UFC 214: The best card in UFC history is finally here and we have the best card still regardless of losing a couple huge fights. This card had the young rising star Sage Northcutt against Makdessi and sadly that was removed due to injuries. We also lost Meghan Anderson in the women’s featherweight title fight and the Korean Zombie against Ricardo Lamas. Those loses would have destroyed any other card but Sean Shelby as always mastered putting together this card even with the losses. Now the Jones vs. Cormier 2 fight has been anticipated since the day the first fight ended but so many different issues have come up between then and now that it’s arrival is a warming feeling in the heart. This card is going to be amazing ended by a rivalry as bitter as they come with a third chapter either on the way or the book closed early we will find out soon enough. Here is my call for 214. Reminder our rankings are the ones not in parentheses and the UFC rankings are the ones we put in parentheses.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims (6:30 PM/ET):
Joshua Burkman (29-15, 1NC) vs. Drew Dober (17-8, 1NC): We kick off the biggest card in UFC history with a lightweight brawl between two complete warriors. Drew Dober loves to throw the high kicks and when he lands he does so with devastating power that could end Burkman’s night. He is a Muay Thai fighter in his stand-up as he was previously a two-time amateur muay-thai world champion. He isn’t someone who can only stand-up and bang though as he will take a fighter to the mat and could grind out a submission win. Dober is looking to rebound off a really tough loss against Olivier Aubin-Mercier in a overwhelmingly stacked lightweight division. One thing you can’t teach a fighter is his incredible heart and lack of quit no matter how bad of a beating he receives he just keeps coming. If he can get his momentum going early and keep this fight standing and just land his shots he will find himself back in the win column. His opponent though Joshua Burkman is a steel chinned dude with a passion you don’t see in everyone in the UFC. This dude can grind a fight no matter where the fight goes or stays. Burkman is coming in off 3 losses and really needs this win to keep himself safe in the UFC as a lot of guys with 4 fight losing streaks don’t tend to stick around and will be probably be coming in with that passion that he always has. I personally have loved watching Burkman fight in his entire career and I hope he win or lose sticks around because he always seems to bring a fire to fights that you don’t always see. Burkman is extremely well rounded and lethal if he catches Dober sleeping it is good night because Burkman will head hunt in this one for a win. These two men are going to stand opposite of each other and bang and put on a show for the fans in attendance and on fight pass. I am excited for this one but when it comes down to picking a winner I have Dober landing a devastating combination to score a KO early round 2.
Eric Shelton (10-3) vs. Jarred Brooks (12-0): The only fight in the flyweight division on this card is going to be an interesting one. Brooks is a new comer to the UFC and entering his first fight inside the UFC octagon he will show off his impressive skill set. Brooks has won 10 different amateur titles in his time inside the MMA world. Brooks started MMA through wrestling but now he works hard at jiu-jitsu, muay-thai and boxing completing a very well-rounded skill set that he can enter a fight with confidence no matter how the fight is going. He is a very confident fighter and his confidence brings that edge to him that helps him push for his pace and fight hard because he believes very strongly he is one of the best in the world and he will have a tough test proving so in this division because it is becoming a pretty loaded division. Now his opponent is only in his 2nd fight inside the octagon and Shelton is a great fighter and isn’t someone I would take lightly. Shelton’s first fight inside the cage was against a now ranked Alexandre Pantoja he suffered a tough loss at the hands of a very questionable judge’s scorecard as I believe he won that fight personally but the split decision loss didn’t give him that result. He is oddly viewed as a primarily a striker but has 5 submission stoppages and proves that he is a very well-rounded fighter regardless of what people believe. I really like this kid and believe he could make a name for himself in this division as both fighters will. I believe in this fight we will see a very balanced back and forth exchange and some incredible 15 minutes of fighting. I have no doubt these two men are going to one day find themselves in the thick of this division but for now they have to start here and I believe we will see Jarred Brooks pick up a unanimous decision win.
