You know you’ve got a strong undercard when a former champ is forced to fight on a Preliminary Card!
Former lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez has been pushed out of the UFC 211 (May 13th) main card to make room for three blockbuster fights.
Demian Maia and Jorge Masvidal face in a potential title eliminator for the middleweight belt; Frankie Edgar and Yair Rodríguez meet for a high-stakes featherweight bout; and Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis could decide who Demetrious Johnson beats next.
Trevor Dueck, my partner in crime, covered the headliners earlier last month. Now it’s my turn to preview the odds for the undercard. Let’s get to it!
Demian Maia (+110) vs. Jorge Masvidal (-118)
The hard-hitting Jorge Masvidal (32-11) meets one of the most advanced grapplers in MMA, Demian Maia (24-6), in what should be a very interesting fight.
Masvidal started the year by annihilating Donald Cerrone, dropping him in the dying seconds of the first round (where the fight should have ended) and finishing him off in the second. Granted, Cerrone took the fight just a month after a gruelling bout against Matt Brown, but Masvidal’s striking ability can’t be denied.
Maia may be 39 years old, but he’s still going strong. He’s currently on a six-fight streak and won both of his 2016 bouts by way of submission. On the ground, there are very few fighters who can hold their own against Maia, though Masvidal has shown that he’s a decent grappler.
If Maia can take the fight to the mat, he’ll have the upper-hand. But at 39, his chin may not be as solid as it used to be, and Masvidal has some dangerous power. Maia is one of the most technically gifted fighters in MMA, but I think his time is coming to an end.
Pick: Jorge Masvidal (-118)
Frankie Edgar (-138) vs. Yair Rodríguez (+135)
The match-up between Frankie Edgar (21-5-1) and Yair Rodríguez (10-1) should also be an interesting one. Edgar is a veteran wrestler while Rodriguez is a young, flashy striker.
Rodríguez caught the fight world’s attention after he demolished hall-of-famer B.J. Penn earlier in the year. With a flurry of flashy punches and taekwondo kicks, he put on quite a show and made easy work of Penn. However, Penn had been on the decline for some time and Edgar also defeated him quite easily in 2014.
Against a fighter like Edgar, I don’t think Rodríguez will be anywhere near as effective. The 24-year-old has an exciting future in the sport, but I don’t know if he’s ready for an opponent like Edgar yet.
Pick: Frankie Edgar (-138)
Henry Cejudo (-275) vs. Sergio Pettis (+310)
The young Sergio Pettis (15-2) faces his toughest opponent yet in Henry Cejudo (10-2). The 23-year-old will probably be the future of the flyweight division, and when Demetrious Johnson either moves up or retires, he’ll likely be set to take over.
At 5’6”, he’s one of the larger flyweights and he’ll use his size to his advantage over the 5’4” Cejudo. With a significant reach advantage, it’ll be tough for Cejudo, a freestyle wrestler, to take him down.
Cejudo suffered two huge losses in 2016, first to the undisputed champion, Demetrious Johnson, and then to the number one contender, Joseph Benavidez. He’s still the number two contender in the division, but it may be a while until he gets another title shot.
Cejudo is an Olympic gold medal winning wrestler, but he may be overwhelmed by Pettis’ striking game. The youngster has some long odds and I think he’s worth a pick.
Pick: Sergio Pettis (+310)
Let's have fun and keep it civil.