UFC 214: Cormier vs. Jones 2 – Title Fight Predictions
The UFC travels to Anaheim, California tonight for the highly anticipated rematch between UFC light-heavyweight champion Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier and interim-champ Jon ‘Bones’ Jones.
UFC 214 is stacked with some of the biggest names in the organisation but it has been somewhat overshadowed by the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor media frenzy of late.
As the world’s media focused on the events of the May/Mac press tour, the fighters involved in this Saturday nights event were in their final weeks of preparation. It will be one of the biggest UFC cards this year as Cormier defends his crown against the formidable Jones.
Cormier holds an impressive 19-1 record; the only blemish inflicted was a very close decision loss to Jones in January 2015. Since then he has fought four times; finishing Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson twice, either side of decision wins over Alexander Gustafsson and Anderson Silva, the last of which was in April this year when he defended his 205lb crown with a third-round rear-naked choke over the now retired Johnson.
Jones has only competed once since their fight, as personal problems outside the octagon overshadowed his career. He picked up a unanimous decision victory over Ovince St. Preux in what many agreed was one of Jones most lacklustre octagon performances in April 2016.
In the co-main event, welterweight champion Tyrone Woodley defends his belt against Demian Maia. The vacant women’s featherweight title is also up for grabs, with former Strikeforce champion Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino and current Invicta bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger facing each other.
The main card is rounded off with another huge fight in the welterweight division between fan favourites and former champion, ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler and former lightweight title contender Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. In what many believe will be the fight of the night, the fight is sure to deliver fireworks.
And in the light-heavyweight division, title contender Jimi ‘Posterboy’ Manuwa faces Volkan Oezdemir. Manuwa will be looking to put on clinical performance to cement his name for the next title shot and Oezdemir, coming from relative obscurity, looking to announce himself as a potential title challenger.
Cormier vs. Jones 2 – Light-Heavyweight Title
This fight comes down to who can control the distance and implement their pace. Can Jon Jones use his 12-inch reach advantage to keep “DC” at bay? He will look to snipe at Cormier as he comes forward looking to close the distance.
“DC” will need to close the distance to Jones and initiate the clinch and grappling exchanges, where he will use dirty boxing and his favourite uppercuts, in particular that proved to be so successful for him the first time around. If Jones can maintain a striking distance and catch Cormier coming in, he will hurt the body, slowing Cormier’s pace and conditioning.
It could be a long night for Cormier, with a result not much different from the first outing. But, he has shown that he has a blueprint to seriously challenge Jones and if he can avoid damage and maintain his pressure into the championship rounds, he could do enough to come away with the victory.
Shane Kirkwood: I see Cormier being able to get inside Jon’s reach. He’ll use dirty boxing and initiate the clinch to wear Jones down and dominate their grappling exchanges. Daniel showed in the first fight that he had a solid blueprint to beat Jones. He just didn’t have the gas to follow it through which allowed Jones to gain an advantage in the championship rounds. He has been active and built up more experience in those championship rounds since so I see “DC” enforcing his game plan on Jones. He takes the victory and sets us up perfectly for a rubber match. Cormier via Split Decision.
Alastair Magee: We’ve waited a long time to see this rematch. Cormier’s remained active and built up some much-needed experience in championship fights but I struggle to see him beating Jones. He is certainly a quality fighter but Jones has been on a different level to everyone else. Although his victory of St. Pereux was possibly one of his worst performances, it is hard to bet against him. He’s had a lot of time since then to work on his mistakes and we’ve yet to see his personal issues make him a weaker fighter. Cormier would need to rock Jones and dominate their grappling exchanges, something that I can’t see happening. Jon Jones via Unanimous Decision.
Woodley vs. Maia – Welterweight Title
Former middleweight title challenger Demian Maia is currently on a seven-fight win streak in the welterweight division and finally gets his shot at the title, but on just five weeks’ notice. In Tyrone Woodley, Maia comes up against a man who should have the tools to stop his take downs. Woodley is coming off two scraps back-to-back against Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and no doubt ‘The Chosen One’ is happy to have a new face in front of him. He will be wary of Maia’s threat on the ground. He is one of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in MMA.
Shane Kirkwood: Woodley has never lost by submission. He’s faced the likes of Andre Galvao and Jake Shields and has considerable experience against high level BJJ practitioners. He did lose to Shields but he was not submitted. Maia comes in on just 5 weeks’ notice and being a fighter who tends to slow in the later rounds, I’m not sure if he will be able to impose his game plan. I see him looking to tie up Woodley and even pull him on top of him and look to sweep if he cannot get the take-down. But, I think Woodley does enough to frustrate Maia and stifle his take-down attempts. If Maia does slow down, I can see Woodley catching him late in the third or fourth with one of his huge overhands. Woodley via TKO Round 4.
Alastair Magee: This is not a great match-up for Maia. Woodley possesses excellent takedown defence and big power, if Maia is clumsy and makes mistakes trying to take him down it could be very costly. If Woodley lands his right hand he can end Maia’s night early. I can see this being the outcome however he may be very defensive until that moment arises. Woodley via TKO.
Cyborg v Evinger – Women’s Featherweight Title
This is a very exciting fight – a super-fight of sorts – with two champions from different organisations competing for the vacant UFC featherweight belt. Everyone is aware of ‘Cyborg’ and the skillset she brings to the octagon. Despite being the Invicta FC bantamweight champion, Tonya Evinger will be a heavy underdog. She’s never been stopped by strikes but comes up against a formidable foe in ‘Cyborg’ – who will hope to change that.
Shane Kirkwood: It’s hard to look past ‘Cyborg’ in this fight, and despite Evinger’s stellar credentials, it really is tough to see any other result than a ‘Cyborg’ victory. But, this is MMA and anything can happen. With seven-wins by submission on her record, Evinger may look to take this fight to the mat as Cyborg’s sole loss comes via submission, albeit in her first pro outing. Evinger also has eight-wins via knockout so she will not be afraid to stand with Cyborg but it is hard to go against Cyborg’s skillset, size and sheer power. Cyborg to win but not as easily as everyone thinks. Cyborg via TKO Round 3.
Alastair Magee: Evinger needs to clinch and score a takedown to make this fight interesting. That may be wishful thinking against someone like Cyborg. I see this being a routine victory for Cyborg, another devastating TKO. Cyborg via TKO Round 1.
Photo credit: Esther Lin, MMAFighting.com