Not only is this one of those rare UFC title fight triple headers that has actually stayed in tact as announced (with the exception of Megan Anderson being replaced by Tonya Evinger), we are looking at without question the most important title rematch in UFC history thus far.
UFC 214 is finally here folks. Let’s have some fun. Feel free to leave your picks below in the comments section or get at us on Twitter @FightBooth.
Main Card (PPV – 10 p.m. ET)
Daniel Cormier (c) vs. Jon Jones – Light Heavyweight Title Bout
So, where do we begin? Let’s start with the first meeting. Cormier came out with a fantastic game plan out of the box by putting the pressure on Jones to negate his ridiculous 12-inch reach advantage. He was able to get inside and utilize his right uppercut early and often and really go tit-for-tat in the striking game with Jon which has been extremely rare. Then we hit the championship rounds, where Jones proved to the world that he could indeed outgrind the “king” of the grind with relative ease.
One thing you can’t take away from Cormier in that loss, the first of his mixed martial arts career, is his heart and his grit. At the end of the day, Jones just has more weapons than DC. He doesn’t discriminate when it comes to where he wants to land his kicks. He may not land clean to the head but he’s always making you think about it. Plus, those do not feel good when they hit your arm. When you’re thinking about protecting your head, he sucks the life out of you by going to the body. Expect him to do that more often in this fight. And let’s not forget about the Jon Jones oblique special. One of the most effective kicks in the game. It makes you think twice about closing the distance and it pisses you off to no end. Jones’ best weapon though to this day is his razor-sharp elbows. He’s able to throw them like punches and he’s able to land them at will, especially in the clinch.
Although DC has about 8 years on Jones, he didn’t begin his pro mixed martial arts career until the age of 30. Believe it or not, Jones actually made his debut about a year and half before Cormier did. The years of Olympic freestyle wrestling and his intense training at AKA with the likes of Cain Velasquez and Luke Rockhold have done a number on him but I don’t see that effecting him in this fight. This is a fight for Daniel Cormier’s legacy; you better believe he’s going in for the kill, but he has to be smart about it like he was in the first fight. Lots of pressure, lots of uppercuts and a wide array of leg kicks. Even though he did get a late takedown on Jones in the first fight, there’s no sense in wasting that much energy unless Jones leaves an opening that is too good to pass up, which isn’t likely unless he gets rattled.
Jones and DC did a lot of head and hand fighting in their first match up and that’s where Cormier was able to land the majority of his uppercuts. I didn’t get an exact count but he definitely landed more than a dozen in the fight. Jones and his team have made a plan to adjust to those strikes heading into the rematch. They’re just to smart and no matter how cocky Jones may be, they have to account for DC’s power. When he lets go of DC’s right hand in those struggles he has to think about defending himself instead of always thinking offense. That may be the single flaw in Jones’ game and while it hasn’t caught up to him yet, time is always the worst enemy of any all-time great.
Daniel Cormier can win this fight. He’s one of the best to ever compete at heavyweight and light heavyweight and it’s pretty amazing how far he’s come since making his MMA debut in 2009. I remember watching him compete in Strikeforce as a guy with a suffocating style who still needed a lot of work on his striking even though he was knocking out guys who he needed to knock out to quickly climb the ladder. He’s the guy who began the destruction of Bigfoot’s chin (which won him the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix as a reserve) and he’s the guy who made legends like Josh Barnett and Dan Henderson look like rag dolls. He still goes down as a Hall of Fame fighter despite the outcome of this fight.
For Jones, it’s just like he said in that remarkable ‘Tame Your Demons‘ video the UFC put together to promote this fight. He just wants his life back. That involves being a world champion and winning five round battles for major pay days. I believe Jon Jones wins this fight. I believe it will be a war early, but in the end, Jones will become the first man to beat Cormier inside the distance. Cormier will not quit, but the referee will be forced to step in and save him from further damage. The big story here will be whether or not Jones can stay out of trouble after “getting his life back,” because it can all get taken away for good next time.
Prediction: Jones via TKO, 4th Round
Tyron Woodley (c) vs. Demian Maia – Welterweight Title Bout
Let me take this moment to say that I was wrong about Tyron Woodley. I never thought that he deserved a shot at the title he now holds. His path, not in life but inside of the Octagon, never impressed me. However, he’s impressed me as a champion. And that’s what counts. This one is simple. Woodley is a terrible match up for Maia. His power is deafening and he’s patient as a striker so it’s going to be tough to take him down. If it does hit the mat, we may just get a new welterweight champion and a fight that I may be in the minority of wanting between Maia and a returning Georges St. Pierre. That said, I don’t see it. This is Tyron’s time. He’s the total package and he’s not ready to part with that belt. Expect a long feeling out process and a lighting quick KO off a Woodley explosion.
Prediction: Woodley via KO, 2nd Round
Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino vs. Tonya Evinger – Women’s Featherweight Title Bout
Tonya Evinger is on a career defining run coming into this, her UFC debut. She’s unbeaten in her last 11 with 7 finishes to her credit during that span. She’ll be taking on a fighter in Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino who has finished every single opponent who has stepped into the cage with her since 2009. Cyborg will finish Evinger and she will do it early. This division was created for Cyborg. This is her destiny. If there’s a woman out there who can beat her in this sport, we’ve yet to see her.
Prediction: Cyborg via TKO, 1st Round
Robbie Lawler vs. Donald Cerrone – Welterweight Bout
Hardcore fight fans are foaming at the mouth for this one and rightfully so. With 45 career finishes between these two highly respected legends of the sport, you can expect an all out brawl with Lawler finishing it the only way he knows how, with brutal ultraviolence.
Prediction: Lawler via KO, 3rd Round
Jimi Manuwa vs. Volkan Oezdemir – Light Heavyweight Bout
The pressure is on both of these guys to record of a spectacular finish to somehow leapfrog Alexander Gustafsson in the title talk. I just don’t see it happening. Let me clarify that, this fight will end via knockout, I just don’t see anyone putting on a better performance than Gustaffson did against Glover Teixeira this past May. Oezdemir’s surprising run continues with a monster KO to kick off what I’m predicting as a fan friendly PPV full of finishes.
Oezdemir via KO, 2nd Round
Preliminary Card Quick Picks (FXX – 8 p.m. ET)
Ricardo Lamas > Jason Knight – Featherweight Bout
Renan Barao > Aljamain Sterling – Catchweight Bout (140 lbs)
Brian Ortega < Renato Moicano – Featherweight Bout
Andre Fili > Calvin Kattar – Featherweight Bout
Preliminary Card Quick Picks (UFC Fight Pass – 6:30 p.m. ET)
Kailin Curran < Aleksandra Albu – Women’s Strawweight Bout
Eric Shelton < Jarred Brooks – Flyweight Bout
Josh Burkman > Drew Dober – Lightweight Bout
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