UFC 211 Miocic vs Dos Santos 2 is upon us, and mixed-martial arts fans everywhere cannot wait for this Saturday’s card in Dallas which is easily the biggest card of 2017. Free from twitter squabbles and divisions in disarray, UFC 211 offers a fight card with two undisputed championship titles on the line. Additionally, there are two bouts where the winners become de-facto number one contenders, if they are victorious. If those four fights were not enough, fans also will get a recently dethroned champion making his comeback fight against a top 10 opponent to close out the free Fox Sports 1 undercard.Cards like these, make casual fans tune in, while also satisfying hardcore fans calls for the best to fight the best. I hope the card lives up to the hype, and is a lucrative event for the promotion allowing them to see, that you do not need a soap opera to sell great MMA action. I’ll breakdown some of the best fights on the card and offer some fight predictions and hopefully help your bank accounts. Let’s get to the fights:
Notable Preliminary Fights:
Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez (3rd vs Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier (9th) (Lightweight 155lbs)
Preview: The last time fans saw Eddie Alvarez, he was on the receiving end of a thorough beating at the hands of the new Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor. Alvarez was obviously dejected losing his first title defense to the Irishman but he appeared to understand his career was not over just because he lost the belt. He took a little time off and now finds himself returning to the Octagon against another talented opponent and fellow member of “McGregor stopped us” fight club member Dustin Poirier. Poirier has won 5 out of his last 6 fights since moving to the Lightweight division after his loss to McGregor two years ago. He’s adjusted well to the 155lbs weight limit sans the devastating knockout loss to Michael Johnson, has looked like a legit contender in the division. However, Eddie Alvarez will be his toughest opponent at Lightweight as both men have very similar skill sets. Poirier typically relies on his great MMA wrestling base mixed with brute physicality in his striking and grappling to overwhelm his opponents. Unfortunately, this is eerily similar to how Eddie Alvarez likes to bust up his opponents. Alvarez enjoys doing the dirty work, dirty boxing, and turning his fights into nasty affairs. He has excellent takedown defense, which gives him an edge against Poirier who uses his strength more than technique to defend takedowns with mixed results. This fight has the potential to end in the 1st round or be back and forth slugfest between two guys who don’t have quit in them and may feel like they are fighting a carbon copy of one another. The biggest X factor heading into the fight is where Alvarez’s chin & head are at coming after the TKO loss to McGregor. I suspect we will see Poirier try to test his chin early with some decisive early first round aggression. How Alvarez responds to that early pressure could decide the entire outcome of the fight.
Odds: Alvarez (+105) vs Poirier (-125)
Prediction: I was a little surprised when I saw Poirier listed a slight favorite over Alvarez. Poirier has looked great at 155lbs but the Johnson loss still shows he can get knocked out by a very good striker. Alvarez is a very good striker, who will feel at home if Poirier tries to engage in a rough physical fight. Alvarez’s win over Dos Anos is better than any win Poirier has had in his career; so I just can’t see picking against the former champ unless he just doesn’t come back the same post the McGregor loss. I’ll roll the dice that Alvarez’s chin and demeanor are back and take the plus odds on a man who on the surface appears determined to get his belt back.
(Alvarez via TKO (+105))
Notable Main Card Fights:
Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (2nd) vs Yair “El Pantera” Rodriguez (7th) (Bantamweight 145lbs)
Preview: Frankie Edgar vs Yair Rodriguez is somehow slept on as one of the top fights on this card despite it being an incredible matchup. Frankie Edgar has been a perennial top contender and former champion in the Bantamweight division and faces what many believe could be the next generation of the 145lbs weight class in Yair Rodriguez. Initially Edgar thought the UFC made the fight because they were trying to build Rodriguez up at his expense. However, it was recently revealed that the young star in the making requested the fight himself, likely against the UFC’s wishes. No one can knock Rodriguez for wanting to fight the best the division has to offer and earn his way to his first title shot. However, Frankie Edgar is a massive jump up in the competition he has faced so far in his young career and will certainly test how real “El Pantera” is as a contender. It’s clear Frankie Edgar holds the experience advantage, as well as a sizeable wrestling advantage over Rodriguez. However, there is a massive size difference between the two; with Rodriguez being a full 5 inches taller than Edgar. He’ll also maintain a 3 inch reach advantage which bodes well for Rodriguez’s skillful striking. Rodriguez has shown off his striking in brilliant fashion with some highlight real knockouts, but he’s quietly struggled with middle of the road fighters Charles Rosa and Alex Caceras. He cannot afford a disappointing effort like he’s had in those fights against a monster like Edgar. Frankie Edgar knows he may only get one more title shot before his career is over, and a loss to Rodriguez would put those chances in jeopardy. He will not get intimidated by Rodriguez’s striking as he has been in the octagon with the best in the world and never been stopped. The fight being a non-main event & non-title fight makes it only a 3 round affair. Edgar’s gas tank is legendary for 5 round fights, so two fewer rounds will mean Rodriguez must deal with non-stop pressure from Edgar from the opening bell. Rodriguez is going to have to earn Edgar’s respect early to keep him off of him, and even if he hurts Edgar it still likely won’t stop his aggression. I expect Rodriguez’s camp to focus on scoring points, and staying out of danger along the cage that would allow Edgar to grapple or take Rodriguez down. They’ll have to make sure Rodriguez does not improvise too much and find himself sloppily missing a strike allowing Edgar the opening he needs to take him down. I’m fairly certain Edgar’s camp is going to do everything they can to test Rodriguez’s cardio and grappling, and likely believe that they can get him to wilt under the pressure vs his first top-tier opponent on a major pay-per-view card.
