It’s been a rare and long lull between UFC action, but the wait has only built up the excitement for this banger of a card. On paper, UFC 211 is the best card the UFC has put together all year and it all goes does down in Dallas, Texas at the American Airlines Arena.
Headlining the card, is a Heavyweight Title fight, as well as a rematch between Champion Stipe Miocic and former Champion Junior dos Santos. The first meeting between the two, was one of the very best Heavyweight fights in UFC history. In a closely contested slobber knocker, the judges awarded dos Santos with the hard fought victory. That contest happened back in December of 2014 and a lot has changed since then, most notably, Miocic rebounded and became the UFC Heavyweight Champion. And having already defended his title once, Miocic can tie the UFC Heavyweight consecutive title defenses record of two. Only Brock Lesnar and Randy Couture have done this feat twice, which is remarkable and understandable (Heavyweights) at the same time.
Co-Headlining the card is another title fight, this one in the Women’s Strawweight division as kingpin Joanna Jedrzejczyk takes on challenger Jessica Andrade. Personally, I’m super excited for this fight, as Andrade ever since coming down from Bantamweight (135 lbs.) to Strawweight (115 lbs.) has been nothing short of a beast. In three fights, Andrade has thoroughly beat down each opponent, finishing two of them, as well as taking home two UFC bonuses. As for Jedrzejczyk, this will be her fifth title defense, as she inches toward Ronda Rousey’s record of six title defenses. And this title defense will not come easy, as other than Claudia Gadelha, Andrade definitely has the power to put away the champ.
Anyways, let’s get to the predictions!
UFC 211 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic vs. Junior dos Santos – Every Heavyweight title fight always has a buzz to it. I mean, the reason we love the division is that it has the highest finishing rate, particularly being knockouts. And the Heavyweight title is something that not many men can defend because of this. Hell, as I previously mentioned, the record for UFC Heavyweight consecutive title defenses is a mere two by Brock Lesnar and Randy Couture.
Anyways, I’ll start it with this, I have Junior dos Santos winning this fight. While he’s only won one fight since defeating Miocic back in December of 2014, he’s shown massive improvements. Even in defeat to Alistair Overeem, we saw a more technical dos Santos. Instead of slugging it out and eating a bunch of unnecessary punches, he’s using better movement and is selective in his strikes. The performance against Ben Rothwell just validated it. Now, I don’t want to put down the “Baddest Man on the Planet” because he’s the Champion for a reason. But I can’t help but to think of his title fights, in which we saw Werdum run right into his fist and Overeem fail to follow up with strikes after dropping him. I’m really nitpicking here, but whatever…like I said, I got Junior dos Santos. His ability to eat punches and stay in the fight always makes him dangerous. Add that with his boxing and power and now technical approach and I think Junior dos Santos reclaims his soul from which Cain Velasquez took. So with that, I got dos Santos via first round knockout!
115 lbs.: UFC Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Jessica Andrade – This is an excellent fight and really the best fight other than Claudia Gadelha the UFC can offer Jedrzejczyk. I believe that she is one of the best, if not the best striker in the UFC. She has shown the ability to take a punch and come back stronger. And if there is anything that the challenger Andrade is known for, is her punch. She easily has the heaviest hands in the division, which makes this a really stiff test for Jedrzejczyk.
However, I believe that Andrade’s aggressive in-your-face striking only has three rounds of somewhat consistent pace. Her style is not conducive to five rounds, so I fear that if she can’t get the job done early, she will will fade. And that’s really what I believe will happen, much like Jedrzejczyk’s fight against Gadelha. An early storm with serious adversity for Andrade, but as the fight goes deeper, Jedrzejczyk starts to take over. I actually think because Andrade’s five round gas tank is unknown, I think Jedrzejczyk has a great chance to finish this one late. In fact, I got Jedrzejczyk via 5th round TKO.
170 lbs.: Demian Maia vs. Jorge Masvidal – Man, I really feel for Maia. He’s the number one contender in the Welterweight division and the Champion Tyron Woodley is opponent-less, yet he has to fight again. And it’s got to be against a pure killer and a guy I’ve touted every time he fights in Jorge Masvidal. I even made the argument in some of my old predictions featuring him, that he could very well be undefeated in the UFC if the judges saw it the other way.
Anyways, I’ve got Masvidal winning this fight. As good as Maia is at taking guys down and submitting them, I really believe Masvidal can fend off Maia or at the very least get back to his feet if taken down. Maia has shown that with a certain pace, he can tire rather easily and when that happens, it’s going to be good night. So with that, I got Masvidal being able to expend Maia’s gas tank early and TKO’n him in the second round.
