The Size Up – UFC 214: Cormier vs. Jones 2

Main Event – Light Heavyweight Title – Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones

Jones Notable Fights: Daniel Cormier (W), Shogun Rua (W), Alexander Gustafsson (W), Lyoto Machida (W).

Cormier Notable Fights: Jon Jones (L), Anthony Johnson (2W), Josh Barnett (W), Alexander Gustafsson (W).

Jones Stat: He has won every fight since 2013 by unanimous decision.

Cormier Stat: He has wins over UFC MW, LHW & HW champs, a PRIDE WW/MW/Strikeforce LHW champ, an EliteXC HW champ & a WBA HW boxing champ.

The Match Up

As one of the most anticipated re-matches in the history of MMA, Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones gives us a spectacular combination of story-line and competition. Cormier, the champion only because Jones was stripped, enters the fight looking for revenge, while the challenger, Jones, is seeking career rehabilitation after two years of turmoil.

Since losing to Jones in 2015, a fight he entered with a 15-0 record, Cormier has taken out the consensus #3 and #4 in the division, Anthony Johnson (twice) and Alexander Gustafsson and looked more at ease as champion with every passing minute.

For Jones (22-1) the time since that first fight has been altogether less successful. Upon his return to action following well documented run-ins with the law Jones captured an interim title against Ovince St-Preux when Daniel Cormier pulled up injured before UFC 197. But he did so in a manner which wasn’t nearly as impressive as his usual imperious performance level. That win was supposed to set up a fight between Jones and Cormier at UFC 200 but a USADA violation saw Jones pulled from the bout. Instead, they fight for the second time on Saturday.

So let’s talk about that first fight. The most surprising thing to many watching was Daniel Cormier’s ability, early on at least, to get inside on Jones. Usually, Jones uses his extraordinarily long limbs to jab and kick you in such a way that forcing it inside is nearly impossible. But Cormier still did it.

The only problem was, he ended up losing most of the battles on the inside. He had some very nice displays of dirty boxing but Jones answered back extremely well with punches and elbows of his own. Jones also won much of the clinch game and didn’t allow Cormier, the former Olympic wrestler, to take him down in any meaningful way. In fact, Jones took him down on a few occasions. When it did manage to get loose on the outside Jones also had a lot of success, especially with body and head kicks, while Cormier did better than anyone Jones has faced before.

The Pick

Coming into the second fight on Saturday I expect a very similar situation to unfold. Jones hitting from the outside, Cormier pushing the pace hard, loads of clinching, titanic battles in close and serious attempts at wresting. The last part of that is the most important for Daniel Cormier. No matter how well the rest of it goes, he needs to win the wrestling battle this time if he wants to get the win.

That was Cormier’s obvious downfall in the first fight but the way he got inside on Jones was as obviously bad for his opponent in looking ahead to a rematch. Jones will be looking to change that here too and stop Cormier from getting inside with his pressure. He won that game the last time but won’t want to make it a part of the outcome this time around.

Look for a lot more movement from Jones at distance so as not to make himself an easy target, with plenty of kicks to the oft-injured knee of Cormier in accompaniment. That distance battle will decide whether this fight is a close one, or a blowout for Jones.

For me, I think it’ll be closer than the first on the inside because Cormier will use the opportunities better but I think Jones will lessen those opportunities by not letting DC in nearly as much. Cormier might not get too many takedowns but he will be more aware that control in that area and against the cage will be huge. He knows keeping his belt relies on it and he will be desperate to keep it as close as possible and out of Jones’ favoured long range.

With that said, it’s one thing being desperate to do something and another thing actually doing it. Even if Cormier improves in close, unless the time out has changed Jones in a big way, I still think it might not be enough. Jones always has rounds 4 and 5 in him due to his superior cardio, especially against Cormier, and it’s very hard to imagine how “DC” wins the first three. However it goes, this one will be a classic battle. It might not deliver the “just bleed” sort of excitement but expect one of the most technically gripping fights ever seen inside the Octagon. But in the end I think it will be another Jones unanimous decision win.

Co-Main Event – Welterweight Title – Tyron Woodley vs. Demian Maia

Woodley Notable Fights: Stephen Thompson (1W, 1D), Robbie Lawler (W), Rory MacDonald (L).

Maia Notable Fights: Jorge Masvidal (W), Rory MacDonald (L), Carlos Condit (W)

Woodley Stat: He has never lost by submission.

Maia Stat: He has only been finished once in his MMA career, 8 years ago.

The Match Up

In the immediate aftermath of the Georges St-Pierre welterweight reign, it took a while for the division to settle down. Johny Hendricks had a short run as champion, Robbie Lawler held the strap for a couple of defences too; but it has really been Tyron Woodley who has brought some stability back to the division. Something which Demian Maia will want to scupper when the pair meet in the co-main event on Saturday night.

In fact, it has been long overdue for Maia to get this shot. He was unlucky to lose out to Stephen Thompson initially and was further hurt by Wonderboy’s rematch with champion Woodley after the pair drew their first encounter. But now, his time has come and he looks to become the first Brazilian ever to hold the UFC welterweight belt.

As a fight, this is a pretty simple one to understand.

Demian Maia will be extremely careful on the feet, he’ll throw at a tiny output and put everything into getting the fight to the ground. In recent times he has improved greatly in terms of takedowns in all areas including double legs, single legs and against the fence. But it’s his timing that makes all the difference. His ability to detect a movement and jump on it to get the fight to the floor is second to none in the division, and maybe even the UFC. If it gets to the floor he also has arguably the best jiu-jitsu of anyone competing in MMA today.

