UFC 214

Cormier x Jones 2 / Woodley x Maia / Cyborg x Evinger

Picks, Parlay, and Predictions

Enough gold to go around

PICKS

Jones x Cormier
Woodley x Maia
Cyborg x Evinger
Cerrone x Lawler
Manuwa x Oezdemir
Knight x Lamas
Barao x Sterling
Ortega x Moicano
Filli x Kattar
Curran x Albu
Dober x Burkman

Parlay

“Underdogs and Dark Arts” EDITION
Cerrone (+135)
Manuwa (-165)
Knight (+100)
Ortega (+110)
$2.14 to win $31.78

PREDICTIONS

Bad Blood, Good Marketing

Daniel Cormier x Jon Jones 2 for the Light Heavyweight Championship

Two and a half years later and these two are still the best in the world at light heavyweight. The only difference is now Daniel Cormier has the belt and Jon Jones is looking to take it back. When Jones was stripped of the title in 2015, three months after their first fight, Cormier was there to fill the void. DC has been flawless ever since, taking on three challengers and one legend in the meantime. In fact, DC has always been flawless except for that lone decision loss to his longtime rival Jon Jones.

The first fight between Jones and Cormier was surprisingly lopsided. Not in the sense that Cormier got brutally destroyed, but his offense was completely shut down. When an Olympic caliber wrestler is unable to wrestle, he gets frustrated. When an Olympic caliber wrestler is getting taken down, he’s in trouble. You could see it in Cormier’s face. He was taken down three times before using his remaining goon strength to force a slam of his own in the fifth. Jones stayed down for less than a second before popping up and delivering a classic “suck it” taunt only moments later. When he wasn’t getting wrestled, DC was getting tagged with a barrage of unorthodox strikes. After the third round, he started to look helpless.

Ignoring the heated rivalry between the two, current champion Daniel Cormier has stayed sharper than his opponent over the last two years. He’s been beating top contenders and training with the best. Jon Jones has been crashing cars into pregnant women, covering up allegations of steroid use, and swan diving into piles of cocaine. Unfortunately, what happens outside of the cage doesn’t always affect what’s happening inside of the cage. Inside of the cage, we’ve only seen Jon once since all of the controversy. His amazing camp, complete with some of the best coaches in the sport, combined with his natural talent helped him beat OSP with ease. Jon barely broke a sweat as he cruised to a unanimous decision. That fight set up the Cormier rematch, but it was supposed to happen at UFC 200. Days before the fight, Jones was removed for a possible doping violation. That was over a year ago. Now that his suspension is over, he’ll get his chance to regain glory. Begrudgingly.

As a bitter fan, I can’t stand Jon Jones but that doesn’t mean he’s not the better fighter. He may even be the best fighter of all time. Daniel Cormier is a good guy, but after watching their first fight, considering their age and wear-and-tear, it’s hard to see a clear path to victory for the current champ. If DC can’t incorporate his wrestling to control Jon Jones, he can’t implement his game. Jones has a twelve inch reach advantage and all the skills necessary to get his belt back. The year long layoff is the biggest X-factor working against Jones but we’re talking about a guy who was a champion at 24 years old. He destroyed the legendary Shogun Rua at 24 to make himself the youngest champion in history. Even if Cormier can get him down, Jones might wave his new BJJ blue belt in the champ’s face. Sure, a blue belt is only a notch above white, but let’s not forget about white belt Jon Jones. White belt Jon Jones subbed Vitor Belfort. He choked out Machida and dropped him like a bag of shit. With a white belt. The pressure isn’t going to get to Jones, the pressure is on Cormier to prove he’s the real champ.

I foresee oblique kicks and elbows landing frequently for Jones. The wrestling may be a stalemate this time around, because I feel like Cormier knows what he’s in for. Even if it stays standing, Jon loves to throw strange strikes and they always seem to find a home. I’ll personally be rooting for him to get his head knocked off. Nobody would like that scenario more than Cormier himself. Ideally, DC will grapple and control Jones, or at least force him into a clinch. From there, he won’t have to worry about the reach, or the eye pokes, and can focus on his dirty boxing and work for takedowns. I’d love to see it happen, but Jones is a different kind of monster even when he's praying and eating his vegetables. I’m thinking he finds a way to hurt Cormier and submit him before the fourth. Jones doesn’t have the striking to damage DC’s granite chin, but he’ll have the ability to wear him down and overpower him. Maybe even ruin his knees? Sounds fun. Another win for the guy we love to hate. Here’s to hoping for a big overhand right from the champ.

