There’s so much to look forward to when it comes to UFC 214 (July 29th). With three titles on the line, including one of the most anticipated title rematches in UFC history, the upcoming pay-per-view event is the first truly stacked card we’ve seen in a long time.
All the hype has been around the Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier rematch — and rightly so. It’s become one of the most elusive rematches in MMA history and it’s finally going to happen.
Then there’s the title fight between Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia, a fascinating stylistic match-up. Maia is one of the greatest grapplers the sport has ever seen while Woodley has some tremendous power and an amazing takedown defense.
But wait, there’s more!
Cristiane Justino takes on Tonya Evinger for the vacant women’s featherweight title, a division created with Justino in mind; Jimi Manuwa and Volkan Oezdemir jockey for a shot against the winner of Cormier vs Jones; and Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone finally meet in the octagon.
Let’s take a look at some of the fights lower down on the card.
Cristiane Justino (-1200) vs. Tonya Evinger (+700)
The UFC created the women’s featherweight division solely for Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (17-1), but the controversial fighter was barred from the inaugural bout after testing positive. Now, after a bit of legal jiu-jitsu, she’s eligible to contest the title. Her opponent was initially Megan Anderson, but she’s since been replaced by Invicta FC bantamweight champ Tonya Evinger (19-5).
Evinger makes her UFC debut after dominating the Invicta FC bantamweight division for over two years. She’s a talented boxer and grappler, but has spent her career mostly fighting little-known opponents.
Cyborg, on the other hand, is probably the most feared fighter in women’s MMA. The title is now vacant is because former champ Germaine de Randamie refused to face her. She’s been waiting for her chance to become a UFC champion, but her size has kept her away from the women’s featherweight and bantamweight divisions. Now, she finally gets her chance.
At 36 years old, Evinger is at the tail-end of her career. This division is tailor-made for Justino and even though there’s very little value in picking her, it seems extremely unlikely she’ll let the title slip through her fingers.
Pick: Cristiane Justino (-1200)
Jimi Manuwa (-185) vs. Volkan Oezdemir (+150)
Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier are the two big names at light heavyweight, but after their showdown this weekend, the division will be looking for some new title contenders. Enter Jimi Manuwa (17-2) and Volkan Oezdemir (14-1).
The Cormier vs Jones fight will breathe new life into the stagnant light heavyweight division, and both Manuwa and Oezdemir would like to be first in line to face the champion. Manuwa lost two crucial fights to Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson but has since won his last two bouts by knockout.
Volkan Oezdemir made his UFC debut this year with a narrow win against Ovince Saint Preux followed by a 28 second knockout against Misha Cirkunov.
If we compare Manuwa’s performance against Saint Preux to Oezdemir’s, then Manuwa is the fighter to pick. While Oezdemir edged a split decision victory against the MMA journeyman, Manuwa managed to knock him out in the second round.
Pick: Jimi Manuwa (-185)