Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for the UFC 214 main event between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, for Cormier’s light heavyweight championship belt.
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 just the main event between light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and former champ Jon Jones. Only Victor Rodriguez and Ram Gilboa are picking Cormier to retain his title, with Ram in particular going for Cormier to stop Jones in the championship rounds. Everyone else believes Jones will win, with Tim Burke backing Jones by fourth-round submission.
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 Anton Tabuena 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.
Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones
Anton Tabuena: Their first fight was competitive in the earlier rounds, but it was definitely not as close as many people pretend it was. It’s also interesting that DC’s success was landing punches early, and it was Jones who out grinded (and eventually outwrestled) Cormier back then. I think if Jones is anywhere near to how he was the first time they fought, he takes this again. If Jones looks rusty once more, Cormier has a chance to take advantage of timing and range issues to win it with strikes, as Jones is hittable and his boxing has always been his weakest area. But even then, he has to stay in boxing range and avoid staying too far out, while resisting the urge to turn it into a “who’s the better wrestler” contest. As a fan, I am rooting for DC to pull off an upset, but just looking at the match up and the technique, I’m not sure how likely that happens. Jon Jones by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: I don’t have time to write an op-ed on this, but I consider this both a LHW title fight and a #1 contender’s matchup at heavyweight. The winner of this should fight Stipe Miocic, as either one of them against Stipe interests me more than tricking myself into “Cain Velasquez is healthy for realz!” again. To me I don’t think Cormier can win this by just trying to wrestle Jones. He gave it a shot the first time and it failed. Too much wasted energy trying to accomplish something that essentially lost him rounds. The striking exchanges were very compelling and while Jones landed more, Cormier definitely had his moments when he got past Jones’ gigantic reach. Cormier was also just outmuscled and outgunned in the clinch, where Jones is truly fantastic.
We’re really working a lot here on “Will Jones be rusty? Will he be different post-USADA failure?” while also ignoring that Cormier is now 38 and the post-Gustafsson data we have on him are a short-notice fight with Anderson Silva and a weird win over Anthony Johnson, who giftwrapped him the easiest path to victory imaginable. I believe Cormier is a terrific fighter, but if he’s going to beat Jones it involves a bit of a perfect storm. He’d have to rock Jones, or show some semblance of dominant grappling if he can get Jones on his back, and I don’t think that’s going to happen. Jon Jones by unanimous decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I am incredibly excited about this fight, as I think any sane fan is. At the same time, I am having a tough time seeing my way to a Cormier victory. That’s not because Cormier is anything less than a great fighter. But Jones is at a different level. Against OSP he showed that, yes, there’s a bit of rust and after all these missteps he’s not quite at the very peak he once was. But he had a lot of room between where he was at one time and where he would be to lose here, and I don’t think he’s crossed that far down. Never say never after a layoff like this, but we’ve yet to see all these personal issues make Jones weaker as a fighter, and I don’t think that starts this time. Jon Jones, UD
Dayne Fox: Many people are pointing out how Jones looked flat against OSP, not just his last fight, but the last time he came off a similar layoff to the one he has had before this contest. While it is a valid point, why aren’t more people talking about how flat Cormier looked against Anthony Johnson just over three months ago? Seriously, Rumble handed that contest to Cormier on a silver platter. Cormier appears to be on a decline, not to mention came dangerously close to losing his belt simply by missing weight. Even if Jones’ partying ways finally begins to catch up to him, he’ll have enough to easily handle Cormier. Jones via decision
Tim Burke: I think this one is even easier for Jones. He’s in way better shape than the first fight, and I don’t see what else Cormier brings to the table. Jon Jones by submission, round 4
Zane Simon: Can Cormier win a stick and move range striking battle against Jon Jones? Maybe. But that’s a big maybe. Will Cormier execute a stick and move gameplan for 5 rounds? Or even 3 rounds? Doubtful. Cormier is too comfortable in the clinch and in wrestling exchanges to make me think he’d just stay away from them, and I think he has to to win. Jon Jones via decision.
Victor Rodriguez: I think that Cormier actually got the big bugaboo off his back and learned from their first go-round. He should be able to deal with Jones’ range and not get outwrestled this time, especially his dogged determination to get Jones to the mat when he didn’t have to. He should be able to deal with the oblique kick, close the distance and land some shots inside, especially clinch strikes like he did with Gustafsson. Everyone gets figured out, no matter how unstoppable they seem. Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva, Brock Lesnar, everyone. I think this time it’s Jones that gets figured out, and Bob Cook and company might have finally solved the puzzle. Daniel Cormier by decision.
Ram Gilboa: I think at this point Jones and Cormier are the only substantial threat to each other. They each fuse their technique with their athleticism in way that makes others challenging them almost a futile endeavor. Jones, for sure, at peak performance is the best light-heavyweight of all-time – fighting isn’t a personality pageant. But if anyone can match him on a night in the Octagon it’s Cormier. So I think that even more than in most fights – this one will be decided beyond athleticism and technique, but by something deeper. It will be about forces. In his magnificent 1975 non-fiction “The Fight”, describing his view of Muhammad Ali’s and George Foreman’s rumble in Zaire, Norman Mailer wrote this:
“the book Bantu Philosophy proved a gift. […] Of course, to try to learn from boxers was a quintessentially comic quest. Boxers were liars. Champions were great liars. They had to be. Once you knew what they thought, you could hit them. So their personalities became masterpieces of concealment. There would be limits to what he could learn of Ali and Foreman by the aid of any philosophy. Still, he was grateful for the clue. Humans were not beings but forces. He would try to look at them by that light.
N’Golo was a Congolese word for force, for vital force. Equally could it be applied to ego, status, strength or libido. Indubitably did Ali feel deprived of his rightful share. For ten years, the press had been cheating Ali of n’golo. No matter if he had as much as anyone in America, he wanted more. It is not the n’golo you have, but the n’golo you are denied that excites the harshest hysterias of the soul.
So he could not want to lose his fight. […] the dead have no n’golo. The dead are dying of thirst – so goes an old African saying. The dead cannot dwell in the n’golo that arrives with the first swallow of palm wine, whisky or beer.” Daniel Cormier by TKO, round 4.
Staff picking Cormier: Victor, Ram
Staff picking Jones: Bissell, Nick, Phil, Fraser, Anton, Dayne, Mookie, Tim, Zane, Stephie