The most anticipated card of 2017 is 3 days away and the fight fan in me is salivating at these match ups. I wanted to be equally excited for all the fights so I watched some tape on the unknowns down the card and figured I'd provide some background information on them (Kattar, Albu, Brooks). I've posted the text below but you can see a cleaned up version at Tomorrow's Fights
along with some other analysis to get you through to the weekend.
UFC 214 Cormier vs. Jones 2 airs live Saturday 6:30 PM EST on Fight Pass, 8:00 PM EST on FXX (not FS1) and 10:00 PM EST on PPV. MAIN CARD - 10 PM - PPV Light Heavyweight Daniel Cormier © +195 vs. Jon Jones -250
Daniel Cormier is 38 years old and 19-1 in his Career. He holds an 8-1 record in his UFC run with the lone loss coming from the challenger Jon Jones. DC is well known for his Olympic Freestyle Wrestling credentials where he failed to medal, something he talks about often in his pre-fight interviews. Cormier started his career as an undersized heavyweight, electing not to cut any weight due to past kidney issues. He blew up the regional circuit capturing the XMMA and KOTC heavyweight belts before joining Strikeforce and running through their Heavyweight Grand Prix. Cormier uses a good fundamental boxing game to set up his wrestling. From there he will use a pressure top game until he can get to the back and finish.
LAST FIGHT W - Submission RNC Anthony Johnson
Jon Jones is 30 years old 22-1 in his career, 16-1 in the UFC. With an incredible frame for the 205 division, Jones uses his unpredictable striking game to out point opponents and then overwhelm them with his strong wrestling and top game. Jones had one of the most impressive runs through the light heavyweight divisions, winning the belt in 2011 by obliterating Mauricio Shogun Rua, then going on to defend it a record 8 times before being stripped.
LAST FIGHT W - Dec Ovince Saint Preux
VERDICT: I was less excited than most when the initial rematch was announced at UFC 197. Since their first fight however, Jones has only fought 1 time, winning a tepid decision over Ovince Saint Preux. Cormier on the other hand, has fought 4 times since then. I did not think the first fight was competitive past round 3 due to Cormier gassing and that was two years ago. Cormier's success came in the clinch in the first fight, but he also took the most damage there eating body knees. His team is going to have to come up with a new gameplan this time around, but unfortunately I just don't trust a 38 year old Daniel Cormier to execute it for 25 mintues. Even if the Jon Jones that fought Ovince Saint Preux shows up, I think that's enough to take 3 rounds off Daniel Cormier. I only hope we get to see Jones on his back this time. Jon Jones via Decision. Welterweight Tyron Woodley © -210 vs. Demian Maia +170
Tyron Woodley is 35 years old with a 17-3-1 record and 7-2-1 in his UFC career. Gaining notoriety as a boring wrestler coming up, he amassed 10-0 record in Strikeforce before succumbing to a Nate Marquardt Tekken Combo. Woodley broke that stereotype in his first UFC fight blasting a hole through Jay Hieron's head, and has ever since utilized a powerful boxing game to score stoppage wins over Josh Koshcheck, Carlos Condit, Dong Hyun Kim, and Robbie Lawler to capture the title.
LAST FIGHT W - Dec Stephen Thompson
Demian Maia is 39 years old and 25-6 in his career with an impressive 19-6 UFC record. Maia is a legit 4th Degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Fabio Gurgel and he shows it in the cage. Joining the UFC in 2007 he submitted his first 5 opponents including a triangle win of Chael Sonnen after a beautiful lateral drop off the side of the cage. Maia went through a rough period where he put too much faith in his kickboxing, perhaps feeling too pressured to become more well rounded, before reverting to his jiu jitsu roots. Now he works to supplement his superior grappling with a powerful wrestling game designed to transition from a single leg straight to the back.
