The weigh-in at UFC 210 didn’t exactly go to plan for Daniel Cormier, who needed two tries to make 205 pounds. The action in the ring sure did, though, as the light heavyweight champ retained his belt with a second-round submission of Anthony Johnson.
Two more UFC title-holders will put their gaudy accessories on the line at UFC 211 (Saturday, May 13; don’t ask Chris Weidman to double check the date). In the women’s strawweight division, Joanna Jędrzejczyk will defend against a dangerous and aggressive Jéssica Andrade. Then, in the main event of the evening, heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic gets a chance to atone for a 2014 loss against Junior dos Santos.
Time to breakdown the title fights and make some quick picks for the rest of the main card.
UFC 211 Odds and Predictions
Stipe Miocic (c) (-175) vs. Junior Dos Santos (+155)
The last time these two faced one another was back in 2014 at a free UFC on Fox. At the time, the promotion was really pushing Miocic as the next big thing in the heavyweight division and rightly so. The proud Croatian was a complete fighter who could package Division I wrestling with a high-level striking game. He went into the first matchup on a three-fight winning streak, but nobody told former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos it was his time to pass the torch.
In what was the best fight of the evening and a complete slugfest, Dos Santos (18-4) was able to land more bombs, especially with his left hand, throughout the fight. While Miocic (16-2) had his moments, in the end, it was Dos Santos’ boxing game that got him the unanimous decision win. But that was 2014 and a lot has changed since.
The second meeting has the makings of another fight of the night. JDS can still throw bombs, and you should never underestimate his heart and hand-speed. But, at 33, his brain and body aren’t always following the same game plan, and he can’t take a punch the way he used to. He’s lost two of his last four, both by TKO. Most people who bet against JDS wish they hadn’t at the end of the night, but that’s exactly what I’m about to do here.
As great as Miocic’s stand up is, he really needs to avoid making this just a boxing match where both men stand in the middle of the cage and bang. He needs to do a better job of mixing takedowns with his standup. A few attempts at body kicks won’t slow JDS down, so Miocic has to keep coming at him with a variety of attacks. All of those should lead down one road and that’s to the magical world of wrestling.
I may eat these words, but I believe we are seeing the downward spiral of a legend and it will be in the later rounds that Miocic takes this fight over.
In what should be an entertaining fight, the bookies are correct with their line. I’m taking “Stone Cold” Miocic to retain his title.
Pick: Stipe Miocic (-175)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (c) (-170) vs. Jessica Andrade (+150)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (13-0) is the most dominant female fighter in MMA and could end up going down as the greatest of all time. However, this is a sport where one bad night sees dominance come to a sudden end (cough cough Ronda Rousey).
A loss like that could happen at the hands of the Brazilian Jessica Andrade (16-5) who has found a new home in the UFC’s Strawweight division. Still, it’s hard to imagine Jedrzejczyk losing to anyone right now. That perfect 13-0 record features a litany of victims who all thought they had that special Konami cheat code (Up-Up-Down-Down-Left-Right-Left-Right, B, A, SELECT, Start). Unfortunately, nobody is getting an extra 30 lives or invincibility here.
Andrade’s 16-5 record belies her talent. There weren’t a lot of weight-classes when the UFC started its women’s divisions, and Andrade spent a chunk of her career fighting much larger opponents in the UFC’s 135-pound division, going a respectable 5-3. When 115 pounds became an option, the 25-year-old dropped down to a more comfortable weight and knocked off three wins in a row. Now she finds herself in the biggest fight of her career and everyone is writing her off.
Right now, bookies are loving Jedrzejczyk because she currently has an unbeatable aura, not to mention a toughness that exceeds the toughness of spelling her name correctly.
Jedrzejczyk fights smart; she sticks and moves and is so good at sprawling that it’s next to impossible to take her down. You can’t hit what you can’t catch and the champ is great at distance-management. That will especially come in handy against an opponent that likes to move forward and brawl.
Andrade needs to continue with her aggressive style and not change too much in her approach. She needs to stick with what got here there, but at the same time take a look at what Claudia Gadelha did in her fights with Jedrzejczyk because, somewhere in there, lay a few clues for taking down the champ.
Andrade also needs to avoid the clinch. That is Jedrzejczyk’s office; she is unbelievably strong with some fantastic grappling skills. She brings you in, throws some vicious knees and sits you down.
Andrade’s best chance to win is if she can clip the champ with one hard punch. That’s a big “if” and although it’s tempting to take the underdog in this fight because of her fighting style and the decent odds, I feel Jedrzejczyk is far too durable and has too many ways to win.
Pick: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (-175)
Main card quick picks
Demian Maia (-130) vs. Jorge Masvidal (+110) = My Pick: Demian Maia (-130)
Eddie Alvarez (-125) vs. Dustin Poirier (+105) = My Pick: Eddie Alvarez (-125)
Frankie Edgar (-165) vs. Yair Rodriguez (+145) = My Pick: Frankie Edgar (-165)
Let's have fun and keep it civil.