It’s been some time since we’ve had a truly exciting UFC event, and the MMA world can finally stop waiting. UFC 214 (July 29th, Anaheim, CA) is stacked to the brim with blockbuster fights. If the card remains intact, which is far from guaranteed, we’ll be seeing three titles up for grabs.
Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino makes her long-awaited return to contest the vacant women’s featherweight championship against UFC newcomer Tonya Evinger. Tyron Woodley defends his welterweight title against Demian Maia in what will be a grappling masterclass. And, if the MMA gods are willing, the bitter rematch between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier will finally take place.
Also on the card is an interesting match-up between Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone, as well as a showdown between light heavyweights Jimi Manuwa and Volkan Oezdemir.
You can get my picks on the two big fights (Jones vs Cormier; Woodley vs Maia) below. You’ve still got two weeks to make your wagers at any of the top online casinos, but if you like the lines as they currently stand, don’t wait too long, because they can and will shift as the fight-date approaches.
The grudge rematch between Jon Jones (22-1) and Daniel Cormier (19-1) is the planned headliner for UFC 214, but let’s not count our chickens before they hatch. The rematch has fallen through twice before, and while Jones is one of the most clinical fighters inside of the octagon, he’s one of the most unreliable outside of it.
Jones opened as the favorite and the line has only moved in his favor since. He’s arguably the greatest fighter the sport has ever seen, so that’s not particularly surprising. However, he hasn’t stepped inside the octagon in over a year, and the last time he did, it wasn’t a great performance.
At his best, Jones stands high above anyone else in the division. But we can’t be sure of Jones’ form. Meanwhile, Cormier has been active and reliable while Jones has been battling with legal, personal, and drug issues. He trounced Anthony Johnson in his last appearance and defeated Anderson Silva in a boring but efficient fight before that.
Jones is an amazing striker with phenomenal takedown defense and stamina for days. Cormier is a world-class wrestler with an iron chin and an unrivaled work ethic. My heart is siding with Jones but my head loves the value on Cormier, given the question marks that surround “Bones.”
Pick: Daniel Cormier (+245)
After two mind-numbingly boring title fights against Stephen Thompson, Tyron Woodley (17-3-1) is putting his title on the line against submission artist Demian Maia (25-6).
Maia might be the greatest grappler to ever set foot in the UFC octagon, but in order to close the distance against Woodley and put those skills to use, he’ll have to avoid some of the most ferocious striking in the welterweight division.
That doesn’t mean you should write Maia off; he survived three rounds against a hard-hitting Jorge Masvidal, and was able to neutralize Masvidal’s striking by getting close and taking the fight to the ground. Getting Woodley on the mat will be insanely difficult, but the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist has an extensive record of taking down experienced wrestlers.
Woodley is the younger, stronger fighter, and Maia is taking this fight on short notice just two months after his last bout. Maia has defied the odds a number of times, though, and again I like the value on the underdog.
Pick: Demian Maia (+134)
Featured image: Martial Arts Nomad (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/]
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