Kailin Curran (4-4) vs. #15 (NR) Alexandra Albu (6-0): This strawweight fight to main event the online prelims should be a bit lopsided if you ask me personally. I am a huge fan of Alexandra Albu’s skill set and I believe she is bound for a title shot one day in the next year or so. Albu doesn’t like to let the fight go the distance as she has stopped all 6 of her fights including her only fight so far inside the UFC which she did via an impressive 2nd round submission. She has a black belt in karate and brings an exciting factor to the UFC’s strawweight division if she plans on staying here once the new women’s flyweight division is officially part of the organization. She was a former body builder but now she is using that body as a weapon to pick up martial arts wins and possibly wrap a belt around her waist later in her promising career. She isn’t just a karate fighter though as she has a good judo game as well as an amazing ability to land some great strikes and end fights with a shot or two. Now her opponent entered the UFC with a big name and a lot of promise as she entered at 3-1 and a lot of people thought Kailin Curran would become something big one day. She has a great skill set she just has seemed to struggle so far in her UFC career as she has gone 1-3 inside the UFC Octagon. Curran has to just keep this fight standing and use her kickboxing skills and land her shots but avoid getting overwhelmed by an unorthodox fighter in Albu. Curran has the skill set to turn her career around and get back on track at any time and I believe she has been putting those pieces together in training and could look impressively improved in this fight. I think Albu is going to come into this fight and look to push the pace and if she does so she will back Curran down early and pick up an early round 1 TKO finish to show she is here to make a name for herself.
FXX Prelims (8 PM/ET):
Andre “Touchy” Fili (16-4) vs. Calvin Kattar (16-2): The televised prelims kick off with a BANG in the featherweight division. Calvin Kattar will be making his UFC debut. Kattar has a very well-rounded skill set and a complete ability to win and grind out wins. The biggest negative for him moving forward in the UFC is his lack of ability to finish a fight and how close he leaves fights for the judge’s scorecard. He will need to become a much more aggressive fighter in his UFC career for however long it lasts. If Kattar can become a more aggressive fighter and go for his finishes he could became a real threat in the featherweight division. This fight will be the perfect way to find out what he can possess inside the octagon as Andre Fili is the perfect test. Fili is a very good fighter on the verge of finding himself ranked. This kid can sure as hell put on a fight for the fans and I hope he does start to get more recognition as the original fight against Doo Hoo Choi would have gotten him. Fili has some of the best gym partners he could ask for in the MMA world as he trains in Alpha Male with Benavidez, Garbrandt, Faber, and Guida and I believe those training partners are filling out his skill set more and more between each fight. Fili has the ability and has shown his ability to end fights and he has done so well in the first round as well. I honestly believe he is the superior fighter but you have to give Kattar credit for filling in, in a months’ notice to take on such a great fighter in a debut. Fili will find his way in this one early and pick up a late 1st round TKO finish over Kattar and find himself at the bottom of the rankings finally in this division.
#10 (9) Renato Moicano (10-0-1) vs. #8 (8) Brian Ortega (11-0, 1NC): This fight could steal the show as this is two young unbeaten rising stars in a LOADED featherweight division. Brian Ortega who was last to weigh in had me scared he wouldn’t make it is one of the kids in the UFC I am most excited to watch rise through the ranks. His 3 wins in the UFC have all been stoppages and he has beaten three well-known names in Guida, Brandao, and Tavares. This kid keeps improving each and every single fight and his skill set is so deep as he can be a lethal finisher on the mat or in stand-up. His finishes in the UFC have been round 3 finishes and he has shown his ability to take shots and reverse position on the mat and overcome adversity during his fights. I believe he has a lot of heart and no quit and would be a great matchup for the current featherweight champion Max Holloway. Ortega has a 3 inch disadvantage when it comes to reach in this one and will need to use his good head movement and close the gap and land his shots because in this fight he might be a bit over whelmed on the mat. Now his opponent Renato could make a title run as well in his career as he is 3-0 in the UFC and has some impressive wins in that time. His last win was a split decision but it should have easily been a unanimous decision over big named Jeremy Stephens. Moicano is a BJJ great and would have a huge advantage if he takes this fight to the ground as he could use his incredibly superior skill set to his advantage in this one. Moicano needs to work some on his standup but he proved against Stephens that it has continued to improve and he can take some shots because he took heavy shots from a big hitter. So if he continues to improve the top of this division better take note as he would be a serious contender. This fight is going to be seriously fun because no matter who wins we are looking at a guy who is peering into the top 5 of this division. Now that being said I think that Ortega has a slight edge over Moicano and will pick up the win in round 2 via a KO and find himself in the top 6.
