Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back in action this weekend with the long-awaited UFC 214: "Cormier vs. Jones 2" pay-per-view (PPV) fight card, taking place inside Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Sat., July 29, 2017.
Leading the charge will be the light heavyweight championship rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, who battled to a five-round decision — in favor of “Bones” — back at UFC 182.
UFC 214 will also feature the welterweight title fight between Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia, as well as a featherweight championship bout pitting Cristiane Justino opposite Tonya Evinger.
And let’s not forget about our non-title fights featuring welterweight slugger Donald Cerrone against ex-champion Robbie Lawler and light heavyweight contender Jimi Manuwa opposite power-punching Volkan Oezdemir.
Who wins and who loses? I’m glad you asked.
205 lbs.: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel “DC” Cormier (19-1) vs. Jon “Bones” Jones (22-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: Combined, Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier are 41-2 with 27 finishes, representing the two very best light heavyweights on the planet. Their first go-round was not a blowout by any stretch of the imagination, but it also wasn’t close.
A lot has changed since UFC 182.
In order to defeat Jones, you have to be more talented than Jones. Good luck with that. You can’t beat him by working harder in the gym, or coming into the contest with a superior gameplan. The closest anyone came was Alexander Gustafsson, but that’s because a bloated “Bones” was rolled to the cage atop a wheelbarrow full of coke and pork rinds.
That was a close call that won’t be repeated.
It’s been more than two years since Cormier dropped a unanimous decision to Jones and since that fateful night, “DC” has competed four times (and turned 38 years old). Like Jones, he was taken to the limit by “The Mauler” and put a lot of miles on his spare tire.
As for Jones, he ho-hummed his way past Ovince Saint Preux before taking another mandatory vacation.
For me to pick Cormier in this rematch, I have to be convinced that “DC” has gotten better since they last fought. He hasn’t. He hasn’t gotten any worse, either, but that’s just it: he wasn’t good enough to prevail in their first encounter, which means the only plausible argument we have for AND STILL is that Jones comes in rusty and lethargic.
I have a feeling he rises to the occasion.
Jones is also older but unlike Cormier, has not gotten any slower. Based on recent photos he only looks to have gotten stronger and I believe “Bones” is a fighter who can beat any opponent in any aspect of the game (knockout power notwithstanding).
He already out-wrestled Cormier and when you take away the Olympian’s wrestling, you’re left with a stubby power puncher who’s quick on his feet ... and not much else. A late finish by way angry elbows would not surprise me.
Final prediction: Jones def. Cormier by technical knockout
170 lbs.: UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley (17-3-1) vs. Demian Maia (25-6)
Nostradumbass predicts: Demian Maia was able to sneak in the backdoor, at least in terms of securing a welterweight title shot, by avoiding top contenders (and fearsome strikers) Stephen Thompson and Robbie Lawler. Is he talented enough to win the welterweight title?
Well, he’s talented enough to submit Tyron Woodley, but that’s not really the same thing. The problem with picking Demian Maia in this fight is you never know which version of the Brazilian is going to show up.
When Maia has a routine weight cut, he’s the kind of fighter who can make a killer like Carlos Condit look like some chump they pulled out of the stands five minutes before the fight. Or turn Gunnar Nelson from world-class grappler to weekend warrior.
Performances against Rory MacDonald and Jorge Masvidal, however, are indicative of what happens when Maia — who turns 40 in November — struggles to make weight and runs out of steam by the second stanza.
He’s not going to win by knockout.
So in order to implement his ground game, Maia has to actually get this fight to the ground, which means he has to somehow outwrestle a NCAA Division-1 All American and Big 12 Conference Champion who is nearly five years his junior and one of the fastest strikers at 170 pounds.
Woodley is not perfect. His brain sometimes does that blue screen of death thing like my old clunky desktop and he’ll just stand in the Octagon like an extra from The Walking Dead. Fortunately, he doesn’t need to do a whole lot besides defend the takedown.
“The Chosen One” has been taken down just once in the last five years across a span of 10 fights.
Maia is bigger but has a shorter reach. Not that any of it matters. The Brazilian has the worst hands in the top 15 and his sloppy strikes are simply an excuse to get inside to hunt for the takedown. Can a sucked out middleweight masquerading as a 170-pounder keep that up for 25 minutes?
Or course not.
Final prediction: Woodley def. Maia by technical knockout
145 lbs.: Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (19-1, 1 NC) vs. Tonya “Triple Threat” Evinger (19-5, 1 NC) for vacant women’s featherweight title
Nostradumbass predicts: There was a collective groan from the combat sports universe when it was announced that Tonya Evinger would be replacing M.I.A.gan Anderson, but as far as available featherweights go, this is probably the toughest opponent the promotion could find.
Evinger is unique among female fighters in that she’s a prolific finisher, scoring 15 stoppages in 19 wins. Where she differs from her power-punching opponent is that her finishes are split almost equally among knockouts and submissions, representing two of the three threats in her moniker.
