UFC 214 Main Card Picks & Predictions
Undoubtedly this is the card of the year so far and hopefully the fights live up to that billing. Only Rory thinks Cormier can get the job done, but with his recent form, who are we to doubt him? Brad is alone in picking Maia and Manuwa and Cyborg are the only unanimous picks. Surprisingly more think Cerrone gets the job done than Lawler, but we all agree this should be fight of the night. Luke was the top dog with his UFC213 predictions, so maybe he's the man to follow if you're having a bet this weekend.
Predictions have been submitted throughout fight week and all ahead of the weigh in, so please take that into account if you're reading this on Saturday morning and are slightly confused.
Daniel Cormier v Jon Jones 2
Luke: I’m going with Jones. I couldn’t pick against a coked up Jones and I’m certainly not picking against a fresh and focused one. He’s embracing the heel now and the interview during the broadcast this weekend told us a lot. The way he just said 'FUCK DC' and walked off was epic. I think he’ll control the range and may even take DC down early to give him something to think about. I’m not sure he’ll stop DC, but if the cut is as hard as it looked last time, Jones could pull away in the Championship rounds. With Jones, you often have to expect the unthinkable, so maybe he drags DC into deep waters and submits him. Ultimately though, i'll stick with my original pick - Jon Jones via Unanimous Decision
Troy: The fight we have all been waiting for! I really hope this fight turns out to be better than their first encounter. Cormier believes Jones will be chasing him around the ring for 5 rounds, I am not too sure about that. I hope like all MMA fans out there that we get to see a fully fighting fit Jones; If that happens then i'm afraid ‘DC’ doesn't stand much a chance. If however, a complacent Jones shows up then Cormier will certainly look to take full advantage of it. My heart wants redemption for Cormier. But my mind is telling the champ is back. I'm going for Jon Jones via a Submission in Round 4
Brad: Will Jones have “octagon rust”? Will DC change his approach this time? Will Jones get banned 24 hours out? So many intriguing questions to be answered in this instalment of the Bones/DC rivalry but I can’t help but feel we’re being cheated out of a juicier fight by not having Jones come back with a warm up first. UFC 182 seems like a lifetime ago. The McGregor hype train has vacated the UFC plot for the time being so the top brass must secretly be wishing for a prime Bones Jones comeback and make a statement this time around to allow them to push his star, regardless of whether he chooses to embrace his heel role or not (I believe he will and he should). I'm going with Jones on points. DC is as tough as they come and Jones’ lay off may work against him later in the fight. Styles make fights and Jones just has DC’s number.
Cam: Arguably the biggest card in the UFC calendar this year and it just so happens it features the return of arguably the greatest fighter in UFC history in Jon Jones. In his first competitive fight in a long stretch, (I’m not counting the OSP debacle) Jones will take on his nemesis, Daniel Cormier in a true grudge match that could produce fireworks. The biggest question hovering over this fight is how will Jon Jones show up. Can he be the same fighter that eased to a decision two years ago, or will he show ring rust from his lay off? Word on the street is Jones has fallen in love with Jiu Jitsu and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he was to show this on Saturday night, therefore I'm picking Jonny Bones to win via submission in Round 3.
Keegan: In the opinion of most, this is the biggest fight in either man’s career. DC has looked good in his title defences, however they were against opponents that he was able to dominate with his grappling. As we saw in the first fight between these two, he wasn’t able to do this to Jones and I still don’t think he’s capable of doing so. Jones wins via decision
Rory: A true rivalry and two brilliant fighters. If Cormier is to ever beat Jones, then Saturday has to be his night. His tactic is simple, press the action and embrace the grind. I am personally a massive DC fan, so perhaps I am biased but I can honestly see DC getting the win. If Jones fights like he did against OSP then he could struggle. I think DC might just be able to win enough rounds to keep hold of his title. DC by Unanimous Decision.
