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UFC 211 predictions, preview, and analysis

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back on the air this weekend with its UFC 211: “Miocic vs. Dos Santos 2” pay-per-view (PPV) fight card, which takes place inside American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, on Sat., May 13, 2017.

UFC 211 features the heavyweight rematch between division champion Stipe Miocic and former 265-pound titleholder Junior dos Santos, who captured a split-decision win over Miocic at UFC on FOX 13 in late 2014.

In the UFC 211 co-main event, reigning strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk looks to keep her undefeated streak alive against top 115-pound contender Jessica Andrade, winner of three straight.

In non-title action, Demian Maia and Jorge Masvidal hook ‘em up for a spot in the welterweight running, while Yair Rodriguez looks to use ex-champion Frankie Edgar as a stepping stone to featherweight immortality.

And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

To check out the preliminary portion of the UFC 211 fight card, spread across FX and UFC Fight Pass, head over to our “Prelims” preview and breakdown here and here. UFC 211 odds and betting lines can be located here.

Now then, on with the show!

265 lbs.: UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic (16-2) vs. Junior “Cigano” dos Santos (18-4)

Nostradumbass predicts: Five years ago, when Junior dos Santos ass-planted Frank Mir in the UFC 146 main event, there was talk about “Cigano” becoming the greatest heavyweight of all time. And why not? He already stopped Cain Velasquez and was unbeaten inside the Octagon.

Then it all fell apart.

The injury-plagued Brazilian is just 3-3 since that memorable run and more worrisome, he’s competed just three times since his second loss to Velasquez and hasn’t stepped foot inside the cage in over a year.

Sorry, but outboxing Ben Rothwell does not have me breaking out the bubbly.

I would expect that from a talented striker, which Dos Santos was and unquestionably still is. His first win over Miocic in late 2014 was not a landslide by any stretch of the imagination and his patented zombie mode in the later rounds had more to do with that “W” than his dexterity as a fighter.

He followed that up with a knockout loss to Alistair Overeem.

Dos Santos may be younger, but Stipe Miocic is clearly fresher. His three fights in 2016 were wrapped up in less than 10 minutes — including his championship win over Fabricio Werdum — thanks to a wanton display of destructive power.

In a way, his gameplan is not unlike that of his UFC 211 opponent: Walk forward and drop bombs. “Cigano” will be more nuanced in his attack, but he’s also going to be more susceptible to the knockout.

There are way too many miles on those tires to survive all five rounds.

I also like that Miocic, an NCAA Division-I competitor out of Cleveland State, can fall back on his wrestling. It’s not the game changer it is for other heavyweights like Velasquez — and “Cigano” can repel most shots — but when you’re talking about winning rounds, sometimes you only need one.

The champ may not need any.

Dos Santos will come out busy and sharp and I would not be surprised to see Miocic in trouble, like he was against Overeem. But also like his contest against “Demolition Man,” I would not be surprised to see him recover, roar back, and put his opponent on ice.

Return of the punch face!

Final prediction: Miocic def. Dos Santos by technical knockout

115 lbs.: UFC Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (13-0) vs. Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade (16-5)

Nostradumbass predicts: Jessica Andrade has managed to finagle herself a strawweight title shot after dieting down from 135 pounds. While her subsequent 3-0 run through the division was impressive, she was able to land Joanna Jedrzejczyk without fighting anyone in the top five.

That includes Claudia Gadelha, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, and Rose Namajunas.

Is Andrade championship material? Maybe. But a win over any one of the aforementioned contenders would have gone much further in bolstering such a claim, particularly when facing a champion the caliber of Jedrzejczyk.

“Bate Estaca” is the same bruiser she was at bantamweight, unleashing a blitzkrieg style of offense that blends rugged wrestling with ferocious strikes. Fight fans expecting a measured boxing match on Saturday night will be sorely disappointed.

Andrade likes to kill first, ask questions later.

But we can’t overlook the fact that she gives up four inches in height and another four inches in reach. Expect her to be victimized by the champion’s stinging jab but the real damage will be incurred in the clinch.

Jedrzejczyk will have elbows, knees, and most importantly, size.

The Pole is by no means a perfect fighter and for all her offensive prowess, she wears some fairly sizable flaws on defense. She will take damage, no question, but she will dish some out in return, as well, and likely be the busier, more active combatant.

She’s also knows how to stuff her share of takedowns.

Andrade could muscle her way to a decision, but there are just too many lingering questions to make her the pick. Aside from her ho-hum competition leading up to this fight, “Bate Estaca” has never been five rounds, which adds another 10 minutes to her already grueling pace.

A fifth-round finish would not surprise me.

Final prediction: Jedrzejczyk def. Andrade by technical knockout

170 lbs.: Demian Maia (24-6) vs. Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal (32-11)

Nostradumbass predicts: It seems like everyone in the MMA community is suddenly a Jorge Masvidal fan, carrying on about how dangerous “Gamebred” has become in the welterweight division and how Demian Maia is in all sorts of trouble, and blabbity-fucking-blah.

Frankly, I don’t get it.

