This card is actually happening? Holy shit! It’s actually happening! I waited until the last day possible to post my predictions, because I knew anything could happen to derail the motherfucker. Jon Jones nearly screwed the main event to pieces (well, he did, but thankfully we still get a light heavyweight title fight, despite the veritable champ being missed), and Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort has been in the making since last May.
Anyhow, let’s get to it:
John Makdessi vs. Donald Cerrone
…………. I’m still so annoyed that Khabib is hurt and not fighting that I have a small amount of care for this fight. Anything can happen in MMA, that’s true, but I’ve got the “Cowboy” Cerrone winning by Budweiser-induced “I’m up f’er-wutever” mode. Whatever the hell that means. Give Cerrone a title shot after this. Or make the Khabib fight happen.
Vitor Belfort vs. Chris Weidman for the Middleweight title
Weidman is one of the more hated fighters in the UFC and I have NO IDEA why. Maybe it’s because he was the first man in the UFC to defeat Anderson Silva — and did so twice in less than six months. Let’s break down Weidman: he has very little charisma, a normal sounding/dime a dozen New York accent, doesn’t really talk trash and sounds insanely awkward when he does. At the weigh-ins yesterday, he called Vitor Belfort a cheater, but who gives a shit? There’s zero reason to hate on Weidman. He’s not a fluke champ. After beating Silva, I thought he won four out of five rounds against Lyoto Machida last July. He keeps getting better with every fight. As long as he doesn’t succumb to overeating pizza and pasta like Matt Serra and Ray Longo have done, he’ll be fine.
Once again, I’m going to bring up the “anything can happen” adage. Vitor Belfort has been around for a long ass time. I love watching him go into a full on rage with a flurry of punches. “300 Violin Orchestra” is one of the most badass walkout songs out there (of course, Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” is American as all fuck, for Weidman, which fits as well). Vitor hasn’t fought since 2013, when he was fighting in only Brazil, juiced to the gills on TRT. It’s been a while.
With all of that BS said, I can imagine Weidman capturing a submission victory by way of a D’arce choke in the second round. If Vitor wins, it’ll come in the early rounds. I reckon Chris can catch and sub him early. Or wear him out until the championship rounds and finish it there.
Rumble Johnson vs. Daniel Cormier for the vacant Light Heavyweight title
Over the last month, ever since this fight was scheduled, I’ve vacillated in my prediction. I think far too many people are buying into the “what have you done for me lately?” school of thought. When Rumble and Alexander Gustafsson were scheduled to fight back in January, so many people were ready to sign up Gus/Jon Jones II. In fact, people were still enraged at the time because Gus hadn’t gotten his rematch with Jones yet. And then Rumble decimated him pretty quickly (and viciously), making people forget what Gus did back in September 2013 (that violent beating on Jones).
On the flipside, Daniel Cormier’s first ever professional MMA loss is still in people’s minds. He lost to the former (and still de facto) light heavyweight champion Jones back in January to kick off the year. And then DC made that parody of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” with his “All About That Cake”. So, the image fresh in folks’ minds is a dominant Rumble and a fresh-off-a-loss DC.
I’m a big Rumble fan. He has the perfect striker stance. He closes distance well. He’s powerful. He’s a beast at 205. He could very well win, no doubt about it, but I have to pick Daniel Cormier via unanimous decision. I just have a feeling. I don’t see him letting a second consecutive title shot getting by him. I think that loss to Jones taught him a lesson, and I believe he’ll be ready for whatever Rumble brings him tonight. Yes, Rumble stifled Phil Davis’s staunch wrestling prowess last year, but that was Davis and this is Daniel Cormier, a man who as an undersized heavyweight destroyed monstrous heavyweights during his Strikeforce days (and then walked into the UFC and toyed with Frank Mir and Roy Nelson before coming down to light heavyweight).