The Ultimate Fighting Championship gears up for the first pay-per-view fight card in April with a rematch for the UFC light heavyweight championship.
Reigning champion, Daniel Cormier, will look to defend his belt against #1 contender Anthony Johnson. Cormier has already defeated Johnson back at UFC 187 after Jon Jones pulled out of the bout due to a hit-and-run incident. DC was the winner via a rear-naked choke in the third round.
There are five fights in total on the main card, we preview and predict the bouts below in the UFC’s second event in New York.
MAIN EVENT – UFC LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
205lbs – Daniel Cormier (C) (18-1) vs. Anthony Johnson (22-5)
UFC 210 leaves much to be desired compared to other scheduled UFC events, but there is no denying that the main event is highly anticipated.
Cormier was originally scheduled to meet Johnson at UFC 206 but pulled out of the fight through injury; adding to the list of American Kickboxing Academy fighters to have fights cancelled.
DC is arguably the best grappler in the UFC today, combining his excellent wrestling with a dangerous submission game. He has just one loss on his UFC record via a unanimous decision against Jones at UFC 182. He defended his crown against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192 before beating Anderson Silva at UFC 200.
The challenger could be considered the scariest knockout artist in the UFC, winning his last three fights via KO since his loss to Cormier. After knocking out Jimi Manuwa, he took out Ryan Bader in round one and also stopped Glover Teixeira after just 16 seconds. Johnson was training for Jones before the bout was cancelled meaning a full training camp for Cormier should see a much-improved Rumble in the second fight.
Johnson has legitimate knockout power, but Cormier was dropped by Rumble before and managed to recover. If DC can take some more big hits on the chin, he should be favourite to retain his light heavyweight crown.
Prediction: Cormier via decision
185lbs – Chris Weidman (13-2) vs. Gegard Mousasi (41-6-2)
The co-main event in Buffalo is also of championship calibre. While there is no belt on the line, both men will be looking to stake their claim for a title shot in arguably the most stacked division in the UFC.
Chris Weidman is the former UFC middleweight champion but now faces the biggest fight of his career after losing back-to-back fights. He lost his title to Luke Rockhold via knockout and was also on the receiving end of a devastating flying knee from Yoel Romero at UFC 205.
Sections of UFC fans called for Weidman to have a tune-up fight, a bout against a lower ranked opponent to get him back into the groove. However, the All-American picked a fight with former Strikeforce champion, Gegard Mousasi. The Iranian-born fighter has been on a tear, holding a four-fight win streak with three coming via KO.
A win for either fighter would put them into title contention, but with Michael Bisping currently scheduled to face Georges St-Pierre and Romero waiting in the wings, it might be a while before they fight for UFC gold.
Prediction: Mousasi via KO
REST OF MAIN CARD
125lbs – Cynthia Calvillo (4-0) vs. Pearl Gonzalez (6-1)
A strawweight between Cynthia Calvillo and Pearl Gonzalez was the final addition to the lineup in Buffalo and will be the second women’s fight on the card.
Calvillo made her debut at UFC 209, making short work of Amanda Copper winning via rear-naked choke in the first round. She took this fight on short notice, just a 35-day turnaround. Trained at the highly acclaimed Team Alpha Male gym, Calvillo could be the next star in the strawweight division.
She faces a much more experienced fighter in Gonzalez, who has not lost since 2012. She is equally as impressive on the ground and four submission victories by armbar to her name. She will be eager to impress on her UFC debut but faces a tough test in Calvillo who could hold the advantage in the striking department.
Prediction: Calvillo via submission
170lbs – Thiago Alves (21-11) vs. Patrick Cote (20-10)
Next up is a welterweight bout between Thiago Alves and Patrick Cote.
Alves spent two years as a lightweight in the UFC but didn’t fight at 155lbs as he struggled to make the lower weight. He moves back up to 170lbs on the back of two losses against Carlos Condit and Jim Miller. Pitbull needs a win to get his career back on track or could find himself fighting for another promotion.
He faces an extremely dangerous opponent in Cote, but he is also coming off a loss to Donald Cerrone. The Predator has fought at middleweight in the past so should have the size advantage which could be pivotal in this battle. Both fighters are vicious strikers so whoever lands the first big shot could have their hand raised.
Prediction: Cote via KO
155lbs – Will Brooks (18-2) vs. Charles Oliveira (21-7)
Kicking off the main card, we have a lightweight contest between two very talented fighters.
Charles Oliveira was an elite featherweight but struggled due to a severe weight cut meaning lightweight could be the perfect division for the Brazilian. However, he is coming off back-to-back losses to Anthony Pettis and Ricardo Lamas so is in desperate need of a victory at 155. Oliveira also revealed he’s expecting the birth of his first child on the day of the fight meaning he may not be at 100%.
He faces Will Brooks who had his nine-fight win streak ended by Alex Oliveira at UFC Fight Night 96. The former Bellator fighter is a slick striker and can take the fight to the ground if necessary. Oliveira is deadly on the ground, but Brooks is adept at defending submission attempts. If he can manage to avoid being caught, he should hold an advantage on the feet. But if Oliveira can continue his impressive record of submissions, it could be a bad night for Brooks.
Prediction: Oliveira via submission.
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