The UFC returns to Buffalo this weekend with a light heavyweight title fight and a host of other exciting bouts to fill out the card. Let’s a look at how the UFC 210 main card might play out.
Will Brooks vs. Charles Oliveira
Will Brooks vs. Charles Oliveira is an exciting clash of lightweights fighting for a spot in the division’s top 15.
Oliveira, ranked ninth in the division, already has his spot but is returning to the weight class after a stint at featherweight that saw him lose three of his last four fights -- all by way of finish. So another loss here could see him bounced from the rankings completely.
He’ll need to put his world class BJJ game on full display Saturday night to remind fans why he was once one of the brightest prospects on the roster.
Brooks has been very good at defending throughout his career and especially during his time in the UFC but he’ll need to work his hardest to keep a persistent Oliveira off him. If he does that, I think he has enough tools on the feet to earn a win.
Prediction: Will Brooks by decision
Zuffa LLC via Getty ImagesBrandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC
Thiago Alves vs. Patrick Cote
Patrick Cote has revitalized his career at welterweight and he has a chance to inch closer to the top 15 if he can secure a win over former title challenger Thiago Alves on Saturday night.
Cote didn’t lose an ounce of power dropping down from middleweight as he’s finished two of his last three opponents while also gaining a bit of speed and athleticism.
“The Predator” prefers to stand and trade with opponents and Alves, who’s completed just four takedowns since 2010, will likely oblige.
“Pitbull” is returning to welterweight after a one-fight stint at lightweight and looks to continue the success he built before a setback to Carlos Condit. Alves is a deadly Muay Thai striker who throws at a high volume but only lands 41 percent of his strikes.
This fight will come down to which fighter can be more efficient with their output, and my bet is on Cote this time around.
Prediction: Patrick Cote by decision
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Pearl Gonzalez
Dana White was so impressed by Cythnia Calvillo after her showing at UFC 209 that he called for her to fight again just a month later at UFC 210 in Buffalo.
The Team Alpha Male fighter needed less than five minutes to prove she belonged in the UFC as she locked up a submission win over “Ultimate Fighter” season 23 finalist Amanda Cooper in her debut. She also showed off some crisp striking in that win -- landing 15 of 29 strikes thrown -- as she immediately became a top prospect in the strawweight division.
Her opponent, Pearl Gonzalez, is making her UFC debut after a 6-1 start to her pro career. Gonzalez is a former Golden Gloves champion, so expect her hands to be sharp -- though she’s finished four of her fights by submission.
Calvillo has the advantage of having fought under the bright lights of the UFC before but it’s tough to call who will be the better fighter in the Octagon.
Prediction: Cynthia Calvillo by decision
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Chris Weidman vs. Gegard Mousasi
The middleweight division might have the most talent-laden top 5 of any weight class in the UFC and two of the best fighters in that group throw down on Saturday night.
Weidman and Mousasi are both very well-rounded fighters so this bout looks to be a closely contested one. It will likely come down to whoever can keep the fight in their wheelhouse the longest.
Weidman should look to use his striking to set up takedowns and his elite wrestling to keep Mousasi on his back. Even then, however, he’ll need to be cautious as Mousasi is more than capable of throwing up a submission.
Mousasi will likely look to keep this fight standing, as his striking has been nearly unmatched during his current win streak. In his last three fights -- all of which have been against strikers -- he’s amassed a 98-25 advantage in significant strikes while landing at a 56 percent clip (124/219).
We’ve seen Mousasi struggle with effective grapplers in the past but the fact remains that he hasn’t been taken down since 2014, even while facing the likes of Thales Leites and Dan Henderson.
If Mousasi keeps this fight standing for long enough, I think it’s his to lose.
Prediction: Gegard Mousasi by third-round TKO
Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson
Daniel Cormier puts his light heavyweight title on the line against Anthony Johnson in a rematch of their 2015 interim title fight, where Cormier survived a first-round flurry to dominate a gassed Johnson over the next two rounds en route to the third-round submission.
It’s tough to see this fight playing out any differently than the first.
Johnson has fought and won three times since the original clash but none of those bouts lasted longer than 5 minutes and 30 seconds. So that leaves us to rely completely on his word that his gas tank has improved since that fight.
If Johnson has actually drastically improved his cardio, it’s likely going to be a long night for Cormier. “Rumble” is hands down the most devastating puncher in the light heavyweight division. That power and improved cardio, combined with Johnson’s deceptive speed and underrated wrestling could help “Rumble” take home UFC gold on Saturday.
Cormier said he plans to stand and trade with “Rumble” come fight night but I don’t buy “DC” attempting to prove himself as a striker in a title fight. Not that he can’t do it -- and even that is questionable -- but because he’s smarter than that.
I expect Cormier to utilize the same well-rounded attack that has gotten him to this point. “Rumble” will surprise us and fight strong through the second round but Cormier absorbs the punishment and shines in the championship rounds.