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UFC 214 DFS Picks: Thuggish Ruggish Bones
DAILY FANTASY RUNDOWN
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Yeah, it’s another musical pun! GET ON MAH LEVEL! UFC 214 has shaped up to be the best PPV card of the year thus far, with a compelling rematch between the very best LHWs in the UFC as the cherry on top. Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones have made it known they really despise each other, both professionally and off the…octagon? Field? Either way, there is a lot of animosity between the two, which I’m sure will fuel both and turn in a memorable rematch for the ages. UFC 213’s loss of Cerrone/Lawler was 214’s gain, as two of the more beloved fan figures in the UFC will grace a stacked main card that involves a second title fight between WW champ Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia, winner of 7 straight UFC victories. It’s going to be violence galore all over the main card, but don’t worry, the prelims will have plenty of action for us peasants who only watch UFC on TV. Hick Diaz (Jason Knight) will appear on TV for all of us to watch his glorious attempts at trailer park Karate against Ricardo Lamas, who once made a parody video about Conor McGregor as Lamas mimicked Conor with his own character named Conrad McGillicutty. I mean, if that’s not enough for you to tune in for the entire card, there’s also a Cyborg fight against Tonya Evinger, who just might be Cyborg’s toughest opponent since….Gina Carano back in 2009! Dang! Oh yeah, Cyborg’s also a 4 figure favorite as of this writing but don’t let that fool you! Find out why and scroooooooll down! May Gaethje bless you.

Josh Burkman vs Drew Dober

How in the hell is Burkman still in the UFC? He’s currently 1-5 in the UFC with a NC that was actually a loss to Hector Lombard before Lombard popped hot. He’ll be facing an all right guy in Drew Dober, who is 3-4 in the UFC against some solid competition including a 2nd round submission loss to rising talent Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Burkman is not very good. He has no rhyme or reason to his striking, electing to haphazardly toss out singular strikes as he struggles to battle against the air. While prancing around the octagon, generally his opponents get free shots to his face as Burkman tries his best Houdini impression but ends up getting stuck in the straitjacket. Dober’s a little bit of a jack of all trades, master of none type fighter. He’s got quick, clean boxing that can add up over time but just don’t have the kind of pop needed to push around his opponents. Yes, he did recently get a KO victory but that’s definitely an outlier for Dober. While Burkman tries to swat away the invisible butterflies buzzing around him, he often gives up easy entry shots and level changes, something Dober can do over and over with impunity. So the biggest question comes down to whether or not Dober is worth his pricey tag on DK. I say NEIN! Dober just doesn’t have the kind of finishing power to put away Burkman, and Burkman is notorious for dragging out fights longer than they should be. Dober could end up with a couple take-downs and maybe 60-80 sig strikes if he can get his jab/straights going early. Whatever, I’m over this fight.

Dober via unanimous decision

Eric Shelton vs Jarred Brooks

IT’S THE MONKEY GOD!!! Jarred Brooks was supposed to fight Ian McCall on short notice at UFC 208 before some reaaaaaally weird stuff happened that forced McCall to scrap the fight. He’ll get to make his UFC debut against one of the TUF flyweight guys that participated in the champions only tournament in Shelton. It’s an easier match-up for the super prospect, as Shelton just dropped his UFC debut against Alex Pantoja in a split decision loss. It’s going to be two offensive wrestlers trying to get the upper hand early, and it’ll probably be the Monkey God doing the heavy lifting, so to speak. Brooks has an undefeated 12-0 record, and for the most part Brooks has looked the part of super prospect in those said wins. He’s a very fleet-footed striker, tossing out numerous low kicks as he shuffles around the octagon. That helps set up his lightning quick level changes and power take-downs from any distance. His short stature at 5’3” means he has a low center of gravity, which helps him dig deep for those single/double leg take-downs. All in all, Brooks is very solid everywhere, but isn’t going to wow you with long combinations or fantastic submission attempts. The core of his game is his offensive wrestling, which is very good for a debuting fighter. Shelton’s slightly worse than Brooks in that department, as he’s more of a grinder with a heavy top game that forces his opponents to move and give up advantageous positions so Shelton can get a submission. That plan did not work out for Shelton against Pantoja, as Shelton kept getting trapped by Pantoja’s submission attempts and eventually had to revert back to his stand-up. I don’t think Shelton has the kind of grit and clinch work to be able to get lower than Brooks for leverage take-downs. That leaves him in a bind, as Brooks is just that much faster than Shelton on the feet. Brooks should be able to control his distance and be able to mix-up whatever offense he wants against Shelton if Shelton’s wrestling doesn’t get going early. It’s a nice price for Brooks considering he will almost certainly go for several take-downs, so there is some upside to Brooks under the DK scoring system. Doesn’t hurt that Brooks has some pretty brutal ground and pound. The Monkey God will rise again!