Not sure what the third is, but winning by decision is nothing to brag about.
The one good thing about Evinger is that she’s not going to be rattled by Cristiane Justino. Most opponents enter the cage already beaten so that’s one hurdle cleared. The second? Not dying within the first round.
Harder than it sounds.
Justino earned her nickname by her uncanny ability to plow forward and wing devastating punches, irrespective of incoming fire. There is nothing more demoralizing than watching your opponent get punched square in the jaw — full power — and not even bat an eyelash.
Welcome the world of “Cyborg” fights.
It’s not that her defense is so great, it’s that she’s able to render offense combat ineffective. Expect Evinger to meet her somewhere in the middle of the cage and unleash hell, only to fail spectacularly.
Justino is too strong, too ferocious, and gives zero fucks about getting hit. How do you overcome that inside the cage? Outside of a rookie mistake over 12 years ago, we have yet to find out.
Final prediction: Justino def. Evinger by technical knockout
170 lbs.: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (32-8, 1 NC) vs. “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (27-11, 1 NC)
Nostradumbass predicts: This fight is going to tell us exactly where Robbie Lawler stands in his combat sports career. I don’t want to get all doom and gloom, but I know I can’t be the only one who's worried that “Ruthless” is going to end up a vegetable.
Prior to his knockout loss to Tyron Woodley, Lawler went to a five-round decision in four straight fights — five of his last six — and they weren’t boring wrestlefests. They were fucking wars against fellow savages like Carlos Condit and Rory MacDonald.
I don’t know how much is left in the tank or if the Woodley KO was a matter of getting clipped as opposed to a sign that he was past his expiration date. What I do know, is that taking a year off was the right move and when he steps into the cage tomorrow night, he’s going to be ready to bang.
So too, will Donald Cerrone. After a successful career at lightweight, “Cowboy” has been equally dangerous at 170 pounds. Four straight wins coupled with four straight finishes had him knocking on the door of a division title shot, right up until Jorge Masvidal took him to the woodshed at UFC on FOX 20.
The concern with Cerrone is the same as it’s always been. When he’s locked in and firing on all cylinders, I’d favor him against anyone in the weight class. But every now and again he lets those demons creep into his psyche and ends up with that deer-in-the-headlights thing (Nate Diaz) or folding beach chair (Rafael dos Anjos).
This is a tough fight to call. Lawler was a contender at middleweight and is coming down, while Cerrone is a natural lightweight coming up. In addition, “Ruthless” is a notorious slow starter and “Cowboy” has no problem coming in hot. I just can’t bring myself to pick against a combatant who’s merely one fight removed from a successful title reign.
Barring irrevocable damage from fights gone by, this is Lawler’s fight to lose.
Final prediction: Lawler def. Cerrone by technical knockout
205 lbs.: Jimi “Poster Boy” Manuwa (17-2) vs. Volkan Oezdemir (14-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: Jimi Manuwa wasn’t going to punch his way into the top three of the light heavyweight division, so he instead opted to talk his way into the championship conversation, picking a fight with division do-gooder Daniel Cormier.
Manuwa has decided to hop on the “I have decent hands for an MMA fighter so let me try boxing” bandwagon and to his credit, he’s knocked out 15 opponents in 17 wins, so clearly he’s got both power and precision.
But can we not pretend he wasn’t cemetery’d by Alexander Gustafsson Anthony Johnson?
I know “Poster Boy” — and a lot of other fighters — like to say they “got caught” as a way to downplay their losses, but it’s a laughably inept argument. I guess Jefferey Dahmer wasn't all that bad, he simply “got caught” with a bag full of heads hanging from his curtain rod.
Volkan Oezdemir, who makes me glad I don’t do play-by-play, is a Swiss striker with equally devastating power and a finishing rate on par with Manuwa’s. He made his debut back in February after making a mockery of the international circuit, but didn’t really get anyone’s attention with a split-decision win over the hot-and-cold Ovince Saint Preux.
Then he torched division power puncher Misha Cirkunov and welp, it’s time to start paying attention. How much he uses his kicks could determine the outcome of this bout, as Manuwa will need to be in range to employ his newfound jab and keep up the pressure.
That’s hard to do when your shin gets splintered every time you step forward.
What worries me in this bout, at least for Oezdemir, is the lack of experience. “Poster Boy” may have been tacked by the aforementioned Gustafsson and Johnson, but those were two of the best fighters in the world.
In addition, Manuwa’s offense is more composed and he definitely holds a speed advantage, which complements his four extra inches in reach. Unless he’s somehow lured into a bar fight, the Londoner will win each exchange by way of matured, polished aggression.
Final prediction: Manuwa def. Oezdemir by technical knockout
There you have it.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 214 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FXX at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.
For much more on this weekend’s UFC 214 event click here.