UFC 214 is live from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California on Saturday night. Daniel Cormier puts his light heavyweight title on the line against bitter rival Jon Jones in the evening’s main event. In the co-main event Tyron Woodley defends his welterweight championship against submission artist Demian Maia.
Also on the main card Cris Cyborg takes on Invicta FC Bantamweight Champion Tonya Evinger for the vacant women’s featherweight title, Robbie Lawler makes his return to take on Donald Cerrone in a battle of top-ranked welterweights, and in the light heavyweight division Jimi Manuwa looks to keep his run of victories going when he faces the fast rising Volkan Oezdemir.
The early prelims will air on Fight Pass starting at 5:30 p.m. CT, with FXX taking over at 7 p.m. CT for the prelims. The main card will air on PPV starting at 9 p.m. CT.
Note: The predictions in this column do not necessarily mean that I will betting them. I have changed my mind in the past and gone the other way after conducting more research. For all of my official bets follow me on Twitter @FightChampBlog. You can also find all of my official MMA bets at betmmatips.com.
MMA Torch Rankings are included.
#1 Daniel Cormier (19-1) vs. #5 Jon Jones (22-1) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.
Current Odds: Jones -270; Cormier +215
Since losing to Jon Jones at UFC 182, Daniel Cormier has won his last four fights. We last saw DC in the cage at UFC 210 where he submitted Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in the second round with a rear-naked choke. The thirty-eight year old has six knockouts to go along with six submissions in his nineteen career wins.
The last time we saw Jon Jones in the cage he beat Ovince St. Preux by unanimous decision at UFC 197. That was in April of last year. In his twenty-two wins, nine are by knockout with six coming via submission.
If you missed the first fight between these two then I recommend going back and watching it because I expect this fight to play out the same way. Cormier is who he is, and that’s a wrestler. He is usually capable of out-wrestling his opponents, but against Jones that won’t be the case. Jon Jones proved he is the better wrestler in their first encounter and that won’t change in this fight. I also expect Cormier to gas out the longer the fight goes on. At thirty-eight years old the weight cuts are becoming harder and harder for him.
Jones will also have the advantage if the fight stays standing. He is the better technical striker with a twelve inch reach advantage. He will use his reach advantage and kicks to keep distance and pick Cormier apart from the outside.
The only question I have coming into the fight is, will Jones have any cage-rust? He appears to be in the best shape of his life, but that isn’t the same as being in cage fighting shape.
Ultimately Jon Jones is the better overall fighter with more ways to win.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cormier announce his retirement, win or lose after this fight.
Pick: Jones by decision
#1 Tyron Woodley (16-3-1) vs. #2 Demian Maia (25-6) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Woodley -220; Maia +170
After beating Robbie Lawler for the title at UFC 201, Tyron Woodley has successfully defended his belt twice in back-to-back fights against Stephen Thompson. Although both of the fights were boring and dull, Woodley did enough to keep his title. In his seventeen career wins, six are by KO/TKO to go along with five by submission.
Demian Maia is on all sorts of fire. The Brazilian is riding a seven fight winning streak and can tie Michael Bisping for the most wins in UFC history should he win the title on Saturday night. His last fight was at UFC 211 where he beat Jorge Masvidal by split decision in a highly competitive fight. The thirty-nine year old has twelve submissions to go along with three knockouts in twenty-five career professional victories.
Finally Demian Maia gets his shot at winning UFC gold on Saturday night. Unfortunately the UFC didn’t give him much time since his last fight which was two and a half months ago. Maia is one of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in the world and if he takes Woodley’s back the fight will be over.
However, Woodley is the far superior athlete and has excellent takedown defense. If Woodley has success stuffing the takedown attempts from Maia and can keep the fight standing it’s his fight to win. Woodley has a huge advantage in striking and has the power to put anyone at 170 asleep.
As long as Maia can avoid getting knocked out in the first two rounds I think his better cardio will start to earn him takedowns that he wasn’t able to get earlier in the fight. I just don’t see Woodley avoiding getting taken down for five rounds.
Pick: Maia by submission
Cristiane Justino (16-1, 1 NC) vs. Tonya Evinger (19-5) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: Justino -1200; Evinger +700
Cris Cyborg has fifteen knockouts in her seventeen wins. This will be her first fight in 2017. She fought twice under the UFC banner last year, beating Leslie Smith at UFC 198 and then Lina Lansberg at UFC Fight Night 95. Both wins were by knockout.
