UFC 214 Fight-by-Fight Preview

Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones was a compelling matchup and a drama-filled fight the first time around. Two and a half years later, it may be even more interesting because there are more questions and more on the line. Is “DC” two years better, or just two years older? Is Jones the same fighter he was in 2015, with only a dominant, yet ho-hum, win over Ovince Saint Preux last year to judge him by? Oh yeah, and they don’t like each other. If you’re a fan of combat sports, this is one of those fights where you will get butterflies in your stomach before the Octagon door shuts, and that’s a good thing because you know something special is coming.

It’s an interesting matchup at 170 pounds between champion Tyron Woodley and No. 1 contender Demian Maia, and not just because of the stylistic clash. Maia has been waiting a long time for this shot at the belt and, at 39, he may believe this is his last chance to get the gold. As for Woodley, if he’s looking past Maia and to a possible megafight with Georges St-Pierre, could he get caught napping by the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wizard? There are a lot of intriguing angles to this one.

Widely considered to be the best of the best in WMMA, Cris Cyborg enters Saturday’s bout with Tonya Evinger as the rightful favorite, but it would be foolish to sleep on “Triple Threat,” who is not only an elite fighter, but one who has never been stopped by strikes. Evinger has the style to give Cyborg issues if she can close the distance and make this a grappling affair, so what some believe to be a one-sided match in favor of Cyborg could end up being the most competitive of the bunch if Evinger survives the standup blitz of the Brazilian.

What can be said about the clash between welterweight action heroes Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone? Watch it. Don’t miss it. Call your friends to watch it. The resumes and attitudes of this pair guarantee fireworks, and in a world full of disappointments, this is a bout that can make a true fight fan smile for as long as it lasts. And if it goes the full three rounds, well, that’s likely to be all-time great territory.

Get ready for me to be a broken record, because this is another great matchup on a stacked card. With the 205-pound title being fought for in the main event, Jimi Manuwa and Volkan Oezdemir have the perfect opportunity to make their case for the next shot at the belt, and with both known for their striking, it’s likely that the winner will do just that in spectacular fashion. Manuwa has to be the favorite, but Oezdemir has come blasting out of the gates in the UFC thus far, and you can’t overlook his 28-second finish of Misha Cirkunov in May.

Ricardo Lamas vs. Chan Sung Jung would have been nice, but based on his UFC run thus far, the replacement for the injured “Korean Zombie,” Jason Knight, could be dubbed “The Mississippi Zombie” for the exciting performances that have seen him go 4-0 with three post-fight bonuses since 2016. Lamas is his toughest test to date, though, and “The Bully” is hungry to stay alive in the race to get another shot at the 145-pound title.

Did I say I was going to be a broken record? Another great matchup that could be a main event on any other card is between Aljamain Sterling and Renan Barao. Yes, this bout is being fought at a catchweight of 140 pounds, but consider this Barao’s return to the bantamweight division he once ruled. It’s easy to forget that the Brazilian was on the pound-for-pound list just a few fights ago, but it shows how quickly things can change in the fight game. Saturday is an opportunity to start regaining that ground, but for Sterling, it’s his chance to start making his case for a place in the title race at 135 pounds. Good stuff.

Two of the top young fighters in the featherweight top 15, Brian Ortega and Renato Moicano square off in a clash of unbeatens that deserves a close look on Saturday. Ortega is coming off a long layoff, which could provide an opening for a fast start by Moicano, but with Ortega’s dangerous finishing game, the Brazilian may opt for the same measured strategy he employed in his win over Jeremy Stephens in April. Either way, there will be drama in this one, as there’s a lot on the line for both fighters.

New England featherweight prospect Calvin Kattar makes his UFC debut on short notice against Andre Fili, and this could be a perfect time to catch Fili napping after he lost a big fight against Dooho Choi. But then again, Fili is the kind of fighter that is always looking to steal the show, so Kattar will likely get the best version of the Team Alpha Male standout in Anaheim.

Kailin Curran hasn’t had an easy go of it in the UFC thus far, going just 1-4 in her first five bouts in the Octagon. But in the last two-plus years, she’s had the chance to figure out the lay of the land in the 115-pound weight class and what it takes to win. On Saturday, she can show off the lessons she learned, and if she can pin a loss on the perfect record of the returning Alexandra Albu, it’s a fresh start for the Hawaiian.

There’s been a lot of hype around the UFC debut of unbeaten Jarred Brooks, and while he’s had a delayed start to his Octagon career, he gets a high-profile opportunity to make an immediate impression on Saturday. TUF 24’s Eric Shelton is just as hungry to get his first UFC win, though, so expect to see plenty of fast-paced action from these flyweight prospects.

It’s been a rough stretch for Joshua Burkman since his return to the Octagon in 2015, as he’s gone just 1-5, 1 NC. So he’s got to know that it’s a must win for him against Drew Dober this weekend. Luckily for Burkman, he won’t have to look far to find Dober, and a potential Fight of the Night might ensue in the opener, which could be just what the doctor ordered for “The People’s Warrior.”


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