LAST FIGHT W - Dec Jorge Masvidal
VERDICT: I’m having a tough time shaking the vision of Woodley possibly melting Maia as he comes into wrestle. It’s totally possible this is a first round knockout for Woodley. Giving me pause on that outcome is Woodley’s tendency to get caught with his back on the cage. That's exactly where Maia likes to get his takedowns, driving in on a single leg almost never expecting to finish it. Once on the cage, Maia looks to crawl onto your back, placing his first hook in. Everyone knows it's going to happen, yet no one can stop it. If Woodley gives Maia this opportunity over and over, there is a chance we can see a submission here, but if it goes into the 4th and 5th round I can’t see Maia's cardio lasting that long, especially with a shortened camp. It pains me to say it, but the most likely outcome here is Woodley by KO. Women's Featherweight Cristiane Justino -1000 vs. Tonya Evinger +650
Cris “Cyborg” Justino is 32 years old, 17-1-1 in her career and 2-0 in her UFC career. Cyborg has fought her career between 140 and 150 lbs, bursting onto the scene with her knockout of Gina Carano in 2009, ending Carano's interest in MMA. Cyborg is a physical specimen, easily overpowering every woman she has fought in mixed martial arts. She is a bully in the clinch and looks to end fights early with powerful boxing that has become more technical over the years. She is a brown belt in Brazilian jui jitsu and has experienced success in submission grappling competition, though it has never made an appearance in the cage.
LAST FIGHT W - TKO Lina Lansberg
Tonya Evinger is 35 years old, 19-5-1 in her career and making her UFC debut, filling in for Megan Anderson. Evinger is the 135 lb invicta champ moving up in weight to fight Cyborg. She's has a well rounded game with basic kickboxing and great top game grappling. She started of her career with a paltry 9-5, losing to Carano, Alexis Davis twice, and Sara McMann before going on a 10 fight win streak to capture Invicta gold.
LAST FIGHT W - Submission RNC Yana Kunitskaya
VERDICT: Cyborg is too big, too strong, and too effective of a striker for anyone at 135 to contend with. However, Evinger is tough as nails and has a better wrestling and top game than most of the recent challenges for Cyborg. This won’t be competitive but it will be nice to see Cyborg have a tougher test than her last two opponents. I think Evinger is tough enough to make it to the 2nd round but that's where it ends. Cyborg by TKO. Welterweight Robbie Lawler -160 vs. Donald Cerrone +130
Robbie Lawler is 35 years old, 27-11-1 in his career and 11-5 in his UFC run (initial and return). Lawler came out of the Militich fight camp in 2002 and was billed as a super prospect with great wrestling and heavy hands. He was famously knocked out by Nick Diaz in 2004, then submitted by the Late Evan Tanner in his subsequent fight before exiting the UFC at 8-3. For the next 8 years Lawler fought for a myriad of promotions at weights as high as 195. He found success in Elite XC but turned into sort of a journeymen fighter in Strikeforce, falling asleep in press conferences, fighting above his natural weight class, and turning in lackluster performances for a paycheck. When Strikeforce was absorbed by the UFC Lawler immediately dropped to 170 and took fighting seriously again, rattling off 3 straight victories before fighting for the title in a close loss to Johnny Hendricks. Lawler has developed into a modern sprawl and brawler with a tight combination boxing game and effect leg kicks. His defensive wrestling is some of the best at Welterweight.
LAST FIGHT L - KO Tyron Woodley
Donald Cerrone is 34 years old, 32-8-1 in his career and 25-8-1 in the WEC/UFC. Cerrone has a background in Kickboxing and Tae Kwon Do, and amassed a 28-0 kickboxing record before turning to MMA. Cerrone has always looked to employ his rangy kickboxing game in fights, but somewhere along the way he developed a slick ground game as well. To be a successful striker in MMA you either need excellent takedown defense or a threatening ground game. Cerrone chooses the latter.
LAST FIGHT L - TKO Jorge Masvidal
VERDICT: This is going to be an excellent tactical striking match up. Lawler has an issue with volume, so it's possible Cerrone can put points on the board throughout 3 rounds to come up with a Decision. I don't think that happens here though. Cerrone has struggled with pressure boxers like Rafael Dos Anjos and Nate Diaz, and I would argue he hasn't looked good since his Rick Story fight a year ago. I’m taking Lawler, assuming the time off has healed any injuries. He is going to have significant size on Cerrone, and although he doesn't exactly fit the mold of the pressure boxers Cerrone struggles with, he should be able to impose a similar game. Wildcard - does Cerrone try to wrestle here? I don't think so. Lawler by Dec. Light Heavyweight Jimi Manuwa -205 vs. Volkan Oezdemir +165
Jimi Manuwa is 37 years old and 17-2 in his career, 6-2 in the UFC. A British prospect that came up through the London regional circuit via UCMMA, Manuwa was offered a UFC contract in 2010 but famously turned it down to get more experience. Like many successful fighters from England, Manuwa’s bread and butter is his striking. He employs a powerful rangy boxing game. He’s shown to be lacking in the wrestling department with subpar takedown defense and a mediocre jiu jitsu game. Wikipedia says he's a purple belt but I haven't seen much evidence in the cage to suggest even that's true.
