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UFC 211 Predictions

MMA Fight: UFC 211: Miocic vs. dos Santos II
Key Matches: Stipe Miocic vs. Junior dos Santos II, Frankie Edgar vs. Yair Rodriguez
When: Saturday, May 13, 2017
Time: 10:00PM EST
Where: American Airlines Arena, Dallas, Texas
TV: PPV

by Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Stipe Miocic, (-175), 16-2 (12 KOs, 1 Submission) vs. Junior dos Santos, (+155), 18-4 (12 KOs, 2 Submissions)

UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic makes the second defense of his title against former champion Junior dos Santos in the main event of UFC 211 in Dallas on May 13. This is a rematch of a December 2014 bout, a five-rounder won by dos Santos under controversial circumstances. Miocic has since won UFC gold and dos Santos is hoping for another win over Miocic to become a two-time champion. Fans should once again anticipate another great fight, especially if the first fight is any indication.

The result of the first fight was an unpopular one. Miocic won the first two rounds with room to spare. He was winning in the stand-up and slamming dos Santos with right hands, even taking dos Santos down to the mat. The next three rounds were close and well-contested, but Miocic seemed a winner that night in Phoenix. The cards not only favored dos Santos, but two judges somehow found him ahead 49-46. It was a close fight. But dos Santos backers finding comfort from that first fight might be missing the boat.

While it's an old boxing adage, fighters in all combat sports seem to get better when they become champion. The title gives them more confidence. It's the ultimate form of validation and a clear sign that the fighter has improved and developed well. In other words, this version of Miocic might be a notch better than the man dos Santos faced in 2014. A pair of first-round title fight victories over Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem are the kind of results that can really pump wind into the sails a of a fighter looking to take that next step. The Miocic from a few years ago thought he could and this modern manifestation of Miocic knows he can.

Miocic is a year older than dos Santos at 34, but he might be fresher and is peaking. On the other hand, dos Santos has fought just twice since beating Miocic, first losing by TKO to Overeem before looking pretty good in a 5-round decision win over Ben Rothwell. Injuries and the extreme amount of wear and tear he incurred in various wars have taken their toll. But just as one might have been inclined to bury him deep in the pack after losing to Overeem, he came back and shined against Rothwell. How close he is to his vintage form of 2010-12 is debatable, but there is no disputing that his MMA career has come at a cost.

Considering the result of their first fight alone, you would tend to favor Miocic, who seemed to be the unfortunate recipient of a bad decision. But when you add the concept of "recent form" to the mix, it really bolsters Miocic's case and almost makes his betting odds of -175 seem like a bargain. While he has been rising to the top of the division and confirming his championship standing, dos Santos has been inactive going 1-1 in 2 fights. Then again, when things are out of sight, they're out of mind and those who have mentally relegated dos Santos to the scrap heap may have done so prematurely.

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At this point, Miocic is the more dependable force. He can do it all in the octagon. The Cleveland-based champ never undermines himself in the ring, is smart, and is looking as good as he ever has. That doesn't mean he has immunity from one of the more-dangerous fighters to ever fight in the UFC in dos Santos, it just means he is a more-reliable proposition. I think he could easily be -200 or more and at -175, I like the value. We're taking the champion.

Loot's Pick to Win the Match: I'm betting on Stipe Miocic at -175.

Frankie Edgar, (-165), 21-5-1 (6 KOs, 4 Submission) vs. Yair Rodriguez, (+145), 10-1 (4 KOs, 1 Submission)

In featherweight action, top contenders Frankie Edgar and Yair Rodriguez battle it out in what should be a compelling 145-pound matchup. This is a fight with high stakes, as the winner will almost certainly be put in an impeding featherweight title fight. It's a fascinating fight between the solid and consistent former UFC lightweight champ Edgar and the unproven but highly-exciting up-and-comer Rodriguez.

Edgar is now 35. Since dropping down to 145 after losing his lightweight belt, he is 6-2, with only the greatest 145-pounder in UFC history able to beat him, as Edgar has lost twice to Jose Aldo. Other than that, he has beaten a slew of featherweight contenders. Between the two guys, Edgar clearly has the better credentials and looked good beating Jeremy Stephens in his last fight in November. We're talking about a former champion who has fought a bunch of big bouts. Edgar has fought nine 5-rounders whereas Rodriguez has fought in just one. This one, for the record, is just a three-rounder.

Over a decade Edgar's junior at 24, Rodriguez is unquestionably one of the brightest and most-exciting young fighters in the UFC. His style is video game-like, as he strings together crazy kicks unlike anything seen in the organization. It has enabled him to win all 6 of his outings in the UFC, making him a fighter to watch in the process. It's really a fascinating mix of styles. In one corner is the supreme wrestling of Edgar, a fighter who relies on stamina, determination, pressure, and skills. Rodriguez relies on his unpredictability, with his speed, unorthodox approach, and energy giving him an edge on opponents.

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On one hand, Edgar could be too experienced for Rodriguez. We've seen Yair dazzling his opponents, but he's never faced a bulldog like Edgar. In fact, Rodriguez hasn't really beaten anyone who is at the championship level and his close call against Alex Caceres showed some vulnerability. But at these odds and looking like a special fighter, Rodriguez may be offering nice value. Rodriguez has scored only two stoppages in the UFC and with Edgar having never been stopped. But over 3 rounds, the fast-starting Rodriguez has a wider margin for error against Edgar. I'm betting on youth being served in this fight and taking the underdog.

Loot's Prediction to Win the Fight: I'm betting on Yair Rodriguez at +145.

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