Masvidal has put together three straight wins at 170 pounds, but two of them have come against puffed up lightweights in Ross Pearson and Donald Cerrone. The third was a technical knockout win over the collapsable Jake Ellenberger, who is a putrid 2-7 over the last few years, getting finished five times during that span.

That’s the kind of work that gets you into the title chase?

“Gamebred” is a talented striker and when he turns it on, he can bang with the best of them. But his chronic lack of urgency and inability to push the pace — unless his opponent is visibly hurt — has resulted in decision losses, as well as some boring-ass fights.

17 decisions in 32 wins, folks, the numbers speak for themselves.

That said, two things work in his favor. Not only is Maia pushing 40, he’s also going through hell and high water to make the 170-pound limit. The Brazilian’s entire gameplan is predicated on chain wrestling and if he’s out of gas by the second stanza, he’s a sitting duck for a striker like Masvidal.

That’s a very big “if.”

Sure, “Gamebred” has good takedown defense, but Maia makes good wrestlers look bad. Just ask Ryan LaFlare and Jon Fitch. Long, rangy strikers? Heavy-handed power punchers? Neil Magny and Matt Brown had no answer.

Even the mighty Carlos Condit was outclassed.

Maia is not a bad striker by any means. He’s awful! And every fight starts on the feet, so we can’t pretend this fight is a wrap. Those clumsy, long-range takedown attempts we saw against Rory MacDonald will get him planished in Dallas and Masvidal is not about to roll over.

Though he may be content to just hang back and jab.

I think Masvidal is being given too much respect by the bookies, particularly in a three-round fight. Even if Maia is unable to lock up a limb, his suffocating ground game and relentless pursuit of the takedown will win him all three rounds.

And he only needs two for a decision.

Final prediction: Maia def. Masvidal by submission

145 lbs.: Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (21-5-1) vs. Yair “El Pantera” Rodriguez (10-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: Since dropping to 145 pounds, Frankie Edgar has held onto his spot as the second best featherweight in the division, just behind current champion Jose Aldo, who maintains a commanding 2-0 lead.

He may have been third best, but we never got to see him battle the since-departed Conor McGregor.

You’re unlikely to find a more complete fighter. Edgar can do it all and he can do it all exceptionally. He’s always been a talented wrestler, but what coach Mark Henry has been able to do with his star pupil’s hands is nothing short of remarkable.

Stamina? “The Answer” can do 10 rounds without even batting an eyelash.

And yet here we are in such familiar territory. Even with his trip south, Edgar once again finds himself the (much) smaller fighter and this time, he may no longer have the same speed that once carried him to so many unlikely victories.

Having been there, I can assure you that 35 is a lot different than 25.

Yair Rodriguez is just 24 and huge for a 145 pounder. He’ll enter the Octagon with a staggering five-inch height advantage, which equates to three extra inches in reach. And we haven’t even discussed those punishing kicks.

“El Pantera” uncorks leg kicks as effortlessly as other fighters flick the jab.

There is no question Edgar is the better boxer, as well as the better wrestler. He’s also got the kind of championship experience — and courageous heart — that most up-and-coming fighters can only dream of.

They will be rendered combat ineffective if he’s unable to close the distance.

Rodriguez is athletic, strong and a great scrambler. While he still has a lot to prove before we can anoint him the next big thing at 145 pounds, he’s got the kind of reactive kicks that can ruin a smaller fighter, particularly on the outside.

Assuming he’s not too busy showing off, like he was against Alex Caceres.

Edgar beat Jeremy Stephens, but not without his fair share of struggles. His bouncy, peek-a-boo offense won’t be enough to trap a gazelle like Rodriguez and I think it’s only a matter of time before a body kick finds its mark.

A star is born.

Final prediction: Rodriguez def. Edgar by technical knockout

185 lbs.: David Branch (20-3) vs. Krzysztof Jotko (19-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: David Branch returns to the Octagon after more than six years on the regional circuit — which netted a handful of championships — and now gets a spot on the PPV main card following the dissolution of Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis.

Branch has won 10 straight — with five finishes — since dropping a unanimous decision to Anthony Johnson during their respective stints with Titan Fighting Championship. That marks his lone defeat after running out his UFC contract in early 2011.

A jiu-jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie, Branch won the Pan American championship three times, so it’s no surprise he’s been able to win seven fights by way of submission. That said, he’s not afraid to bang it out on the feet, either.

Just ask Yushin Okami.

He’ll have his hands full against Krzysztof Jotko, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) brown belt with a staggering (and conveniently unverifiable) amateur record of 65-5. The Pole now trains at American Top Team (ATT) and will give up four inches in reach.

Jotko is an impressive 6-1 under the UFC banner and recently turned away the venerable Thales Leites. His submission loss to Magnus Cedenblad in early 2014, however, sticks out like a sore thumb.

Especially against a grappler like Branch.

Regrettably, I do not have high hopes for this fight. Branch doesn’t want to get knocked out and Jotko doesn’t want to get submitted. That will leave us with three rounds of walking and stalking, tempered with the occasional takedown.

Fun!

Final prediction: Jotko def. Branch by split decision

That’s a wrap.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 211 fight card on fight night, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FX at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

For much more on this weekend’s UFC 211 extravaganza click here.

Source:: mma mania