LAST FIGHT W - KO Corey Anderson
Volkan Oezdemir is 27 years old and 14-1 in his Career, 2-0 in the UFC. He comes from a kickboxing background having a 5-0 record from fights in Switzerland. Oezdemir likes to overwhelm his opponents with a powerful striking game and has 10 KO/TKO wins. His lone loss came in Bellator to Kelly Anundson.
LAST FIGHT W - KO Misha Cirkunov
Fun fact, Oezdemir fought 3 times at heavyweight, and fought 3 times in 1 night in 2013, at a tournament in Denmark.
VERDICT: Oezdemir wont look to take Manuwa down here, and even if he does he has shown nothing to expect he has a competitive enough wrestling game to get past even Manuwas poor takedown defense. Look for this fight to take place on the feet, with Manuwa getting the better of the exchanges en route to a KO. Manuwa by KO. PRELIMS 8 PM FXX Featherweight Ricardo Lamas -135 vs. Jason Knight +105
Ricardo Lamas is 35 years old, 17-5 in his career, 12-5 in the WEC/UFC career. Lamas is a tough top game grappler boasted by his NCAA D3 wrestling credentials and a legit Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black belt. Lamas has developed a basic but effective muay thai game to supplement his brutal top game, but he still wants the fight on the ground. He works some of the best elbows from the top since Jon Jones turned hammels face into ground beef. His TKO win against Erik Koch was savage. Go watch it.
LAST FIGHT W - Sub Guillotine Charles Oliviera
Jason Knight, 25 years old with a 20-2 record, 4-1 in the UFC. Fights out of the Alan Belcher MMA club, he has a brown belt in brazilian jiu jitsu and likes to employ the rubber guard/mission control position. He is a tough, durable fighter who has never been stopped. Knight got by on aggression and active jiu jitsu in his early career before debuting in the UFC against Tatsuya Kawajiri. He lost that fight due to his comfortability on his back which is an issue for a lot traditional jiu jitsu fighters. Kawajiri took him down whenever he wanted, and Knight could not submit him (though he had a few good triangle attempts). Knight has fixed a few of his flaws and the best evidence of that is his Chas Skelly fight, which you should go watch right now if you haven't seen it. Knight was not content to fight from his back, pushing the action with his awkward striking, and using his wrestling and jiu jitsu to stay on top, or sweep from the bottom to get back on top and score.
LAST FIGHT W - TKO Chas Skelly
VERDICT: Knight is 10 years younger with a ton of momentum behind him. You can bet it's better for the UFC if he gets a win here, as Lamas is trending towards the end of his career. On one hand, its easy to say that Lamas can do the same things Kawajiri can to win this fight. On the other, Knight has improved since that loss and fights with a different sense of urgency. This is a great test for Knight, and the question here is do we get the Skelly fight, or the Kawajiri fight? I’m going with the former and taking Knight by a semi-surprising TKO. Knight via TKO. Catchweight (140 lbs) Aljamain Sterling -135 vs. Renan Barão +105
Aljamain Sterling, 27 years old, 13-2 in his career, 5-2 in the UFC. Another great nickname, The Funk Master Flex. He has a background in wrestling and was a Two Time NCCA D3 all American. Sterling looks to get you down and get to your back.
LAST FIGHT W - Dec Augusto Mendes
Renan Barao is 30 years old with a 34-4-1 record in his career and 11-3 in the WEC/UFC. 39 fights and only 30 years old, the guy has MILES on his body. Barao came up through the Brazilian regional circuit which is known for padding fighters a bit like the American boxing scene. His first 23 opponents don't have a Wikipedia page sans Rony Jason. Barao was deemed as the best P4P fighter by Dana White after clearing out the bantamweight division. With sharp muay thai and slick jiu jitsu it was tough to see what Barao's weakness was. Enter TJ Dillashaw - a young, fast, athletic striker with power and good enough defensive wrestling to avoid Barao's lethal jiu jitsu. Barao appears to be moving out of his prime quicker than most fighters due to the miles on his body. He struggles with strong fast power punchers as we see in his loses to Dillawshaw and Stephens.
