UFC 211 is finally upon us, with some huge fights set to take place in Dallas. Colin Keane is back with Part II of our UFC 211 Preview.
The UFC has had a rough few weeks; chaos in the middleweight ranks, Al Iaquinta becoming possessed by a tweeting demon. Additionally, the women’s featherweight division is now a murky, insubstantial thing and the women’s flyweight division is barely any clearer.
Thank the MMA gods for UFC 211, the best fight card of so far this year.
With fights across a host of divisions, Texas plays host to fan favourites, former champions and surging contenders. And that’s just Part 1 of our preview.
Here we take a look at the main event, with Junior dos Santos (16-2-0) looking to vanquish Stipe Miocic (18-4-0) again, and claim the heavyweight crown once more. The first fight was a war for the ages and an incredibly close decision win for the Brazilian, dos Santos. Will Stipe continue his run against the last man to beat him or will dos Santos out last the Cleveland hero once more?
The co-main event sees the return of the strawweight queen, Joanna Jędrzeiczyk (13-0-0). Joanna ‘Champion’ goes into her fifth title defence against another Brazilian, and former bantamweight, Jéssica Andrade (16-5-0). Andrade will look to bulldoze her way past the Polish favourite and survive the champions’ ridiculous volume of strikes.
All that after two top welterweights square off for a shot at division kingpin, Tyron Woodley. Submission wizard, Demian Maia (24-6-0), waits for a title shot by strangling opponents. Next trying to avoid the Brazilian noose is 43-fight veteran, Jorge Masvidal (32-11-0). Enough babble, let’s get to it!
Demian Maia vs Jorge Masvidal (170lbs)
Maia is one of the most decorated submission artists in the UFC and comes into this scrap on a six-fight streak.
This includes impressive victories over division standouts Carlos Condit, Matt Brown, Gunner Nelson and Neil Magney. #3 at welterweight, Maia uses good hands to set up single and double leg takedowns better than anyone, and once it goes south he is a soft spoken nightmare.
‘Gamebred’ set up this clash after finishing Donald Cerrone via 2nd round TKO in January. That came after a toe-related victory against Jake Ellenberger in December last year.
Masvidal previously competed in both Bellator and Strikeforce and fought for the Strikeforce lightweight title before eventually making his way to the UFC. His aggressive and inventive striking has won him fans and a place in this title eliminator.
With 39 years on the clock, Demian Maia wants the title shot now. He has nine wins at welterweight and even the fights he lost, against Rory MacDonald and Jake Shields, were close. He can stand with strikers like Condit and dominate grapplers like Nelson.
Jorge Masvidal cannot let Maia back him up.
If he leaves a leg out there too long Maia will eat it up. If ‘Gamebred’ can be accurate with his strike and keep Maia going backwards, he has a chance. But Masvidal has slowed down late in fights and Maia is patient enough, and tough enough, to wait.
He’s waited this long for his shot, what’s a few more minutes?
Prediction: Maia via 2nd round submission.
Joanna Jędrzeiczyk vs Jéssica Andrade (115lbs)
Undefeated champion Jędrzeiczyk smashed Carla Esparza to claim the title in 2015 and fended off four other women to retain the gold.
‘JJ’ rearranged the faces of Valérie Létourneau and Jessica Penne with her brutal, high volume Muay Thai. Her most recent defence came at UFC 205, where the champion beat fellow Polish kickboxer, Karolina Kowalkiewicz via unanimous decision. “JJ” holds a three-inch reach advantage over #4 ranked, Andrade.
Jéssica Andrade joined the bantamweight ranks in 2013. After a mixed bag, she found her home at 115lbs and has since rattled off three victories. She finished Jessica Penne before impressively submitting Joanne Calderwood in the first round back in September.
Her latest fight was a wild three-round decision win against Invicta strawweight champion, Angela Hill. Andrade is strong for this division and has seven submission wins to her credit.
Andrade is going to get hit. With ‘JJ’ involved, that’s a given. The Brazilian can grapple but must get inside the guard and absorb the savage clinch game of the undefeated Muay Thai specialist. The champion has great takedown defence, scrambles well and can land shots on the break. ‘JJ’ was pushed hard by Claudia Gadelha on the mat but acquitted herself well. Hill repeatedly landed with the right hand against Andrade as she leaves huge opens trying to land heavy hooks. ‘JJ’ uses low kick and front kicks to maintain the distance before steadily outstriking the Brazilian for a wide decision win.
Prediction: Jędrzeiczyk via unanimous decision.
Stipe Miocic vs Junior dos Santos (265lbs)
Cleveland’s hero, Miocic, won the heavyweight title with a sensational first round KO of Fabricio Werdum.
He defended his belt in September 2016, against Alistair Overeem, in front of a rabid Ohio crowd. The talented boxer and NCAA wrestler survived an early guillotine attempt before pounding out the Dutchman in the opening stanza. He’s won four straight and finished all of them in violent fashion. His last loss came after a brutal battle with tonight’s opponent, Junior dos Santos.
‘Cigano’ reigned at heavyweight in 2011, beating the monster that is Cain Velasquez via 1st round KO. He would go on to drop the title, and his 10-fight win streak, to Velasquez after defending the belt against Frank Mir.
The Brazilian is a talented and powerful boxer who has faced the best of the big men. And beaten most of them. Like his foe on Saturday night, he has 12 wins by KO/TKO and boasts excellent takedown defencese. He was last seen dominating Ben Rothwell for a unanimous decision win in April last year.
Only five men have successfully defended the heavyweight title two consecutive times in 20 years. For very good reason, known colloquially as ‘one shot, one kill’. These dudes hit hard, so predicting this is ridiculous really. If that’s the case, let’s go for Miocic.
Since their last fight, Miocic has been in a rampage. Many people judged him to have won the last fight and he has more weapons in his arsenal. ‘Cigano’ has fought twice since that battle and been TKO’d by Overeem in one of those.
The champion will have learned from the last bout. He got tired later in the fight but continued to walk dos Santos down. That pressure, along with his improving boxing and better wrestling game could see Miocic make history. If he can get in dos Santos’ range, land short, powerful punches and mix in takedowns he can claim his vengeance and his title
In order to win ‘Cigano’ can do much of the same from the last fight. Throwing punches in ones and twos, tiring Miocic with heavy body shots and avoiding the takedown. He did all of these well last time and turned the fight after hurting Miocic in the third with a left hand.
Both men will be confident but dos Santos’ last finish was a spinning hook kick win over Mark Hunt in 2013.
Miocic is stopping people cold and has been finished once, way back in 2012 . And still…..
Prediction: Miocic via 2nd round TKO.