Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for the UFC 214: Cormier vs. Jones 2 PPV main card.
When you have an event as massive as Saturday’s UFC 214, you can’t just have one predictions post. Instead, we’ve broken it down into three sections: Preliminary card/Main card/Main event. Here, you’ll get a breakdown of our main card picks up until the co-main event between Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia. Tim Bissell, Tim Burke, Ram Gilboa, and Nick Baldwin believe Maia will become the new UFC welterweight champion, while everyone else has gone for Woodley. Not a soul is bold enough to pick Tonya Evinger to upset Cris Cyborg and become the new UFC women’s featherweight champion. The staff is leaning towards Robbie Lawler to defeat Donald Cerrone, while everyone except Tim Bissell likes Jimi Manuwa to defeat Volkan Oezdemir.
Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Phil Mackenzie entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he’s going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.
Tyron Woodley vs. Demian Maia
Anton Tabuena: This seems like a really bad matchup for Maia. Unless he manages to get tricky, and create nice scrambles off of those nifty guard pulls, he will mostly struggle here I think. Woodley has good takedown defense and big power, so small mistakes trying to get the takedown could be very costly for Maia. I’m guessing this would be pretty uneventful for the casual audience, with Woodley likely being defensive for stretches, up until he lands that highlight reel bomb that ends it. Tyron Woodley by KO.
Mookie Alexander: Worst case scenario is we endure a Woodley vs. Shields type of fight where Woodley may or may not win a split decision. I’m not betting on Maia getting a takedown or being able to drag Woodley down from the clinch, so this comes down to whether or not Woodley can land the right hand and make Maia crumble. I’m thinking he’ll manage to do so, but the journey to get there might take awhile. Tyron Woodley by TKO, round 4.
Fraser Coffeen: You’ve got pretty much two options in a Woodley fight. Either he bombs you and ends it in round 1, or he’s tentative and drags it to a razor thin decision that maybe goes his way, maybe not. Of those possibilities, option 2 is far more likely. Maia has of course been famously bombed by Nate Marquardt, but Woodley is going to be tentative on the feet in order to stay clear of the Maia sub game. Maia will have real troubles getting Woodley down, if he gets him down at all, which means this could end up looking an awful lot like Woodley vs. Shields, except for 5 rounds instead of 3. And that means this fight might stink, so be prepared. One difference is that against Wonderboy, in both fights, Woodley showed that he is capable of landing a big shot late. If he does that here, I don’t see Maia having the same durability Thompson had to survive. So I’m going out on a limb with this one, and saying we get a boring, mostly Maia controlled fight, until Woodley ends it. Tyron Woodley, KO, R4
Dayne Fox: I badly want to see Maia come out the victor. He’s the ultimate gentleman of the sport who has long deserved this opportunity. But like everyone else is saying, Woodley is a horrible matchup for him. Woodley will be looking to counter off of Maia’s takedown attempts that will surely come since Maia isn’t going to win a kickboxing contest. Though Maia has proven to be extremely durable over his career — only Nate Marquardt all the way back in 2009 has finished him — I don’t think he’d be able to survive if Woodley lands cleanly. Woodley via TKO of RD3
Tim Burke: Yes, Maia can get Woodley down in the first two rounds. And he can finish him there. Demian Maia by submission, round 2
Zane Simon: I think there’s a real possibility Woodley comes out and pressures Maia early. That might give Maia a chance for an early takedown, but it’s a slim chance. Otherwise, if Maia has to pressure, he will absolutely walk into something. Tyron Woodley via KO, round 1.
Ram Gilboa: With Maia it’s basically almost back to the early days of the UFC. If he gets his opponent down, he wins, if he can’t, he loses. Maia’s very good at getting his opponents down and seems to keep getting better and better at it – especially at 170. Demian Maia by submission, round 1.
Victor Rodriguez: I have recurring visions of Tyron nailing Maia with a picture-perfect uppercut and putting him to sleep. It’s nasty, and for the sake of everyone involved, I really wish that isn’t the case. I can see Maia trying to use his strikes to clinch and work from there to use his flypaper grappling approach, but Woodley’s speed, athleticism and strength advantages are too much for me to pick against. Tyron Woodley by TKO.
Staff picking Woodley: Phil, Fraser, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Mookie, Zane, Victor
Staff picking Maia: Bissell, Nick, Tim, Ram
Cris Cyborg vs. Tonya Evinger
Anton Tabuena: I hope Tonya manages to clinch and get a takedown to make things interesting, but I have a feeling this will look like many of Cyborg’s bouts. That’s not a knock on Evinger, who is tough and talented, but I just think Cyborg is on a different level than anyone around her weight. Cris Cyborg by another brutal TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Evinger has never been stopped by strikes. She’s never fought a Cris Cyborg before. I really hope fans don’t get the wrong impression if/when Evinger gets destroyed, because she’s a very good fighter who hopefully can make a serious run in the UFC’s women’s 135 division. Otherwise, Cyborg has great takedown defense, vastly superior striking and striking power, and short of Evinger snatching a sub on the ground, I can’t see this ending in anything other than Cris Cyborg by TKO.
Zane Simon: Evinger is great and fun, and at BW she could be a tough matchup for a lot of women as a relentless wrestle-grappler with some functional striking. But, she walks straight into the clinch with her head on-line and eats shots doing it. Cris Cyborg by KO, Round 2.
Ram Gilboa: Evinger by TKO. No, just kidding, nothing against Evinger but Cris Cyborg by TKO, Round 1.