#8 BAN (8) Aljamain Sterling (13-2) vs. #15 FTW (14) Renan Barao (35-4, 1NC): This fight was supposed to take place in the Bantamweight division but some weird thing about Barao missing weight once made them say no to him dropping weight again so this fight will take place at a 140 LB catchweight. Barao is a legend of the sport as he went on a 22 fight win streak and since 2005 where he picked up his first career loss he went 36-3, 1NC. Barao for those who want to learn MMA is someone I would show them immediately because this guy is the definition of a complete MMA fighter. Ever since I can remember I have never picked against Barao because of how skilled he is at absolutely everything and when he wins no matter how he wins I am never surprised. The only fighters I have seen him struggle against in his UFC career have been the hard hitters like Stephens and Dillashaw and it might be because of the pure power he normally doesn’t have to face at his weight classes that is rare. Barao has only been taken down once in his entire UFC career and that should show you how good his take down defense is and I believe if Sterling tries to much he is going to gas himself and Barao will dominate any tired opponent. Barao has a gym full of complete beasts like , JDS, Claudia Gadelha, Junior Aldo, and Thales Leites just to name a few. This superior training helps keep him motivated when he has already done it all including winning the Bantamweight title. Now his opponent is a good test to see how he still stands as Aljamain Sterling is a monster. Sterling has lost only 2 fights in his career and they were both split decisions against Caraway and Assuncao and I personally believe they were bad decisions. I have him at what should be 15-0 but that is why they say you can’t leave fights in the hands of the judges. This dude is one tough man who can take a hit and just keep his head down and keep coming for his wins. He is a wrestler by nature and his ability to get into a good position through scrambles as he seems to just love when the fight becomes a mess and gets into a scramble. This guy loves to find new ways to land and get take downs as he is a creative fighter with a very unorthodox fight style. His youth and continuous adaptation and ability to learn during fights and adapt as they go on is something rare and could help him become a champion one day. This fight is so hard to call because these two dudes are savages and neither have quit in them and I believe they are both so well-rounded that they complete the profile of a fighter. I am going to take Sterling in this one via unanimous decision.
#3 (3) Ricardo Lamas (17-5) vs. #13 (15) Jason Knight (20-2): HERE WE GO!!! The main event of the FXX Prelims are going to square off in the featherweight division. THIS FIGHT IS GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN!!! I am so excited as you can tell and if you haven’t seen Jason Knight fight yet you have missed out on the one of the best young studs who loves to fight and when he does he does with a fire and passion. He truly brings that edge to the cage every fight where he believes he is the best and won’t be beat and I truly believe that is why he is so successful. Jason has finished 15 of his 20 professional wins and did so in both of his last two fights. This kid is becoming a more complete fighter but his clear point of dominance is the mat with his Jiu-jitsu skills. Knight when he first got to the UFC had some issues with his stand-up but he has shown some incredible improvement and landed an impressive 3rd round TKO on Chas Skelly in his last fight. This dude wants to be the bad dude of the division but there is one problem, his opponent, Ricardo Lamas is the bad dude of this division. Lamas is one bad savage fighter with some dominating power. Lamas is so powerful that one quick shot could put Knight out or on his butt where he could be TKO’d quick. Lamas for some reason has become one of the most underrated names in the entire UFC and people seem to forget to mention him at the top of the title picture but he is there for a reason and he seems okay proving the doubters wrong. Lamas is sneaky too when you watch him because he can be reserving his shots and once he sees an opening or stuns his opponent he explodes like a 12lb ball out of a cannon. Lamas is going to be the toughest test by far of Knight’s and I believe he will have his hands full in this one but should impress us all regardless. I have Lamas winning this fight though by way of a 3rd round TKO but Knight will show us that he belongs as he will put on a fight of the night performance.