Brooks via unanimous decision

Kailin Curran vs Aleksandra Albu

Kailin Curran has gone 1-4 in the UFC while riding a two loss streak, although several losses were due to mental lapses rather than a bad performance. She’ll get a tough test once again as she faces off against Aleksandra Albu who only has 2 professional fights under her belt. It’s an interesting match-up as Albu showed some promising striking as she continually cornered Badurek while displaying fast and powerful boxing. It was a very good debut for only her 2nd professional fight, and an UFC debut to boot as well! Curran’s a decent strawweight that has shown some minor improvements over her last few fights, but just can’t get over the hurdle at the moment. Curran is light on her feet and can brawl with the best of them, but her ground game is what butters her bread. The problem with that is her take-down offense is too one dimensional, as Curran can only really be an effective wrestler from the clinch with the uber-popular hip toss take-down that damn near every strawweight uses, including Albu. If Curran is unable to get it to the ground, then her biggest weakness gets exposed very quickly. That would be her inability to stay away from pressure and circling out of corner traps. That just so happens to be Albu’s forte, or so I think it is. With little film and only 2 pro fights under her belt, it’s hard to ascertain just what kind of a fighter Albu is. I’m comfortable guessing that Albu’s very good with her hands and has great leverage on the majority of her strikes, which helps her take-down defense and pushing the pace. Curran will have to get the fight to the ground for any real success, but Albu just seems way too talented and has the gameplan to bother Curran every single second of the fight. Remember, strawweights have a low percentage for finishes and Albu isn’t known for her high volume output, so be wary.

Albu via unanimous decision

Andre Fili vs Calvin Kattar

Touchy Fili! The always explosive but infuriatingly inconsistent Andre Fili will return to the octagon against a 1st timer versus Calvin Kattar. Once upon a time, Andre Fili was actually winning against now FW champion Max Holloway before gassing out and getting smashed in the 3rd round in a submission loss. Those were the good ol’ days. Fili is still that same explosive, dangerous striker with a well-rounded offensive wrestling but zero cardio. He’s got some brutal leg kicks and a frenetic pace while showcasing effective defensive skills as he dips and ducks his way into creating combinations on the fly. It’s just once he goes past the 1.5 round marker that it all goes downhill from there. Kattar is nothing special from what I’ve gathered, preferring to sit back and analyze patterns then engage forward with a flurry of powerful overhand and uppercuts. He’ll mix in some take-downs as well and has shown a strong proclivity at stopping take-downs very effectively. That’s a good sign against Fili’s mix-up shenanigans and keep the fight standing where Kattar can sit back and be a counter-striker. His best shot at pulling off the upset is to survive the early onslaught from Fili, then pouncing on a gassed Fili with his usual head-first flurries and maybe GnP him on a landed take-down. Kattar could even force the fight into the clinch and just work his way up the fence, tiring out Fili in the process. It’s still a debut fight against a very talented fighter who’s still young enough to improve in a short amount of time. I’m sure the popular pick is Fili by knockout, but I think Kattar gives Fili a tough out and makes it interesting late if Fili can’t control his pace. Should be entertaining though and I’ll certainly have some stock in Fili due to his high finishing ability and the bonus of potential take-downs. Hey, DraftKings. CHANGE YOUR SCORING SYSTEM ALREADY!!!

