With a tranquil three-week break from MMA done and dusted, UFC 211 has come along at the right time and arrived with a bang.
Featuring two title fights, former world champions and title eliminators, UFC 211 is one event that any fight fan cannot afford to miss.
With the main card packed to the brim with the best of the best, the quality of fighters on task has spilt over to the undercard and is exemplified none more than being headlined by one-half of one of the UFC’s biggest PPV’s ever. For consistencies sake though, we’ll leave out predictions for the likes of Eddie Alvarez – Dustin Poirier, Chas Skelly – Jason Knight and James Vick – Marco Polo Reyes and concentrate on the main card billing and attempt to go back-to-back with 100% accuracy.
Stipe Miocic (16-2) vs Junior dos Santos (18-4)
Junior dos Santos’ path to the title is such a sad indictment on the state of the heavyweight division – receiving a title fight after a scheduled bout with Stefan Struve fell through – yet this fight is a proven quality contest.
In their first match-up, JDS edged out a decision victory and did so by denying Miocic the chance to wrestle by stuffing 17 of 18 takedown attempts. It’ll be interesting to see whether Miocic tries the same approach again in this fight but the difference in striking ability is notably reduced in 2017.
Both men possess an excellent jab with trademark heavyweight power but the biggest factor here may well be their activity in recent years. Miocic has fought twice as much as JDS since their first bout in 2015 while the Brazilian has yet to fight since April of last year. During that time Miocic has gone from strength to strength and that improvement makes me side with the champion here.
Pick: Stipe Miocic
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (13-0) vs Jessica Andrade (16-5)
This fight has all the potential to steal the show.
Jedrzejczyk has the clear technical advantage in the striking department over pretty much everyone at strawweight but over time in her reign as champion, JJ has been on the receiving end of more and more strikes.
Claudia Gadelha knocked down the champion in the second bout while Karolina Kowalkiewicz had visible success over five rounds at UFC 205. With Andrade’s standing opposite and her ability to make her pressuring style and power pay dividend, Jedrzejczyk may well be in for her toughest test yet.
It’s an extremely cautious pick but Jedrzejczyk’s speed could be the biggest factor for either fighter to overcome and if the Polish champion can work in body shots, they should slow down an extremely dangerous Andrade in the later rounds.
Pick: Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Demian Maia (24-6) vs Jorge Masvidal (32-11)
A tough pick as I generally side with the more complete mixed martial artist but Demian Maia’s ability to drag anyone and everyone to the mat is probably the best singular tactic in MMA today.
For that reason, I’m done ignoring Maia’s incredible rise to title contention.
Pick: Demian Maia
Frankie Edgar (21-5-1) vs Yair Rodriguez (10-1)
Yair Rodriguez has been given a huge step-up in competition here.
Going from fighting an old BJ Penn to one of the best fighters in MMA is no easy feat but the young Mexican fighter will be buoyed by Edgar’s susceptibility to eating the big strikes.
‘El Pantera’ will no doubt look for his spinning attacks and keep Edgar at range but Edgar’s wiliness and gritty approach should allow the New Jersey native to get in close and take Rodriguez to the ground.
Again, it’s a tough pick but this may well be too much, too soon for Yair.
Pick: Frankie Edgar
Krzysztof Jotko (19-1) vs David Branch (20-3)
Both guys are well-rounded at middleweight and are pretty evenly matched in the skills department.
Jotko’s youthfulness will give him the edge in terms of speed but Branch has seen it all during his MMA career and has only ever lost to either top-tier talent (Anthony Johnson and Rousimar Palhares) or somewhat fluky circumstances (a slam KO by Gerald Harris).
It’s a step-up in quality for Branch but the 35-year-old will no doubt be riding high on his 10-fight win streak and dual championship reign in WSOF.
Pick: David Branch
(Last Predictions: 6/6, Total: 30/55, 55% Success Rate)
(2016: 61% Success Rate)