“Bones?” We don’t need no stinkin’ “Bones!”
It’s a rematch for the ages this Saturday evening (April 8, 2107) as Anthony Johnson —- bearer of three consecutive “Performance of the Night”-winning knockouts — challenges UFC Light Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier once again inside KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York.
In addition, Chris Weidman looks to end his current slump against former Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi and “Ill” Will Brooks welcomes Charles Oliveira back to the Lightweight division.
Yesterday was our UFC 210 warm up (check it out here), while the good stuff’s just a quick scroll away:
145 lbs.: Myles Jury vs. Mike De La Torre
Myles Jury (15-2) — whose run on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 15 ended early with a split decision loss to Al Iaquinta, opened his UFC career with six consecutive victories. A loss to Donald Cerrone sent “Fury” down to Featherweight, where an overweight Charles Oliveira tapped him with a guillotine.
This will be his first fight in nearly 16 months.
The first two UFC bouts for Mike De La Torre (14-6) saw him give Mark Bocek a stiff challenge despite +500 odds and then suffer a 99-second submission loss to Brian Ortega that a failed drug test later overturned. He has since alternated wins and losses, most recently tapping to a Godofredo “Pepey” rear-naked choke in Brazil.
His 12 stoppage wins include six knockouts and six submissions.
Though Jury is not the ferocious finisher his pre-UFC record suggests, he’s well-rounded enough to pose a significant threat to chunks of the 145-pound division. De La Torre, unfortunately, is among those chunks, hard-headed and hard-nosed, but without the focus to overpower Jury in any area.
“Fury” has a mean right hand and a quality wrestling game to back up the Brazilian jiu-jitsu that forms the core of his game. One or the other will put De La Torre on the mat, where Jury will lock up the finish before long.
Prediction: Jury via first-round submission
170 lbs.: Kamaru Usman vs. Sean Strickland
Kamaru Usman (9-1) opened and closed the show for the Blackzilians on TUF 21, defeating Michael Graves in the first episode and choking out Hayder Hassan at the Finale. Though he’s yet to secure a second UFC finish, he has looked dominant against the likes of Leon Edwards and Warlley Alves in his recent fights.
Five of his professional wins have come by form of knockout.
Sean Strickland (18-1) earned some quick hype in UFC with a submission over Bubba McDaniel in his Octagon debut, only for a controversial decision Luke Barnatt and a loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio to drain his momentum. He bounced back with a three-fight win streak, most recently edging Tom Breese at UFC 199.
He stands an inch taller than Usman at 6’1.”
I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to be a big fan of Strickland. He’s enormous for the division, a strong wrestler, and a capable boxer with absolutely zero sense of urgency. He could easily be 3-3 in UFC and that’s almost entirely due to how passive he is.
Usman is every bit his physical equal and has the sort of suffocating pressure game that’s vexed “Tarzan” in the past. Strickland has a chance if he comes out slinging right hands, but the more likely outcome is that Usman drowns him in volume punching and takedown attempts, landing enough to take a clear decision.
Prediction: Usman via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Shane Burgos vs. Charles Rosa
Shane Burgos (8-0) — with seven finishes under his belt — stepped up on short notice against Brazilian slugger Tiago “Trator” in Albany when Zubaira Tukhugov failed a drug test. Burgos’ superior power carried the day as he out-slugged his foe for a career-first decision win.
At 5’11”, “Hurricane” is two inches taller than Rosa.
Charles Rosa (11-2) jumped right into the deep end in his UFC debut, a late-notice bout with Dennis Siver in Stockholm. He has since won two of three, losing to Yair Rodriguez between wins over Sean Soriano and Kyle Bochniak.
This will be the first fight for “Boston Strong” since beating Bochniak in Boston two Januarys ago.
Oh, this should be fun. Both of these guys are relentless, proven finishers with plenty of moxie. Though Rosa could certainly surprise me, I’m leaning towards Burgos.
“Hurricane” figures to be the far stronger fighter on the feet, where Rosa isn’t terribly difficult to hit. Further, his physical strength and grappling ability ought to keep him afloat even if Rosa does manage to bring him down early. There’s also the layoff to consider, which could prove costly considering Rosa’s customary pace.
Burgos’ hands-down style may bite him in the rear before long, but it won’t on Saturday. He sprawls-and-brawls to a dominant victory.
Prediction: Burgos via unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Patrick Cummins vs. Jan Blachowicz
Patrick Cummins (8-4) put the memory of his debut loss to Daniel Cormier behind him with three straight wins, including one over touted TUF: “Brazil” winner Antonio “Cara de Sapato.” He has since struggled to regain that form, suffering knockout losses in three of his last four fights.
He owns four wins by (technical) knockout, two of them in UFC.
Jan Blachowicz (19-6) started strong in UFC with a body kick knockout of Ilir Latifi that extended his win streak to six. Like Cummins, however, he enters this bout on a 1-3 stretch, though all of his losses came by decision.
He will have a two-inch reach advantage on fight night.
I’ll admit that my assessments of Cummins have been inaccurate before. The man simply does not have the durability to survive the top of the division; sure, all four guys who have put him away have a history of stunning knockouts, but he should be able to take punches from a fossilized Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Or at the very least not get hit by him.
Luckily for “Durkin,” Blachowicz is every bit the underachiever. Despite his striking background, he has just one (technical) knockout finish since 2010 and his wrestling remains underdeveloped. Barring a Hell of a surprise, expect Cummins to ground him early and pound away for the full 15 minutes.
Prediction: Cummins via unanimous decision
UFC 210 is not the blockbuster that UFC 211 is, but there’s still some quality to be found. See you Saturday, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 210 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on PPV.