Fili via unanimous decision

Renato Moicano vs Brian Ortega

It’s a battle between two top 10 ranked featherweights that will decide how the top echelon of the division will start looking like in the coming years. Moicano is coming off a solid win over Jeremy Stephens to continue his undefeated UFC record at 3-0, while Ortega is also riding a 3 UFC win streak of his own. Ortega’s win streak is a little strange, as in all 3 of his wins Ortega had to come back and will himself to victory near the end of the fights. That will and determination resulted in 3 straight finishes, including a jaw-shattering knee KO victory over esteemed veteran Clay Guida. Anyway, it’s an interesting clash of stylistic differences, as Moicano prefers to keep himself moving around the octagon while spraying hard leg kicks and doubling up on his 1-2 combos. Ortega is the opposite of Moicano, electing a push-forward pace and engage in fire-fights while finding that magic window of opportunity to land a devastating counter-right. Both men have very good grappling skills and will likely negate the other as far as grappling/take-downs goes, so I think it should be a full-on striking battle between a bull and a matador. For what’s it worth, Ortega is very, very good on the ground and extremely crafty, so who’s not to say he just ends up taking it to the ground for a submission? Doubtful, as his offensive wrestling is very one note and predictable. So it comes down to whether or not Ortega can corner Moicano enough times to punish him much like Stephens was able to do early on before Moicano started taking the reins and controlled the pace of the fight. Moicano struggles at defending against overhands for some reason, but his coaching and fight IQ generally keeps him out of harm’s way. Sure, it might be boring but it’s an effective way to win in the UFC if you have the footwork to be able to escape pressure and hit right back on the exit angles. The heart of Ortega and his willingness to put himself in danger versus a conservative and unwilling brawler in Moicano awaits your decision to destroy all of your lineups. I choose Moicano just because Ortega did struggle with a similar gameplan against Guida before a wild 3rd round got him the win.

Moicano via unanimous decision

Aljamain Sterling vs Renan Barao

After a strong 4 fight win streak to start his UFC career, Aljamain “The Funk Master” Sterling has been in a little bit of a funk lately, going 1-2 in his last 3. His win over Augusto Mendes wasn’t all that convincing as Mendes was barely able to keep up with Sterling’s striking, and he still had his chances to pull out a win despite the exorbitant difference between the two in the striking department. He’ll get the former bantanweight champion Renan Barao, who’s also fallen on tough times as of recently since his rematch loss to T.J Dillashaw. Barao just hasn’t looked like himself even in a win over washed-up bum Phillipe Nover, someone that the old “Baron” would have lit up repeatedly until Nover verbally submitted to stop the pain. Whatever the case may be, it’s a fight where both men need to prove that they can shed their recent troubles and return to their old forms. Sterling is who what he is, a very kick-centric striker with many strange looking but acrobatic kicks that can hit from all angles. He’s a guy who likes to bounce around and continually batter his opponents with kicks to the body and legs, helping soften them up for a punch combo or two. He’s just not that good of a boxer yet though, so Sterling ends up relying on his high arcing kicks to provide the majority of his offense. The biggest knock on Sterling is his peculiar strategy at not really utilizing his wrestling game, as Sterling has one of the best double-leg take-downs in the division and an equally good top game. Maybe it’s due to his competition or his reliance on his funky kicking style, but whatever the reason might be Sterling needs to go back into the well that helped him run up a 4 win streak. Unfortunately for him, Barao is one of the best in the business at defending take-down, much like his training partner in Jose Aldo.

Barao has been a shell of himself from his championship days, struggling to keep his gas tank replenished throughout the fight and looking unsure of himself during striking exchanges. Now, that’s not to say Barao isn’t still dangerous in his own right, as he’ll still swing for the fences if given the opportunity to. What I think may happen is Barao will try to stick to being a pure counter-striker and let Sterling come to him, which probably does happens. Barao will then try to time most of Sterling’s kicks, as unorthodox as they may be, and then unload a big right hand at every chance possible. It’s a sound strategy as Sterling just simply doesn’t have the boxing prowess to realistically punish Barao’s follow-ups to discourage such a strategy. Add in the fact that Barao is still a world class grappler and what at 1st seemed like a decent match-up for Sterling has now gone awry. Cardio may be the difference here, but I think Barao should bounce back to his old form for at least 2 rounds against someone who won’t be able to punish as effectively as Jeremy Stephens did against Barao. Finishing potential? Hmm, unlikely to me since Sterling has yet to be dropped thus far in the UFC.

