Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier vs Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson
With Jon Jones out until summer, there was only one fight to make in the Light Heavyweight division – the epic rematch between the current champion, Daniel Cormier and hard-hitting #1 contender, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson.
As the whole division looms in the shadow of undefeated Jones, this match-up has a lot more at stake than just the title – the winner will, presumably, face Jon Jones in his return from suspension, with the opportunity to take his crown as the best Light Heavyweight of all time.
Neither fighter will be looking past their opponent on April 9th however, as DC will have to avoid Rumble’s knockout power which rocked him in the first fight, and Rumble will have to avoid DC’s strength and wrestling which allowed him to grind out a pretty decisive victory first time around.
The main event is crucial, exciting and almost too close to call – like a lot of the fights on this card, especially the last 5 bouts which I’ll preview and give predictions for.
DC vs Rumble I
In the first minute of rounds 1 & 2 in their previous fight, we got to see why Rumble is considered one of the most dangerous strikers in the UFC – he was able to stay out of Cormier’s range and land some vicious strikes which would have finished a number of high level opponents.
In the first 30 seconds, as Rumble knocked DC to the canvas with a powerful overhand right, it looked like he was about to make a huge statement and take the title by a dramatic 1st round KO. He piled on the pressure as DC tried to regain his composure; Rumble lunged in with another overhand and slipped, allowing DC to tie him up against the fence.
When Rumble was eventaully able to disengage we seen his superior striking once again, but DC had recovered by this point and Rumble was unable to land any clean strikes.
As round 2 started, the clean strikes were starting to land; a stiff counter right hand and multiple headkicks which were barely blocked by DC and starting to knock him off balance. As Rumble pressured forward, DC was able to catch a body kick, push Rumble to the fence and, without much difficulty, pick up Johnson and dump him on the canvas. At this point, the fight was almost over.
With 4.15 to go in the 2nd round, DC’s grueling style was beginning to take a toll on Rumble and – with Cormier’s pressure, ground-and-pound and submission attempts – he started to look more and more fatigued.
Rumble, bloody and exhausted, slipped in the first 15 seconds of round 3 and it looked like the end was near. He fought back for a further 2 minutes as DC tied him up and took him down but he couldn’t stop Cormier from taking his back and winning via rear naked choke.
In that fight, we saw Rumble having success in very short spells but the lasting impression was of Cormier’s grit, strength, skill and experience as he proved why he’s only been defeated once in his professional career – and that was by Jon Jones.
UFC 210 Preview And Predictions
Daniel Cormier vs Anthony Johnson
It’s clear that both fighters have a way to finish this fight – let alone win it by decision – Rumble has massive knockout power and DC has strength and wrestling ability to tire out Johnson and wear him down to find opportunities for a submission or TKO.
With this being a rematch and such a close match-up, I think it’s safe to say the winner will be the one with the best mindset who can best execute their gameplan.
DC’s win in the previous fight will provide a clear phsychological advantage, however Johnson, in my opinion, has a lot more momentum than DC and seems to be confident that he can learn from the last fight and get the win this time.
Of course DC, as champion, has momentum also but after his fight with Jon Jones was pulled from UFC 200 and he was forced out of the original rematch with Johnson – I think he will have lost a bit of that momentum.
DC’s dream of a rematch with Jones will give him some extra motivaton but at the age of 38, he might be slowing down and starting to feel the effects of a long, tough career.
Rumble, at 33, is at the perfect point in his career to make the most of this opportunity – if he can learn from his mistakes in their previous fight then I think he has the advantage.
I don’t want to rule out Cormier as he has been able to dominate so many opponents, but if Johnson can pick his shots better and avoid chasing Cormier then I believe he can control the fight and take away DC’s most dangerous weapon.
If DC can bait Johnson in to rushing forward or can get inside the pocket, land 1 or 2 shots then start grappling then the fight could play out similar to how it did last time.
But I think Rumble will be able to avoid that, or at least conserve his energy better, limit the damage taken and find opportunities in the next round.
Pick: Anthony Johnson via R3 KO
Chris Weidman vs Gegard Mousasi
This is another fight with a lot on the line – not just another win on the record, but, in such a stacked Middleweight division, losing this fight could set either fighter back a long time in their hopes for a title shot.
Weidman is ranked #4 while Mousasi is #5, Weidman coming off 2 losses and Mousasi coming off a 4 fight win streak – so both fighters are in different situations.
