Friday, July 28, 2017

Calling the title fights in UFC 214

Saturday night's UFC 214 pay-per-view card is a doozy that features three title fights.  As I've done a few times recently, I'm going to put myself to the test by picking here the winners of those fights.

Daniel Cormier (champion) vs. Jon Jones for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship

This bout, the main event of the evening, pits two incredibly talented athletes in a rematch that has attracted a ton of attention.  These two hate each other, and they take every opportunity to mess with each other, so the energy should be amazing.

Daniel Cormier is an Olympic wrestler who has beaten every MMA fighter he's faced in both the heavyweight and light heavyweight classes--except one, Jon Jones.

Jon Jones was the youngest UFC fighter to hold a championship and has lost only once--and that loss was a bullshit referee call.  I saw that fight live, and I believe Jones was robbed.  Jones is also one of the biggest screw-ups in the UFC, a man who is his own worst enemy.

As good as Cormier is, he's giving up size, age, and an enormous amount of reach to Jones.  I'd love to see Cormier win this fight, because he seems to be a better person, but his only paths to victory are to knock out Jones--not Cormier's typical way to win--or hold Jones tightly against the fence and grind out a decision.  Neither is at all likely.

So, I have to go against my heart and pick Jones to win, most likely by a decision after five grueling rounds.

Tyron Woodley (champion) vs. Demian Maia for the UFC Welterweight Championship

Woodley is a decorated wrestler with serious power in his hands.  Maia is the scariest BJJ fighter in this weight class and is on a strong winning streak.  Either could conceivably win, but I have to give the nod to Woodley.  Maia will have trouble taking him down, and if Maia can't do that, then he'll have to deal with Woodley's striking, which is simply better.

This one is also likely to go the distance, but when the fight is over, expect the ref to raise Woodley's hand in victory.

Cris Cyborg (real name: Cristiane Justino Venâncio) vs. Tonya Evinger for the UFC Women's Featherweight Championship

Cyborg is an unstoppable force who has to cut a lot of weight to make 145 and who has lost only once, back in 2005 in her debut pro fight.

Evinger is an Invicta champion--but at 135 pounds--who has lost five times.  She's going up in weight and taking this fight on short notice.  She is also the biggest odds underdog I've seen in the UFC.

Evinger has only three ways she might win:  by tagging Cyborg with the luckiest punch in MMA history, by smuggling a baseball bat into the octagon and beating Cyborg with it in the initial seconds, or by Cyborg pissing hot after the match.

None of those is likely.  This fight won't go the distance.  The only real question is whether Cyborg will KO or TKO Evinger in the first round.

Cyborg will take this one easily.

I'll report after the fights on how I did.

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