For an event that has had a somewhat subdued build-up, UFC 210 burst into life in the space of 12 hours yesterday.
Starting with Daniel Cormier missing weight and nixing the main event title fight to miraculously losing the needed 1.2 lbs in two minutes (with a little help from a magic towel), the NYSAC had to go one better in the drama stakes by canning a Cynthia Calvillo – Pearl Gonzalez fight months after scheduling the bout and only just realising their own rules about breast implants.
Fortunately, the NYSAC’s incompetence has been fixed by the UFC powers that be and UFC 210 has remained intact from top to bottom.
On the prelims, there is a host of exciting bouts such as Kamaru Usman vs Sean Strickland, Jan Blachowicz vs Patrick Cummins, Irene Aldana vs Katlyn Chookagian and Josh Emmett vs Desmond Green. For the sake of continuity, however, our predictions are centred on those featured on the main card and while I’ve batted .500 the past couple of events, this five-fight card means we’re either going on the up or descending into shameful territory.
Daniel Cormier (18-1) vs Anthony Johnson (22-5)
I’m still fairly content with my pick here but Cormier’s clear struggles with his weight cut has made me a lot less confident than I was a week earlier.
In their first meeting, the bout went just about as expected as ‘Rumble’ offered a knockout threat in the early running but Cormier’s grinding ability simply drained the life out of Johnson in the second and third round.
I’d expect the same style of fight again but Cormier’s propensity to take damage is cause for concern and if Johnson can employ a more patient gameplan, he may well find the success that alluded him at UFC 187.
Pick: Daniel Cormier
Chris Weidman (13-2) vs Gegard Mousasi (41-6-2)
This is such a hard fight to pick.
Weidman is currently on a two-fight losing streak but last time out against Yoel Romero, ‘The All-American’ was winning before being blasted with that monstrous flying knee. Mousasi on the other hand is on a four-fight winning streak and fighting out the final bout on his contract so the stakes are even higher for the Dutchman on his quest for improved terms.
I think the opening round will spell out the remainder of the bout as the central theme will be the quest for the takedown. If Weidman can get the takedown early, he should have the ability to keep Mousasi on the mat and dominate from top control.
If Mousasi’s takedown defence can hold up against Weidman, however, his control of the pace on the feet can put any fighter at middleweight in fits.
Ultimately, I think Weidman will get back to winning ways here as Mousasi rarely comes from behind to win so this may well be the last we see of Mousasi in the UFC.
Pick: Chris Weidman
Cynthia Calvillo (4-0) vs Pearl Gonzalez (6-1)
Both fighters have a bright future at strawweight but Calvillo’s grappling has looked great thus far and is that extra bit of quality needed.
Gonzalez is a solid striker and has a few submissions on her own record but her takedown defence is untested and Calvillo can make her pay.
Pick: Cynthia Calvillo
Thiago Alves (21-11) vs Patrick Cote (23-10)
Both are veterans of the game but Thiago Alves is simply too inconsistent to trust.
Alves should have the quicker strikes but Cote is a reliable performer with some power behind his punches and I’m not sure how Alves will react to the bigger man bearing down on him.
Pick: Patrick Cote
Will Brooks (18-2) vs Charles Oliveira (21-7, 1 NC)
Brooks hasn’t shown his full potential in the UFC yet but this may be the fight to do it.
‘Ill Will’ is a talented fighter in every facet of the game but in close he can be truly dominant. Fortunately for him, Oliveira has a tendency to fall into the clinch and with Brook’s larger frame, he should grind Oliveira down round by round.
As long as he doesn’t offer up his neck to the talented grappler, Brooks should bounce back into the win column here.
Pick: Will Brooks
(Last Predictions: 2/4, Total: 21/40, 53% Success Rate)
(2016: 61% Success Rate)