Tyron Woodley x Demian Maia for the Welterweight Championship

Battle of the likeable welterweights. Demian Maia got his last shot at gold over seven years ago at middleweight against the indomitable Anderson Silva. Despite being a pure jiu-jitsu fighter, Maia made it all the way to a decision. It wasn’t the most impressive bout of all time, and he definitely lost, but he proved he could hang in there with the best. Two years later, Maia dropped down to welterweight and he’s currently riding a five fight win streak.

This second shot at the belt isn’t as long overdue as it seems, but at 39 years old, Maia’s time as a professional athlete is coming to an end. You could never tell by his performances, though. Demian Maia sticks to his opponents like glue and shows complete dedication to the fundamentals of jiu-jitsu. Glue-jitsu? Anyways, since that’s the combat sport that put MMA on the map, it’s a sight to see in such a pure form. If you can’t grapple, you can’t beat Maia. If he gets his hands on you, he’s going to find a way to choke you unconscious. At the very least, you’ll have to carry a 185 pound man-shaped backpack into the next round.

Current welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is no push over. He fights cautiously and chooses precise moments to explode with his wrestling or devastating power. We’ve seen him put people away with left and right hands and he’s never in a rush to get it done. Not unless you bring the fight to him. Woodley is incredibly strong for the weight class and has the cardio to push through a 25 minute decision, which will definitely hinder Maia’s offense. Demian is used to being the bigger guy and wearing people down, and even though he’ll be physically larger, both men will probably be the same weight on Saturday. Despite being two inches shorter, Woodley will still have the reach advantage which should keep him out of Demian's dangerous clinch. Let’s be honest, Demian probably isn't going to shoot in on the champ. The patience of Woodley is also going to slow down Maia, who often looks to counter rather than pressure. We could be looking at a long stalemate to start the fight.

While I can’t oversell Maia’s grappling expertise, I think his weakness in striking is overly apparent. Simply, he has a hard time with guys who hit hard. Woodley’s takedown defense is nearly bulletproof and he has the power to end the night in one shot. If Maia gets tagged, and not starched, he might have a chance to recover on his back and use his guard to regain control, but Tyron is quick and will probably deliver a finishing blow before the cobwebs clear. I have no doubt that Woodley will be the one to push the pace, just because of Maia’s offensive limitations. This is a dangerous fight for the Brazilian. Leg kicks are another underrated weapon in Woodley’s offense, which will give him even more options to keep Maia at bay and slow him down.

I’m not going to pretend like I understand the intricacies of Maia’s game. He’s a wizard as far as I’m concerned. His ability to control and maintain position and set up his submissions is a pleasure to watch. I just don’t think he has the all the tools necessary to beat the champ. Maia won’t be able to strike with Woodley – he shouldn’t even entertain the idea. Instead, we all know what he’s going to do, but he doesn’t always finish the job. Even if he controls Woodley for the entirety of the first four rounds, Woodley will have a chance in the fifth. That’s the unfortunate reality. In my eyes, Maia has to finish Tyron before he’s out of danger. The champ, on the other hand, will get to pick and choose when to engage. Speed will be a factor and I think he catches the beloved Demian Maia with something big and puts him away. It will be sometime after the chorus of boos for inactivity starts.

Cristiane Justino x Tonya Evinger for the Women’s Featherweight Championship

Just when you thought Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino was going to get a competitive fight at featherweight, she gets another ballsy bantamweight. If you don’t know who Cyborg is yet, I’m not going to waste the time. Just watch this fight and you’ll understand her popularity and you will probably predict the controversy.

Invicta, the UFC’s sister female promotion, has had the pleasure of having Tonya Evinger and her rude, crude attitude as their bantamweight champ since 2015. The last fight I remember seeing her in, she puked into a bucket, won a decision, and planted a kiss on the post-fight interviewer. Oh, her fighting? She’s tough. She can hang in there and throw bombs with the average female fighter. She’s got a decent wrestling game and solid top control. Is Cyborg average by any means? Nahhhhhh. This will be a violent brawl for however long it lasts. Hopefully Tonya’s nose won’t fall too far from her face.

All respect to Tonya for giving it a shot, she’s tough as nails, but this is a gimmie fight for Cyborg. It’s a chance to redefine the newly created women’s featherweight belt and give it to Cyborg instead of leaving it with the forever unpopular Germaine de Randamie. I hope Cyborg eventually fights Megan Anderson or Holly Holm or ... well, I guess that’s it … for a true fight at featherweight.

I will say that if Evinger manages to pull off a victory, Joe Rogan better be more than willing to be on the receiving end of that smooch. Welcome to the UFC.