UFC 214 Main Card (10 PM/ET):
#3 (3) Jimi Manuwa (17-2) vs. #5 (5) Volkan Oezdemir (14-1): Well here are 2 of the top fighters in the LHW division that could both earn a shot at the title with a win if they overlook Gustaffson. Oezdemir is one of those guys that the moderate fan hasn’t really payed attention to but that should change because this guy is a legit threat to anyone in this division. Volkan has only fought twice inside the UFC but both wins were against a ranked opponent and his last one was a devastating KO. This guy has some great power but his ability to fight standing and on the mat is what separates him from a lot of the top LHW fighters as most of them are better known KO artists. This fight is going to be the toughest fight in Volkans entire MMA career as it should be considering it has title implications. Volkan has stopped 11 of his 14 wins and all 11 of those stoppages have been round one stoppages. He should excite the fans as he brings an aggressive push the pace fight style that backs down his opponent and puts them on their back foot. I really like what Volkan brings to this fight and the entire top of this division. Now the toughest opponent he has ever faced Jimi Manuwa is a KO MACHINE. Jimi has stopped 16 of his 17 wins and 15 of those 16 are KO finishes. Jimi has long arms and brings a 4 inch reach advantage into this fight and with his KO power in both hands it could be a huge advantage. I am nervous that if this fight goes to the ground that he will be overwhelmed though and make this fight look one sided but I also just wonder if he has more ground skills then we know and we just haven’t seen it because of his ability to stop fights standing. Now this fight for Manuwa was a fight he was debating if he was even going to have because he was keeping himself ready in case Jon Jones messed up or DC got hurt and proved he has no problem making championship weight. I really think this fight is the toughest fight of Manuwa’s career regardless of fighting Anthony Johnson before because Volkan is a different beast and coming up through the division. I have been thinking about this fight all week long trying to figure out who is going to pick up the win but I still haven’t figured it out. The betting line shows you how close this fight is going to be and I believe if I have to pick Jimi Manuwa will pick up the 2nd round KO but it could go either way. Don’t be surprised to see either fighter with their hand raised.
#3 (3) Robbie Lawler (27-11, 1NC) vs. #7 (7) Donald Cerrone (32-8, 1NC): Here comes a fight we have been waiting for since the first card in NYC. This battle in the welterweight is going to either be ugly and long or a finish in a flurry of shots from either fighter. Cerrone is the king of fighting multiple fights a year and is the king of exciting finishes. He is one win short of tying the record for the most wins inside the UFC octagon currently sitting at 19 one win behind Bisping. Donald is a phenomenal striker with a great flurry of hands and can land great combo’s with his incredibly sneaky lethal kicks. All that being said though if he wants to win this one he would be best to get Lawler to the mat in any means necessary. Cerrone is known by fans as a KO finisher that haven’t followed his whole career but I personally don’t know if there is anyone better at picking up RNC submission victories. I do believe we will see him stand and exchange early but after a few heavy shots from Lawler add up Cerrone will then go for the mat and could catch Lawler off guard because everyone is expecting these two to stay standing and bang. Now the opponent for Cerrone is the former champ Robbie Lawler who is looking to get this win and get his name right back into the title picture for a shot to reclaim his belt. Lawler is one of the best stand and bang fighters we have ever seen and has still one of the best fights of all time under his name when him and McDonald met. Now Lawler hopefully won’t have any cage rust because he hasn’t fought for a year Sunday. Lawler hits hard and we saw Masvidal’s power end Cerrone’s last fight and Lawler, with no disrespect to Masvidal, hits a bit harder and could end the fight with that. Now Lawler isn’t all about power because he has very quick hands that are deceiving when you watch him fight and his ability on the mat as a wrestler is almost forgotten. I think this fight is going to be a fight of the year candidate if they stay in this one because these two are the most exciting fighters in the UFC. My friend who is a huge Donald Cerrone fan has been asking me since this one was announced in NYC last year has been asking who wins this one? Well I have said I have no idea the whole time but here is my official answer because I think Donald Cerrone is the quicker fighter and will pick up a 3rd round TKO in a blood soaked fight of the decade style battle.
