The UFC is back Sunday with a stellar fight card to kick off 2018 in UFC Fight Night St. Louis: Stephens vs. Choi.
The “Korean Superboy” Doo Ho Choi returns fourteen months after his 2016 Fight of the Year with Cub Swanson to face the “Lil Heathen” Jeremy Stephens in a great Featherweight matchup. The thirteen fight card is really loaded with plenty of great fights. Michael “the Menace” Johnson fights in his hometown as he drops down to 145 pounds to take on the “The Damage” Darren Elkins in the FOX Sports 1 Prelims featured bout.
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims 6PM/ET
FOX Sports 1 Prelims 8PM/ET
FOX Sports 1 Main Card 10PM/ET
Main Card Preview and Predictions
#10 Kamaru Usman (-600) vs. Emil Meek (+450)
“The Nigerian Nightmare” Kamaru Usman (11-1-0) returns to action against Emil “Valhalla” Meek (9-2-1,1 NC) in a great Welterweight matchup to kick off the Main Card. Usman enters the bout with Meek with substantial buzz riding a ten fight win streak, with a 6-0 record inside the Octagon.
In September, Usman destroyed Sergio Moraes at UFC Fight Night Pittsburgh recording his first UFC knockout. After thirteen months, Emil Meek makes his second Octagon appearance after earning a convincing unanimous decision victory over Jordan Mein in his UFC debut at UFC 206. Meek is a former Venator FC Welterweight Champion.
Usman is the biggest favorite on the UFC St. Louis fight card. I do believe that Meek is a tough fighter who may very well be Kamaru Usman’s toughest opponent yet. I’d rather root for the upset than pay the heavy price on Usman. With a win, Usman should propel into the upper echelons of the Welterweight division.
Crystal Ball Prediction 🔮: Meek via Second Round Submission
Paige Van Zant (+100) vs. #10 Jessica-Rose Clark (-120)
Paige Van Zant (7-3-0) moves up a weight class to make her Flyweight debut against Jessica-Rose Clark (8-4-0,1 NC). Paige Van Zant hopes the new weight class will be the reset that was needed for her fighting career after losing two of her last three fights. Van Zant’s last Octagon victory came against Bec Rawlings in August 2016. Jessica-Rose Clark won a split decision over Bec Rawlings in her promotional debut two months ago and plans on continuing her ascent in the Flyweight division by besting Van Zant and improving to 2-0 in the UFC.
Crystal Ball Prediction 🔮: Clark via Decision
#11 Uriah Hall (-300) vs. #12 Vitor Belfort (+240)
“The Phenom” Vitor Belfort (26-13-0,1 NC) announced just days before his Co-Main event bout with Uriah Hall (14-8-0) that this would in fact be his last fight inside the Octagon (unless he is paid millions for any future bouts). The announcement comes as a surprise considering that Vitor was pining for the creation a Legends division. However, considering Belfort has been KO’d in four of his last six fights and is now expressing a dissatisfaction with the amount of money he is paid, I guess it is not so much as a surprise after all.
His opponent Uriah Hall has also faced recent adversity. With his back against the wall due to a three fight losing skid, Uriah Hall earned a Performance of the Night bonus in his last bout for his come from behind knockout win over Krzysztof Jotko at UFC Fight Night Pittsburgh. A win over a legend like Belfort will keep Hall as a mainstay in the Top Ten of the Middleweight division. This will be Belfort’’s 26th appearance inside the Octagon.
Crystal Ball Prediction🔮: Hall via Decision
Jeremy Stephens / Getty Images
#9 Jeremy Stephens (+135) vs. #13 Dooho Choi (-155)
Both Jeremy Stephens (26-14-0) and the “Korean Superboy” Doo Ho Choi (14-2-0) have developed the reputation for putting on violent electrically charged brawls inside the Octagon. Fans should be in for a treat when Choi and Stephens collide in the Main Event Sunday.
After dropping consecutive decisions to Frankie Edgar and Renato Moicano, “Lil Heathen” Jeremy Stephens was able to bounce back at UFC 215 with a Fight of the Night performance as Stephens chopped away and debilitated Gilbert Melendez en route to a unanimous decision win. Stephens has no doubt trained with and fought against the best the UFC has to offer at Lighterweight and Featherweight. The fact that “the Korean Superboy” comes in as a favorite against a fighter of Stephen’s caliber, speaks volumes on just how talented Doo Ho Choi is.
Choi is set to serve his mandatory two year military term next year in South Korea, ala the Korean Zombie, and is looking to build on his Fight of the Year performance against Cub Swanson thirteen months ago, which coincidedly was Choi’s first career loss. Stephens also shares a loss to Cub Swanson and will be making his 27th Octagon appearance Sunday. “Lil Heathen” holds a UFC record of 13-13.
Crystal Ball Prediction 🔮: Choi via Third Round KO
Next weekend the UFC heads to Boston for two colossal title fights as Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic looks to make history against rising star Francis Ngannou and Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier looks to defend against Volkan Oozedemir. Let us know who you think takes it down this weekend and what you think in the Comments section below. Enjoy the fights!! 👊🏻 👊🏻