411’s MMA Roundtable Preview – UFC 210: Cormier vs. Johnson 2
UFC finally returns to Buffalo for the first time in 22 years for UFC 210! In the main event, Daniel Cormier defends the UFC light heavyweight championship against Anthony Johnson! In the co-main event, former middleweight champion Chris Weidman looks to get back in the win column when he fights Gegard Mousasi! At strawweight, unbeaten Cynthia Calvillo battles Pearl Gonzalez. Veterans collide at welterweight when Thiago Alves fights Charles Oliveira. Plus, Will Brooks vs. Charles Oliveira, and more!
THE PRELIMINARY CARD:
First four prelims on UFC Fight Pass, rest on Fox Sports 1.
Flyweight Bout: Jenel Lausa vs. Magomed Bibulatov
Robert Winfree: Magomed Bibulatov, Decision
Jeffrey Harris: Magomed Bibulatov, Decision
Dan Plunkett: Bibulatov, Decision
The staff picks Magomed Bibulatov, 3-0.
Bantamweight Bout: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Irene Aldana
Robert Winfree: Irene Aldana, Decision
Jeffrey Harris: Katlyn Chookagian, Decision
Dan Plunkett: Chookagian, Decision
The staff picks Katlyn Chookagian, 2-1.
Lightweight Bout: Josh Emmett vs. Desmond Green
Robert Winfree: Josh Emmett, Decision
Jeffrey Harris: Josh Emmett, Decision
Dan Plunkett: Green, Decision
The staff picks Josh Emmett, 2-1.
Lightweight Bout: Gregor Gillespie vs. Andrew Holbrook
Robert Winfree: Gregor Gillespie, Decision
Jeffrey Harris: Gregor Gillespie, Decision
Dan Plunkett: Gillespie, Decision
The staff picks Gregor Gillespie, 3-0.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Pat Cummins vs. Jan Blachowicz
Robert Winfree: Pat Cummins, TKO, Round 3
Jeffrey Harris: Jan Blachowicz, TKO, Round 3
Dan Plunkett: Cummins, Decision
The staff picks Pat Cummins, 2-1.
Featherweight Bout: Charles Rosa vs. Shane Burgos
Robert Winfree: Charles Rosa, Decision
Robert Winfree: Charles Rosa, Decision
Dan Plunkett: Burgos, Decision
The staff picks Charles Rosa, 2-1.
Welterweight Bout: Kamaru Usman vs. Sean Strickland
Robert Winfree: Kamaru Usman, Decision
Jeffrey Harris: Kamaru Usman, Decision
Dan Plunkett: Usman, Decision
The staff picks Kamaru Usman, 3-0.
Featherweight Bout: Myles Jury vs. Mike De La Torre
Note: Due to an editorial error, the staff wasn’t asked to pick this bout.
Dan Plunkett: Myles Jury, TKO, Round 1
THE MAIN CARD:
Lightweight Bout: Will Brooks vs. Charles Oliveira
Robert Winfree: This is a pretty pivotal fight for both of these guys. Will Brooks is coming off of his first loss in several years and that loss was very related to a rib injury he suffered in the fight, but there was a lot of hype behind him and if he drops two in a row it’ll be a tough road to get into title contention for him. Charles Oliveira is moving back to lightweight after missing weight at featherweight for the fourth time, he’s also on a two fight losing streak and if he drops another one her could either be cut or perpetually stuck in a low top fifteen position. Brooks is a big lightweight, especially through the lower body, and he loves to wear you down from the clinch or top position. Oliveira is a little more dynamic in the sense that he can fight from the outside and has a very good submission game, but his wrestling leaves a bit to be desired and he’s shown a bad habit of shooting for awkward takedowns when he’s uncomfortable with the way the striking is going. While Oliveira might be the better pure jiu-jitsu guy I think he’s going to struggle with the pace and physicality of Brooks and give up a decision, though if he makes a bad judgement call that leads to a finish again I wouldn’t be too shocked either.
Winner: Will Brooks, Decision
Jeffrey Harris: Charles Oliveira is a strange case. The man has had some outstanding performances in the UFC and some very exciting fights. However, he’s also really struggled in his years as a featherweight, missing weight for numerous fights. He’s had some fights where he looks like a million bucks, and others where he gets smashed. Will Brooks is a pretty well-rounded opponent, and I see him getting some momentum back here. Oliveira is very tough, and he has exceptional grappling. However, he also tends to break very easily. I see that happening with Brooks.
