UFC 210: Cormier vs. Johnson 2 Main Card preview and predictions

UFC 210 is well underway, and the Fight pass prelims delivered as they usually do. The FS1 prelims are a solid slate, and honestly, should deliver good action as well.

However, this article is not about the prelims. No, this one is about the main card, for which the price tag is $60. The headliner features the long-awaited Light Heavyweight title rematch between Anthony  Johnson, and the man who defeated him to win the belt in May 2015, Daniel Cormier. The fight’s garnered some controversy of late, due to Cormier initially failing to make weight yesterday, before getting a chance to weigh in once again, due to NYSAC rules. Add in the towel fiasco during the second weigh in attempt, amongst other things, and it’s easy to see why so many people are rooting for Johnson to take the win.

In the co-main event of the evening, a pair of top-5 Middleweights will look to climb towards the title shot. Sadly, aside from that, the PPV isn’t one that warrants the purchase price, unless a notable main and co-main event is all that it takes for one to be convinced of spending $60 of a five-fight slate. The middle fight of the PPV, which is usually a title eliminator or very high-profile fight, features two female Strawweight prospects that have a combined one UFC fight prior to this. The first two bouts on the slate are a pair of good fights amongst veterans, so whether the card is worth buying or not is very subjective in this case. It’s by no means a must-buy card, but it is a slate with some fights worth watching. Either way, here are my predictions for tonight’s five-fight main card slate.

UFC 210 Main Card (10/9c, PPV)

Will Brooks (19-2) vs. Charles Oliveira (21-7, 1 NC)

The first bout on a PPV should be a fun fight that can get the crowd hot. In that sense, it makes perfect sense to have Oliveira opening up the main card. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt has finished 19 of his 21 career wins, including 13 via submission. He’s had 15 fights end in the opening round, and has won fights with anaconda chokes and even a reverse calf slicer since joining the UFC nearly seven years ago! He has many notable wins in his career, and has eight post-fight bonuses in his career. That said, he’s 8-7 with a  no contest since joining the promotion, and he’s lost three of his last four, all via finish. Now he’s back at Lightweight, and if he loses, he could potentially get cut soon.

As for Brooks, the former Bellator Lightweight Champion has only lost twice in his career, both via knockout. His first loss came against Saad Awad in Bellator back in February 2013, and he reeled off nine straight wins before losing a foul-filled bout against Alex Oliveira (no relation to Charles) last October. While he’s finished ten fights, six via knockout and four via submission, he’s mostly a wrestler who tends to go the distance. Prior to his last bout, seven of his last eight had gone the distance, and that will likely happen in this fight too.

I like Brooks, I really do. However, the thought of Oliveira getting cut is a really sad one. Seeing how he has a history of missing weight, losing for the fourth time in five fights really could spell for his release. That’s why, even though I think Brooks will likely win, I’ll root for Oliveira. Head pick: Brooks via decision. Heart pick: Oliveira via crazy submission, round 2.

 Patrick Cote (23-10) vs. Thiago Alves (21-11)

Sometimes, a fight comes along that makes you ask, “how have these two never fought each other?” Well, this is one of those. Cote’s first UFC stint went from November 2006 to late 2010, and his current stint began in July 2012. Since returning, he is 6-3, and in all, the triple black belt (Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai) has ten knockout wins, three submission wins, nine decision wins and also a DQ victory.

As for Alves, the once feared striker has only fought four times since early 2012. Once a title challenger against Georges St. Pierre, the scrappy veteran has only finished one fight since mid-2008. He’s also lost his last two fights, and desperately needs a win. He may have 12 knockout wins, and a 13-8 record in the promotion since joining the UFC in late 2005, but he’s clearly in the twilight of his career.

At the end of the day, this is a really tough fight to call. Both men have finished more fights than not, but often go the distance these days. Cote has been more active, has more qualifications, but less power. This could wind up being a sneaky good fight, and I hope that’s exactly what it winds up being. An Alves win would be quite awesome to see, but picking against Cote, even though he got finished by Donald Cerrone, is not very wise. I’ll go with conventional wisdom and pick Cote to win, even though an upset would be a welcomed surprise. Prediction: Cote via decision. 