Woodley, on the other hand, will be less single-minded in terms of where he wants the fight to play out. He has strong wrestling and could certainly take Maia down if he wanted; although he likely won’t. While on the feet he should have a huge advantage. As a tactical and technical striker, Woodley may be the most improved in the UFC over the last few years. Add that to his ungodly power and you have a very, very difficult task for anyone.

The Pick

This fight comes down totally and utterly to whether Maia can get it to the floor. If Maia gets a takedown, he can win. If Woodley gets a takedown, Maia can win. If he doesn’t go to the floor, Maia can’t win. It’s as simple as that really.

So the question is will it go to the floor? For me, the answer is no. I think Woodley has stronger wrestling than Maia and will keep it standing for as long as he needs to get the finish. And in my opinion, that won’t be over two rounds.

Women’s Featherweight Title – Cris “Cyborg” Justino vs. Tonya Evinger

Cyborg Notable Fights: Marloes Coenen (2W), Gina Carano (W), Leslie Smith (W).

Evinger Notable Fights: Julie Kedzie (W), Alexis Davis (2L), Irene Aldana (W)

Cyborg Stat: Every fight of hers in the UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta has ended in KO/TKO. (1 overturned to a no-contest)

Evinger Stat: She has never been knocked out in 25 pro fights.

The Match Up

The third title fight of the night sees the much maligned women’s featherweight title up for grabs as long time pound-for-pound Queen Cris Cyborg takes on UFC debutante Tonya Evinger. The pair fight for the title after the inaugural champion Germaine De Randamie was stripped due to her reluctance to accept a fight against Cyborg following her win against Holly Holm. Initially, Cyborg was supposed to fight for the vacant strap against Meagan Anderson but that fell through due to a personal matter.

For Evinger, this fight came as a welcome surprise for the Invicta champion who has been improving in her performances and results for the last few years. And in a way, it was somewhat unexpected for Cyborg too following a long period of torture where the UFC were attempting to get her down to bantamweight to fight Ronda Rousey et al. But now, at her proper weight of 145 lbs, against a worthy opponent, we can finally see the Brazilian legend fighting where she should have been all along.

When breaking down Cris Cyborg fights, it really is a tough task not to portray her as basically unbeatable. Because quite frankly, she’s as close to that as anyone we’ve ever seen once they reached the top level of MMA.

She is a ferocious striker with power in both hands. Her combinations are extremely quick and usually get unleashed immediately after the first bell. She jabs well and throws vicious backhands behind it before attacking the body at regular intervals. Her kicks are also varied and magnificent while her defence is steadily improving and now on the way to matching her offense, despite her high output attacks. She has good takedown defence too and uses her strength to get on top where she has more frightening weapons when grounding and pounding.

Evinger is obviously nowhere near the same level but she is arguably the best fighter Cyborg could face if you take out the women in the UFC’s bantamweight division right now. She isn’t the most decorated striker in the world but she does pack a punch with her wild overhand which she hides well. And the reason why it’s hidden well is because most of Evinger’s strikes are thrown to close the distance, get inside and tie up. She likes to come up high with strikes before changing levels for doubles and singles but her best way of getting it to the floor is usually by bull-rushing forward and getting the clinch. From there, she uses her strength and trips to take it to the floor where she has an extremely strong top game and good attacks with both submissions and strikes.

The Pick

For Evinger to win this fight she’ll need to close the distance without taking too much damage, tie Cyborg up, take her down and either finish her or repeat this steps round after round.

Realistically, that’s not going to happen.

I do think Evinger will get a clinch at some stage and may even have some good moments or drag it past the first round. In the end, Cyborg will be just too strong, quick and hard-hitting.

Welterweight – Robbie Lawler vs. Donald Cerrone

Lawler Notable Fights: Carlos Condit (W), Tyron Woodley (L), Rory MacDonald (2W)

Cerrone Notable Fights: Eddie Alvarez (W), Jorge Masvidal (L), Edson Barboza (W)

Lawler Stat: This will be his 40th MMA fight.

Cerrone Stat: This will be his 25th UFC fight in 6 years

The Pick: I think Lawler‘s power will be too much for Cerrone.

Additional Picks

Light Heavyweight Jimi Manuwa vs. Volkan Oezdemir – Manuwa

Featherweight Ricardo Lamas vs. Jason Knight – Knight
Catchweight (140 lbs) Aljamain Sterling vs. Renan Barão – Sterling
Featherweight Brian Ortega vs. Renato Moicano – Moicano
Featherweight Andre Fili vs. Calvin Kattar – Fili

Women’s Strawweight Kailin Curran vs. Alexandra Albu – Albu
Flyweight Eric Shelton vs. Jarred Brooks – Brooks
Lightweight Josh Burkman vs. Drew Dober – Dober

Bet Of The Week

Cyborg KO in round 2 at 13/2.

Start Times

Early Prelims – 11.30pm on Fight Pass

Prelims -1am on BT Sport 2 and Fight Pass

Main Card – 3am on BT Sport 2

Big thanks to John Sheehan for the headline artwork. Follow him on twitter @johnsportraits

You can listen to further analysis on this week’s episode of The Severe MMA Podcast below:

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook

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