Odds: Edgar (-129) vs Rodriguez (+109)
Prediction: When they first announced this fight I was really surprised that the promotion would risk one of their few young rising stars against one of the most technically sound & well-rounded fighters in the division. I really like Yair Rodriguez and I respect his courage for taking on such a top caliber fighter like Edgar. However, I do not like going from fighting a completely washed BJ Penn to a top-level title contender fight. I would have preferred to see Rodriguez against Chan Sung Jung or Anthony Pettis before jumping up to a Edgar or Swanson caliber type fighter. Rodriguez’s very inexperienced jiu-jitsu and non-existent wrestling are huge obstacles to overcome against such a tough fighter like Edgar. I do think Rodriguez will fight for a title one day, but I don’t think that will be any time soon as I think Edgar shows him what its like to fight a legit polished élite fighter in the division. Edgar has an underrated submission game, and he recently submitted a monster in Cub Swanson. I think once Edgar gets Rodriguez to the mat, it’s going to end in fairly quick fashion via submission. Getting Frankie at close to even money is as close to free money as you can get in this sport.
(Edgar via submission (-129)) / (Bonus Play: Edgar via Submission +650)
Demian Maia (3rd) vs Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal (5th) (Welterweight 170lbs)
Preview: Demian Maia arguably should have gotten a title fight prior to his last fight but he refuses to sit on the sidelines, so the UFC has given him an absolute beast of an opponent in Jorge Masvidal. Both men looked really rough during Friday’s weigh-ins so both men may have some cardio issues if they had particularly tough weight cuts. However, both men know they have a title shot on the line if they can impressively dispatch their opponent so I expect a war. Masvidal is going to push the pace but still keep the necessary distance to prevent Maia from taking him to the mat. Masvidal is explosive, and can change a fight with a single strike as shown by his upset win over Donald Cerrone, so Maia cannot relax or get complacent. I expect Masvidal will use his kicks to keep that distance and hurt Maia any time he attempts to try to take him down. Maia’s team knows though that it only takes one successful takedown by the human anaconda Maia to finish a fight. Masvidal’s takedown defense is very good as he’s stuffed 80% of the takedown attempts against him. However, Maia is a very large 170lbs who can also sink in a submission attempt during scrambles and transitions. This will further complicate Masvidal’s defense as it’s not just enough to stuff the takedown vs Maia, he has to quickly get away from Maia’s clinch and get back into space where he’ll likely have most of his success against Maia. The good news for Masvidal is that he only needs to keep his pace for 3 rounds, and if he can steal one of the first two rounds, it will force Maia to potentially abandon his patient stalking style.
Odds: Maia (+109) vs Masvidal (-129)
Prediction: This fight is truly a tossup in my opinion and I could honestly see either man getting his hand rasied after this fight. However, I just think it’s Maia’s time and that his striking has improved enough, so that it’s no longer a liability in his game. I think Maia will setup Masvidal who knows he is looking for a big knockout blow and will use his aggression to get him to the mat. Once Masvidal hits the mat, I think it’s all over for him. I think Maia stops him sometime in the 2nd round via an impressive choke submission victory and setting up his long-awaited UFC welterweight title fight against Woodley. Due to looking rough at the weight cut, I think it’s a steal to get Maia at plus odds.