TK: As each story progressively came to light about Jon Jones’ antics outside of the octagon, we slowly came to realise we’ve never truly known what is going on inside that mind. A delicate balance between genius and madness has always intrigued us about sportsmen at the top of their game and that unpredictability Jones carries into the fight seems to be what has caused the odds to narrow and many to tip Cormier. However, the one thing that is usually predictable in a Jon Jones fight is the result and I see the same again here. In a stacked card I expect this one to be more one-sided than people are hoping with DC having some success early, but Jones riding out any storms and re-stamping his authority as the premium fighter in the UFC. We know the weight cut is tough for Cormier and 5 rounds is a long time against someone as skilled as Jones on the feet, who also demonstrated a deceptive strength in the first fight to ensure the fight didn’t reach the mat where DC could do his best work. Expect the same again with a Jones victory by decision, (should he send out a huge statement and stop Cormier, consider your search for the next posterboy of the UFC after McGregor over before it has really begun).
Tyron Woodley v Demian Maia
Luke: I’m quite confident with Woodley here. He’s what you’d call a complete MMA fighter, his takedown defence is great, his pressure will ensure Maia can’t dictate pace and Maia’s striking is literally pathetic. Woodley’s power carries through the fight and I think he KO’s him in the 3rd.
Troy: I hate to break it to you, but I cant see this fight being a classic. Woodley has become very good over the last few years at playing totally to his strengths and in this matchup his major strength is his knockout power. Maia, as much as I admire his Jiu-jitsu skills has had little to no improvement on his striking. I am hoping for Maia to jump on his back in the first ten seconds and slap on a RNC.. But I’m not sure that’s going to happen unfortunately. A mixture of excellent striking and wrestling should be enough to see the champ retain his title. Woodley wins by decision.
Brad: Inner turmoil strikes once again. I have a lot of time and respect for both guys and would dearly love to see Maia take the strap but what happens thereafter? We clearly have more explosive fights to be made with Tyron as the champ so I lean more so towards wanting him to retain this time out but it’s a long shot… 5 rounds with the Anaconda like Maia stalking you, knowing that he will be patient and wait for his opportunity to take you down and have his way (not like that gutter mind), T Wood needs to go to work early and try and use that ungodly power to blast Maia out in Rds 1 or 2 otherwise it’ll be a long night. I'm predicting Maia by unanimous decision.
Cam: Perhaps the most intriguing fight on the card and a fight that could definitely exceed expectations. I firmly believe Maia’s only path to victory here is through utilising his god-like jiu jitsu and taking it by submission. I just can’t see Maia outlasting Woodley over five rounds or having the power to achieve a knock out. Woodley, who has excellent wrestling, will likely try to stay clear of using that against Maia, he won’t want to be put in vulnerable positions on the ground so look for him to use his explosive striking throughout. Whilst I would love to see Maia pull it off, I just can’t look past Woodley in this one. I like his striking to get this done early - Woodley via Round 1 KO is my pick
Keegan: Maia is an excellent wrestler, and not many guys he’s come up against have been able to deal with his grappling. With that being said, I don’t believe he’s ever faced a guy who can generate as much power in as short a distance as Woodley can. Woodley via decision
Rory: A true traditional martial-artist in Maia goes against one of the ‘new breed’. Maia looks to do the same thing all the time - Get the fight to the mat and look for your neck. I can’t see him getting Woodley down and Woodley will punish him standing up. Maia has a really poor gas tank and if he fails to get the takedown then it will slow him down quickly. Woodley carries big power and should be able to land easily. Woodley by 2nd Round KO
TK: A fight with two men that are unquestionably great on the mat, but should be hopelessly mismatched on the feet, I expect Woodley to simply have too many weapons in his arsenal in this one. His argument for being one of the best all-round fighters in the UFC roster is a strong one, it is the whiney nature in which he is often seen as making it that puts people off. His striking skills represent enough of a threat to keep Maia at bay when lunging in for potential takedowns and in doing so, Maia’s lack of preparation will be exposed as the gas tank progressively empties. Having waited for so long, I’m predicting heartbreak for Maia and a Woodley KO in the 3rd.