Chris Cyborg (16-1, 1NC) vs. Tonya Evinger (19-5): The battle for the women’s featherweight title is finally going to include Cyborg in the UFC. De Randamie said she wouldn’t fight Cyborg who they claimed was the only opponent so they stripped her and made this fight Cyborg vs. Meghan Anderson, sadly Anderson got hurt and Evinger was one of the few women on the planet to step up and be willing to fight Cyborg. This fight is going to be simple to digest. If they stay standing Cyborg will dominate this one and finally earn the UFC gold she has been waiting for but if this thing goes to the ground like Evinger is going to try and push for it is going to be very interesting. Cyborg is one of the best female strikers in the world with Joanna but if she goes to ground she could be overwhelmed. I am a huge fan of the underdog and would love to see Evinger win this one just to go against the norm and expected but I don’t see her surviving this one as Cyborg’s stand up is too overwhelming to expect anyone to be able to close the distance and land a takedown successfully. Cyborg grabs a round 2 KO as Evinger goes low for a takedown she gets caught and Cyborg finally gets the UFC gold until Meghan Anderson comes back at least.
Champ. Tyron Woodley (16-3-1) vs. #1 (1) Demian Maia (25-6): The Welterweight title is on the line between possibly one of the best Welterweight champions we could have and the greatest Jiu-jitsu artists of all time. This one is going to be good because Maia can stand and strike regardless of what his career has shown of being a ground game attacker he proved in his last fight against Masvidal that he can stand and strike and take shots as well. Now I am not saying Maia will look to stand and exchange because that would be ridiculous but he will have to some to get Woodley to stop defending takedowns as well because Woodley will be expecting takedowns and be defending them. Maia will be on the short end of the reach advantage and that will cause him fits against the hardest hitting man in the UFC if your talking P4P. Maia needs to ignore the fact that heavy striking wrestlers tend to do well against jiu-jitsu artist because his style and dominance of jiu-jitsu isn’t covered by statistics. This man if he gets this fight to the ground you can bet it will be like when Tate took Holm to the ground he won’t let go and will force his way into a submission because he is that damn good on the mat. If you teach a kid about jiu-jitsu and they want to get excited about it just show them film of this man in a fight because Maia can make a fan out of anyone and he is humble and a class act every single time we see him and if he wins the title should be someone the UFC makes the poster boy for this division because he would be a good one. Woodley will be coming in with his dominating takedown defense in his back pocket. Now Woodley has a very slight reach advantage and will come in with his god like power looking to show why he believes he is the best of all time. This man could truly cement his name in the record books if he can get by Maia because the people under Maia in this division are big time strikers who he can handle unless they get a clean shot and could see a very long title reign. Woodley isn’t saying this but he knows that this is the biggest test of his career because of the strength of his opponent being so high on the mat which is where he isn’t as dominant. I think we will see this fight go back and forth and start really slow as they try to feel each other out and figure out the pace of this one while Woodley won’t attack right out of the gate as he will force Maia to shoot and try and land while he does so early to discourage him from continuously looking for the takedown. This fight will be very close but I think in time he will show why Woodley is the champion and get the KO victory in round 4.
Champ Daniel Cormier (19-1) vs. #2 (1) Jon Jones (22-1): Do I need to even say anything about this one at least about the rivalry? Look for those who do not know these two DESPISE each other. They have threatened to kill each other before I mean it doesn’t get much worse. I think Jones this week has shown some maturity and some of his old self at the same time. I am intrigued to see what he is like back in the octagon and that is the unknown for me in this one because he is the best fighter in the world when he is on but will we see that again now that he is back. If we see good old Jon Jones we will see a lethal MMA fighter who has no real flaws in his game but if he has matured I mean I think he will become even more dominant than before if that is possible. DC is the champion though regardless of all the oh he never beat me talks and as much as I don’t love DC in commentary he is one of the best human beings I have ever seen in professional sports. He is the best wrestler in the UFC with exceptions to maybe Cejudo and this dude packs one hell of a punch. DC wants to revenge his one loss in his career especially against his heated rival. This fight is going to be very crazy and back and forth as I believe regardless of DC’s age he is still growing more and more. I am really torn I know everyone in the world is just saying oh Jon Jones but I do not believe it is that simple as I believe DC is a true legend as well and is being over looked. I really love how much DC has done for this division in Jones’ absence because he is a great champion and someone we can all thank for his absolutely amazing display of character and dominance for all future champions to look at as a model. I think this fight will go the expected way but it will be a WHOLE LOT closer than most are making it seem. I have Jon Jones winning this one by way of decision as he has become a decision fighter in his recent fights. If DC wins I expect him to do so by stoppage in round 4 by way of TKO. But I will make Jones my official call by way of decision.
