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UFC 241 ‘Cormier vs. Miocic 2’ PPV Pick ‘Em

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First things first, whenever the great and powerful Dave Reno reaches out to me and asks if I want to do a pick-em, the answer is always a resounding, “Yes!” This is a really fun card, so the opportunity to publicly embarrass myself was too much to pass up. That said, it’s time to unveil my 100 percent, absolute-lock-winners for UFC 241. Disclaimer, my locks sometimes don’t come true. Disclaimer, by sometimes I, of course, mean often. That said, enjoy the picks and enjoy the fights!

Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic (UFC Heavyweight Championship)

Dan Rose: If I’m being honest, and why wouldn’t I be, I would pick Daniel Cormier over anyone on planet earth right now. Yes, that includes the USADA-hamstrung Jon Jones. I just think when you hear DC say, “There are levels to this thing” he knows what he is saying. He has a career spent wrestling and has added some good standup to the mix. He’s one of the most complete fighters walking the earth and what puts him over the top, in my opinion, is his work ethic. He wants it more than the next guy and is willing to do what is necessary to stay ahead of the curve.

All that being said, Stipe is legit as can be. The dude is a banger and will absolutely show up in shape and ready to wage war. This is honestly one of those rare fights where the UFC is showcasing the best of the best. These guys are elite, and everyone else is simply not on their level. Stipe has only had a grappling match since his loss to Cormier and I would have liked to see him get a tune-up before the rematch, but he had no interest in anything other than a title fight. He waited and got his wish.

I see this fight going a few rounds, maybe the distance. I don’t suspect DC will get another KO. In fact, he’ll have to weather a storm or two early standing. However, Cormier’s grappling advantage is so big, I see him wrestling and dominating Stipe into the late third, fourth and final round en route to either a late TKO or a decision victory. Either way, DC leaves Southern California with his belt in tow.

Dave Reno: This is a heavyweight title bout that you should be excited about. Stipe finally gets the chance to reclaim his crown against the defending heavyweight champ in Daniel Cormier, one of the truest ambassadors for a sport that has and will continue to need him after he calls it a career. Will it be Saturday night?

Honestly, at 40 years of age, I truly believe that Cormier still beats everyone not named Jon Jones at 205 lbs and over. That includes this rematch with Ohio’s own Stipe Miocic.

Cormier is just too cerebral — if you have a single hole — he’ll find it. Figure that in with his ability to put it all together inside of the cage better than any big man in the game; the guy is too fast and too good and he wants it too much. That said, can you ever sleep on Miocic though. He’ll come out looking to take off DC’s head. He just opens himself up to all kinds of issues whether it be at distance, in the clinch (he shouldn’t make that mistake again) or on his back. Cormier dictates the pace in the end and gets another victory inside the distance. The real question for DC is, what’s next?

Anthony Pettis vs. Nate Diaz

Rose: The return of Nate Diaz has the people excited. Nate is undoubtedly a major star and his presence on this card makes it must-see TV. This one is a tough one to nail down. Pettis is on a win-loss-win-loss-win-loss-win cycle that says the laws of averages would signify a loss Saturday night. It’s not exactly a science though, and he has moments where he looks elite. He also has fights where he looks pretty pedestrian.

Nate Diaz was once asked what his game-plan heading into a fight was. He said, “The game-plan is to go in there, hit him with some good shit, don’t get hit, and come home with a pocket full of cash.” I think he was talking about McGregor, but I’m guessing he employs the same plan here with Pettis. It could very well work for him. I question whether or not Pettis has the power to hurt Diaz. On the mat, both men have great submissions, but I’m leaning towards this being settled on their feet. I think Pettis is a more dynamic striker, but Diaz has a power advantage and if he gets going, he can bury you with thudding shots. Flip a coin? Nah, I’ll go heart over the head every time. Give me Nate Diaz in two!

Reno: Nathaniel Diaz is a true mixed martial arts gangster. He’s someone that everybody has an opinion about but he almost becomes more endearing the longer he’s around. I’ve seen people that downright couldn’t stand the guy fall in love with him over time. And Anthony Pettis, well, he’s Anthony Pettis. One of the few superstars left in this game — can you believe we are coming upon the 9 year anniversary of the ‘Showtime’ kick? — is coming off a crazy KO win over Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson in his welterweight return. A high-profile win over Diaz gives him the opportunity to join the growing list of fighters to claim gold in multiple divisions.

As long as he can find a way to put his combos together early and avoid the insane volume of Diaz, there should be no issue for Pettis to take a decision win if a finish doesn’t present itself inside of three rounds. That said, Diaz has nothing to lose. He’s getting paid and he already gets to smack a dude on PPV for the first time in a long time. He can come in there and piece Pettis up early without missing a step. There’s nothing more daunting than a guy touching you at a lighting quick rate, only taking breaks to gift you with double birds and other indelible pleasantries.

Regardless of what happens, it’s always a pleasure to watch both of these guys do battle and it’s great to have a Diaz fighting on a Saturday night again. I like Pettis to take this one via UD in a fight that has all the ingredients of an instant classic on paper.

Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa

Rose: Yoel seems to have a case of Benjamin Button disease as the older he gets the better he looks. The guy is a physical specimen. USADA spends more time trying to bust him than Trump spends thinking about his daughter. Yoel is just so durable and physical he normally holds a massive advantage in power but this time he’s facing an absolute beast in Paulo Costa.