LAST FIGHT W - Dec Phillipe Nover
VERDICT. Aljamain Sterling is not TJ Dillashow or Jeremy Stephens. He doesn’t have the power striking to threaten Barao and unless Barao's jiu jitsu is far out of practice he should be in control of this fight. Also to note, this fight is being contested at catchweight of 140 lbs which should favor the Brazilian. Barao by Decision. Featherweight Brian Ortega +110 vs. Renato Moicano -140
Brian Ortega (T-City) is 26 years old, 11-0 in his career, 3-0-1 in the UFC, a brazilian jiu jitsu black belt training under Rorion Gracie with Ryron, Rener, and Ralek. Love watching this guy’s ground game. The way he slapped on the triangle on Diego Brandao and isnta tapped him was a thing of beauty. He’s got an awkward striking style but its effective. His two knockout wins in the UFC come from him hurling elbows at a broken Thiago Taveres and winging knees at Clay Guidas face. He’s got a weird Yoel Romero tendency by finishing most of his fights in the 3rd round. He also has issues imposing his game. He was losing those Guida and Brandao fights until the finish which is concerning. One of these days he isn't going to be so fortunate to snatch that 3rd round finish and he’s going to lose a decision, which I assume is why the odds makers favor Moicano.
LAST FIGHT W - KO Clay Guida
Renato Moicano, 28 years old, 11-0 in his career, 3-0 in the UFC. Tall and long for the division, rangy striker with a solid submission game. Has his flaws as a fighter but one thing is for sure, he is a winner. He fought a tactical range kickboxing fight against Jeremy Stephens to get the win as a big underdog. He will definitely be looking to do the same here as he isn't going to want to contest Ortega on the ground.
LAST FIGHT W - Dec Jeremy Stephens
VERDICT: This might be a bit of a heart pick, but i’m going Ortega by submission. I trust his team to come up with a way to get this fight to the ground and stop Moicano from point fighting him to a decision like the Stephens fight. However, if Ortega is content to give away rounds on the feet like the Guida and Brandao fight this could easily result in a boring decision against him. Ortega by Submission. Featherweight Andre Fili -335 vs. Calvin Kattar +255
Andre File is 27, 16-4 in his career, 4-3 in the UFC. Fights out of team alpha male and has an effective game as wrestle boxer. Fili strikes a little more than your average Alpha Male team member. Points for an awesome nickname - Andre “touchy” Fili.
LAST FIGHT - W Dec Hacran Dias
Calvin Kattar is 29 years old and 16-2 in his career, debuting in the UFC as a late replacement for Doo Hoo Choi. He's made a career out of being a decent striker with good boxing fundamentals. Most of his fights go to decision. Fun fact he has only fought twice since 2013.
LAST FIGHT - W Dec Chris Foster
VERDICT: Calvin looks to be a decent prospect with a good record, but there is a reason he is still not in the UFC at 16-2. Not exciting, nothing special, and two loses to mediocre talent. I'm also not impressed with his takedown defense, as he lets himself get backed up against the fence. Andre Fili has had some mental laspses in the UFC with his up and down record but he is still improving and has more than enough in the tank to beat someone like Calvin. Andre Fili by TKO after Kattar slowly realizes fili is better at everything he does well. Fili by TKO. PRELIMS - FIGHT PASS - 6:30 PM EST Women's Strawweight Kailin Curran +120 vs. Alexandra Albu -150
Aleksandra Albu is 27 years old, 2-0 in her career and 1-0 in the UFC. Has not fought since April of 2015! She was nursing injuries and is in her last year of university writing her thesis. Her background is in Karate (black belt) and Judo. She claims she has 4 fights in Thailand that are unofficial because they were in sketchy tournaments that were unrecorded. Totally Possible. She is an incredible athlete who bullies her opponents with a strong aggressive boxing game. She has no problem planting her feet and swinging away.
LAST FIGHT - W Sub Guillotine Izabela Badurek
Fun fact: UFC lists her at 6-0 but doesn't show her mysterious 4 Thailand fights on their website
Kailin Curran is 26 years old and 4-4 in her career but only 1-4 in her UFC run. She has a background in kickboxing and wrestling and is billed as a good athlete. She's an average all around fighter with less than stellar grappling. Half of her losses come by way of submission.