Although Gegard Mousasi is a slight favourite going in to this fight, I still believe it is Weidman’s fight to lose – it’s just a matter of whether he can overcome the pressure of 2 consecutive defeats to rebound against one of the most well-rounded, experienced fighters in the UFC.
Where Mousasi has the advantage is with his versality of strikes, especially at close range, with his scrambles and very-effective submission game and control. Although Weidman is a superior wrestler and stronger than Mousasi, if he is sloppy or complacent then he may allow Mousasi to reverse the position to the point where he could land some ground and pound or attack a submission.
The reason I think it’s Weidman’s fight to lose is that he can be so dominant if he is able to utilize his strengths, his striking ability and awareness is enough to stay out of danger and open opportunities for his wrestling, where I think he can control Mousasi.
In his last fight, Weidman was doing very well against the now #1 contender, but a silly mistake resulted in a loss by vicious KO.
If Weidman makes any mistakes against Mousasi then it could easily be a 3 fight losing streak. But if he can execute his gameplan then I think Weidman can get the win and set up a bitter rematch with Luke Rockhold.
Pick: Chris Weidman via Decision
Cynthia Calvillo vs Pearl Gonzalez
Cynthia Calvillo made a tremendous UFC debut at UFC 209 against Amanda Cooper, she showed some terrific scrambles and submission skills to finish the fight by round 1 rear naked choke.
To build on her immediate success, she’s taken on this fight with fellow grappler and submission specialist, Pearl Gonzalez just 1 month after her debut win.
Although this fight will be Gonzalez’s debut, she has plenty of experience and some big wins over fighters like current UFC Women’s Strawweight, Courtney Casey – so she will be looking to burst on to the scene with a bang, like Calvillo done just a few weeks ago.
This is a tough fight to call as I don’t know much about either fighter, but from the little I have seen, I’d give the advantage to Calvillo.
I believe she has a slight speed advantage over Gonzalez and will be able to use good scrambles to find better positions. Athough Calvillo is a great grappler, Gonzalez is good too – so I don’t think either fighter will be able to get a finish, although they may come close.
Pick: Cynthia Calvillo via Decision
Thiago Alves vs Patrick Cote
An excellent match-up between 2 UFC veterans with ferocious power and submission skills who love to put on exciting fights and get the knockout.
Both fighters have, at one point, challenged for a UFC title – Cote at Middleweight – and, between them, have fought some of the biggest names in MMA; Anderson Silva, George St Pierre, Matt Hughes & Tito Ortiz, to name just a few.
Both fighters are coming off a loss and will want to make a statement at UFC 210. In his previous fight, Cote was overwhelmed by the speed and precision of Cowboy Cerrone’s striking, eventually losing by TKO in round 3.
Thiago Alves lost by decision in his last fight to Jim Miller. Although Alves is a much more devastating striker, Miller was able to avoid the power punches and dominate positions.
There won’t be as much of a disparity in speed or conditioning in this fight, although Alves should have a speed and strength advantage while Cote has a slight height and reach.
If Cote can stay out of Alves’s range then I think he’ll be able to frustrate him and pick him apart, but if he’s complacent then Alves could land a big punch and win the fight.
Pick: Patrick Cote via Decision
Will Brooks vs Charles Oliviera
This is another very hard fight to call; Will Brooks went in to his last fight with Alex ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira as a favourite but struggled with the grueling pressure of Cowboy’s clinch game against the fence, he then suffered an injury which allowed Oliveira to take over the fight and get a TKO.
Charles Oliveira has a similar style to Cowboy, although he may have better submission skills, I don’t think he will be able to cause the same amount of damage – which ultimately won the fight for Cowboy against Brooks in what was otherwise quite a close fight.
Although I’ve not seen a lot of Will Brooks, I imagine he has an advantage in the striking here. He doesn’t have as much of a submission game but if he’s able to keep the fight on the feet I think he will win a decision.
Also, if he’s able to mix his strikes with wrestling then he could control Oliveira, but may leave himself open to submission attempts if that’s the case.
Ultimately, I think Brooks could win this fight if he stays out of danger and neutralizes Oliveira’s strengths. By picking him apart on the feet then maybe getting a takedown near the end of the round if he thinks it’s close on the scorecards.
Pick: Will Brooks via Decision