Both of these guys look like they are made from CGI and green screens but Yoel is 42 and at some point, that has to play a role in his abilities to fight. Costa has more punching power than anyone Yoel has ever faced and if he stands for too long, he could likely get knocked out. Costa is younger at age 28 and has never tasted defeat or been beyond the second round. The guy is a killer.

I like Yoel if he plays it smart and grapples here. I think he can control and frustrate Paulo Costa on the mat. That said, we’ve all seen Yoel enjoy the standup at times and if he plays that game for too long, I expect Costa to knock him out. I think, in the end, Yoel gets comfortable standing and winds up looking up at the lights. The undefeated Costa remains that way and is set up for a HUGE fight in his next outing. Perhaps even facing the winner of Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya.

Reno: Yoel Romero scares the shit out of me. And he’s fighting another dude that scares the shit out of me, Paulo Costa, on Saturday night right smack in the middle of this PPV. If there was ever a can’t miss fight before the main and co-main, this is it.

Let’s be honest, both of these guys have the ability to finish the other with one clean shot. The first guy to make a mistake loses here. But the object of this internet article that Daniel and I are concocting is to make a sports prediction and what we have here is something we see a lot of in the world of pro wrestling — the older guy putting the younger guy over.

The aging Romero already had his three shots at UFC gold and failed on all accounts; whether it be in the cage or on the scale. But regardless of the scale mishap that made him ineligible for gold against Rockhold and the losses to Whittaker, in two of the best middleweight tile fights you’ll ever see, Romero has become a must see competitor who seems to have found a fountain of youth somewhere during this lifetime. He comes away a winner in defeat here against a potential future middleweight title holder in Borrachinha.

Sodiq Yousuff vs. Gabriel Benitez

Rose: To be completely honest, I don’t really care too much about this fight. I don’t think it belongs on the main card and I don’t have too much to say about it. I like both guys. They are both talented fighters who will be looking to climb the ladder in the Feathweright division. Sodiq earned his way into the UFC via the Dana White Contender Series and Gabriel Benitez found his way into the Octagon via season one of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America. Since coming to the UFC Gabriel is 5-2. Sodiq is 2-0 since earning his contract.

Whenever I’m really torn on a fight I like to look at the gyms the fighter represents. Sodiq comes from Team Lloyd Irvin while Gabriel trains at AKA with Cormier, Khabib, and the boys. I’m down with AKA forever and ever so I’m going to swing my pick and take Gabriel Benitez via TKO against a game and talented Sodiq Yusuff.

Reno: There’s a lot to like here as both guys look to make some waves in a division so deep at 145 lbs that just doesn’t make it easy unless you can truly make a statement. Benitez does just that here, following up his KO slam victory over Humberto Bandenay a few months back with another show stealing finish.

Derek Brunson vs. Ian Heinisch

Rose: This is a tough one for me as well. Brunson is 3-4 in his last seven and has lost two of his last three. His victory was a very lackluster performance against Elias Theodorou back in May. Elias was cut from the UFC after the fight. Brunson is a grappler who enjoys striking. He’s a talented fighter, but he doesn’t seem to be able to compete with the best in the division. I like him quite a bit, but he’s in need of a win here if he wants to keep his head above water in the always treacherous UFC.

Ian is a guy who I always seem to undervalue as a fighter. He won his Dana White Contender Series bout against Justin Sumter and since then has won two in a row in the UFC. He beat two guys who I have a lot of respect for. First, he beat Cezar Ferreira and then took out Antônio Carlos Júnior. He will have the ability to win this fight Saturday and he and Derek are opening the PPV portion so you’d expect them to want to set the tone early. I think Ian is going to make a statement Saturday night and hurt Derek standing and finish the fight with some big ground and pound. I think after this fight Ian will find himself in line for a top ten opponent.

Reno: The story and the heart of Ian Heinisch has been one of the greater stories in MMA. He’ll come face to face with another tough test in Derek Brunson, a 15-fight UFC vet who has shared the cage with around a half dozen potential future hall of famers.

The victory over Antonio Carlos Jr. was a real eye opener in regards to the future and overall potential of Heinisch in the UFC. He’ll run into some real issues on Saturday but he’s shown us that he has what it takes to grind one out with a veteran in Brunson who can do the very same. The thing of it is, Heinisch is just that much more violent to go places where others might not to get the finish. This is one heck of a PPV opener.

Prelim Quick Picks

Rose:

Khama Worthy < Devonte Smith
Raphael Assuncao < Cory Sandhagen
Manny Bermudez > Casey Kenney
Drakkar Klose > Christos Giagos
Hannah Cifers > Jodie Esquibel
Kyung Ho Kang > Brandon Davis
Sabrina Mazo < Shana Dobson

Reno:

Khama Worthy < Devonte Smith
Raphael Assuncao > Cory Sandhagen
Manny Bermudez < Chase Kenney
Drakkar Klose > Christos Giagos
Hannah Cifers > Jodie Esquibel
Kyung Ho Kang > Brandon Davis
Sabrina Mazo < Shana Dobson

Dan has been writing about the sport of MMA for the last 15+ years. During this time, he's met amazing fighters, and awesome friends sitting cage-side covering MMA. The memories and relationships are payment for his passion. Dan got his start as a featured writer for Sherdog.com and now serves as owner and co-host with Evan Shoman and Dion Harrison of The Crimson Canvas Podcast, on the Fight Booth Podcast network. Dan is also a part time contributor to FightBooth.com with pro wrestling, and MMA articles. He thanks Dave Reno for the opportunity and for years of friendship and support.

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