UFC 214 Fight Pass
Josh Burkman (29-15) vs. Drew Dober (19-8): We kick off the night with two veteran unranked lightweights. Drew Dober has a rough winning percentage since moving over from strikeforce, but when he has his good days he is on fire. He has seven wins by knockout and five by submission with five in the first round. Josh Burkman has also had it rough in the UFC. He left the UFC in 2008 after losing three in a row. After leaving he added 9-2 to his professional record. Since he came back in 2015, he has only won one of his last seven fights. In his career he has won nine fights by knockout and seven by submission with only two finishes not in the first round. Both of these guys are in right about the same place in their career so this could still be a pretty entertaining fight. Dober is trained in Muay Thai so he will want to stay standing or clinched and Burkman is a big ground wrestler so he will hunt the big takedown and pound him out. I think Dober will keep his distance and work striking with Burkman swinging back and looking for a takedown. Dober will be able to keep it standing except for one or two takedowns that really level the playing field. I see Dober winning this thing by decision because of all the shots he will land.
Eric Shelton (10-3) vs. Jared Brooks (12-0): This next fight will see a flyweight debut against someone only one fight more experienced. Jared Brooks has won five fights by submission and two by knockout with five finishes in the first round. In amateur competition, he went 28-1 and held ten titles. His opponent won four in a row before losing his UFC debut. Eric Shelton has also won five by submission and two by knockout with five finishes in the first. I think Shelton's six inch reach advantage will play a factor here, but Brooks just gets after it too much. I think Brooks will swarm him and take him down and beat him up. Then get the TKO in the second.
Kailin Curran (4-4) vs. Alexandra Albu (6-0): On to the last fight of the fight pass we see two big players in the strawweight's unranked roster. This will be the second UFC fight for Alexandra and at strawweight. Albu has four wins by knockout and two by submission making all of her wins by stoppage. So far in the UFC, she lands an average of 5 significant strikes per minute and has a near 90% takdeown defense. Her opponent, Kailin Curran, is having trouble in the UFC with her four losses coming from her five UFC fights. Also meaning before that she was 3-0 so she just needs to get a win here so she can get some traction. Curran seems to do well when she can work the ground, but I don't see her being able to take Albu down. I believe Albu can keep this standing and get a TKO in the first.
Andre Fili (16-4) vs. Calvin Kattar (16-2): Kicking off the prelims we see a featherweight debut. Calvin Kattar is coming in on an eight fight win streak. He has won six fights by knockout and three by submission.Almost all of his decision victories have been his most recent fights so maybe there is a change of style. His opponent has won 12 of his last 15 fights. Andre Fili has won eight fights by knockout and three by submission with six in the first round. This is going to be a really interesting fight and I think who wins this is based upon how long the fight goes. Fili will probably end it early or Kattar will get the decision. He has shown he is good at stoppages, but it has been a while since he has done so. I think Fili will take this one with a first round TKO. He is on fire recently and I think whatever that's causing Kattar to go to so many decisions will hinder his performance.
(#9) Renato Moicano (10-0-1) vs. (#8) Brian Ortega (11-0): Already in this card we see just how many fighters are ranked tonight. #8 ranked Brian Ortega is coming in a three fight win streak. Ortega has won five fights by submission and his most recent victory was by knockout. For the most part he outstrikes his opponents during his submission wins so he really grinds the guy out as opposed to some who just try to catch their opponent as quick as possible. His opponent,Renato Moicano, is on a six fight win streak. Moicano also has five wins by submission and usually outstrikes his opponents before sinking the sub in for the finish. This is going to be a great stand up fight for most of it and I think Moicano will take the submission in the third. I believe he will beat Moicano because both stand and beat their opponent down until they get the finish or the bell and Moicano lands more, has a higher percentage of damage when he lands and has a better defense. He will use these tools to wear down Ortega and be able to stay defended enough to get a submission on his terms.
