UFC 241: Analysis and Predictions
Daniel Cormier vs Stipe Miocic
Heavyweight Title Bout
Daniel Cormier (Champion) (22-1) (-140)
Stipe Miocic (#1 Ranked) (18-3) (+120)
This rematch between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic is one that we really didn’t think was going to happen. However, the Brock Lesnar fight fell through, and with Cormier being unwilling to jump back down to 205 for another fight with Jon Jones, here we are.
At heavyweight anything can happen and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see either of these fighters win. Both are incredibly talented and both have knockout power. Heavyweight is usually a game of inches, with simple mistakes easily costing people fights, and the outcome of this fight may be determined by the simplest of errors.
Generally speaking, in MMA I think the odds are against the previous loser in any rematch. I don’t have the numbers to back this up, but historically I believe what we’ve seen in MMA is that if a fighter beats another fighter once, they’re likely to do so again. Psychology plays into this, but so does simple stylistic differences. I guess that makes it pretty obvious where my pick is going.
I think Daniel Cormier wins this fight again. I’m going to make the wild prediction that this fight goes to a decision. I believe Miocic is going to be far more cautious in this fight and stay on his bicycle quite a bit more than we’ve seen in recent fights. I believe both fighters will land, but ultimately you will see Cormier close the distance and land very effectively.
Cormier by Unanimous Decision
Anthony Pettis vs Nate Diaz
Anthony Pettis (#8 Ranked) (22-8) (-125)
Nate Diaz (Unranked ) (19-11) (+105)
Does Nate Diaz even want to be fighting anymore? His last fight was with Conner McGregor 3 years ago. He made an absolute fortune off of his two fights with McGregor and then proceeded to disappear from the sport. I assume he’s getting paid extremely well for this return fight, because rightfully or not, there is a belief that he’s a major PPV draw. I can’t help but believe the only reason he’s returning to ring is to cash in on another big pay day before calling it a career.
And on the other side you have Pettis who is coming off an extremely impressive performance against Stephen Thompson in his return to 170 lbs. I believe Pettis is an underrated fighter and is well position to challenge for the welterweight title. He’s going to come into this fight hungry and eager to make a statement.
Now add to all of this the fact that Pettis seems to be continually improving and evolving his skill set, while the Diaz brothers are largely the same fighters they were 10 years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the Diaz brothers. The volume boxing style, combined with a granite chin, and an exceptional BJJ game is always entertaining. However, the blueprint for how to beat a Diaz fighter has been pretty well established at this stage and I expect Pettis to follow it closely.
The Diaz brothers are boxers who tend to keep their weight forward which makes them susceptible to low kicks. Anthony Pettis is going to keep his distance while throwing hard leg kicks for the first round of this fight. Moving into the second round Diaz’s movement will be so compromised that Pettis will be able to go upstairs with ease. I think Diaz will take this a decision, but will be a bloody mess by the end.
Pettis by Unanimous Decision
Yoel Romero vs Paulo Costa
Yoel Romero (#2 Ranked) (13-3) (-155)
Paulo Costa (#7 Ranked) (12-0) (+135)
Romero vs Costa, the battle of the human lab experiments. These are two freakish human beings that leave everyone scratching their heads as to how they don’t fail all of their drug tests. Romero is 42 and physically looks better than most athletes in their 20s.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Romero is one of the most terrifying fighters in the UFC. He has shown an ability, through multiple fights, to absolutely eviscerate top level fighters. He has a level of power that seems on par with many heavyweights. The only knock on him has been that he’s so big, and cuts so much weight, that he has had a tendency to fade in late rounds.
Costa for his part is equally freakish. Much like Romero he packs a lot of power and has won by KO / TKO in his last 5 fights. The big challenge for Costa is that this is a big step up in competition. He’s never fought someone before with the size, power, and wrestling ability of Yoel Romero. This is going to be a big test of his ability.
This seems like an easy pick for Romero, but the thing that gives me pause is Romero’s age. At 42 he’s going to have to start slowing down at some point, I’m just not sure when that’s going to be. That being said, I actually think there is a chance he looks better in this fight than his previous few, because this is the first time he’s had an extended layoff and that’s typically a good thing for fighters.
I think Romero starts off slow in this fight, and allows Costa to swing pretty wild for the first round. Romero has learned his lesson the hard way about burning your gas tank too early, and I think he’s going to turn around and use this tactic on Costa. Going into the second Costa is going to be winded, and Yoel will start to drop bombs.
Romero by 2nd Round TKO