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An extensive preview of UFC 214, with predictions

By - Jul 28, 2017

By Weston DeWitt/for the Sporting Nation 


UFC 214 has been one the most highly anticipated cards in its history and it is finally here.

The PPV card will feature five-high energy fights at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, which includes some strong fan favorites and three title fights. 

Jon "Bones" Jones and Daniel Cormier will battle for light heavyweight supremacy in the main event. Jones and Cormier have not been shy in vocalizing their dislike for one another and they will settle the score with their fists once and for all on Saturday night.

In the first bout on the main card, the No. 3 light heavyweight contender Jimi Manuwa will take on the No. 5 contender Volkan Oezdemir.

Manuwa will come into Saturday night with a record of 17-2 and will also look to further solidify his case that he deserves a title shot against the winner of the main event. In his last fight, the 37-year old headlined UFC Fight Night in London and knocked out Corey Anderson in the first round.

Manuwa was in attendance for UFC 210 in Buffalo when Cormier defeated Anthony Johnson for the second time to retain his belt. After the fight, Cormier addressed the possibility of facing Manuwa by saying, “You just beat Corey Anderson. Sit down young man.” Manuwa responded by insinuating he could knock Cormier out with one punch.

On the other side, Oezdemir could make a case that he deserves a title shot of his own. He comes into this fight on a four-fight win streak, including a first-round, 28-second knockout of Misha Cirkunov back in May.

The second fight on the main card has the former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler returning to the octagon for the first time since July of 2016. He will square off against a fan favorite and one of the UFC’s most vibrant personalities in Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.

The two were originally scheduled to fight at UFC 213 in Las Vegas earlier this month, but an injury to Cerrone forced him to back out of the fight and carry it on to UFC 214.

Lawler lost his belt to Tyron Woodley back at UFC 201 in Atlanta by a first-round knockout. Prior to that, he had successfully defended his belt in three different fights. The 35-year old southpaw will have a reach advantage over Cerrone by one inch.

Cerrone has been all over the UFC map in his career. Whether it’s in the lightweight or welterweight division, he has rarely failed to disappoint the fans with his fighting style. The sixth-ranked contender in the welterweight division recently lost in his hometown of Denver to Jorge Masvidal, bringing his total record to 32-8-1.

This was his second fight within a span of two months. Cerrone will have the height and leg reach advantage when the two square off on Saturday night.

The first of three title fights will begin with Cris Cyborg making her return to the octagon to face Tonia Evinger for the women’s featherweight championship.

The two ladies are both former Strikeforce champions, but in the eyes of the public, Cyborg has a huge advantage over Evinger in this fight.

Cyborg has not fought in the UFC since September of 2016. In her UFC debut back in May of 2005, she lost in a first-round submission to Erica Paes. Since then, she has a record of 17 wins, 0 losses and one no contest.

Evinger is not somebody who Cyborg will want to take lightly. She comes into this fight having won 10 of her last 11 fights. She will also have a two-inch reach advantage.

“I think I’m the underdog every time,” said Evinger on Monday in a conference call. “It’s just one of the roles I play. We are just two dominating champions and I think it’s a super fight. It’s definitely one to watch.”

This is the second ever title fight in the women’s featherweight division. Germaine de Randamie was the inaugural champion after she defeated Holly Holm at UFC 208 in Brooklyn, N.Y. But as time wore on, Dana White stripped her of the title due to her unwillingness to fight Cyborg.

In the co-main event, Tyron Woodley looks to defend his belt for the third straight time when he faces one of the game's most talented jiu-jitsu fighters in Demian Maia.

Woodley is coming off a victory over Stephen Thompson after the two had an epic fight which ended in a no contest at UFC 205. Winning by decision, Woodley came back and took care of business at UFC 209 against Thompson.

He is known as one of the most fearsome strikers in the UFC. His striking power versus the ground game wizardry of Maia will make for an intriguing fight. He will also have a two-inch reach advantage over Maia.

Maia had been looking for his title shot for quite some time and he put the finishing touches on his case at UFC 211 when he defeated Masvidal by decision. He was informed immediately after the fight that he would be getting his title shot.

To cap off the evening in the main event, the UFC’s most bitter rivalry will be at the epicenter of the sports world when Jones and Cormier go five rounds for the light heavyweight championship.

Their history has been well documented as they have both displayed a level of dismay for one another.

Jones became the youngest champion in UFC history at the age of 23 when he defeated Maurício Rua at UFC 128. He successfully defended his belt eight times. One of the times he defended his belt was against Cormier at UFC 182.

He was painted in the eyes of the public as arguably the most talented fighter the sport had ever seen.

During a promotional event for UFC 178, the two faced off and Cormier butted heads with Jones, who then threw a left-hand punch causing an all-out brawl. As a result, both fighters had to be restrained by event organizers. Jones was fined $50,000 and was ordered to do 40 hours of community service by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

The two took their frustrations out on each other on January 3, 2015 and Jones came away with a unanimous decision victory.

