CURRENT RECORD: 84-45-1
After a long three week break, the UFC returns with its most talent filled card of the year. UFC 211 will take place at the American Airline Centre in Dallas, Texas. Headlining this jam packed card is a heavyweight title fight between current champion Stipe Miocic and former champion Junior dos Santos. The pairing met previously in December 2014, with Junior Dos Santos doing enough to win on the judges’ scorecards. That loss became the catalyst for Stipe Miocic who bounced back with two consecutive knockout victories before claiming the belt at UFC 198. Acting as co-main event will be a strawweight title fight between the undefeated champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and the in-form Jessica Andrade. Elsewhere on this card, there is a host of stand-out fights to feast upon including; Demian Maia and Jorge Masvidal, Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, Henry Cejudo and Sergio Pettis, while Krzysztof Jotko takes on Dave Branch. An unmissable night of fights, so be sure to be tuned in so you don’t miss out.
As always, I will now break down all the main card fights, give my predictions and of course, put my own “Armchair Expert” title on the line.
STIPE MIOCIC vs. JUNIOR dos SANTOS
Champion Stipe Miocic comes into this fight on the back of a four fight win streak, winning all but one by first round knockout. Miocic silenced Brazil when putting Fabricio Werdum to the sword at UFC 198 to claim the belt; he has since tightened his grip on the prized possession with a follow up demolition of Alistair Overeem. But if he is to continue his dominance he will need to overcome the last man to hand him a defeat inside the octagon. Junior dos Santos is one of the heavyweight elite; a former champion who is aiming to win the belt for a second time. JDS has fought and beat some of the best the division has to offer but since relinquishing his belt to Cain Velasquez at UFC 155, he has alternated between wins and losses. “Cigano” last fought over a year ago when beating Ben Rothwell, prior to that he was defeated via TKO by Alistair Overeem. The manner in which he lost that fight means questions still remain over the sturdiness of his chin; something Miocic will be sure to test.When this pair originally met, they traded shots for five rounds with JDS getting the upper hand. I expect this time around things will go slightly differently, I don’t think Miocic will want to feel the power of JDS too often so he will be more aware of keeping his distance. He will test the chin of dos Santos and I’m sure if the knockout doesn’t come then he will have done enough by the end of the five rounds to claim it on the scorecards.
Miocic by decision.
JOANNA JEDRZEJCZYK vs. JESSICA ANDRADE
What is there to say about Joanna Jedrzejczyk that hasn’t already been said? She has lightning quick hands, is dangerous in a clinch, has a gas tank that’ll last for days and her takedown defence has steadily improved. Joanna Champion is one of the best (if not the best) in women’s mixed martial arts. Joanna Champion has faced the best the strawweight division has to offer but on Saturday she may face her stiffest test to date. Jessica Andrade is a dangerous Brazilian with a solid all round game and despite being only twenty five; she has assembled an impressive record of 16-5. Andrade spent most of her career fighting at bantamweight with mixed success but since cutting down to the 115lbs division she has been on a tear. Defeating notable challengers like Jessica Penne, Joanne Calderwood and most recently Angela Hill, to earn herself a title shot. Andrade is a genuine threat to the champion’s title and undefeated record; if she can turn this into a scramble and take it to the floor she could put the champ in danger. But Joanna Jedrzejczyk is at this level for a reason and I believe her greater work rate and volume of strikes will be enough to see her over the line.
Jedrzejczyk by decision.
