UFC 214 will be the final pay-per-view event put on by the organisation before focus switches to the upcoming Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor showdown.
And judging by the stacked card, Dana White and co. have pulled out all the stops ahead of the action from Anaheim, California.
Headlining is a hotly anticipated rematch between the champion Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones.
And once again we’ve enlisted the services of Ultimate Fight Chat.
Here’s their take on proceedings…
DANIEL CORMIER vs. JON JONES
This is a fight not to be missed. Ever since they first faced off at UFC 182 all the talk has been about a rematch. But due to Jones’ troubles outside the octagon, we have been left to wait until now.
Jon Jones is one of the most gifted mixed martial artists to ever compete in the UFC. His athleticism and natural abilities helped him to become the youngest champion in UFC history and to defend his belt a record eight times.
‘Bones’ went off the rails in late 2015 but seems to have got his head and life back in order and looks in the best physical condition of his life.
In his absence, Daniel Cormier has picked up the mantle of the king of the light heavyweight division.
‘DC’ claimed the belt with a submission victory over ‘Rumble’ Johnson and has gone on to defend his belt twice more. Cormier has long been pushing for this rematch, convinced he can be the one to hand Jones his first official career loss.
Cormier is a great champion and a great fighter but he is not the best in the division. He will always live in Jones’ shadow. The only person that can beat Jones is himself and we believe he has put those demons to bed once and for all and he will continue his journey to becoming the greatest of all time.
Verdict: Jones by decision
TYRON WOODLEY vs. DEMIAN MAIA
Tyron Woodley will make his third defence of his belt against UFC veteran and Jiu-Jitsu black belt; Demian Maia.
Woodley was handed a title shot at UFC 201 and didn’t waste his opportunity, needing less than half a round to dispatch of the then champion Robbie Lawler.
‘The Chosen One’s first title defence was a majority draw against Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and the pair fought again four months later with Woodley coming out on top this time around.
Meanwhile, Maia has been fighting within the organisation for the past ten years and despite turning 40-years-old later this year he has shown no signs of slowing down. Maia has put together a seven fight win streak stretching back to 2014 and he will now finally get his chance at claiming the welterweight belt.
For all that is said about the power Woodley possesses his wrestling and takedown defence are just as good.
He will need to be on his toes throughout this fight though with a dangerous Maia constantly looking for a submission. We think Woodley will be able to keep this fight on the feet and even be able to find the finish into the later rounds.
Verdict: Woodley by knockout
CRIS CYBORG vs. TONYA EVINGER
Germaine de Randamie became the inaugural women’s featherweight champion after winning a questionable decision over Holly Holm. But her refusal to defend her belt against Cris Cyborg has since seen her stripped of the title.
The women’s featherweight division was effectively set up for Cyborg. She is a former Invicta and Strikeforce featherweight champion and easily the baddest woman on the planet in her weight bracket.
Cyborg hasn’t tasted defeat in 12 years and has knocked out all but two of her previous opponents.
Tonya Evinger is the current Invicta women’s bantamweight champion and is taking a step up in weight to take this fight on short notice. Evinger has remained undefeated in her last eleven, with only three of those going the distance.
This whole division is all about Cyborg, it was created with her in mind and this is her natural weight class. Cyborg is unbeatable on her day and she should win this one with ease, handing Evinger her first career loss by knockout.
Verdict: Cyborg by knockout
ROBBIE LAWLER vs. DONALD CERRONE
This contest will be the stand-up brawl that every fight fan loves. Two of the best strikers in the sport will go toe-to-toe and swing it out.
Former champion Robbie Lawler hasn’t been seen since being knocked out by Tyron Woodley a year ago.
Prior to that, ‘Ruthless’ had been on a run of five straight victories, including two fight of the year winners.
Lawler is known for his aggressive striking style and his ability to brawl even when his back is against the fence.
Donald Cerrone made the step up to welterweight and quickly established himself by winning four fights on the bounce.
That streak was snapped last time out when Jorge Masvidal handed him a masterclass in the stand-up exchanges, finishing Cerrone is the second round.
‘Cowboy’ is a slick striker with some devastating kicks but he is also an extremely intelligent fighter, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see him mix in a couple of takedowns too.
If this stays standing, and Lawler’s chin holds out, then we think he should be able to get the better of Cerrone here.
Lawler will no doubt find himself in trouble at some stage over the three rounds but we think overall he will do enough to get the win on the judges’ scorecards.
Verdict: Lawler by decision
JIMI MANUWA vs. VOLKAN OEZDEMIR
Jimi Manuwa was handed this slot on the card to prevent the main event falling apart. If one of the fighters was forced to pull out, Manuwa would step in.
But with the main event looking like it will stay intact this becomes a dangerous fight.
Manuwa has been promised the chance to face the winner of Cormier/Jones so he will need to remain focused if he is to gain that opportunity. Hewas on course for a title shot in 2014 but knockout losses to Alexander Gustafsson and ‘Rumble’ Johnson put a halt to that.
He has since bounced back with consecutive knockout victories to extend his record to 17-2.
Volkan Oezdemir only signed with the UFC this year ago but he has already impressed in his two outings thus far.
He defeated Ovince Saint Preux in his debut before needing only 28 seconds to stop the highly touted Misha Cirkunov. Oezdemir has absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain in this fight.
Manuwa isn’t the most versatile fighter, he is a solid boxer and a powerful puncher but that’s about as far as his game goes.
It says a lot about the depth of talent in the light-heavyweight division when a 37-year-old on a two fight win streak is touted as the number one contender. We believe Oezdemir will be able to outclass Manuwa here and put his name firmly in the title picture.
Verdict: Oezdemir by decision
Best of the Rest
Ricardo Lamas vs. Jason Knight
Lamas to win.
Aljamain Sterling vs. Renan Barao
Barao to win.
Brian Ortega vs. Renato Moicano
Moicano to win.
Andre Fili vs. Calvin Kattar
Fili to win.
Kailin Curran vs. Alexandra Albu
Albu to win.
Eric Shelton vs. Jarred Brooks
Brooks to win.
Josh Burkman vs. Drew Dober
Dober to win.
And click here for the latest UFC 214 odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing