UFC 214 is the most stacked PPV of 2017. Three title fights and a bevy of exciting, ridiculously good fights litter the 12-fight event. Of course, the main event is the long-awaited rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title.
The main card also features Tyron Woodley looking to retain his welterweight gold against UFC stalwart Demian Maia. Plus, we see Cyborg finally go after the new-ish women’s featherweight title when she takes on the tough Tonya Evinger.
Daniel Cormier vs Jon Jones
Daniel Cormier (+210) has a legitimate claim to being the best technical wrestler to ever grace the Octagon. The former Olympian is all about controlling his opponent and grinding out victories in the most vicious way possible. “DC” is a chain-wrestling expert who works his best when he gets his opponent on the cage and can just chip away. From the clinch, he can either work his strikes or use a multitude of takedowns to get on top of his opponent. And when Cormier is on top, he clamps down on his opponent quickly, fluidly transitions and absolutely suffocates them.
The striking game is still very meat-and-potatoes for Cormier, but it is effective. He moves forward behind his jab and leg kicks, which he uses very well to fight bigger than his small-for-the-division frame. He doesn’t exactly sport amazing knockout ability in his hands but his growing striking game is built to feed into his grappling.
Jon Jones (-270) is excellent at every aspect of the fight game, but his best physical attribute comes thanks to his freakishly long reach. His long arms give him the ability to chip away at fighters throughout the bout while periodically moving in to hit devastating shots in close, usually with his elbows. This leads to another area of dominance from the former champ; the clinch. His length is an incredible asset in tight and Jones has developed the technical ability to leverage that into devastating strikes.
One of the most intriguing aspects for Jones has always been his versatility. Throughout his career, we have seen him challenge his opponents to their strengths and still end up victorious. This, of course, was most notable when he outwrestled and outgrinded Cormier in their first meeting.
As long as we get the Jon Jones of old, he should easily win this fight. In his prime, nobody could touch Jones and he was likely the best fighter to ever step inside a cage. If he looks anywhere as mediocre as he did in his last fight against Ovince Saint Preux, Cormier will eat him alive. Until someone beats “Bones,” our UFC fight analysis says you can’t pick against him.
Prediction: Jon Jones (-270)
Tyron Woodley vs Demian Maia
Tyron Woodley (-205) doesn’t employ the flashiest game but his athleticism and his measured attack have made him deadly. “The Chosen One” prefers the fight to stay standing where he can wait for an opportunity to explode forward with a devastating right hand. He has been doing a better job at feinting and throwing jabs but Woodley is looking to back down his opponent, explode and then rest for a period.
Woodley is an excellent wrestler, but he has used that skill as a safety net of sorts throughout the latter stages of his career. He uses his grappling to recover from aggressive strikes that he misses or dumps his opponent to set up ground strikes with his big right hand.
Demian Maia (+165) has greatly refined his pressure-based striking attack in recent years. His style and footwork are built to force his opponent backward until he can get them on the fence. Once a fight is on the cage, Maia will work single legs, double legs, trips and basically every technique imaginable to take his opponent down.
There may be no better BJJ practitioner in MMA than Maia. If you find yourself on the mat with Maia, no matter what your skill level, you are screwed. His ability to chain together passes and wrestling techniques, while also angling for submissions, makes him lethal. He clamps down on his opponent and hunts for the back like a dog searching for a bone. Sometimes Maia can play with his food a bit too much and he can gas if forced to work constantly.
This fight will likely start in Woodley’s corner and slowly move toward Maia as it goes on. Woodley should have the ability to land huge power shots in the standup game and work his increasingly effective counter game but Maia is never going to stop pressuring the champ. I’m leaning Maia either by late submission or a tight decision.
Prediction: Demian Maia (+165)
Cristiane Justino vs Tonya Evinger
Cyborg (-1100) is the most dominant MMA fighter in the world – no age, gender or weight justification required. She has not lost since her pro debut in 2005 and has recorded 15 of her 17 career wins via knockout. Thanks to Rafael Cordeiro, Cyborg has combined her natural aggression and finishing instinct with technically masterful Muay Thai. She has the strength and natural balance to avoid the takedown, something that she has demonstrated at various points throughout her career.
The only real concern for Cyborg in the UFC was her forced weight cut to 140 pounds, which basically killed her. Now that the UFC has a women’s featherweight division (sort of), there doesn’t seem to be anything in Cyborg’s way.
Tonya Evinger (+650) is likely an unknown to many casual fans, but “Triple Threat” has been on a tear at 135 pounds in Invicta FC. In the striking game, Evinger isn’t exactly the most technically sound fighter you will see but carries some decent power in her right hand.
More than anything else, Evinger is a grinding wrestler who looks to suffocate her opponents. When she can get a hold of her opponent, Evinger is suffocating and is constantly working. That being said, she has a tendency to use her size and strength advantage against smaller bantamweights, which she won’t have against the bigger Cyborg.
Evinger is tough as nails and she will certainly be a game opponent. That being said, Cyborg has an advantage in most areas in this fight. I legitimately expect Evinger to last longer than most against Cyborg but this fight will end with the rightful champion being crowned.
Prediction: Cyborg (-1100)
Robbie Lawler vs Donald Cerrone
Let’s first thank the patron saint of violence for allowing us to witness this fight.
Robbie Lawler (-160) is the definition of an exciting fighter. The southpaw moves well with his feet and angles incredibly well thanks to his wealth of experience in the Octagon. These skills allow Lawler to relentlessly punish his opponent with either his power combinations or crafty counter-strikes. However, people have questioned whether Lawler can sustain getting into these wars considering his wear and age.
“Ruthless” is basically a sprawl and brawler. He has solid defensive wrestling that is backed up by his willingness to punish opponents who shoot for his legs. Only rarely will you see him shoot for a takedown himself but he is capable of doing so.
Donald Cerrone (+130) has proven that he can still maintain the speed and pace he pushed at 155 pounds, but has developed much more power at 170. “Cowboy” is still, first and foremost, a master of distance who dictates the fight with his vicious leg kicks. When he is given the space to work and create while striking, Cerrone is able to carve up any opponent he faces. However, pressure has caused issues for Cerrone in the past, most recently against Jorge Masvidal.
Though often overlooked, Cerrone is also a submission ace with 16 career victories via sub. He is extremely active from the guard and always looks for the finish when the fight goes to the mat. He isn’t exactly a stud in terms of offensive wrestling but you can’t really take him down due to his length and typically long striking style.
This is a hard fight to predict. We don’t know what we are going to get from Lawler in this one, so I tend to think bettors should think dog or pass. Plus, Cerrone has a more complete skill set.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone (+130)
Jimi Manuwa vs Volkan Oezdemir
Jimi Manuwa (-185) is a lethal striker who combines his natural power with wonderful technical prowess. ‘Poster Boy’ has ended 15 of his 17 professional victories via knockout – 10 of them in the first round. One of the aspects of Manuwa’s game that goes overlooked due to his power is his fight IQ. Manuwa knows when to flurry, he knows when to lay off and he knows when to go to the body instead of head-hunting.
Aside from striking, Manuwa isn’t anything to write home about. His clinch game is pretty solid with a preference to work from a double-collar and land big knees and uppercuts. His defensive wrestling is serviceable but he is in over his head once his back touches the mat.
Since joining the UFC in February, Volkan Oezdemir (+150) is 2-0 and is ranked fifth in the light heavyweight division. The Swiss-born fighter is a meat-and-potatoes striker who throws at plenty of volume. Much like his opponent, Oezdemir is a knockout artist with 10 of his 14 career wins coming via knockout – thanks largely to his powerful left hand. When he really focuses and avoids brawling, Oezdemir can throw technical combinations but it seems rare.
In terms of grappling, you will rarely see Oezdemir using it offensively. He is a former kickboxer who wants to keep a fight upright. His grappling is built to be defensive and he has managed to not get taken down yet within the UFC. If he does get taken down, Oezdemir doesn’t really offer much and can get overwhelmed.
Oezdemir tends to get too sloppy behind his aggression. His strikes can be loose and Manuwa is the last fighter you want to do that against. My assumption is we see another highlight KO by Poster Boy.
Prediction: Jimi Manuwa (-185)