Winner: Will Brooks, Decision
Dan Plunkett: Oliveira has very sneakily already been in UFC for seven years. He’s very talented, a dynamic submission artist with competent standup. After a hit-or-miss run at featherweight highlighted by missing weight four times, I expect him to perform better at lightweight with a less strenuous weight cut. Brooks is very good; he’s a better wrestler and a bit better on the feet, and excels as the fight goes into deep waters. I like Brooks to take Oliviera the distance.
Winner: Brooks, Decision
The staff picks Will Brooks, 3-0.
Welterweight Bout: Thiago Alves vs. Patrick Cote
Robert Winfree: This should be a relatively fun striking battle. Thiago Alves is the more diverse striker, specifically his kicking game is much better than that of Cote, while Cote will be a little bigger and generally prefers to fight on the uglier side of things. I can easily see either man winning this, Cote could impose his physicality and keep the fight close enough to stifle the offense of Alves in a similar way to Rick Story, but I think he’ll try striking at distance a little too much and Alves will make him pay for that.
Winner: Thiago Alves, Decision
Jeffrey Harris I think this is a decent fight. Thiago Alves returns to welterweight here after a failed bid to make a run at lightweight that ended miserably for him. Both men are experienced UFC veterans. However, Thiago Alves has never been able to reach his former heights when he became a title contender eight years ago. Both men are strong with their striking and kickboxing. Cote has actually done pretty well for himself after he came back to the UFC a few years ago. He also was having a decent run at welterweight until his loss to Donald Cerrone last June. I like Cote here. Alves is still very dangerous. However, I think wear and tear is setting in, and he’s past his prime. We shall see here. Regardless, I’m hoping for a fun back and forth battle here at least, unless both men are too cautious and simply fight not to lose.
Winner: Thiago Alves, Decision
Dan Plunkett: This could be a fun brawl with fighters that have seen better days. Alves has lost his last two, while Cote is returning after Donald Cerrone curtailed his three-fight win streak 10 months ago. Cote, even at 37, packs the better punch, but Alves is a brutal kicker, which should slow Cote down. I think Alves takes a close fight.
Winner: Alves, Decision
The staff picks Thiago Alves, 3-0.
Strawweight Bout: Cynthia Calvillo vs. Pearl Gonzalez
Robert Winfree: Cynthia Calvillo has fought for the UFC before while I know nothing about Pearl Gonzalez. That’s primarily what I’m basing this pick on, this is an odd addition to a ppv main card. That said nothing in this fight should surprise anyone, these are both developing fighters.
Winner: Cynthia Calvillo, Decision
Jeffrey Harris: This is a pretty insane and quick turnaround for Cynthia Calvillo. She just fought last month at UFC 209, where she submitted Amanda Cooper three minutes into the first round. I guess the lack of damage was enough for her to have a quick turnaround here. Pearl Gonzalez makes her Octagon debut here. She has three more fights than Calvillo, but that doesn’t always make a difference. I’m bucking on the strength of Calvillo’s performance at UFC 209. But, we’ll see how she does with such a quick return from her last fight.
Winner: Cynthia Calvillo, Decision
Dan Plunkett: This was a late addition to the card last month after Calvillo made short work of Amanda Cooper. A Team Alpha Male product, Calvillo will likely grapple her way to another victory.
Winner: Calvillo, Submission, Round 2
The staff picks Cynthia Calvillo, 3-0.
Middleweight Bout: Chris Weidman vs. Gegard Mousasi
Robert Winfree: It’s a little crazy to think that this is a do or die fight for Chris Weidman, but it kind of is. The former middleweight champion is on a two fight losing streak, and he took a fair amount of damage in those losses, when you combine that with the injuries he’s had to deal with over his career the years and miles of fighting might be catching up to him. Plus the accumulated damage, that close of round 3 against Rockhold and the massive knee from Romero, make this a very dangerous fight for Weidman. Weidman is still a good fighter, he’s one of the better pressure based fighters and his MMA grappling is quite good. Gegard Mousasi is one of the most well rounded fighters in the sport, able to fight at all distances effectively and dangerous at all of them. Mousasi has a sniping jab and good striking game, he could counter the pressure of Weidman effectively, and his grappling game, particularly from top position, is good. Mousasi’s biggest struggle has been against guys who can either beat him technically or force him into an area where he is at a disadvantage. Mousasi has also struggled a bit with superior wrestlers and men who are physically larger than he is, and that’s primarily why I’m leaning towards Weidman. I wont be surprised at all if Mousasi wins here, he’s that good and Weidman might have already peaked athletically, but the pressure that Weidman can bring combined with his style having been a tad problematic for Mousasi has me leaning his way.
