Weekend Warrior: Getting Busy in Big D


Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC [Getty Images]

A busy weekend in mixed martial arts will reach its crescendo with UFC 228 on Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, where a pair of title bouts mark the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s return to Big D. Tyron Woodley puts his welterweight crown on the line against undefeated challenger Darren Till in the headliner, while women’s flyweight champion Nicco Montano squares off with No. 1 contender Valentina Shevchenko in the five-round co-main event.

One of the sport’s premier pound-for-pound fighters, Woodley has compiled a 2-0-1 mark — he followed his majority draw with Stephen Thompson in November 2016 with a majority decision over “Wonderboy” four months later — as champion but has not competed since he outpointed Demian Maia across five forgettable rounds at UFC 2014 more than a year ago. Meanwhile, Till enters the cage on a four-fight winning streak that has seen him defeat Thompson, Donald Cerrone, Bojan Velickovic and Jessin Ayari.

UFC 228 “Woodley vs. Till” — which airs live on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. — also features a featherweight clash pairing uber prospect Zabit Magomedsharipov with Brandon Davis, a women’s strawweight affair pitting Jessica Andrade against Karolina Kowalkiewicz and a welterweight confrontation matching Niko Price with Abdul Razak Alhassan. FX (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) and UFC Fight Pass (6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT) will share the nine-fight undercard.

On the regional front, the One Championship and Legacy Fighting Alliance organizations are once again front and center.

One Championship “Beyond the Horizon” will see strawweight queen Jingnan Xiong put her 12-1 record and 115-pound title on the line against Samara Santos Cunha in the headlining attraction on Saturday at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai, China. Xiong, 30, has won seven fights in a row and owns a perfect 3-0 mark under the One Championship banner. The event streams live and free to the One Super App at 7 a.m. ET/4 a.m. PT, available on Android and iOS platforms.

Finally, a bantamweight showdown between once-beaten Roufusport prospect Raufeon Stots and Ryan Lilley will shoulder the marquee at LFA 48 on Friday at the Viaero Center in Kearney, Nebraska. Stots rebounded from his only professional defeat — he was on the wrong end of a 15-second knockout against Merab Dvalishvili — in December, when he submitted Arnold Berdon with a rear-naked choke at a Victory Fighting Championship event. LFA 48 “Stots vs. Lilley” airs live on AXS-TV at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

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