Cris Cyborg v Tonya Evinger
Luke: The natural place to start is saying that De Randamie is a bum and shat it massively here. Evinger is an aggressive fighter, and I’m not sure that’s the way to beat Cyborg, unless you have freakish power. She’s a beast on the feet, a beast on the mat, and I think Cyborg finishes 36 year old Evinger inside 2 rounds.
Troy: I would be very surprised if Cris Cyborg does not come away this weekend as the new featherweight champion. Tonya Evinger has great wrestling skills and will be looking to grind out a victory against the striker Cyborg. I just feel that Cyborg is only ever one shot away from ending the fight and I believe she will do that in the first round.
Brad: Come on now…
Cam: Finally it seems the UFC are ready to get behind the Cris Cyborg train, albeit a few years too late. Whilst Evinger does possess a ton of ability and will be dangerous should the fight go to the floor, it’s hard to see Cyborg letting it get there. She’s the bigger, more powerful fighter and I would expect this to show immediately. Cyborg via Round 1 KO
Keegan: Don’t get me wrong, I think Evinger is a good fighter. However Cris Cyborg is an absolute monster and I can’t see this fight ending any other way than with her getting the KO inside the first round.
Rory: I am going to keep this short and sweet Cyborg finishes her and finishes early with a 1st Round KO!
TK: Hannibal Lecter, Freddy Krueger, Jigsaw…the list of who I’d rather see stood opposite me than Cris Cyborg continues. Truly terrifying and I expect the result to reflect that and if Evinger’s as tough as some suggest it could be a grim watch as long as it lasts. Cyborg by 2nd round stoppage.
Luke: – I’m gonna pick Lawler here but this honestly could go either way. I’m glad both men have taken some time out, and that should pay dividends. I think the key here is Lawlers body strikes, Cerrone has demonstrated before that he’s able to be hurt there. Lawler has also shown that he’ll keep fighting as long as he possibly can, and I’m not sure Cerrone has the heart for it when it gets tough. He didn’t quit v Dos Anjos, but once hurt, he can go into his shell a bit. I think Lawler stops him late in the 3rd.
Troy: Quietly, this is the fight I'm looking forward to the most, and I’m sure I’m not the only one to think this! This is our first look at Robbie Lawler since losing his title back at 202. He has also changed camps since the loss, so will be interesting to see two of my favourite fighters ‘slug it out’. Cowboy has not had a fight in a whole six months! So it will also be great to see a revitalised Cerrone back in the Octagon. Easily has the potential to take ’fight of the year’ let alone night. I am expecting either a first round KO from Lawler or like I said, a masterpiece. Lawler to win by KO in round 3.
Brad: Despite what the records will say afterwards, there is no loser here, especially not us fans. Robbie and Donald were destined to end up squaring off sooner or later, 2 guys that are completely balls to the wall, all out action and we love them for it. Cerrone’s record and mental state in “big fights” is an obvious talking point but I feel even with the best will in the world it’d take something special by him to stop the bigger man in Lawler. Robbie’s walk forward style could work to Cerrone’s advantage if he can be patient and pick his shots, especially if he chooses to work the legs to take away Robbie’s power and restrict his mobility. My pick is Lawler by KO in Round 2. It'll be fun while it lasts
Cam: The expectations for this fight are sky high. Two of the premier strikers in the UFC both coming off a loss, needing a win. The fight has been rescheduled twice due to injury so third time lucky! Cerrone needs to utilise his reach advantage and fight on the outside, not getting drawn into a war with Lawler, whereas Lawler needs to cut the distance and fight inside. Whichever fighter is able to enforce their game plan take this. It’s such an even fight in my eyes but I’ve got Cerrone taking this one, likely by KO; Cerrone via KO in Round 2 is my final pick.