LAST FIGHT - L Dec Jamie Moyle
VERDICT: Albu hasn't fought in two years but shes still better everywhere than Kailin Curran, aside from maybe the clinch. She's a better athlete and more powerful striker. Albu by submission which probably gives curran her pink slip. Will be curious to see if Albu looks physically the same as she did in the Badurek win. Albu via Submission. Flyweight Eric Shelton +135 vs. Jarred Brooks -165
Brooks is 24, 12-0, this is his first UFC fight. He has an awesome nickname - the monkey god. Brooks fights like a mini poor mans Chad Mendes. Short, stocky, winging punches and ends some combinations with a double leg. He is very aggressive. It will be interesting to see if he is as reckless in his UFC debut. Most beserker type fighters on the regional circuit come into the UFC a little more cautious and sometimes it hurts their style. Also worth noting Brooks is pretty tiny, at 5'3" and has fought at 115 before.
LAST FIGHT W - KO Jun Nakamura
Eric Shelton is 26, 10-3, 0-1 in the UFC but went 2-1 on TUF losing a majority decision to future winner Tim Elliot. Coached by Pete Spratt, very creative striker, good scrambler (as are most 125ers). Great Athlete.
LAST FIGHT L - Split Dec Alexandre Pantoja
VERDICT: This is a fight Eric Shelton should win on Paper. He's fought much MUCH better competition than Jared Brooks and has decent wrestling chops himself. However, Shelton has a problem exposing his back in fights, and also has an issue sitting back and waiting too long to counter, giving long periods of rounds away. Brook is a total unknown, but all his submission wins come by way of rear naked choke (with the exception of an arm triangle) which is a bad sign for Shelton who leaves his back open too much for my liking. Even if Brooks can’t get the finish, i’ll take him to win on points due to his volume and aggression. Brooks by Decision. Lightweight Josh Burkman +230 vs. Drew Dober -300
Burkman is 37 years old, 28-15-1, but only 1-5-1 in his most recent UFC stint after going on an 8-1 tear on the regional circuit and famously choking out Jon Fitch in WSOF. Wants to be on top working his wrestling and top game grappling. Wrestled in highschool, 2nd place in state championships at 171 lbs. Lots of choke wins, favors guillotines.
LAST FIGHT L - Dec Michel Prazeres
Drew Dober 29 years old 17-8-1 in his career going 3-4-1 in his UFC run. He wants the fight on the feet due to his Muay Thai background (two time amateur world champion). Wrestled in highschool and has a purple belt in BJJ, though grappling is his weakness. He trains at team elevate with Matt Brown.
LAST FIGHT L- Submission RNC by Olivier Aubin-Mercier
VERDICT - I'll bet this fight resembles the Burkman vs Paul Felder fight. Burkman comes out strong and wins the first round, but gets tired. He wont be able to take Dober down in rounds 2 and 3 and I see him getting picked apart and losing striking exchanges. Dober did get choked out in his last fight but I don't think Burkman has quite the prowess on the ground as Mercier does. Dober wins a fairly uneventful 3 round decision. Dober by Decision.
The betting odds for the impending Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen bout are in and the light heavyweight UFC champion is an clear favorite.. According to oddsmakers Bovada, Jones opens as a -650 Chael Sonnen betting odds history. UFC/MMA odds comparison service. Compare the latest UFC/MMA fight odds and betting lines from the top online sportsbooks. Latest odds. Archive. Alerts. Widget. Boxing Format: UFC 98: Evans vs Machida May 23rd 2009: Chael Sonnen +150 Bet on UFC on FOX 2: "Evans vs. Davis" with this complete betting guide with odds, picks and best bets for all the action at the United Center in Chicago, Ill., on Jan. 28, 2012, featuring a main UFC 167: Evans vs. Sonnen Betting Odds and Predictions Donald Wood @ @Donald_Wood. Featured Columnist November 11, 2013 Evans vs. Sonnen Co-Main Event Preview and Prediction. For example, bettors can wager on whether Jones will be arrested again before the year ends (no is -500, while yes is +300), or if he will be stripped of his 205-pound belt again (Odds are -300