(#8) Aljamain Sterling (13-2) vs. (#14) Renan Barao (35-4): The next fight will move us into the featherweight rankings. Largely conisdered unbeatable for many years, Barao has lost three of his last five fights with two going to T.J. Dillashaw and the third to Jeremy Stephens. With a near perfect takedown defense, he loves to stand or clinch and just lay shots on his opponent. From there he has shown great success with 15 submissions and eight knockouts. His opponent, Aljamain Sterling, has been having trouble as of late due to two losses in a row, but both were questionable decisions. Other than that, this near perfect record has been highlighted by showy kicks and Sterling wrapping around his opponents like a squid. Barao is a tough guy to beat and someone you don't want on the ground, but Sterling brings a confidence into his matches that really show through in his striking and his mix of wrestling and jiu-jitsu. I think this will be a good two or three round fight with both guys trading off and trying to control each other. I think Barao will start to get worn down and in the third round Sterling will get a big knockdown and he will capitalize by finishing the fight with a submission victory.
(#3) Ricardo Lamas (20-2) vs. (#15) Jason Knight (17-5): The main event for the prelims probably would have been a main card fight originally because Lamas was set to face the "Korean Zombie." He had to back out and Jason Knight is filling in. Knight will have an uphill battle tonight because he is facing one of the toughest featherweights in the division. Knight is coming into this fight on a four win streak. In his career he has 13 wins by submission and two by knockout with eight in the first round. He is not a very accurate striker, but when he lands he tends to do damage. His opponent, has won 11 of his last 15 fights. Ricardo Lamas is an all-around badass being able to submit people like Charles Oliveira and knockout people like Diego Sanchez. Jason Knight is good and after a few more fights may be able to compete against the top ranked guys, but he just got into the rankings and going against this guy of all people is a giant stepping stone. I think Lamas will keep this standing at first, but Knight will take it to the mat to get in his element. From there Lamas will over-power him with his wrestling and secure a first round submission.
(#3) Jimi Manuwa (17-2) vs. (#5) Volkan Oezdemir (14-1): Kicking off the main card we have two top 5 light heavyweights. When news broke that Cormier would be facing Jones again at UFC 214, Jimi Manuwa asked to be on the card so if Jones gets into trouble again, he could step in. Well, thankfully that doesn't seem to be an issue and we can see this fight too. Oezdemir is on a four fight win streak and his only two fights in the UFC were against ranked light heavyweights. He has ten wins by knockout and one by submission with all of them being first round finishes. This fight isn't going to last long because his opponent is also a knockout machine. Jimi Manuwa has 15 wins by knockout and one by submission with 11 finishes in the first. I think Manuwa is going to put an end to the hot streak with both fighters banging and Oezdemir being dropped in the first.
(#3) Robbie Lawler (27-11) vs. (#7) Donald Cerrone (32-8): Even more ranked fighters are about to do battle in welterweight. Before I start, I will be both happy and sad regardless of who wins. Both guys are class acts and exciting as hell to watch. I wish them both luck. Cerrone has been almost unbeatable as of late only losing two of his last 14 fights. Cerrone has won 16 fights by submission and eight fights by knockout. He is a real get-in-your-face kind of guy and most of his recent wins are by knockout and when he does grapple its usually to capitalize on a big hit he just delivered. Now his opponent is former welterweight champ, Robbie Lawler. Finally coming back from his loss of the title almost exactly a year ago, he is ready to get back on the road to gold. Lawler has 20 wins by knockout and 12 of them were in the first round. I predict that Lawler will be too much of a force for Cerrone. Cerrone is normally the guy pushing the pace and that won't be the case here and I think Lawler is going to brute force his way into a second round TKO.
