On September 8th, 1995 the UFC hosted an event in Buffalo, New York. It would be the last event held in New York for quite some time, as New York banned mixed martial arts shortly after the event. However, as mixed martial arts grew in popularity and seemingly every state in the United States lifted the ban, New York stood it’s ground. That was until last year (2016), in which the UFC’s continued efforts finally broke through and New York lifted the ban. Immediately, the UFC booked an event (UFC 205) at Madison Square Garden, which was headlined by Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez. The event would go on to break Madison Square Garden’s all-time ticket revenue record with a measly gate of 17.7 million.
Anyways, headlining the UFC’s return to Buffalo is rematch between UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier and challenger Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. In their first encounter, Johnson came out swinging early and at one point, knocked Cormier down. However, Cormier would survive and weather the early storm. With constant takedowns and heavy top control, Cormier wore down Johnson. In round three, Cormier would slip in the rear-naked choke and retain as UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. That was back at UFC 187 in May of 2015.
Since then, Cormier has defeated Alexander Gustafsson and Anderson Silva both via decision. Johnson on the other hand, has won three straight fights, all by knockout. He’s defeated the likes of Jimi Manuwa, Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira. This is going to be an excellent Light Heavyweight title fight and one in which it’s a coin flip who wins.
Co-Headlining the card, is an all important fight in the Middleweight contest as former UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman looks to end his two fight skid against one the most underrated fighters on the planet in Gegard Mousasi. Weidman, as I previously mentioned has dropped two straight fights. He lost his Middleweight title to Luke Rockhold and then was knocked out by a flying knee from Yoel Romero. It’s do-or-die here for Weidman, as a third straight loss would be devastating. As for Mousasi, he’s rattled off four straight victories. The last three however, have come via knockout. This fight will be Mousasi’s 50th professional fight, as well as his last on his UFC contract. With the Middleweight division in flux, this could be the last time we see Mousasi in the UFC.
Anyways, let’s get to the predictions!
UFC 210 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson – The mother load! I’m super excited for this fight, as it’s bound to be fireworks. Instead of setting up a background like I did earlier, I’m just going to breakdown what I think’s going to happen in this fight.
I believe Anthony Johnson is going to win this and it has to do with a few factors. One, this is not a short notice fight like the first one. If you remember correctly, Anthony Johnson was supposed to fight Jon Jones at UFC 187. Less than a month out, Jon Jones got suspended and stripped of his belt and in stepped Daniel Cormier. A completely different fighter than Jon Jones. Two, Johnson obviously has the most devastating knockout power in the division. Three, Cormier is 38 years old, he barely made weight for this fight (bad weight cut) and I just can’t see him beating what I assume to be an adjusted “Rumble” Johnson.
I wish Cormier would get more respect for his accomplishments and what he’s done for his age. I mean, he started mixed martial arts late and fought at Heavyweight. He could of been the champion there, but his teammate Cain Velasquez controlled that division at the time. He drops to Light Heavyweight and defeats every monster except the greatest fighter of all-time in Jon Jones. His dad was murdered and his daughter passed away, yet he’s fought through this adversity, as well as being older and less experienced to become a Champion and a dam good fighter. Sorry for the rant, but C’mon… the guy gets boo’d for no reason.
Anyways and even though I ranted for respect for Cormier, I got “Rumble” Johnson winning this via first-round knockout. I know this has been the most up-and-down and odd breakdown, but o well.
185 lbs.: Gegard Mousasi vs. Chris Weidman – What a Fight this is going to be! You got the former UFC Middleweight Champion against an underrated Gegard Mousasi. I say underrated because the guy is 41-6-2 and nobody talks about his accomplishments! He’s the former DREAM and Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and has defeated the likes of Dan Henderson, Ronaldo Souza, Hector Lombard, Mark Hunt, Vitor Belfort, etc… I could go on, but you get the point. Hell, I think the victory over a legit 265 lbs. Heavyweight in Mark Hunt should count as five wins.
Anyways, as much as I admire Gegard Mousasi and his accomplishments, I’ve got Weidman in this fight. The Former Champ has lost two fights in a row and in each, one mistake cost him the fight. He’s literally two mistakes from perhaps being undefeated, but that’s a story for another day. The main reason I’ve got Weidman is simply wrestling. He’s an elite wrestler and Mousasi has had issues with wrestlers. Although his takedown defense is solid, it’s a different story when facing monster like Weidman. Also, I just can’t see Weidman losing a third straight fight. So with that, I got Weidman winning via decision.
115 lbs.: Cynthia Calvillo vs. Pearl Gonzalez – Never heard of Pearl Gonzalez, but any added talent to the Women’s Flyweight division is good. As for Calvillo, she’s coming off a successful UFC debut, as she defeated Amanda Cooper via first round rear-naked choke. That actually happened at UFC 209, so this will be back to back pay-per-veiw fights. I can’t recall a fighter doing that before, but I’m sure it’s been done. Anyways, I got Calvillo via late submission.
170 lbs.: Thiago Alves vs. Patrick Cote – This is certainly a throw back fight, as you have two legit UFC veterans here. Both men have had at least 20 fights in the UFC, which is an incredible feat. Anyways, I’ve got Cote here. He’s a massive Welterweight, having fought most of career at Middleweight. He’s also the more capable grappler, as Alves is solely a striker. Cote can strike too, has power and a hell of chin. I mean, it took Donald Cerrone to finish Cote for the first time via strikes, in his 33rd pro fight. Don’t get me wrong, Alves can finish Cote via strikes, but I don’t see it. He’s just too hot and cold to know what Alves you’re going to get. So with that, I got Cote via decision.