DEMIAN MAIA vs. JORGE MASVIDAL
Demian Maia is quite possibly next in line for a shot at the welterweight belt but instead of standing idle, he has opted to take on vicious striker Jorge Masvidal. Maia has been around the sport a long time, debuting back in 2001 and now at 39, the submission specialist is still at the top of his game. While being a master of the ground game, the one weakness Demian Maia has shown throughout his career has always been on the feet and this could again be exposed against someone as deadly as Jorge Masvidal. “Gamebred” popularity has hit new heights in recent times, particularly when recording consecutive TKO victories a month apart in December and January. Masvidal is a former streetfighter with a notorious striking skill. He has showed vast improvements in his takedown defence; something he will have no doubt drilled throughout his training camp. A victory here for Masvidal would be massive and it could propel him into title contention. This fight ultimately boils down to a striker versus a grappler and the deciding factor for picking a winner could lie with Masvidal’s much improved takedown defence. If Maia can’t get him down, then the advantage swings toward Masvidal. Everything is pointing towards “Gamebred” snatching a victory here. But I still maintain that Masvidal has never had to deal with as talented a grappler as Maia, therefore, I’m going with Maia to lock in a submission and bring a stuttering halt to the Masvidal hype train.
Maia by submission.
FRANKIE EDGAR vs. YAIR RODRIGUEZ
This fight could be viewed as a cross roads fight for both of these fighters. Victory here for Yair Rodriquez would be his biggest scalp to date and continue his rapid rise, while a win for Edgar would show he is still relevant to the featherweight division and that he remains in the title frame. Frankie Edgar is a former lightweight champion and a veteran of the sport. “The Answer” is a cardio machine and constantly pushes the pace in a fight. Despite his small stature, he possesses incredible strength and quick strikes and along with his wrestling background, Edgar is a tough nut to crack. In 27 pro fights, Edgar has never been stopped. Since winning The Latin-America Ultimate Fighter, Yair Rodriquez has gone from strength to strength. He is currently undefeated with the UFC going 6-0 and with a career record of 10-1. “El Pantera” is well known for his spectacular kicks and he has a great awareness of controlling the distance; something he will deploy against the come forward Edgar. This is a huge step up in competition for Yair Rodriquez; Frankie Edgar is an unbelievable athlete but I believe he may have the formula to overcome “The Answer”. If Rodriquez initiates the same game plan Jose Aldo successfully used against Edgar; taking away his lead leg and most importantly stuffing the takedowns, then he can win this. But if Edgar finds success with his wrestling then it could well be a long night for Rodriquez.
Rodriquez by decision.
HENRY CEJUDO vs. SERGIO PETTIS
Henry Cejudo is an Olympic gold medallist turned MMA fighter. After making his professional debut in 2013 he quickly went 10-0 to claim a title shot against flyweight kingpin Demetrious Johnson. Cejudo only lasted one round against the champion and then followed that up with another poor showing when losing to Joseph Benavidez. “The Messenger” is a pacey fighter who relies on his world class wrestling to dominate an opponent, once he grabs hold of their legs; the most likely outcome is them hitting the canvas. Sergio Pettis, younger brother to Anthony, has been stringing wins together of late, winning his last three straight. Since dropping back down to flyweight, Pettis has gradually started to recapture the form that helped him claim the RFA flyweight championship. “The Phenom” is naturally well rounded, perhaps not as savvy as his older brother, but has enough skills to compete anywhere the fight takes place. The biggest factor for this will be the relentless wrestling of Cejudo; if Pettis can’t combat it then he will have no hope of a victory. I think this will be a long night for Pettis; Cejudo to get the job done.
Cejudo by decision.
BEST OF THE REST.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier
Poirier to win.
Chas Skelly vs. Jason Knight
Skelly to win.
Krzysztof Jotko vs. Dave Branch
Jotko to win.
Marco Polo Reyes vs. James Vick
Vick to win.
Jessica Aguilar vs. Cortney Casey
Aguilar to win.
Jared Gordon vs. Michel Quinones
Gordon to win.
Chase Sherman vs. Rashad Coulter
Sherman to win.
Gabriel Benitez vs. Enrique Barzola
Benitez to win.
Joachim Christensen vs. Gadzhimurad Antigulov
Antigulov to win.
BET OF THE DAY.
The adventurous bet: all 14 predictions in an accumulator is about 1050/1.
The inbetweener bet: Aguilar, Vick, Cejudo, Maia and Jedrzejczyk all to win is 10/1.
The conservative bet: Demian Maia to win by submission is 15/8.
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