UFC 210 proved to be another underwhelming pay-per-view event. Gegard Mousasi vs Chris Weidman ended prematurely after Weidman (unsuccessfully) tried to goad Mousasi into landing an illegal knee, and Daniel Cormier vs Anthony Johnson quickly became a one-sided affair in Cormier’s favor. Ironically, it’s forgettable nature may prove its most memorable quality.
That means we’re due for some excitement at UFC 211 (May 13), right? Even if you don’t believe in the ebb-and-flow concept, one look at the main card will fill you with hope that it will be a more entertaining affair. For starters, two heavy-handed heavyweights, Stipe Miocic and Junior Dos Santos, will slug it out for the belt. In the co-main event, dominant strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk meets Jessica Andrade, a woman taking the division by storm.
Even the undercard is stacked with two very interesting fights: the young, flashy striker, Yair Rodriguez (10-1), takes on veteran wrestler Frankie Edgar (21-5-1); and the hard-hitting Jorge Masvidal (32-11) takes on submission-artist Demian Maia (24-6).
But let’s save the lesser fights for another day and take a closer look at the title bouts.
Stipe Miocic (-175) vs. Junior Dos Santos (+155)
Stipe Miocic (16-2) makes his second title defense against the fourth-ranked heavyweight in the UFC, Junior Dos Santos (18-4). The two fought back in 2014 when they headlined UFC on Fox 13 and Dos Santos issued Miocic his second career defeat.
A lot has changed since. Miocic went on to win his next four fights, including a title shot and a title defense. He fought three times in 2016, ending each one in the first round. Meanwhile, Dos Santos has been pretty inactive these last few years, fighting just twice since 2014. First, he was TKOed by Alistair Overeem in December 2015. Last April, he earned a unanimous decision over Ben Rothwell, bettering his record to a mediocre 3-3 in his last six.
The heavyweight division holds some fierce competition for Miocic, but Dos Santos isn’t the most threatening. His title shot is a product of his history with Miocic and scheduling considerations with the division’s other top contenders, like Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem, who will square off against each other in July.
Despite their past history, Miocic is a deserving favorite and the best bet is that he will make another successful title defense over the rusty and past-his-prime Dos Santos.
Pick: Stipe Miocic (-175)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (-170) vs. Jessica Andrade (+150)
The women’s bantamweight title changed hands three times in three fights in 2015 and 2016, but the women’s strawweight division has been much more stable. Since claiming the title in early 2015, Joanna Jedrzejczyk (13-0) has successfully defended her belt four times.
She puts her title on the line for the fifth time against Jessica Andrade (16-5), the third-ranked strawweight in the UFC. Five losses (three in the UFC) looks like a lot on the surface for Andrade. But the 25-year-old spent the early part of her career fighting women much larger than herself. She did that out of necessity since the UFC didn’t have a strawweight division for her to contend in at first. Since moving to strawweight at UFC 199, she’s undefeated (3-0) with one submission, one TKO, and one decision.
Jedrzejczyk had a closer-than-expected fight last time out against the second-ranked women’s strawweight, Karolina Kowalkiewicz. She still managed to win by unanimous decision, though, and is arguably the best women’s pound-for-pound fighter at the moment. The Brazilian Andrade is dangerous, especially as a grappler (seven career submissions). But Jedrzejczyk is in a class of her own in the strawweight division. Her Muay Thai style has overwhelmed the bulk of her opponents and, while Andrade may not be overwhelmed, she doesn’t have the stand-up game to compete.
Pick: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (-170)
Photo credit: Martial Arts Nomad [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
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