Barao via unanimous decision

Ricardo Lamas vs Jason Knight

HICK DIAZ!!! CONRAD MCGILLICUTTY!!! The main event of the prelims should be a very hectic one, as Jason “Hick Diaz” Knight (that’s not his real nickname) always brings entertainment in his fights. Knight is coming off an uppercut out of nowhere KO victory against a very good opponent in Chas Skelly, after spending the 1st couple rounds entrenched on the ground defending against Skelly’s top game. That fight also really pinpointed just how good Knight’s guard was, as Skelly was unable to escape his rubber guard and had to constantly keep himself moving while escaping submission attempts. Lamas also usually brings it in every fight, including the now infamous point to the ground gesture by Max Holloway that ignited a ferocious 10 second swing-for-the-hills brawl between Holloway and Lamas. Holloway obviously won that exchange seeing as he’s the current champion, but Lamas definitely gave his best shot regardless. Knight will push the pace whenever possible, which may play right into Lamas’ hands, both figuratively and literally. Lamas is the much more technical striker, able to string together crisp 1-2 combos with strong high kick finishers. Lamas is generally very composed and compact with his striking, rarely leaving himself open to counter-strikes. Outside of one hell of a well-timed counter by Chad Mendes, no one had really been able to crack Lamas on a consistent basis. Holloway’s gameplan was more of an attack the entire body and keep his distance rather than countering Lamas to death. Knight doesn’t have Holloway’s length nor his ability to double up on his combinations as flawlessly as Max does. Instead, it’ll likely look like a deranged hick trying to run down a beleaguered ex-boyfriend of Knight’s daughter. Work with me here! I don’t think Lamas will want to test Knight’s guard despite his very good grappling credentials (BJJ black belt and just recently submitted Charles Oliveira), so it definitely should come down to pace versus technique. For all of Knight’s flaws (bad striking defense, aggressive mindset that can lead to wild punches), he still somehow finds a way to hit home with his right hand once he finds his range for the jab. I just don’t think Lamas will allow Knight to run him over via pace and should be able to piece Knight up from a safe distance. Knight’s 4 fight win streak and beating Skelly is probably the reason why he’s a favorite despite Lamas having been a top 5 FW for a while now. It’s a toss up to me but I usually side with brains over brawn in coin flip match-ups. Doesn’t hurt that Lamas can out-grapple Knight and out-scramble him as well.

Lamas via unanimous decision

Jimi Manuwa vs Volkan Oezdemir

Oezdemir sure has climbed up the LHW rankings since his debut. Is it because he’s actually good or is it an ominous sign at how thin the division is? I mean, Shogun Rua is the #6 LHW! Sheesh. Oezdemir won’t get an easy match-up as he faces the likely next challenger for the title in Jimi Manuwa, provided Manuwa does actually win against Oezdemir. Manuwa has now finished his opponents in 5 of his 6 UFC wins, and that number may increase to 6 if Oezdemir fights the same way he has thus far. Manuwa’s M.O. Has been the same – stalk his prey, start off easy with a few combinations and leg kicks, then unleash his ungodly power and smite his opponents when the opportunity arises. It’s been a sound gameplan thus far, outside of the Jan Blachhowicz fight where Manuwa was actually fighting on a torn ACL which obviously impeded his ability to generate power through his legs. Oezdemir is more of a prototypical boxer, bobbing and weaving his way around his opponents and utilizing his jab-straight liberally. He wasn’t able to do that against Misha Cirkunov since he got clinched up, but that didn’t stop him from smashing Misha with an earhole punch that turned his lights off. Manuwa won’t be clinching up Oezdemir, so that should give Oezdemir the chance to really shine and showcase his boxing combinations. The problem with that is Manuwa is such a skilled counter-striker that only really Alex Gustafsson was able to bother Manuwa out of his comfort zone. That may have something to do with Gustafsson’s 6’5” height and 79 inch reach, which equaled Manuwa’s reach but with 4 inches of height on him! Manuwa will have a 4 inch reach advantage on Oezdemir, further pushing the pendulum his way. Add in the fact that Manuwa is a skilled tactician himself, as he’s very good at creating angles despite his slow and stalking style. Oezdemir will have to really move his feet and establish the jab early to prevent Manuwa’s advancements. It’s a tough task from a guy whose activity really dropped off after a couple rounds against Ovince Saint Preax. I think Manuwa is just has too savvy to let Oezdemir dictate the distance between the two long enough to win a decision. Better call your dentist soon, Volkan.