155 lbs.: Will Brooks vs. Charles Oliveira – I could not be more disappointed with Will Brooks since coming over to the UFC from Bellator. He was an elite champion in Bellator, who defeated Michael Chandler twice and the second time was pure destruction. And in his UFC debut, he narrowly edges out Ross Pearson and then gets TKO’d by Alex Oliveira. Brooks did break his rib in the fight and Oliveira missed weight by 5.5 lbs, subsequently moving up to Welterweight following this fight. Anyways, Oliveira who’s fought at Featherweight the entirety of his UFC card, has finally moved up to Lightweight. I mean, he’s practically fought at Lightweight the amount of times he’s missed weight.
As for a prediction, I’m siding with Brooks. As good of a grappler and submission artist Oliveira is, Brooks has the type of wrestling to neutralize it. It just depends if the Bellator champion Brooks shows up… I’m certainly hoping so, as I’ve got Brooks via 3rd round TKO!
UFC 210 Prelims on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Mike De La Torre vs. Myles Jury – It’s been awhile since Myles Jury last fought, but it looks like the UFC gave him a fight to get him back on track here. Once touted as the next big thing, Jury won his first 6 fights in the UFC, defeating the likes of Michael Johnson and Diego Sanchez. However, Donald Cerrone ended the Myles Jury hype-train and Charles Oliveira proceeded to derail it. Nevertheless, Jury is back and I like this matchup. No offense to De La Torre, but he’s going to get buzz-sawed here. So with that, I got Jury via late TKO.
170 lbs.: Sean Strickland vs. Kamaru Usman – Fun fight, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Kamaru Usman is a future champion. Between his elite wrestling and his ever improving striking, the formula is there. No disrespect to Strickland, who is a gritty as they come. I mean, beating the likes of Tom Breese and Alex Garcia is solid. And at age 26, the sky is the limit. However, not in this fight. Usman is going to take this fight wherever he wants and I could see him putting away Strickland late. But, I’m a stick with Usman via decision.
145 lbs.: Shane Burgos vs. Charles Rosa – This is a coin flip for me. Rosa is a fun fighter who will engage in a brawl and if there is a scramble, he’s a wizard and will come out in mount somehow. However, he’s just a bit too reckless for liking and it seems like when he fights down in competition, it’s closer. With Burgus being a massive featherweight, I see him overpowering Rosa and taking this via split decision.
205 lbs.: Jan Blachowicz vs. Patrick Cummins – This seems like a loser leaves town type of fight, as both men have lost their last three of four fights. Both men are somehow tied as the #12th ranked fighter according to the UFC rankings, which just shows you how shallow the division is. Anyways, I’m siding with Cummins here. As good as Blachowicz looked on the feet against Alexander Gustafsson, it was his takedown defense that was easily exploited. Cummins is a two-time Division I All-American wrestler and if Gustafsson could easily take Blachowicz down, I don’t think Cummins should have any issues. Lot’s of rinse and repeat here from Cummins en route to a decision victory.
UFC 210 Prelims on Fight Pass (6:15 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Gregor Gillespie vs. Andrew Holbrook – I gotta admit, I was very impressed by Andrew Holbrook when he defeated Jake Matthews. I honestly thought he had no chance, especially considering the momentum and progression Matthews had shown. However, I’m not siding with him here. He’s a bit wild at times, which plays right into Gillespie’s grappling. I expect a healthy dose of takedowns and heavy top control en route to a decision victory.
155 lbs.: Josh Emmett vs. Desmond Green – This is a fun fight, but I got Emmett here. I’ve been super impressed, as he defeated a veteran in Jon Tuck in his debut and then followed that up with a victory over a wrestler in Scott Holtzman. Emmett is pretty well rounded, as he’s got excellent takedown defense and fast hands with power. If I were to compare Emmett to any fighter, I’d probably say Clay Guida. As for Desmond Green, I believe he’s got potential, but at this current moment he’s only serviceable everywhere. Emmett is going to swarm him and I could very well see a finish here, but I’m just going to side with the decision victory by Emmett.
135 lbs.: Irene Aldana vs. Katlyn Chookagian – This should be a fun fight, as these two girls like to keep the fight on the feet and strike. Aldana, in her UFC debut showed a high output of strikes and a hell of a chin, as Leslie Smith tagged her several times. As for Chookagian, in her last outing she was bullied by wrestler Liz Carmouche in her lone UFC defeat. Like I said before, this one is going to take place on the feet and I believe that Aldana is the better striker. Chookagian is also a high volume striker, but she has no power and low accuracy. Aldana has some power and she’s a pressure fighter, which is essential for “Octagon control”. So with that, I have Aldana taking this via decision.
125 lbs.: Magomed Bibulatov vs. Jenel Lausa – I still don’t get why the UFC let Kyoji Horiguchi go, but at least they signed the very talented Magomed Bibulatov. With a perfect 13-0 record, the Russian born prospect looks like he could be a future challenger to Flyweight kingpin Demetrious Johnson. As for a prediction, it’s pretty clear I’m high on Bibulatov. I expect him to takedown and control Lausa for three rounds, en route to a decision victory.