Victor Rodriguez: Cyborg is going to have her hands more than full here. Evinger can take obscene amounts of damage, and I’d go so far as to say that she’s got a more clever ground game with a focus on technique than Justino. Then again, Jason Parillo’s work with Cyborg has allowed her to have better footwork, movement and accuracy that will eventually wear Evinger down. Another fight that I really hope is more competitive than perhaps it may seem at first glance, and I still have to go with the favorite here. Cris Cyborg by TKO, round 4.
Staff picking Cyborg: Bissell, Nick, Phil, Fraser, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Mookie, Tim, Zane, Victor
Staff picking Evinger:
Robbie Lawler vs. Donald Cerrone
Anton Tabuena: Stylewise, this seems to favor Lawler. But it’s 2017, and I’m not sure how the layoff, the KO, and all the wars before will affect his performance. Now I’m not sure how this ends up, and I’m just hoping it’s as entertaining as it promises to be. I guess I’ll go with Donald Cerrone by Decision?
Mookie Alexander: Two guys who are slow starters and have taken some serious punishment in their recent defeats. Lawler in particular worries me, because even in his wins, he’s absorbed just a stupidly high amount of significant strikes. Wars catch up with everybody at some point, even violence gods like OG Bobby Knuckles. I’m concerned that Cerrone will get caught by Lawler’s powerful fists, but if he keeps it at kicking distance and can methodically win rounds with quick leg kicks and his well-placed head kicks, I like his chances better. There’s also the real possibility that, while Cerrone is no outstanding wrestler, he’ll try to take this to the ground and use his jiu-jitsu to make Lawler’s life miserable. That’s a lot easier said than done. I’m torn here because this fight feels like one Lawler should win, but I’m weary that he and Condit beat each other up so badly that all that’s left from here on out is sadness. Donald Cerrone by unanimous decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I want to pick Ruthless, really I do. But he’s 16 years into his pro career – SIXTEEN!, he hasn’t fought in a year, and he’s coming in off a tough KO loss. I’m afraid time takes another victim here. Sorry. Donald Cerrone, KO, R1
Phil Mackenzie: Cerrone sucks against southpaws that can box, and Lawler sucks just as bad against consistent range kickers. Cerrone often starts slowly, and hey, so does Lawler. Both men’s legendary durability has cracked. Double KO is probably the best pick. If the two of them revert to form, I slightly favour Cerrone to be able to pick up an attritional lead over a Lawler who’ll just glare at him while he gets kicked in the leg and head. I’ll also be interested to see how Lawler reacts to Henri Hooft cornering? I’m guessing not that well…? Donald Cerrone by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Cerrone is coming off a very recent blood illness and a groin injury to take this fight, and that alone may be cause for reservation. Otherwise, I think both being slow starters really favors Lawler here. Getting time to get reads on Cerrone should do more good things for his boxing than I think it will do for Cerrone’s kicking game. I won’t be at all surprised if Cerrone takes it (or even if he KO’s Lawler), but especially having worked with Hooft to put a new edge on his boxing, I trust Lawler to get time to get his reads and get into the pocket. Robbie Lawler by KO, Round 3.
Victor Rodriguez: Welterweight Cerrone looked invincible until Masvidal hit him with the brake check from hell. Despite Lawler’s susceptibility to eat leg kicks, I can see his striking being the kind that puts the pressure on Cerrone and capitalize on the opportunity to put him on his back foot. If Masvidal can find that button, best believe that Robbie can. Maybe not enough to knock Cerrone out, but he should be able to keep damaging him throughout. I see a lot of violence in this one, from ferocious boxing, to body kicks and elbows from top control. In the end, I have to give Lawler the edge. Robbie Lawler by decision.
Staff picking Lawler: Bissell, Nick, Stephie, Dayne, Tim, Zane, Victor
Staff picking Cerrone: Phil, Fraser, Anton, Mookie, Ram
Jimi Manuwa vs. Volkan Oezdemir
Anton Tabuena: I’m writing this prediction, still hoping they won’t need Manuwa to step up in the main event. If he doesn’t, he should get another win here. Jimi Manuwa by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: The craziness of light heavyweight means Oezdemir can just swoop in and KO Manuwa or win an ugly decision the same way he did against OSP. Otherwise, Manuwa is using his jab more, his left hook is lethal, and when he gets the range he wants, there are few fighters in his division who are more dangerous than Jimi. If Oezdemir wins and gets himself a title shot, I will pick Oezdemir to beat either Cormier or Jones, no matter how impractical it may be. Write that down. Jimi Manuwa by KO, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: Dark wizards clash in the light heavyweight division. Oezdemir’s baffling ability to pick up confusing wins which don’t leave you feeling terribly optimistic about where he goes afterwards measures itself against Manuwa’s long-dormant gift of being able to telekinetically explode his opponents’ ankles. In all seriousness, Oezdemir is ridiculously tough, and impressively fearless, but facing a sizable athleticism differential. Jimi Manuwa by unanimous decision
Zane Simon: Manuwa SHOULD have this, but the same could have been said about Cirkunov & OSP. Still of the three, Manuwa has the best combination of experience and functional technique. He’s faster, more powerful, and seems to have fixed some of his takedown issues (some). Oezdemir doesn’t seem likely to out-wrestler Manuwa, so this should be a range kickboxing battle between Oezdemir’s toughness and Manuwa’s speed and power. Taking Manuwa in that battle, but it’s LHW, so who knows? Jimi Manuwa by TKO, Round 2.
Victor Rodriguez: Manuwa’s only lost to Rumble Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson. I don’t see Oezdemir being as vicious a striker as to put Manuwa away. Not only that, but Jimi’s worked on closing some of the defensive gaps in his game and works the body more. Poster Boy’s getting this done. Jimi Manuwa by TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Manuwa: Nick, Phil, Fraser, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Mookie, Tim, Zane, Ram, Victor
Staff picking Oezdemir: Bissell