Manuwa via 2nd round KO

Robbie Lawler vs Donald Cerrone

ROBBIE!!!! HE’S BAAAAAACK! Wait, so is Cerrone??? OH MAH GAHHHHH! It’s two of the most violent men in the UFC, and they’re going to square off against each other! A former champion against a former….well, I dunno. It’s gonna be a damn good fight is where I’m getting at here. Yes, both men are coming off surprising KO losses, but that doesn’t erase their past history of sheer unadulterated violence! Here’s a fancy schmancy stat for ya. Both men combine for 45 total finishes, with Lawler having the upper hand in knockouts (20) and Cerrone in submissions (16). Cerrone was riding a 4 fight win streak (all finishes) and Lawler on a 5 fight win streak before their respective losses. It’s safe to say that had both men won their previous fight, this likely would have been a title fight. Their loss is our gain, as the MMA gods of violence have smiled upon us.

Lawler is a skilled southpaw brawler with nuances to his counter-striking style. He knows how to utilize foot placement to better suit his counter-attacks as he’s able to maneuver his way through most defenses just by simply being at the right place at the right time. Knowing how to take advantage of the usual edges a southpaw has is a very important attribute for Lawler, and it’s what helped him become a champion. It sure helps having the power of 10 oxen too! What separates Lawler from the rest of the division is his ability to just keep on going despite either being gassed or rocked or torn to shreds by hellbows and head-kicks. That’s always been his greatest trait up until Woodley finished him on 1 strike in the 1st round. Harsh. Regardless of that unfortunate KO loss, Lawler still should be the same fighter that destroyed Johny Hendricks twice, survived an onslaught against Rory MacDonald and broke his nose afterwards, and had an incredible ending against Carlos Condit to steal the fight from him. It’s all about placement and being able to string together flurries of combinations for Lawler as he tries to overwhelm his opponents after a well-timed counter.

Cerrone is the opposite, preferring to land a high volume output with tremendous combinations from his Muay Thai stance. He’s best known for his strong and acrobatic kicks, as he’ll use a push kick to gauge his distance then as he gets warmed up Cerrone turns the heat on with blistering punch/kick combinations until his opponents tap. Cerrone is tops in the UFC for sig strikes per minute, and his leg strike average is also near the top as well. That will be a major key for Cerrone if he wants to avoid getting countered to death by Lawler. Beating up Lawler’s lead leg not only lessens Lawler’s ability to create power from his legs, it will also impede his movement that I mentioned earlier. That’s Cerrone’s best shot at a win, as I’m afraid that due to his health issues (staph infection and allegedly a pulled groin) and past history of violence may be catching up to Cerrone. His knockout loss wasn’t as surprising as Lawler’s KO loss since Cerrone was actually dropped by Matt Brown prior to the Masvidal fight before winning that one. You could say it was foreshadowing, or maybe Masvidal is just that good.

It’s a long write-up for the fight, but it’s such a compelling and will essentially make or break your lineups as both men are finishing machines with questionable KO losses. Lawler’s chin may be gone after years of brawls and incredible comebacks (5th Round Lawler is an actual thing), and Cerrone’s injuries/chin issues may be finally catching up to him. Lawler’s got the immense power and the countering savvy to combat Cerrone’s high octane high output striking and put him to sleep. I am not even going to consider Cerrone getting Lawler down because absolutely no one can. It’s a striking affair that should lead to a finish of some sort, and that’s why you really should think carefully before rostering either fighter. I’m going with Lawler because I don’t think his chin is as far gone as others may think. Cerrone’s recent injury stuff scares me off as well, not to mention he’s had some issues defending against pressure lately. It’s gonna suck as a MMA fan to see another Cerrone KO, but that seems imminent in the match-up. Hedge alert!