Chris Cyborg (16-1) vs. Tonya Evinger (19-5): This is the first of three title fights tonight and it will produce the second women's featherweight champ. This fight was originally supposed to be Cyborg vs. Megan Anderson after they stripped Germaine de Randamie of the title, but Anderson got injured and Evinger is her replacement. Not including a no contest, Evinger is on a 10 fight win streak and she is making her debut in the UFC. She is moving up to the featherweight division after successfully defending the bantamweight title in Invicta four times. She has won eight fights by knockout and seven by submission. Her opponent, Chris Cyborg, has been undefeated for a decade because her only loss was her first professional fight. Cyborg has 15 wins by knockout and nine of them were in the first round. Cyborg is a monster with an average of 8 significant strikes per minute. I think Evinger is a good matchup and she will provide a good fight, but Cyborg has unbelievable stopping power and I think she is going to land a deadly bomb in the second and get a knockout victory.
(C) Tyron Woodley (16-3-1) vs. (#1) Demian Maia (25-6): Here we are at the co-main event and we get title fight #2 for the welterweight title. This is going to be very entertaining to see how these opposing styles will collide. Demian Maia is arguably one of the best grapplers that the UFC has ever seen. With only just about half of his wins by submission (12) watching him fight is a much different story. Even if he doesn't get the submission he will still get on your back or take you to the ground and just work you the whole fight. To paraphrase The Longest Yard, He makes good grapplers look not good. And even more intriguing is that he has developed a standing game. He doesn't hit incredibly hard or go crazy, but he has developed an excellent way to round out his skillset which help lead him to this seven win streak. His opponent is Tyron Woodley who is looking to make his third title defense. Woodley has seven wins by knockout and four by submission with nine in the first round. He has a near perfect takedown defense which will help him in keeping Maia on his feet, but Maia is also good at gaining backpack position form the clinch. He made this very obvious in his last couple matches and showed he could stay up there for a while. This prompted Woodley to say that he was going through his whole training camp with a weighted vest on to prepare. Woodley isn't a particularly fast striker, but he times his shots well and really damages guys. Maia on the other hand has been capable of negating all fighting styles as of recently. This fight is really about whether Woodley can keep it standing or Maia getting it to the ground. This may sound crazy, but I'm going to call for Maia to win this one. I know I'm referring to Stephen Thompson, but Woodley has had trouble beating other strikers recently; he did, but barely both times. If he has trouble with that, I'm not sure he will do well against someone who specializes in forcing strikers and grapplers alike to show how well they can grapple. Maia can take any kind of fighter as of late and make them have to become a better grappler than him or face the consequences. It may be hard for him to get there, but I predict Maia will tire Woodley out in the first and grind him out in the second and third and get a unanimous decision.
(C) Dan Cormier (19-1) vs (#1) Jon Jones (22-1): Main event time and one of the most anticipated rematches of modern UFC. This fight has an insane amount of hype surrounding it and is long overdue. Animosity grew quickly before the first fight even started. There was a lot of trash-talking and even a couple physical altercations between the two. During the fight the lack of respect showed, leaving no dull moment. Jones of course had the size advantage, in this fight being a foot and a half longer than Cormier. Dan became the second fighter to ever take Jones down and held him there for some time before Jones countered. Over the course of the fight, they both missed a lot of takedowns, but Jones was able to take better control of the fight. At the end Cormier suffered his first and only loss of his career. Finally two and half years later, Cormier is the champion because of Jones' recklessness leading him to become stripped of the title. Jones faced both suspensions and legal action over the course of that time and Cormier asserted himself as top of the division, with one giant shadow. Jones is finally back to reclaim his title and continue his 13 fight win streak. For this match everything is in Jones' favor. Cormier has experience dealing with larger guys with him being small guy back when he was at heavyweight and he has fought Jones, Gustafsson and Rumble. The problem with that is, Jones is so long that he does anything he wants and nobody has been able to stop him. Cormier can throw hands with the best of them, but he will have a lot of trouble closing that distance like he showed in their first fight. You could argue that Cormier is a better wrestler since he has success at the national and Olympic level, where Jones does not, but Jones has used his size to just stretch out and make it impossible for people to do anything. I think this is going to be another long war that Jones will win by decision. I just hope he doesn't fuck up outside of the octagon and leave the title vacant again.
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