Winner: Chris Weidman, Decision
Jeffrey Harris: I’m really high on Gegard Mousasi going into this fight. Sometimes, Mousasi doesn’t always seem properly motivated or even prepared for his fights, but he’s been looking exceptional lately. Chris Weidman meanwhile is 0-2 before this bout, and desperately needs a win. I really like Mousasi here. He tends to do well against wrestlers, and I think that will be the case here. Weidman can sometimes get a little reckless with his standup game, and that’s where I think Mousasi will make him pay.
Winner: Gegard Mousasi, TKO, Round 2
Dan Plunkett: This is an excellent fight. I think it boils down to Mousasi’s ability to defend takedowns. Historically, takedown defense hasn’t been his strong suit, and Weidman was able to, albeit briefly, get Olympian Yoel Romero to the floor in November. I slightly lean toward Weidman here.
Winner: Weidman, Decision
The staff picks Chris Weidman, 2-1.
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship Bout: Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson
Robert Winfree: These two had a decent fight the first time around, and that was on short notice for both men so I’m interested to see what they can do with adequate preparation for each other. Anthony Johnson came close to winning their first fight, but when he dropped Cormier he got too aggressive and wound up closing distance for Cormier who then was able to clinch up and wear him out en route to a third round submission after Johnson wilted under the physical pressure and pace that Cormier brought to him. I’m not sure that Johnson has fixed the issues in his game that Cormier exploited the first time around, he’s still not known for conditioning and while he’s obliterated two elite light heavyweights since that loss he hasn’t been put in the same kinds of positions that Cormier put him in and proved he can adapt and overcome them. On a tactical note Johnson would be well advised to add in more body work this time around, it might help keep the cardio on a more even playing field and Cormier doesn’t like getting hit to the body. Johnson needs to remain reserved here as well, he can’t get wild looking for a finish as he tried that the first time around and it didn’t work out. Cormier needs to do a better job of keeping his chin tucked and hands in proper position this time, the times that Johnson connected on him in their first fight were when Cormier tried to exit a combination or engagement with his lead hand out to keep distance and his chin coming up. Beyond that it’s mostly closing distance safely and forcing Johnson to work and get tired. I wont be surprised if Johnson wins, he’s added a few tools to his striking kit and brings such murderous power that you can never count him out of anything. But beyond landing those first few blows cleaner and getting a finish I’m not sure what will go different this time around, so I’m picking the same result.
Winner: Daniel Cormier, Submission, Round 3
Jeffrey Harris: Anthony Johnson hits like a freight train. However, he hit Cormier with his best shot the first time around and couldn’t stop him. Not to mention, Cormier’s exceptional wrestling is a particular weakness for Johnson. It’s just that I remember the first fight, the way Cormier broke and caused Johnson to mentally quit in the first round with those elbow strikes and his ground and pound. I see this being pretty much the same. Now, could I see Johnson using his boxing to defeat Cormier? Yes. But Cormier also has a pretty good chin. Cormier dominates Johnson and causes the fight to get stopped late into the fight or has a dominant decision.
Winner: Daniel Cormier, TKO, Round 4
Dan Plunkett: Although Jon Jones will be outside the cage, I sense this light heavyweight title fight has a rare air of importance surrounding it. Two years ago, Daniel Cormier took advantage when Anthony Johnson overextended himself and was able to get inside, grind Johnson down, and eventually finish him. Every moment that fight remained standing was gripping, because Johnson was throwing punches and kicks with cruel intentions, while Cormier just needed to avoid those bombs – not a simple task – and get a good grip in order to gain control. This time around, I suspect we will see a more patient Anthony Johnson, a counter striker like the one we saw dominate Phil Davis a few years ago. If Johnson doesn’t go for broke, I think Cormier will have a hard time getting in close enough for those takedowns, and he won’t be able to out-strike Johnson from a distance. It may only take one wrong move from Johnson and one right one from Cormier for the champion to take advantage, make Johnson carry his weight, and never look back. However, I lean toward Johnson here.
Winner: Johnson, KO, Round 3
The staff picks Daniel Cormier, 2-1.
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