Lawler via 1st round KO

Cris Cyborg vs Tonya Evinger

She’s the biggest favorite on the card. She hasn’t lost since her professional debut all the way back in 2005. 15 of her wins have been KO/TKOs. It’s Cyyyyyyybooorrrrrrg!! Tonya Evinger will be Cyborg’s strongest competition since probably 2009 when she faced Gina Carano in Strikeforce. Evinger is also Invicta’s bantamweight champion, the same organization Cyborg had been fighting in before the UFC finally signed her to a contract. In a nutshell, this is basically a “superfight” between the 135 and 145 pound champions from Invicta. And yet, Cyborg is a quadruple digit favorite. Why is that? It’s quite simple – she has immeasurable power that has never been seen from any female fighter. She actually has more power than most men at her weight class. Not only does Cyborg possess frightening power beyond anyone’s comprehension in any division, she’s a skilled BJJ black belt with the strength to both land and defend take-downs of all kinds. Cyborg is just a massive, massive mismatch for anyone able to fight her. Evinger doesn’t care about all that nonsense, and that’s why she’s going to be one hell of a player at 135. Let’s get down to brass tacks. Evinger is a somewhat lanky, awkward striker who just simply marches forward and tries to land a big looping punch or two. It’s surprisingly effective for how non-technical her striking can be, and it’s mostly due to how her own momentum allows Evinger to do what she does best – wrestle her way into the ground and SMASH. Evinger’s relentless and tireless at working for the take-down, whether it be from the clinch or a single/double leg dump take-down. The point is, once it’s on the ground then it’s a partay for Evinger as she entangles herself into unorthodox positions that allow her to either slither her way into a submission or slice her way through with hellbows and hammer-fists. But wait! Can she do that against Cyborg, who is significantly bigger than Evinger? Remember, this is the 135 pound champion, not 145. Cyborg will likely have 20-30 pounds on Evinger as well as being the better grappler. That means Evinger will have to eke and dodge her way on the feet, making Cyborg gas out and maaaaaaybe getting a few level change scoop take-downs in the later rounds. Cyborg’s got a questionable gas tank despite her 17 win streak, so there is a small chance Evinger can take advantage of that. If she can’t, man is she going to have one heck of a headache on Sunday. Just a mismatch all around which is unfortunate since I’m confident Evinger will be a top 5 bantamweight in the UFC. Cyborg’s DK price was surprisingly low for her odds, so I’d say it’s a good bet for one of the highest ownerships and a staple of cash lineups.

Cyborg via 1st round TKO

Tyron Woodley vs Demian Maia

It’s a welterweight title fight between champion Tyron Woodley and 40 year old man (in November) Demian Maia. Granted, Maia is riding a 7 win UFC streak with notable wins over Carlos Condit, Gunnar Nelson, and now Jorge Masvidal. Both guys have essentially cleared out the welterweight division save a few people, and allegedly Georges St. Pierre will be fighting the winner. It’s Maia’s likely last chance to become an UFC champion at his advanced age, and it’s a good one when you think about it. Woodley has had the same gameplan for the last 5 fights, which is sit back and wait for his opponents to come at him, then uncork a counter-right that puts them to sleep. Either that or he puts the crowd to sleep with his inactivity and unwillingness to ignite any sort of striking exchange. This is mostly due to Woodley knowing no one will try to tangle with him as far as wrestling goes, so he can just simply sit back and bide his time. It worked against Stephen Thompson and Robbie Lawler, so why stop doing it? Woodley may have to change his gameplan against Maia, as Maia actually does want to tangle with Woodley’s vaunted wrestling pedigree. Maia does NOT want to engage in any sort of striking battle against anyone, and he will pull out all the tricks in his very thick book to get the fight to the ground where he is undoubtedly the best grappler/ground specialist in the UFC. There’s really no wiggle room here regarding Maia’s gameplan, and if Woodley is willing to do his usual back to the fence shenanigans then that’s exactly what Maia wants in order to clinch up/dive for a take-down. There’s a prevailing thought that maybe Woodley decides to be more aggressive against Maia and actually opens up his stand-up, especially the hard leg kicks he used to be proficient at landing. If that’s the case, then Maia will likely be sleeping with the fishies due to his lack of any real stand-up and striking defense. Woodley is a world class wrestler with the physique of a body-builder, but Maia may be the only person in the division that could legitimately take down Woodley and end him on the ground. It’s a really hard fight to pick because there are so many questions on what kind of gameplan Woodley will enlist, plus how Maia will attack Woodley’s back-pedaling counter-attacks. I’m leaning towards Maia being able to close the distance and grab Woodley’s legs for a quick dump take-down, then somehow morphing himself into being stuck on Woodley’s back and eventually getting a rear naked choke. It’s mystifying how Maia turns nearly anything on the ground into a dominant position as long as he has control of a limb. It’s terrifying. 5 rounds in a match-up where someone has to run into the other head-on probably means it’s going to be a finish. Maia isn’t a 5 round guy as the last time he was involved in one Maia was completely exhausted by the 4th round and had to continuously drop down to the ground just to avoid getting punched in the face. Not going to be a popular pick but I’m sticking with Maia by submission. Protect your face old man!

