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UFC 210: Cormier vs. Johnson Picks

MMA Fight: UFC 210: Cormier vs. Johnson
Key Matches: Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson and Chris Weidman vs. Gegard Mousasi
When: Saturday, April 17, 2017
Time: 9:00PM EST
Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, New York

by Loot, MMA Handicapper,

Daniel Cormier, (-120), 18-1 (6 KOs, 5 Submissions) vs. Anthony Johnson, (-110), 22-5 (16 KOs)

Daniel Cormier defends his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship against top challenger Anthony "Rumble" Johnson in the main event of UFC 210. It's a rematch of a June 2015 fight where Cormier won by a third-round submission via a rear-naked choke. Cormier was able to thwart the early Johnson assault before taking the fight over before finishing it in style. But against a fighter with the frightening power of Johnson, 32, you can never be so sure. Those who fancy Johnson's chances in a rematch have some decent reasons upon which to base their case. But Cormier, 37, has shown he can beat Johnson and looks to do so again on April 17. Let's see what we can come with for Cormier vs. Rumble.

Johnson managed to get Cormier in a lot of trouble in the first round of their 2015 fight. He eventually faded and was submitted, but measures have been taken to improve upon that performance. "Rumble" has really been through the mill as an MMA fighter, first appearing in the UFC at 170 pounds, before weight issues and inconsistent performances cost him a spot on the roster. He fought in other organizations, before resurfacing as a fearsome 205-pounder. Since losing to Cormier, he has scored three straight knockouts. The last one was the most impressive—a 13-second knockout over the very tough and strong Glover Teixeira.

Johnson has worked on different things since losing to Cormier nearly two years ago. In camp, he has spent more time improving his wrestling. But at his bare essence, he's an assassin and one of the best in that role. His punching power can instantly turn a fight on its head and his string of brutal finishes attest to that. Against Cormier, however, we saw what happens when power-happy assassins fail to put away their opponent. Fighters like Johnson are either bashing their opponent or they're losing. In other words, they often don't thrive in a two-way fight. Guys like Johnson are much better in the role of dishing out punishment. But that excellence doesn't always transfer over to being on the other side of punishment. Johnson thrives as a screwdriver, but not so much as a screw.

Cormier is two years older than the first fight. His blossoming commentating job, age, additional wear, injuries, and some uneven recent performances have some questioning his long-term standing as a UFC champion. His days may in fact be numbered. But only Jon Jones was ever able to beat him and those looking to back him in this fight need only to look at their last fight as ammo for their case. Cormier may not have the one compelling trait that Johnson possesses with his power, but he brings more things to the table—things that might not necessarily jump off the screen. He's a resolute fighter who can have bad things happen to him and still thrive. He is exceptionally durable, having first shown his solidness against some top heavyweights before holding up against the best at 205 pounds. While records can be deceiving for a number of reasons, both men have fought a lot of tough fighters and Johnson has been stopped five times and Cormier has never been stopped.


I can see where Johnson backers are going in this one. After all, Johnson has been more-impressive since their last meeting. The passage of time has favored the challenger. And whatever happened the first time around, Johnson's power makes him a real threat to beat anyone at this weight, including Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. I just think that Cormier's set of assets put him in slightly higher standing than Johnson. Cormier is good at everything and has more ways to win. He has done it before and I see him doing it again in the UFC 209 main event.

Loot's Pick to Win the Match: I'm betting on Daniel Cormier at -120.

Chris Weidman, (+100), 13-2 (6 KOs, 3 Submissions) vs. Gegard Mousasi, (-130), 41-6-2 (22 KOs, 12 Submissions)

Chris Weidman takes on Gegard Mousasi in the co-main event of UFC 210. It's a middleweight battle with high stakes. The former UFC champion at 185 pounds, Weidman looks to get his career back on track after consecutive KO losses. The first one was a title loss KO to Luke Rockhold. He was then stopped by dangerous Yoel Romero. He now faces a top contender in the 31-year old Mousasi, a winner of four fights in a row. Who can come out on top in this battle? Let's see if we can come up with one of our good UFC 210 picks.

The biggest question mark looming over this fight is Weidman's mental status. To go from one of the best fighters in the sport and an undefeated champion to a fighter reeling from consecutive KO defeats is quite a precipitous fall from a mental standpoint. A fighter good enough to become UFC champion and beat a Hall of Famer to do it in Anderson Silva is a man who has a certain amount of mental strength. We will now see if Weidman has the wherewithal to rebuild. Ideally, one would like to see the former champion rebuild his confidence on mid-card bouts against guys he can simply out-skill. But as an ex-champ in the UFC, no coming-around-time will be afforded. He has to fight a top contender and he better square away any lingering damage from those two losses or things could get worse here.

Mousasi is a very dangerous fighter—a striker who can lash out in a variety of ways—using fists, kicks, elbows, and knees. And with 12 submission wins, he is capable on the ground, as well. He has experienced his share of good and bad since joining the UFC, but is in fine form now, coming off wins over Uriah Hall, Vitor Belfort, Thiago Santos, and Thales Leites. Mousasi has been around for a long time and really knows what he's doing.

The issue I have with Mousasi is that he seems stuck in this role—the dangerous contender. In losses to Uriah Hall, Jacare Souza, and Lyoto Machida, he showed himself to be less-than-elite. He was also dominated by Muhammed Lawal in 2010, with Lawal using his wrestling to great affect. And that's Weidman's main advantage. Mousasi is the more-dynamic striker, but Weidman's busy workrate and straight-ahead style has a way of putting a crimp into stylistic offenses like what Mousasi has.

While Weidman has been on the short end of a few fights, who's to say Mousasi wouldn't have tasted defeat to those two men, as well? He has, after all, lost by KO to Uriah Hall (a loss he later avenged). He lost to guys like Lawal and fought to a draw with Keith Jardine. In other words, while Weidman's failings are fresher in our minds, Mousasi's lowest points are even lower. And Mousasi was afforded the chance to come back and thrive, so maybe Weidman can, as well.

It's not easy to put money down on Weidman at this point. It takes a little nerve in light of his last two fights. With a string of injuries, having absorbed punishment in his last two fights, and the fact that it's pretty hard for him to pare down to 185 pounds, Weidman has gone from a dependable force to a bit of a dicey proposition. It's just that for an underdog, he offers a difficult style matchup for his opponent. In addition, he has thrived more consistently at the highest of levels. Mousasi is very dangerous and could be catching Weidman at the right time. But my guess is that Weidman's combination of striking and wrestling could prove to be too much for Gegard over a three-round distance. I'm taking Weidman.

Loot's Prediction to Win the Fight: I'm betting on Chris Weidman at +100. Did you know... that you could be wagering on MMA fights at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY and bet on UFC 210 from home by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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