The UFC returns to our screens this weekend with UFC 214 taking place in Anaheim, California. The event is the most anticipated UFC card of the year and is headlined by a Light Heavyweight Championship rematch between champ Daniel Cormier and interim-champ Jon Jones.
Unlike many recent PPVs this year, this card is not dependent solely on its main event to sell the show. The co-main event sees the welterweight title on the line between the challenger Demian Maia and champion Tyron Woodley.
That’s not all, either. The most dangerous and feared woman on the planet Cris “Cyborg” Justino finally, and rightfully, gets her chance to be a UFC champion. Standing in her way is Tonya Evinger, the current Invicta FC bantamweight champion.
This week on Obviously Fight Talk we were joined by prominent fight analyst and mastermind Brendan Dorman. We’re not saying he is the best in the business, we are just saying there is no one better.
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Daniel Cormier v Jon Jones – Bet now
It’s no secret that these two men are not best buddies. They don’t exchange Christmas cards or go to the movies together. But one thing they do alike: they compete at the highest level of mixed martial arts.
Oh, and they absolutely hate each other too.
In Jon Jones you have in many peoples pick for best MMA fighter on the planet – the pound for pound king, the rightful Light Leavyweight champion as he never lost his title but was stripped by the UFC (it’s a long story. Google it).
Then you have Daniel Cormier, known as DC His only MMA defeat was to Jon Jones via unanimous decision. But the fight was a closer than a lot remember. Since then DC has beat Anthony Johnson twice, Alexander Gustafason and MMA legend Anderson Silva.
Mind games and emotional state we feel will have an outcome on this fight. Jones didn’t look anywhere near himself last time out against Ovince Saint Preux. He earned the victory, but it was not Jon Jones-like. He also hasn’t finished an opponent since Chael Sonnen back at UFC 159 in 2013.
Bones Jones fights to the level of his opponent. In D.C he has his hands full, and we believe we will see a vintage Jones. Almost to prove a point the way he does, expect him to attempt to put Cormier on his butt. Cormier has fought rangy guys and won, though, has fought harder hitters and won and he’s fought submission-masters and been victorious.
So can he win? Yes. He needs to work and win the inside battles and wrestling exchanges. His dirty boxing is a throwback to earlier days and he carries serious power. But who will be crowned UFC champion in my opinion? Jon Jones.
Fight pick: Jon Jones by decision – 11/10
Tyron Woodley v Demian Maia – Bet now
Almost a throwback to the early UFC/MMA days, this is truly a fight asking ‘can Woodley stop the takedown?’, Maia is not your classic rush in double-leg takedown guy.
Don’t expect Maia to throw too many shots. Everyone knows his game plan, so you can bet your ass Woodley knows it too. In many others opinion, Demian Maia has the best jiu jitsu in MMA, but he needs to get this to the ground to implement it.
We may not see the Woodley we watched against Stephen Thompson. In that bout he backed up against the cage using it to his advantage. That’s where Maia can take advantage in the takedown this time around.
The Welterweight champ is well-known for his explosiveness, covering ground with such speed and looking like Mr. Olympia. Fatigue I feel could be the killer in this contest for the challenger as working for takedowns is hard labour and the tax is your energy.
I predict that Woodley will stop the takedowns and do most of his work in the later of the rounds and punish Maia for his takedown attempts. I see the champ getting it done late in the fourth via TKO.
Fight pick: Tyron Woodley by TKO – 10/11
Cris “Cyborg” Justino v Tonya Evinger – Bet now
The most feared female fighter in MMA, and probably on the planet, Cris “Cyborg” Justino gets her first shot at UFC gold against the current Invicta Bantamweight Champion Tonya Evinger. We referenced the movie Jurassic Park in my breakdown of this fight. Is Evinger the goat being lowered into the T-Rex cage or does she stand a chance?
Cyborg is ferocious in her attacks, carries serious power and killer instinct. The last time she went the distance was in 2008. She on a seventeen fight win streak, the question is, is Cris “Cyborg” Justino unstoppable force?
What does Evinger have to do? Implement her ground game and make Cyborg work to stop the takedown, cut angles, move and move more. Do not be a stationary target. We see no other outcome than Cyborg’s hand raised and Bruce Buffer calling her name.
Fight pick: Cris Cyborg Justino by first round TKO – 8/13
Robbie Lawler v Donald Cerrone – Bet now
There is no other way of putting it, this matchup is fight fans dream. The former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler has not stepped in the famous Octagon since his defeat at the hands of the current champion Tyron Woodley.
Lawler has had a huge resurgence since his return to the UFC at UFC 157. He went on a 3 fight win streak earning him a shot at the vacant welterweight title against Johnny Hendricks. Being on the wrong end of the judges score card in that fight, Lawler regrouped and went on another run. This time the run was topped off by claiming the title and avenging that Hendricks loss.
“Cowboy”, much like Robbie, is a fighter’s fighter, the fan’s fighter, and the since the move to welterweight you could argue looking at his best. A win against the former champion could put Cerrone in line for a title shot of his own.
As we referenced on the show, Lawler’s time away and recent wars inside the octagon (most notably against Rory MacDonald) could all add up. But Lawler is known for his bullying and aggressive style of fighting. He hits like a train and can take punishment as much as he can dish it out.
The blueprint is there in how to beat “Cowboy”, Robbie Lawler needs to dictate the pace and pressure of the fight. Just look at what Rafael Dos Anjos, Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz done against Cerrone.
Fight pick: Robbie Lawler by second round TKO – 7/1
Jimi Manuwa v Volkan Oezdemir – Bet Now
Opening the main card are arguably the next title challengers in the Light Heavyweight division. Both are owners of devastating power and plenty of first round finishes, with high knockout percentages in both corners. 88% for Manuwa and 71% for Oezdemir.
Jimi Manuwa was compared to Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and “Iron” Mike Tyson in the shows breakdown and this comes with good reason. The Brit packs serious power combined with superb shot selection.
That’s not to say there is no path to victory for the 14-1 Oezdemir. In his last outing he spoilt the party at the 0:28 second point in his fight with the hot prospect in Misha Cirkunov, winning by a stunning knockout. The smart money is on Manuwa in this one though and don’t be surprised if it ends in a highlight in the opening round.
Fight pick: Jimi Manuwa by first round KO – 15/8
* Be sure to check out the full breakdown with more insight from Obviously Fight Talk on their predictions here. While you’re there, why not subscribe to their channel as well.
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* All prices correct at time of posting.