in this main event at UFC Fight Night 124.
Doo Ho Choi rose to fame after his involvement in one of the best fights of 2016. Choi met Cub Swanson in an enthralling back-and-forth collision at UFC 206. Despite the excitement, Choi fell short against Swanson at the end of the three rounds. Prior to the Swanson fight, Choi had knocked out his last three opponents all in the first round – this is the type of form that many are hoping to see from “The Korean Superboy” again at UFC Fight Night 124.
Prediction: Doo Ho Choi by unanimous decision
In the co-main event, Uriah Hall will step inside the UFC’s Octagon with Vitor Belfort. After being on the wrong end of three consecutive stoppages, Belfort managed to marginally defeat Nate Marquardt at UFC 212 in Brazil. The win marked Belfort’s first victory since November 2015. Hall similarly snapped a losing skid when he defeated Krzysztof Jotko at UFC Fight Night 116 in the second round. Interestingly, though, all three of Hall’s losses in 2016 were to quality opposition.
Prediction: Vitor Belfort by unanimous decision
Also on the main card is an important female flyweight battle between Paige VanZant and Jessica-Rose Clark. VanZant and Rose-Clark are some of the first faces to make the switch to the new women’s division in the UFC and many believe that VanZant is not far from a title shot in this newly created division. After finishing Bec Rawlings with a stunning kick at UFC on FOX 21, VanZant was then submitted by Michelle Waterson in December of 2012. This will be the first time we see Vanzant inside the Octagon since that day. Australian Rose-Clark successfully debuted in the UFC against Bec Rawlings at UFC Fight Night 121, where she won a close split decision.
Prediction: Jessica-Rose Clark by split decision
To get things started on the UFC Fight Night 124 Main Card, Kamaru Usman will face Emil Meek in a battle between two tough welterweights. Usman, who is one of the most in-form welterweights in the UFC, is yet to lose in the UFC and steps into this fight after he torched Sergio Moraes in the first round at UFC Fight Night 116. Meek, who debuted at UFC 206, defeated Jordan Mein via unanimous decision in what was a mild betting upset. However, due to complications with his Visa, this is the first time Meek has entered the cage since that day in December of 2016.
Prediction: Kamura Usman by second round TKO
Jeremy Stephens vs. Doo Ho Choi is undoubtedly going to be a thrilling main event. The two punchers are not just extremely powerful, but also precise and calculated in their approach to the fight game. On paper, it seems like a close matchup between two guys who are capable of ending each other’s night early, but upon breaking it down we can see that Doo Ho Choi has a sizable advantage in this fight.
Unlike Stephens’ last opponent in Gilbert Melendez, Choi doesn’t stay heavy on his front leg and instead skips in and out of range at just the right moment. At times, he will connect with a stiff jab to the head or body before moving out of range. Stephens generally has trouble with this kind of striking and could find himself being picked apart by the timing of Choi.
For Stephens, he will need to continually move forward and force Choi to fight from his back foot. Stephens is certainly capable of this, but Choi’s counter striking and distance management is at a high level.
Choi will frustrate Stephens with a stinging jab before opening up with his other strikes. The only question that remains is whether Choi can finish Stephens inside the distance. Historically speaking, Stephens is a hard man to finish and Choi might have to just outwork him for the distance in this one.
Bet: Doo Ho Choi to win (-155)
UFC Fight Night 124 fight card
UFC Fight Night 124 begins on UFC Fight Pass from 6:00 pm ET (11:00 pm GMT) on Sunday, January 14.
Pay-per-view (10:00 pm ET / 3:00 am GMT)
- Jeremy Stephens vs. Doo Ho Choi
- Uriah Hall vs. Vitor Belfort
- Paige VanZant vs. Jessica-Rose Clark
- Kamaru Usman vs. Emil Meek
FS1 (8:00 pm ET / 1:00 am GMT)
- Darren Elkins vs. Michael Johnson
- James Krause vs. Alex White
- Matt Frevola vs. Marco Polo Reyes
- Thiago Alves vs. Zak Cummings
Fight Pass Prelims
UFC Fight Pass (6:00 pm ET / 12:00 am GMT)
- Kalindra Faria vs. Jessica Eye
- Talita Bernardo vs. Irene Aldana
- Kyung Ho Kang vs. Guido Cannetti
- Danielle Taylor vs. JJ Aldrich
- Mads Burnell vs. Mike Santiago