145 lbs.: Frankie Edgar vs. Yair Rodriguez – Holy Cow, this one has all the elements to either be a crazy wild fight or one in which Frankie Edgar completely neutralizes his opponent. I’ll say the latter, as Edgar to me, is one of the very best fighters in the UFC. He’s incredibly well rounded and has only lost to three fighters in his career. That would be the current UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo, the former UFC Lightweight Champion in Benson Henderson and former Lightweight title challenger in Gray Maynard. And as good as Yair Rodriguez’s dynamic striking is, I believe that he will have a tough time getting anything off his back when he’s constantly getting taken down en route to a decision victory for Edgar.
185 lbs.: David Branch vs. Krzysztof Jotko – This is an interesting fight, as you have a re-invented David Branch returning the octagon. After being released by the UFC, Branch tore it up on the regional scene, going 12-1 with his lone loss coming via Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. He went on to capture both the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight belts in WSOF simultaneously. However, he get a tough fight here, as he faces a rising Middleweight contender in Jotko. A guy that pushes a hard pace for three rounds and very well rounded. A guy that I’m picking to win this fight via decision. I believe that while Branch was impressive outside the UFC, opponent-wise, he didn’t fight any real top talent outside of Anthony Johnson. So again, I have Jotko via decision.
UFC 211 “Prelims” on FX (8 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier – Man, this is an awesome Prelim Headliner! You got the former Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez looking to bounce back from losing his title against Conor McGregor against a contender in Dustin Poirier. This could very well be a “Fight of the Night” contender and a perfect segway into the main card.
As for who I’m siding with, that would be Eddie Alvarez. While I believe the Poirier has the ability to knock out Alvarez, I just can’t side with him because of some of the holes he has shown. For one, he’s down to brawl and it got him knocked out against Michael Johnson. Another reason is in his last fight, he didn’t look dominant against an aging veteran in Jim Miller. He instead got his leg battered and was breathing heavy in the third round. He would get the nod via majority decision, by it was a fight I thought he could finish. Anyways, I believe that Alvarez will be able to stand with Poirier, as well as put his back to the mat if need be. Alvarez has shown a better ability to take a punch, as well as weather early storms. So with that, I’m taking Alvarez via decision.
145 lbs.: Jason Knight vs. Chas Skelly – This is going to be a scrap, as I expect this fight to take place everywhere. Both men are very talented, but I believe that Skelly takes this one. The one massive hole in Knight’s game that I’ve seen thus far, is his inability to stop a takedown. That’s something that I fully expect the gritty wrestler Skelly to take full advantage of en route to a hard fought decision victory.
155 lbs.: Marco Polo Reyes vs. James Vick – This could become a slobber knocker, as Polo Reyes and Vick are pure brawlers. Think of this fight like two guys locked in a phone booth, as both will be in each other’s face for as long as this last. I say that because I believe Vick will eventually finish this fight. He’s got more weapons on the feet and the ability to take this one to the mat and submit Reyes. In fact, I’m going with Vick via late submission.
265 lbs.: Rashad Coulter vs. Chase Sherman – While Chase Sherman is probably the safer pick, especially given the competition Coulter has faced, I’m not picking him. I just can’t see how his style of eating punches in order to land punches is going to lead to success at Heavyweight. I mean, he’s 0-2 in the UFC and his last fight he was knocked out. I see more of the same, as I got the Dallas born Coulter winning his UFC debut by knockout
UFC 211 Prelims on Fight Pass (6 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Jessica Aguilar vs. Cortney Casey – I’m torn in this fight, as you have the former Strawweight kingpin in Jessica Aguilar against the always game Courtney Casey. Aguilar hasn’t fought in over a year, so ring rust could be a factor. And an opponent like Casey, who is going to be in your face from the opening bell, is a rude welcome back into the octagon. However, Casey is wild and I could very well she her being put on her back and smothered by Aguilar’s superior top control. So with that, I have Aguilar taking this via decision.
145 lbs.: Enrique Barzola vs. Gabriel Benitez – Fun fight, but I have Benitez taking this one. He’s just one of those fighter that doesn’t necessarily have a dominant skillset, but he quickly makes it up with toughness and the ability to outwork his opponents in the later rounds. I think the same happens here, as I have edging this out via decision.
205 lbs.: Joachim Christensen vs. Gadzhimurad Antigulov – I was super impressed by Antigulov in his UFC debut, as he eaily took down Marcos Rogerio de Lima and then proceeded to slap on a fight ending guillotine choke 67 seconds into the fight. In fact, I see the same happening in this contest, but let’s say in the second round.