Tonya Evinger took this fight after Cyborg’s original challenger, Megan Anderson had to back out due to personal reasons. Evinger is the current Invicta FC Bantamweight Champion and is riding a 10 fight win streak. She originally lost her title to Yana Kunitskaya at Invicta FC 20 by submission, but she appealed the loss to the Missouri Athletic Commission. The result was eventually overturned and declared a no-contest. Evinger and Kunitskaya ran it back at Invicta FC 22 where Evinger submitted the Russian in the second round.
Here’s the thing, Cristiane Justino is the baddest woman on the planet. On Saturday night she finally gets the opportunity to fight for UFC gold. An opportunity she should’ve been awarded some time ago.
I like Tonya Evinger. Like Cyborg, she too has been treated poorly by the UFC. Both women are outspoken and neither of them take any s—t. Although I don’t expect Evinger to win on Saturday night, I’m happy that she gets the opportunity to fight in the UFC on the biggest card of the year.
Pick: Justino by KO
#4 Robbie Lawler (27-11, 1 NC) vs. #7 Donald Cerrone (32-8, 1 NC) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Lawler -165; Cerrone +135
Robbie Lawler hasn’t fought since dropping the title to Tyron Woodley at UFC 201. The thirty-five year old veteran has been in some five round wars over the last three years. His fights against Carlos Condit at UFC 195, Rory MacDonald at UFC 189 and Johny Hendricks at UFC 181 were all candidates for fights of the year. In his twenty-seven career wins, twenty are by knockout and one submission.
Donald Cerrone was on a four-fight winning streak until he was stopped by Jorge Masvidal in the second round at UFC on FOX 23. Six of Cerrone’s last seven fights ended inside the distance. At thirty-four years of age, Cerrone has forty fights under his belt. He has sixteen submissions to go along with eight knockouts in his thirty-two wins.
This is the fight most MMA fans have been waiting for. Both fighters are lethal on the feet and can end the fight in the blink of an eye. Cerrone likes to get off to a fast start by throwing kicks and sticking his jab in an effort to establish range.
Lawler is more than happy to stand and trade. However, he likes to get inside and administer punishment with power strikes both to the head and body of his opponents. Both fighters have good takedown defense, but if there’s an advantage in ground games, it’s to Cerrone. If the fight does go to the ground I like Cerrone to slip in a submission for the win.
While I don’t expect that to happen, I still favor Cerrone ever so slightly here. They both have taken a ton of damage in their careers, but something tells me it’s Lawler that’s worse for wear.
Pick: Cerrone by decision
#7 Jimi Manuwa (17-2) vs. #9 Volkan Oezdemir (14-1) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.
Current Odds: Manuwa -200; Oezdemir +160
After getting stopped by Anthony Johnson in the second round at UFC 191, Jimi Manuwa has put together back to back impressive showings. He finished Ovince St. Preux in the second round at UFC 204 and followed that up with a first round knockout of Corey Anderson at UFC Fight Night 107. The thirty-seven year old has fifteen KO/TKOs to go along with one submission in seventeen career wins. In nineteen career fights only one went to the judge’s scorecards.
Volkan Oezdemir is 2-0 under the UFC banner and riding a four-fight winning streak. His most recent fight came at UFC Fight Night 109 where he upset Misha Cirkunov by knocking him out in twenty-eight seconds. Like Manuwa, Oezdemir will go for the finish when presented. The Swiss fighter has ten knockouts and one submission in fourteen career victories.
I expect this fight to take place primarily on the feet which should allow for some fireworks to start the main card. Ozdemir’s ground game is sorely lacking which will force him to have to trade with Manuwa. Jimi Manuwa has fought better competition and is the better striker.
Pick: Manuwa by TKO
PRELIMS QUICK LOOK
#4 Lamas -110 over Knight -120
#8 Barao -110 over Sterling -120
Moicano -150 over Ortega +120
Fili -375 over Kattar +290
Early Prelims Quick Look
Albu -165 over Curran +135
Brooks -155 over Shelton +125
Dober -335 over Burkman +265
Enjoy the fights!