Maia via 2nd round RNC

Daniel Cormier vs Jon Jones

They hate each other. They’ve called each other a bunch of childish names and barked back with equally terrible insults. Penis jokes? You got ’em. Fat jokes? Yup. Bald jokes? Obviously. The rematch for the ages has now arrived, and it comes at a crucial point for the UFC as they get ready for the SHOWDOWN between McGregor and Mayweather. It’s been an up and down year for the UFC’s PPVs so far, so they will be banking hard on a thrilling rematch where Jones reclaims the belt and becomes the rightful champion in their (and the fans) eyes. Can Jon Jones return to his former (sort of?) championship form and dismantle Cormier once again? Or will Cormier actually be able to get Jon Jones down and push him around the fence like he has done to so many opponents? TUNE IN NEXT WEEK ON DRAGONBA…oh, wait. Wrong show.

Let’s start off by explaining why Jon Jones completely owned Cormier in the 1st fight. Not only does Jones have a massive height/reach advantage (5”/12”), he’s also one of the few (maybe the only one) that Cormier just wasn’t able to bully around with either clinch-ups or on take-downs. In fact, Jones was the one doing the bullying against Cormier, beating him at his own game with dirty boxing and frequent clinch-ups. It just ended up being a relatively easy fight for Jones as Cormier just couldn’t get over the ginormous reach difference without eating a Bones jab. Now Cormier should know what is in store for him, he should be better suited in corralling his way inside Jones’ range and put together his usual clinch wrestling offense. There are some minor questions regarding Jones’ performance against Ovince St Preax. He didn’t seem to be as aggressive as he usually is nor did he attempt any take-downs against a guy who struggles at defending take-downs and getting back up on his feet. Then came out the news that St Preax actually broke his arm early during the fight, so Jones was fighting an one-armed St Preax. Maybe Jones knew he had it in the bag and was just testing some stuff out (landed a higher amount of kicks to the body and arms than usual). Maybe Jones is just that good that even a fairly dominant performance like that still rose up questions of his skills. Whatever the case may be, I fully expect Jones to be extremely motivated and bring his A game against Cormier, starting with the classic “Lemme poke your eyes out bruh, BRUH CMON JUST LEMME JAM THIS FINGER IN THERE!” pseudo jab. Then comes the bullying through clinch work with knees, take-downs, and the inevitable BONES HELLBOWS that follow up. But let’s talk about Cormier.

Cormier….oh, Cormier. What can that schlub do against Jones? He’s going to have to just club away to get inside Jones’ range  if he really wants to change the tone of the fight. He’s said in some interviews that he feels the lightest he’s been and is raring to truly showcase his top echelon offensive wrestling against Jones. If he’s able to do that, there is no doubt he can stifle Jones with his top game and really grind him down into dust as the rounds tick away. Cormier had a good 1st round and half against Jones with his overhands and picking up the timing on some of Jones’ combinations, but his gas tank eventually depleted which allowed Jones to just dominant the next 3 rounds doing whatever he wanted. Cormier will have to make sure he paces himself better this time around with a lesser load, putting more emphasis on countering rather than trying to clinch up and bully up the fence.

I just don’t think Cormier has it in him to go 5 full rounds against the best LHW of all time with his limited tools. Not only will he face a considerable height/reach disadvantage again, he’s going to be facing potentially the most motivated version of Jon Jones. I mean, Bones reaaaaaaally wants to prove that Cormier is a fake champion and has looked insanely in shape. He even got a blue belt in BJJ! This is after being a white belt for so long because he didn’t care about ranking up despite his clear talents at grappling and defeating black belts. Cormier also just hasn’t looked as dominant as he used to be, playing it safe against Anderson Silva after getting cracked early, and don’t even get me started on that farce of a rematch against Anthony Johnson. I’m sticking to what I know about Jones and that’s the fact that he was able to beat Cormier at his own game. It’ll happen again and we’re gonna get a Lesnar vs Jones superfight in 2018. Unless Bill Goldberg or Shaq decides to fight Lesnar instead.

Jones via 4th round anaconda choke

MMA