Keegan: This is a dream fight for a lot of UFC fans. Seeing the ruthless aggression of Lawler come up against the technical ability of Cerrone is going to be phenomenal. I do think that once we get to the later rounds one left hand from Robbie could be enough to finish this one. Lawler via 3rd round KO
Rory: Two proper warriors go head to head. This could easily be a main event on a smaller card but with three title fights we find it further down the card. With Lawler coming off a KO loss to T-Wood it will be interesting to see what he has left. Cerrone was also knocked out in his last fight and these two might be chinless now. Everyone is hoping they aren’t and we see a war. I think Cerrone could use his more technical style and keep the distance from Lawler. Cerrone via Unanimous Decision
TK: Could be a tough one to watch for numerous reasons; Either we’ll get an epic bloodbath from two of the UFC’s greatest warriors, or witness one (or maybe two) men that have gone to the well one too many times. Either way you can’t help but see an action-packed encounter that will belie its place lower down on the card. While I can see why the bookmakers have Lawler as favourite (he seems the marginally…marginally, safer bet) I feel the odds are a little wider than they should be at the time of writing. Cerrone packs power and holds deceptive skills and variety to his work and I’m picking this to see him through in a three round fight. It would seem almost disrespectful to label it as a fight where we are simply finding out who has got the most left and there is no shame in losses to Woodley and Masvidal respectively, but at this stage of their careers the nature of those losses indicates the miles they both have on the clock. It is a fight therefore where no outcome can be too much of a surprise (particularly if there are any after effects of that infection Cerrone had) but I’m picking Cerrone by KO in the 2nd
Luke: Manuwa enters the fight with a 17-2 record and has won 88% by KO; He also has a pretty insane reach of 79 inches. Although it’s clear that he simply wants to KO his opponent, he’s far more patient and precise than just a slugger. Jimi has worked on his takedown defence and I think he does well with feints to time his opponents shots and make them feel uncomfortable before landing huge shots. Oezdemir averages 0 takedowns a fight so Jimi should have no worries there. Oezdemir has only been out of the 1st round four times, and I think he has a punchers chance, but will play right into Manuwa’s hands. I'm going for a Manuwa KO in round 2.
Troy: Naturally rooting for the Englishman in Jimi Manuwa in this one. Was not really aware of Oezdemir until his victory over Ovince Saint Preux, but has continued to impress since his debut with an emphatic knockout of Misha Cirkunov. This could be a real European slug-fest, as both fighters are confident in their striking. I am thinking Manuwa however has the edge in the stand-up so will look to keep the fight on the feet, as opposed to Oezdemir who would be quite confident if the bout goes to the ground. Manuwa wins this one by KO in the 2nd Round
Brad: Show or go time for Jimi in a division impatiently waiting for someone to really step up and challenge the top dogs. He’s certainly not been shy in offering his opinions on his peers and the opportunity to make a statement with Jones/DC following later will be too good to miss. I'm going with a Manuwa unanimous decision
Cam: A huge opportunity for either man to really put themselves front and centre of the light heavyweight title picture. Both fighters are riding a hot streak and prefer to stand and strike, rather than take the fight to the floor. On this occasion, I’m going to run with who I believe is the more polished striker and has more power. Manuwa gets this done by KO in the 1st Round
Keegan: Both guys have proven they are devastating strikers, and for me the chances of this fight going to the judges score card are very slim. I think the reach advantage of Manuwa will be enough to give him the win. Jimi Manuwa takes this one with a 2nd round KO
Rory: Two men capable of delivering stunning knockouts as evidenced lately. Whilst Oezdemir has now had two fights in the UFC we still do not know all that much about him at the UFC level. His fight against OSP was very close and he blew Cirkunov away in a matter of seconds. However Manuwa has been on a tear lately and I fully expect him to beat Oezdemir. Manuwa is more experienced on the big stage and has such power in his hands. Manuwa by 2nd round KO
TK: Potentially a stylistic dream for someone with Manuwa’s skillset, I see this as a good platform to showcase his ability and demand a title shot. Losses to ‘Rumble’ Johnson and Gustafsson demonstrate he has only come unstuck against the very best in the division and knockouts of OSP and Corey Anderson give him good momentum coming in to this. I don’t see Oezdemir having the outstanding qualities that either Johnson or Gustafsson possessed that gave Manuwa trouble and if he does want that title fight a statement needs to be made, regardless of the outcome of the Jones-Cormier fight. I’m backing Manuwa to do so in a 1st round stoppage.