(Maia via Submission (+109))
UFC Women’s Straw Weight Title Fight
Joannna Jedrzejczyk (Champion) vs Jessica Andrade (3rd) (Straw weight Championship 115lbs)
Preview: Jessica Andrade is a good straw weight fighter, but not a particularly great one. She’s riding a three fight winning streak after losing in disappointing fashion to Raquel Pennington. Most nights she would hold her own against most of the women in the UFC’s 115lbs division. The problem is she’s fighting the fiercest 115lbs fighter in the world and undefeated current champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who is definitely not like the rest of the division. Jedrzejczyk sizable three-inch height and reach advantage which is perfect for such a lethal striker. The reach disadvantage for Andrade only makes her task of closing the distance even more difficult. Her only chance is to force this fight into a phone booth and drag the champ to the mat and make it ugly. This is obviously easier said than done, as Jedrzejczyk has steadily improved her takedown defense and has found ways to get up against wrestlers better than Andrade. I expect Andrade’s camp is telling her to go for broke in that 1st round as I think that’s likely her best chance to catch the champ off guard. Her only hope is to her the champ early, and either find herself on top during a scramble or hurt her so bad she cannot keep Andrade off of her. Jedrzejczyk’s camp likely knows that is her opponent’s strategy going in, and will probably look to counter early and weather any early storms as she settles into the fight. If Andrade can’t hurt Joanna in the 1st round or land a big takedown, I think it’s going to be a long and painful night for the challenger.
Odds: Jedrzejczyk (-175) vs Andrade (+150)
Prediction: Run don’t walk, run, to your nearest betting window to get the baddest woman on the planet getting less than -300 odds vs an undersized opponent with just solid skills. The price of this fight has steadily rose as sharp bettors continue to pound the champ and rightfully so. This isn’t a knock on Andrade, she’s really good but Jedrzejczyk is the best women’s striker in MMA & she’s in just another class than Andrade. Jedrzejczyk punishes Andrade and maybe even finishes her late, but either way she puts a beating on the challenger on way to another title defense.
(Jedrzejczyk via bloody beat down decision (-175))
UFC Heavyweight Title Fight
Stipe Miocic (Champion) vs Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos (4th) (Heavyweight Championship 240lbs)
Preview: Very rarely sequels are better than the original but I think this rematch between Dos Santos and Miocic will do just that. In their 1st fight Dos Santos out struck Miocic in a razor-thin decision victory that a few media members thought Miocic had done enough to win. The fight was good enough to win fight of the night and I suspect will see a similar back and forth battle for part 2. After the loss to Dos Santos Miocic would rattle off 4 consecutive victories during which he would capture the UFC heavyweight championship. He now seeks to make his third straight title defense and avenge his only loss in his last 8 fights. The champ will get a Dos Santos who’s only fought twice in the last two years since his win over Miocic. Dos Santos ran through Ben Rothwell but suffered a brutal knockout against Allstair Overeem, the man Miocic successfully defended his belt against in his last fight. Despite both men being close in height, Miocic will have a three-inch reach advantage but suffer a two-inch leg reach disadvantage. Miocic has looked unbeatable at times during his recent run as champion sans a few lapses in his fight IQ. He cannot afford any of those lapses against Dos Santos, who is always a big left hook away from a knockout. Miocic utilizes his size and footwork to keep his opponents off-balance, allowing him to mix up his variety of dangerous striking and punish his opponents. Miocic has underrated strength, which goes unnoticed because he likes to strike and many do not recognize his ability to get up off the mat or grapple due to his raw strength. Dos Santos is as powerful but I still worry about the brutal knockout he suffered at the hands of Overeem. Miocic is far quicker than his last opponent Ben Rothwell. Dos Santos cannot gamble with his defense, like he could against a much slower fighter like Rothwell. I think Dos Santos must find some success with his jab to keep Miocic honest or he will face a barrage of strikes that could make it a really painful night for him.
Odds: Miocic (-125) vs Dos Santos (+115)
Prediction: This fight could easily be both ‘fight of the night’ and ‘knockout of the night’ as both men have one punch knockout power, and the chin to take a punch. I think we’ll see both men in some trouble, potentially even multiple times during the fight. However, if Miocic can prevent the lapses in fight IQ against Overeem I think he is more technically sound than Dos Santos and can find a way to avenge his loss. I think Miocic starts to find a home for his kicks in the early rounds, which will lead to a big knockout punch in either round 3 or 4. This one is great style matchup & tough fight to predict, but I’ll take the UFC heavyweight champ to keep his belt at near even money.
(Miocic via KO (-125))
UFC Prediction Record since 2016 to Date (43-39-0) (-$193.50)
-Record & predictions based on UFC Win vs Loss predictions only. Unless specified otherwise I use increments of $100 (for + odds predictions)& $110 (for – odds bets) as hypothetical wagers for each prediction.
-UFC predictions & records are for entertainment value only