We’re less than a day away from the start of the biggest MMA event of the year thus far, let alone the summer — UFC 214. The card is stacked with notable names in the undercard, and two exciting main card bouts with three title fights. It will all culminate with the long-awaited re-match between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones.
With that in mind, let’s get into my predictions for the event.
– UFC Light Heavyweight Championship: (c.) Daniel Cormier def. Jon Jones via fourth-round TKO to retian.
– UFC Welterweight Championship: Demian Maia def. (c.) Tyron Woodley via split decision to win the title.
– For the vacant UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship: Cris Cyborg def. Tonya Evinger via second-round TKO to win the title.
– Donald Cerrone def. Robbie Lawler via third-round KO
– Jimi Mauwa def. Volkan Oezdemir via second-round TKO
– Jason Knight def. Ricardo Lamas via split decision
– Renan Barao def. Aljamain Sterling via unanimous decision
– Brian Ortega def. Renato Moicano via split decision
– Andre Fili def. Calvin Kattar via second-round TKO
– Alexandra Albu def. Kailin Curran via first-round submission
– Jarred Brooks def. Eric Shelton via unanimous decision
– Drew Dober def. Josh Burkman via second-round submission
Cormier vs. Jones: This is the re-match fight fans have been waiting about two-and-a-half years for. Ever since Jones’ troubles caused him much time away from the Octagon since early 2015, Cormier has made his way to the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight division and defended his crown twice (along with a third, non-title win over Anderson Silva). Now, some will say that Jones is a much better fighter than Cormier, and it’s reasonable considering he unanimously decisioned Cormier in their January 2015 encounter. But, keep in mind, Jones has fought just once since that first fight with Cormier — an interim light heavyweight title fight against Ovince Saint Preux in Spring 2016, and it was a unanimous decision win where many thought Jones was not the Jones we’re used to seeing in the cage.
I will call this one of my old classic cases of “prove me wrong.” Yes, Jones is a great fighter, but he’s had a lot of personal struggle over the past couple of years. At least Cormier has been the active fighter. Jones will have to prove me wrong and show me he has no true ring rust.
(Also, on a side note, even if Cormier wins, I think he’ll get his in the next title defense — maybe against Manuwa if he wins? As for Jones, well, if Brock Lesnar does somehow find a way back to the UFC, I can see Jones living up to his word and stepping up to face Lesnar, even if he surrenders the light heavyweight title to do so).
(I also just had a thought of a December or January card that looks like this, should I be wrong and Jones wins but steps up and faces Lesnar:
(c.) Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson, or Nate Diaz
(c.) Michael Bisping vs. (ic) Robert Whittaker
For the vacant LHW Title: Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa
Jon Jones vs. Brock Lesnar
Heavyweight Main Card Opener
Bantamweight Prelim Main Event
Woodley vs. Maia: With Tyron Woodley, there’s one of two things that will happen — he can finish a guy off quickly or cause a massive brawl (i.e. his title win vs. Robbie Lawler), or the bout can drag (i.e. his last title defense vs. Stephen Thompson). Woodley’s looking for the big money fight with the likes of someone such as Georges St-Pierre, but he shouldn’t be overlooking Demian Maia. Maia has been one of the hottest welterweight contenders for a while now, and he’s on a seven-fight win streak. With UFC President Dana White recently proclaiming the winner of this bout gets GSP, I think Woodley’s head is getting a little too big. If Woodley can’t finish Maia off quickly and Maia can get Woodley to the ground, and I think he can, Maia may sneak away with this one.
Cyborg vs. Evinger: It’s Tonya Evinger’s UFC debut, and what a debut it is — facing off with Cris Cyborg for the vacant women’s featherweight title. Evinger is great, but Yana Kunitskaya has shown she can be beat (despite the result being overturned to a No Contest). Evinger also has losses on her record to current UFC stars Alexis Davis and Sara McMann. Cyborg, on the other hand, has been unstoppable for a while now, and she finally has her division in the UFC and a chance at the title. I don’t think it’d be right to say it’s now or never for Cyborg, but she is certainly hungry, so now is the perfect time.
Lawler vs. Cerrone: Other than the main event, this is the bout on the card I’m most looking forward to. Both men can start out slow, but both have tremendous power that can end a fight rather suddenly. It might just be my status as a Cerrone fan, but I can see this fight being like Cerrone’s UFC 206 bout with Matt Brown — Lawler wins the first two rounds, but one sudden shot in the third from Cerrone ends it.
Manuwa vs. Oezdemir: Manuwa is currently ranked sixth on ESPN’s light heavyweight rankings, and he’s ranked third in the UFC’s rankings of the division; meanwhile, Oezdemir is fifth in the UFC rankings. Oezdemir has an impressive track record; I wouldn’t write off Oezdemir completely, he does own a win against Saint Preux. But I can see this being Manuwa’s fight to lose. And because of that, as well as what could be riding for him, I don’t see Manuwa losing. Don’t be surprised if he calls out the Jones-Cormier winner, too.