But legal troubles and personal issues with Jones came to the forefront and took over his life, forcing the UFC to strip him of his title.

Jones pleaded guilty to a DUI charge in 2012. He was also involved in a hit-and-run incident in 2015 when he allegedly ran a red light with his rental car and hit two other vehicles. He was sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation.

He then made his return to the UFC against Ovince Saint Preux at UFC 197. The original main event was scheduled to be the Jones-Cormier rematch, but Cormier was forced to pull out of the fight due to injury. Jones won by unanimous decision and won the interim light heavyweight championship.

Since Jones was stripped of his title, Cormier has taken full advantage. He won the title just four months after his original match with Jones in 2015, when he defeated Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 to become the new champion. Since then, the belt has been with Cormier and he has successfully defended it two more times.

In July of 2016, the two rivals were scheduled once again to square off at UFC 200 in Las Vegas. But three days prior to the fight, Jones tested positive in another drug test and was pulled from the fight. Cormier ended up facing Anderson Silva and Cormier won by unanimous decision.

“What hurts me the most about UFC 200 was everything that people didn’t see what I had done to get back to that point,” said Jones on the conference call. “Things got really ugly for me, the lawsuits, the probation, the court stuff, it was so ugly. It took me a long time and a lot of effort to get back to UFC 200. I was so proud to show my fans that you can come back from anything. To have the world try and delegitimize 10 years of being undefeated because of a sex pill, it really hurt.”

“After the initial shock of the fight getting cancelled, I just went back to preparing myself,” said Cormier. “As a professional, you just have to get back up on the horse. I was informed very quickly after he was out of the fight that they were going to put something together.”

Here they are a year later now getting ready to headline UFC 214 in Anaheim.

“I feel like this win on Saturday is going to allow the fans to almost forgive and almost forget about that hit-and-run car accident and to get excited about my future,” said Jones. “I think getting the belt back is going to set everything in the right direction for people to remember why I am an exciting fighter.”

“The guy has no idea what he is in for,” said Cormier. “Let him do his job in selling the fight and I will collect my check and defend my belt on Saturday.”

Jones will have a significant reach advantage of 12 inches over Cormier. He will also have the height and leg reach advantage in this fight. Both fighters are known for their strong ground games and both fighters have expressed improvement as boxers in their training camps.

But for Jones, this fight isn’t just about winning the belt back and defeating a man who has caused him frustration. It’s about legacy for him.

“This fight has nothing to do with Daniel Cormier,” he said. “It could be anybody; it could be Johnson or (Alexander) Gustafson that got the belt in my absence. This fight for me is about legacy and it always has been. I have been in this position so many times as kind of an antagonist and for me, it’s always been about chasing greatness and that’s why I’m here.”

Now that no one has failed a drug test or made disqualifiing mistakes away from the octagon, the two warriors will go toe-to-toe and see who truly is the best.

“I don’t care if he has made changes in his life,” said Cormier. “I could give two (expletives) about if he goes to church every day and he’s reading his Bible and doing everything perfectly right, I don’t care. All I care about is getting into the octagon on Saturday.”

“This whole thing has become an attack on my character,” said Jones. “When people ask Daniel about what he thinks about me inside the octagon, he has (expletive) to say about me. I’m here to fight, I don’t give a crap what people think about me at this stage in career, not even an ounce.”



Manuwa vs. Oezdemir

Both of these warriors have the ability to knock each other out. Manuwa seems like he is upset he didn’t get the title shot against Cormier and he should be coming out looking to make a huge statement. Both guys will land big shots.

Manuwa – TKO – Round 2

Lawler vs. Cerrone

These two guys, especially Cowboy, are a pure joy to watch. Watching Lawler try to make his way back to the belt will be fun to see. Lawler hasn’t fought in almost a year now. Cowboy will be able to take a punch, but with Lawler’s ferocious power and ability to find the open gaps, he’ll come out on top, barely.

Lawler – Unanimous Decision

Cyborg vs. Evinger

You have to give Evinger a punch. Can see Cyborg landing clean shots then getting Evinger to the ground where she will finish her off

Cyborg – Submission – Round 2

Maia vs. Woodley

Ground game vs. Striking. Always a confusing one. With Woodley, this guy has proven he can handle being on the mat. Maia will take a punch and throw a few at Woodley. When it’s on the ground, Maia will have the upper hand, but Woodley should land enough shots to score a close win.

Woodley – Unanimous Decision

Cormier vs. Jones

Jones has not been in a fight since UFC 197. The time off is the only thing that’s scary when you think about weaknessess with Jon. His ground and punching game is nearly flawless. Daniel was able to hang with Jon for five round in the first fight. Could see it going distance again. Cormier will come out hitting Jones strong and both will continue to get their shots in. When it gets to the mat, expect to see the reach advantage and size of Jones to take over. Can go either way, but the motivation for both fighters is there. The biggest question of all is who will be able to outlast the other on the mat.  

Jones – Submission – Round 4

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