UFC 210 Predictions: Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson Full Fight Card Preview

by Kevin Roberts
on March 7, 2017

With UFC 209 in the books, MMA fans will turn their focus to the other upcoming fight cards arriving in the next few months. There are some intense fights coming our way this summer, but it will be just one more month until the next big event arrives, with UFC 210 featuring a light heavyweight bout between champion Daniel Cormier and top contender, Anthony Johnson.

The hype has dwindled in the light heavyweight division ever since yet another suspension for the ever dominant Jon “Bones” Jones, but fans are still eagerly awaiting a rematch between these two heavy-hitting fighters. They get their wish in late April, when Cormier vs. Johnson II headlines an underrated UFC 210 event at in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, April 8th.

There is more to this fight card than the headlining act, while fans are sure to be nervous going into next month as to whether or not a key fight will be ripped from the card. That’s precisely what happened at UFC 209 with the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson bout and UFC 210 may not be stacked quite enough to survive a similar gaffe.

For now, UFC 210 looks loaded enough to appease the masses, while next month’s major event also provides some solid betting opportunities. Let’s run through the matches currently listed on the card to see which way we’ll want to be leaning when we prepare to make bets on April 8th:

Gregor Gillespie vs. Andrew Holbrook

It’s not clear yet as to which fights will start out at UFC 210, but for now this bout between Gillespie (8-0) and Holbrook (12-1) is a strong candidate to either kick the show off or at least go down in the initial Prelims.

This is still a good fight on paper, as Gillespie is trying to work his way up the UFC ladder. He’s displayed a versatile skill-set to this point and is unbeaten, but it’s possible he could hit a wall when he takes on the more battle tested Holbrook. Holbrook is no slouch, as he has one career loss (KO to the undefeated Joaquim Silva), while he enters behind a solid Decision win over Jake Matthews.

Gillespie has the goods to say undefeated here, but Holbrook has a nasty floor game and will be looking for his 10th career submission. In an early look at this fight, we think he gets it.

Pick: Holbrook via Submission

Josh Emmett vs. Desmond Green

We’ve got another unbeaten putting their record on the line when Emmett (11-0) goes up against Desmond Green (19-5). As good as Emmett has been, this is a tough challenge for him in his quest to remain undefeated and work his way up the UFC ladder, as Green is tough as nails (has never been knocked out) and knows how to grind home wins (13 career Decision wins).

Green’s solid striking will make Emmett work for this one, while his knack for gutting out fights makes him a tough fighter to bet against. Emmett will look for the splash win here, but with it difficult to come by, we tend to favor newcomer Green, who .

Pick: Green via Decision

Thiago Alves vs. Patrick Cote

MMA fans get a big name in the early stages of UFC 210, as veteran fighter Thiago Alves (21-11) will go to work against Patrick Cote (23-10). Alves has fallen off after a brilliant start to his career, struggling lately to the tune of a 4-6 run over his last 10 fights.

That rough spell was heightened by a TKO loss to Carlos Condit, but Alves had otherwise been losing Decisions to a variety of fighters. While Alves hasn’t been able to finish the job much in the past seven years, he’s still a talented and experienced fighter than can’t be taken lightly.

Cote certainly won’t be looking past Alves raw knockout power (12 career KOs), even though we haven’t seen the storied veteran deliver as many damaging blows as he has in the past. Cote isn’t some scrub MMA fodder, however, as he brings serious striking to the table himself (9 career KOs) and comes in in solid form (6-2 over his last eight fights).

Cote’s only miscues recently were understandable defeats to Donald Cerrone and Stephen Thompson, while he’s sent the likes of Ben Saunders and Joshua Burkman packing (KO) recently. As solid as Cote is, this is a pretty even fight and it may be time for Alves to get back on track again. Predicting a KO feels like a bit of a reach, but Alves is arguably the better fighter and we like him to earn the Decision.

Pick: Alves via Decision

Kamaru Usman vs. Sean Strickland

Usman (9-1) and Strickland (18-1) give us another interesting fight between two dangerous strikers that have fallen just once in their careers. Strickland has the far more impressive resume, as he lost a Decision to Santiago Ponzinibbio back in 2015, but has remained virtually indestructible elsewhere.

Strickland boasts a versatile skill-set and and also comes into this match hot, winning each of his last three fights. Usman can say the same, as he hasn’t lost since being submitted by Jose Caceres back in 2013. Usman comes in with some impressive punching power (5 career KOs) and a ridiculous 8-fight winning streak.

With these guys both being extremely talented and reluctant to let fights end early, this one figures to go the distance. The early edge lies in favor of Strickland, who is a little more experienced and probably less likely to go down early.

Pick: Strickland via Decision

Will Brooks vs. Charles Oliveira

Ill Will Brooks (18-2) looks to bounce back from a knockout loss to Alex Oliveira from back in October, and he’ll be attempting to do so in just his third UFC fight against the far more battle tested Charles Oliveira (21-7).

Both fighters have plenty of experience, but this Oliveira has been hanging around the UFC for some time, bumping heads with big names such as Frankie Edgar, Anthony Pettis and Ricardo Lamas. Those matchups have not ended well for Oliveira, but the level of competition he’s faced is startling and overall his resume looks a lot cleaner than Brooks’, who got beat down in just his second UFC run.

The advantage figures to lean Oliveira’s way, even though he’s 0-2 in his last two bouts and 1-3 over his last four. The reality is he’s simply a highly dangerous fighter, as he can win this fight standing up, but would not mind at all (13 career submissions) if things worked their way to the ground.