Cynthia Calvillo (4-0) vs. Pearl Gonzalez (6-1)

The first two fights, as well as the last two fights of the PPV slate are pretty good and sensible. What isn’t sensible is having two relatively  unknown women who have  a combined one UFC fight, are both prospects, and should be on a televised card, on a PPV slate that costs $60.  For goodness sakes, until the implants fiasco involving Gonzalez yesterday, most people had no idea who either woman was! It’s a good fight and should be fun, but for it to cost money to be viewed? That’s not smart.

But that’s a different story. As for the fight itself, Calvillo is 4-0 with three finishes, hails from the noted Team Alpha Male, trains alongside a woman who was a major prospect who got a massive push in Paige Vanzant, and clearly the UFC is trying to replicate that here, in a different way. Two fights in the UFC, both on the main card of a PPV? That’s fishy.

Gonzalez is very tough though. She’s very scrappy, has won six straight bouts since losing her pro debut, has finished five of her six victories, has never been finished, and has four submission wins. She’s not as powerful as Calvillo, but I have a gut feeling that she’ll lock on to a limb during this fight, and pull off a shocking submission that will stun the masses. Prediction: Gonzalez via submission, round 2. 

(5) Gegard Mousasi (41-6-2) vs. (4) Chris Weidman (13-2)

In the co-main event, a pair of top-five Middleweights will battle to see who’s better. The reason i say that is because this is the final fight on Mousasi’s contract, and it sounds like he’ll be walking away after the fight.

Weidman began his career unbeaten, going 13-0 with nine of those wins coming via finish. During that stretch, he ended Anderson Silva’s historic Middleweight title run, and defended the UFC Middleweight title multiple times, before losing his last two fights. His first loss came against Luke Rockhold following a mistimed spinning wheel kick in December 2015, and then he lost a fight against Yoel Romero last November, in a fight he was doing well in before succumbing to a flying knee in the third round. If he loses tonight, it’ll take a notable win streak for the former NCAA Division 1 wrestler and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt to get another title fight.

As for Mousasi, the Judo black belt has fought several times for promotions including PRIDE FC and Strikeforce. He’s a very active fighter, having fought at least three times a year every year since 2003, aside from 2011 and 2012. In many different years, he’s fought five times, has never had a losing streak, is 8-3 in the UFC, has finished 34 of his 41 victories, and definitely belongs in the UFC. And yet, he might be leaving after this fight, since the UFC is lowballing him.

Honestly, this is a tough fight to pick. Both fighters have power, are finishers, have great ground games and are amongst the elite in the sport. Weidman probably wins this fight. However, the thought of Mousasi losing his final fight in his UFC contract and then leaving the company does not sit well with me. If he really is done with the company after this fight, I hope he goes with an active five-fight winning streak. Prediction: Mousasi via decision or late tko. 

 

UFC Light Heavyweight Championship: 

(1) Anthony Johnson (22-5) vs. (c) Daniel Cormier (18-1)

In the main event of the evening, Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson will finally have their rematch. In their first fight back in May 2015, Johnson landed some brutal shots that nearly finished Cormier, but wound up getting submitted in the third round of a very good fight.

Since then, Johnson has knocked out Jimi Manuwa, Ryan Bader and Glover Texeira, the latter two in a minute and 26 seconds and then 13 seconds, and winning Performance of the Night bonuses for each fight. He’s won a combined 16 fights via knockout, including 12 in the first round, and is 12-1 since January 2012. He’s actually got good wrestling to his credit, and he’s also got brutal kicks. He usually wins due to punches, but he can win via headkick too. Long story short, even though his antics outside the octagon can be frowned upon, he’s still a very good and skilled fighter, much more than he’s given credit for.

As for Cormier, things haven’t been nearly as smooth since winning the title. Since getting the belt, DC barely edged out Alexander Gustaffson in his first title defense in October 2015, had his rematch with Jon Jones scrapped the week of the fight last July, fought safe yet still got outstruck by an old Anderson Silva, has sustained injuries, is 38-years-old, and basically missed weight for this fight at the weigh-ins yesterday. He’s getting older, has an injury history, and it really feels like things are about to change. Sure, he’s the better wrestler in this fight, and him winning shouldn’t come as a shock. However, all signs point to a title change, and I feel like Johnson will find a way to land the shots to end the fight this time. He’ll get smothered early on, and maybe he will wind up losing again. Something tells me that he’ll find a way to win though, so I’ll say that he will. Prediction: Johnson via knockout, late round 1. 

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