The most anticipated card of 2017 Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier brings us some fantastic matchups, including three title fights on the main card. The two non-title fights that proceed it; Robbie Lawler vs Donald Cerrone and Jimi Manuwa vs Volkan Oezdemir likely have title contention implications. The undercard boasts some interesting fights as well, namely Ricardo Lamas vs Jason Knight and Renan Barao vs Aljamain Sterling. While the odds for the title fights may not be particularly enticing, there is certainly value to be found within this card. All suggested picks are 1 unit unless otherwise specified.
Saturday’s UFC 214 main card will air live on Pay-Per-View at 10:00 P.M. ET with the prelims starting at 8:00 P.M. ET on FXX. Lets get into it:
Early Prelims/ FXX Prelims
Aleksandra Albu (-145) vs Kaillin Curran (+115):
First fight on the card I’d consider throwing any cheese on. While Aleksandra Albu is coming off a two year layoff, I don’t see it mattering much in her upcoming Strawweight bout vs. Kaillin Curran. The Russian boasts an impressive 6-0-0 record with a 100% finish rate. Kaillin Curran is a can, and my mother taught me if I don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. And I already called her a can so sorry mom. Take the Russian beauty Aleksandra Albu to win this one.
Official Pick: Aleksandra Albu at -145.
Aljamain Sterling (-125) vs Renan Barao (+105):
Since Barao lost his title to T.J. Dillashaw in devastating fashion he’s been on a one for three skid unbecoming of the former UFC Bantamweight king. Aljamain Sterling followed up a tough loss to Raphael Assuncao with a dominating decision victory versus Augusto Mendes. While it does not seem like much, the extra five pound allotment at catchweight favors the older Barao who has looked like Nosferatu’s Brazilian brother-in-law at weigh ins lately. Unfortunately for the wrestle-heavy Sterling, Barao boasts some of the best Takedown Defense in the entire UFC; having never been taken down in the UFC and only once during his WEC reign. If T.J. Dillashaw couldn’t take him down, Aljamain Sterling doesn’t have a prayer at catchweight. Despite his recent struggles, the former champ takes this one with a decision win.
Official Pick: Renan Barao at +105 (2u).
Jason Knight (-120) vs Ricardo Lamas (EV):
Ricardo Lamas has been in the unfortunate position of being a Featherweight in a division dominated by some of the top P4P fighters in the company. It’s hard to criticize him for defeats to P4P #1 Jose Aldo, skin cream Chad Mendes and Champion Max Holloway. Jason Knight is a promising prospect, yet his lack of experience within the upper echelon of fighters figures to expose him here. Knight is certainly talented enough to steal this win, but Ricardo Lamas has too much experience here to pass up this line.
Official Pick: Ricardo Lamas at EV (2u).
Jimi Manuwa (-170) vs Volkan Oezdemir (+150)
The first fight of the main card between the #3 and #5 light heavyweights could find us the next light heavyweight contender after Gustafsson fights the winner of the main event. Both fighters have considerable KO power, and will certainly deliver an exciting fight to kick off the night. I would suggest staying away from this fight, given Oezemir’s last KO win, but I do think Jimi will be too much to handle for the up and coming prospect. I think the fight certainly favors Manuwa but with KO power in both corners, it might as well be a toss up. Strong lean Jimi.
Official Pick: No bet
Robbie Lawler (-150) vs Donald Cerrone (+130)
Our second fight of the night has FOTY potential reminiscent of Gaethje vs Johnson at Welterweight. Robbie’s return to the octagon following his hiatus after a viscous knockout loss to Champion Tyron Woodley’s is no easy comeback. He takes on the tough, versatile, and often brilliant Cowboy Cerrone. Major questions coming into the contest revolve around both Lawler’s mind-frame and chin after his recent wars vs Condit and Rory. Cerrone has been in his fair share of brawls as well, and has struggled with inconsistency. I don’t see his chin holding up versus the superior boxing of Lawler.
Official Pick: Ruthless Bob at -150.
Cris “Cyborg” (-1350) vs Tonya Evinger (+900)
The UFC debut of Cyborg vs Tonya Evinger for the Featherweight Title is as much of a foregone conclusion as you will see in a title fight. Make no mistake about it, WFW was the division created to get Cyborg fighting in front of the UFC. MMA is far too volatile of a sport to ever bet on -1350 odds, with risks of breaking a leg on a checked kick or a Jon Jones v Chael Sonnen-esque toe break. There are too many avenues where Cyborg can get injured to take on that kind of risk. If my life depended on it, I would be comfortable betting on Cyborg winning this fight. Fortunately it doesn’t, which is why a small bet on Tonya Evinger at +900 is always fun.
Official Pick: No bet.
Tyron Woodley(-160) vs Demian Maia(+135):
The welterweight title contest between Tyron Woodley vs Demian Maia has been a long time coming for the Brazilian in the midst of a seven fight win streak. Tyron Woodley has thunderous KO power in that overhand right of his (just ask Lawler), and he will be looking to use it to finish the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu master Demian Maia. Pegged as a one trick pony, Maia’s stand up game still has a lot of room to improve, though he has shown development in prior fights. Woodley often tends to find his back against the cage while looking for that counter strike, which is where Maia works his best going for a takedown. If this fight gets to the ground there are few mixed martial artists in the world who can prevent Maia from worming his way into a submission. I think he finds it again tonight and the BJJ master will finally have himself a world title.
Official Pick: Demian Maia at +135.
Jon Jones (-260) vs Daniel Cormier (+220)
Perhaps the most anticipated UFC bout since McGregor stepped into the octagon two years ago versus Jose Aldo, Jones vs Cormier II has been a long time coming. Fans are understandably polarized on either side, and tensions are high as the greatest fighter of all time steps into the octagon looking to reclaim his throne. Will Jon Jones look like the pre “erectile dysfunction pills” Jon Jones of old? Will Daniel Cormier be able to finally avenge the only loss he’s ever suffered in MMA? If you want Jon Jones to win, re-evaluate your life choices. If you want Daniel Cormier to win, bank on that ring rust; you don’t sit the sidelines for two years before jumping in as starting Quarterback in the Super Bowl. If you want to make money though, bet the GOAT with the goatee, the play is Jon Jones.
Official pick: Jon Jones at -260. (3u)