DALLAS, Texas — The great city of Dallas will be the host for the next mega event of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) – the UFC 211 – which features two world title fights at the American Airlines Center on May 13 (May 14, 10 a.m. in Manila).
UFC Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (16-2-0) will try to defend his belt against the last fighter that dealt him a loss – the former title-holder Junior Dos Santos (18-4-0). The other title fight is between current UFC Women’s Strawweight boss Joanna Jedrzejczyk (13-0-0) and no. 3 contender Jessica Andrade (16-5-0).
But before the two featured fights, UFC 211 also boasts of other highly anticipated fights to make one of the best cards the promotion has ever assembled. Parts of the main card are two very important fights in terms of top rankings.
In the welterweight class, no. 3 Demian Maia attempts to make one more step closer to a title fight with a victory over no. 5 ranked Jorge Masvidal. Both fighters are enjoying a winning streak in the division. The Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) master Maia will have his hands full against the hard-hitting Masvidal.
The other significant bout is the Frankie Edgar-Yair Rodriguez clash in the featherweight division. The former UFC lightweight king Edgar will face one of the most exciting young fighters today in the UFC roster in no. 7 ranked Rodriguez. This fight is considered as the most anticipated in UFC 211 because of the expected heavy action that both fighters normally bring to the table. Edgar is known for his endurance, durability, aggressiveness and grit, while Rodriguez is an outstanding striker with so many weapons. This match is expected to be the “Fight of the Night.”
Meanwhile, undefeated champion Jedrzejczyk tangles against the streaking Andrade, who’s on a three-fight blitz. The Polish champion is having her fifth title-defense and hopes to sustain her 7-0 campaign in the UFC. A multi-titled Muay Thai champion, the favorite daughter of Olsztyn, Poland is only the third European champion in the UFC after Bus Rutten of the Netherlands and Andrei Arlovski of Belarus, both former heavyweight strap holders. But the challenger Andrade is the stronger fighter, and probably the more well-rounded in MMA.
Known as “Bate Estaca” or pile-driver in Portuguese, the Rio de Janeiro native has been 3-0 since moving down from the bantamweight class. Andrade holds a blue belt in BJJ and carries seven wins by submission, six of which were via the guillotine choke. She was once disqualified from a jiu-jitsu match when she used the pile-driver, an illegal move. Her striking is just as remarkable. In fact, her striking stats are slightly better than Jedrzejczyk’s (6.8 significant strikes versus 6.45 of Jedrzejczyk, and four percent more accurate). This should be an interesting match.
My prediction: Jedrzejczyk by split decision
But in the main event, two giants collide for the heavyweight strap, and both are probably the best boxers in the division. Both Miocic and Dos Santos held boxing titles before moving to MMA. This is why we can expect a grueling fistfight from the two combatants.
The reigning champ has won four straight matches against the best of the division, including his title-clinching TKO victory over Fabricio Werdum and a first round knockout of Alistair Overeem last year. Miocic’s last defeat was in 2014 when JDS scored a unanimous decision win after a close five-round encounter.
At UFC 211, Miocic gets the chance to avenge that loss against the same opponent, and defend his belt for the second time. But the challenger Dos Santos looked great during the official weigh-in earlier today, and also looked impressive in the workouts. JDS even declared during the weigh-in that he would finish Miocic this time and retain the belt he lost to Cain Velasquez in 2013.
This should be a very interesting match-up between two outstanding strikers but with varying styles. Miocic is the more technical fighter and counter puncher. He is smart and uses footwork and speed. Dos Santos is the more aggressive striker with heavy hands. Both fighters however show 13 wins by KO.
But their ground game cannot be underestimated as well. JDS has been polishing his BJJ, which could come in handy against Miocic. Not many know that Dos Santos is a BJJ black-belter and a former BJJ champ in Bahia State in Brazil. But Miocic is no pushover as well when the fight comes to the mat. A former NCAA Division 1 wrestler from Cleveland State U, the 34-year-old champion can hold his own on the ground.
Dos Santos needs to finish Miocic in the early rounds with his devastating punches. Miocic has been rocked early in some fights, including those against Werdum and Overeem. But he has shown the ability to recover well and come out the more durable fighter. Cardio is one of the champ’s best qualities. The same cannot be said about the challenger though. So in a long match, Miocic should have the edge.
My prediction: Miocic by unanimous decision