Brooks is a tough fighter with a good record and nice striking ability, but his impression thus far in the UFC leaves something to be desired. It’s not a great bet he bounces back with a big win over a more well traveled fighter.

Pick: Oliveira via Decision

Shane Burgos vs. Charles Rosa

Hurricane Burgos (8-0) hits UFC 210 next month, where Shane Burgos will battle Charles Rosa (11-2). This looks like a fairly even match on paper, with the versatile Burgos and his undefeated record likely entering as the light favorite.

Rosa shouldn’t be completely overlooked, as he’s tough as nails (zero KO or submission losses) and a great defensive fighter, while also being a major threat on the ground. Rosa also has far more UFC experience and is a little more battle tested when you look at the competition he’s gone up against.

Pick: Rosa via Submission

Katlyn Chookagian vs. Irene Aldana

Chookagian (8-1) will look to pick up the pieces at UFC 210, as she’ll take on Irene Aldana (7-3), following a Split Decision loss to the tough Liz Carmouche. That’s not a bad loss on paper, while Chookagian seemed to be on the rise after a solid 8-0 start.

Gone is the mystique of a perfect record for Chookagian, however, and now she’ll have to prove herself again with a vicious striker in Aldana (5 career KOs) coming at her. Aldana hasn’t been any better (0-1) in the UFC thus far, but she’s a nasty striker and will certainly give Chookagian a tough fight.

It’d be easy to side with Chookagian here and assume her stellar defense and grit will get her a 6th career Decision win, but she couldn’t finish the job in her last fight and could be at risk of her first KO loss. Aldana knows how to finish fights and while this one very well could go the distance, we like her chances of sending Chookagian packing early.

Pick: Aldana via KO

Patrick Cummins vs. Jan Blachowicz

This will hopefully be one of the easier fights to call at UFC 210, as Cummins (8-4) has gotten slapped around lately (1-3 in his last four fights) with all three of his most recent losses coming as a KO or TKO. It hasn’t been good for Cummins, who is certainly a lethal striker in his own right, but has defensive lapses and has proven too easy to lay out.

That’s music to Blachowicz’s ears, as the 34-year old is just as dangerous of a striker but brings a little more versatility to the table as a floor specialist, as well. Blachowicz has also been more impressive in the loss column, as he’s endured some tough Decision losses and hasn’t been nearly as vulnerable to early defeats.

This matchup favors Blachowicz from top to bottom. He can win this fight three different ways if he just keeps Cummins at bay, while a KO win is on the horizon given how shaky Cummins has been as of late.

Pick: Blachowicz via KO

Chris Weidman vs. Gegard Mousasi

The second biggest fight at UFC 210 is a bout between two of the best middleweight talents around, as Chris Weidman (13-2) will look to snap back from two straight horrific KO losses to upend Mousasi (41-6).

That’s a lot easier said than done, as Mousasi is among the most deadly UFC fighters, as he’s delivered a staggering 22 career knockouts, but has remained highly unpredictable thanks to 12 submission wins and 7 Decision victories, as well.

The point here is the 31-year old Mousasi is ridiculously experienced and absolutely lethal in every way. Weidman certainly isn’t a one-trick pony, but he’s beginning to look like a flash in the pan after two extremely convincing defeats to Luke Rockhold (who he lost his title belt to) and Yoel Romero.

Those are two high level fighters and Weidman did take down Anderson Silva (twice) and Vitor Belfort, but he seems to be regressing and this might be too stiff of a challenge. Mousasi is too hard to hit (one career KO loss) and is simply a monster in all facets of MMA. His track record speaks for itself, too, with Mousasi scoring huge wins over the likes of Dan Henderson, Thiago Santos and Vitor Belfort. He also avenged his only KO loss of his career by ending Uriah Hall via punches in his last fight.

Mousasi should enter this fight as the clear favorite, but he’s been heating up and has his eyes set high atop the middleweight class. A win here would get him his fifth straight win and talk of a title shot should only grow louder. Given how vulnerable Weidman has been lately, another early finish via KO seems likely here.

Pick: Mousasi via KO

Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson

The fight of the night unfortunately could end up being extremely boring, as Daniel Cormier’s fighting style is slow and boring for the most part. It’s also highly effective, helping the 37-year old work his way to an impressive 18-1 record in his pro MMA career.

Cormier remains the light heavyweight champion and will take on Anthony Johnson for the second time. The two met first at UFC 187 and Cormier pulled off a rear-naked choke to end things in round three. This second meeting should garner plenty of hype, as the title belt will be on the line and Johnson was hanging in there before being submitted in the first go-around.

Cormier is a very tough out, of course. He’s never lost via KO or submission and the only Decision loss of his career came against one of the best fighters ever in Jon Jones. Considering how he handled Johnson the first time, it’s understandable to assume this second fight won’t be much different.

Vegas agrees so far, as top UFC betting sites like Bovada currently give Cormier (-120) the edge over Johnson (-110). It’s a pretty even matchup, as you can see, while Johnson (22-5) is certainly a dangerous threat thanks to an amazing striking game (16 career KOs).

The play for Cormier will be to work this fight to the ground and either submit Johnson again or punch away at him once he has good positioning. If the odds favored chasing a Johnson win, we might support it. Johnson is a nasty hitter who has ended each of his last three bouts via punches and aside from his submission loss to Cormier in 2015, is a startling 12-0 in his other 12 fights.

Cormier is a very mild favorite here and while there isn’t a whole lot of upside with Johnson, we love his striking and toughness. It’s never easy to beat the same guy twice, especially when they’re this talented. Look for the younger and more explosive Johnson to get the best of Cormier this time around.

Pick: Johnson via Decision
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