UFC 210 PRIMER: Ecochard’s preview of Saturday’s event including Johnson vs. Cormier, Mousasi vs. Weidman, plus all prelims

By Matthew Ecochard, MMATorch contributor

The UFC returns to PPV on Saturday night in Buffalo, New York headlined by a rematch with Daniel Cormier defending his light heavyweight championship against the dangerous Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.. The fight card starts at 6:15 PM EST with Fight Pass prelims, before heading to Fox Sports 1 and ending on PPV. The following are previews and predictions for the entire card starting with the Fight Pass prelims.

UFC Fight Pass Prelims (6:15 PM EST / 3:15 PM PST)

Jenel Lausa (7-2) vs. Magomed Bibulatov (13-0) – Flyweight Bout

A hot new prospect is entering the UFC flyweight division in the opening bout with the undefeated Magomed Bibulatov taking on the Filipino boxer Jenel Lausa. Bibulatov has a lot of hype riding into this fight, in less than four years he has won 13 fights and has looked impressive in just about every single bout. Last year the World Fighting Championships of Akhmat held fights in which some of the world’s toughest were flown out and fought in different divisional tournaments. Bibulatov impressed and destroyed his competition and finds himself in the UFC now. Lausa has a some great boxing skills and is on a five fight win streak in MMA, but hasn’t beaten anyone like Bibulatov before. This is his fight to lose and although Lausa is tough, he should be finished on the ground before the final horn.

Prediction: Magomed Bibulatov via Submission Round 2

Katlyn Chookagian (8-1) vs. Irene Aldana (7-3) – Women’s Bantamweight Bout

Katlyn Chookagian looks to get back to her winning ways against the dangerous Irene Aldana. Losing for the first time is difficult, but Chookagian did it closely against a seasoned veteran in Liz Carmouche which should result in a boost of confidence. Her wrestling and striking are solid and although she has only one submission victory, training at Renzo Gracie Combat Team will certainly keep her BJJ skills high. Aldana had a disappointing UFC debut in a unanimous decision loss to Leslie Smith. All seven of Aldana’s wins have come via knockout or submission, with the majority being TKOs. Look for Aldana to stand and bang, but if she gets taken down and controlled again things won’t turn out so good for her. Chookagian is tough as nails and won’t go down easily and will likely take the fight to the mat. Either way she is the more technical fighter and should take home a decision.

Prediction: Katlyn Chookagian via Unanimous Decision

Josh Emmett (10-0) vs. Desmond Green (19-5) – Lightweight Bout

Desmond Green is finally getting his shot in the UFC after fighting for Bellator and Titan FC. His grinding heavy style isn’t the most exciting for fans to watch but it gets the job done. He has been known to show some strong striking, especially from the ground and pound position. Josh Emmett would much rather stand and trade with Green, especially since Green has shown a tendency to shoot for a takedown once clipped. Emmett’s takedown defense is the question here, if it holds up he will most likely win, but if he can’t keep the bout standing he is definitely going to lose. I say Green’s wrestling is better here and puts an end to the undefeated streak of Emmett.

Prediction: Desmond Green via Unanimous Decision

Gregor Gillespie (8-0) vs. Andrew Holbrook (12-1) – Lightweight Bout

Former Ring of Combat lightweight champion Gregor Gillespie had a solid showing his first time out in the octagon and looks to follow it up against the near undefeated prospect Andrew Holbrook. Gillespie primarily has a wrestling background, but has a strong finishing instinct with 6 of his 8 wins coming from a finish. This is an excellent matchup because Holbrook is quite the submission artist, so if Gillespie decides to go to mat, then the fight becomes a battle of positioning. Holbrook is long and lanky so he can toss up submissions at will. Gillespie should be smart enough not to get caught in a bad situation and being a champion in ROC, he has plenty of good experience coming into his second UFC bout. Holbrook’s chin had a rough time last year against Joaquim Silva, look for a hard fought bout until a ground and pound finish.

Prediction: Gregor Gillespie via TKO Round 2

Fox Sports 1 Prelims (8 PM EST / 5 PM PST)

(#12) Patrick Cummins (8-4) vs. (#12) Jan Blachowicz (19-6) – Light Heavyweight Bout

The career of Patrick Cummins has been interesting, being too good for local fighters to want to face him and almost calling it quits until he took a short notice bout against Daniel Cormier to get into the UFC. The four losses of Cummins stem from Cormier, Ovince Saint Preux, Glover Teixeira and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and all are via knockout. Jan Blachowicz is in a similar situation with his only UFC losses being to Jimi Manuwa, Corey Anderson and Alexander Gustafsson and all by decision. Blachowicz is good in most areas, but if he can be controlled by someone stronger in one area he will be. Cummins will look to wrestle, while Blachowicz should have the advantage on the feet. Cummins’ chin might not hold up, but his wrestling is strong enough to be confident in a Cummins pick.

Prediction: Patrick Cummins via Unanimous Decision

Shane Burgos (8-0) vs. Charles Rosa (11-2) – Featherweight Bout

Charles Rosa is set to be one of the better fighters at featherweight, he is only 30 years old and his only two losses were fight of the night bouts. Losing to Dennis Siver on short notice in 2014 when Siver was still relevant isn’t the worst thing that could happen, then a loss to Yair Rodriguez in 2015 didn’t hurt his stock too much. Rosa is exciting and a finisher, finishing 10 of his 11 wins. Shane Burgos won his UFC debut against Tiago dos Santos e Silva with a decision, but has finished every other fight he has been in. These two are going to fight to a potential fight of the night and it should be exciting as long as it lasts. The fight could go anywhere and both fighters would be able to trade.

Prediction: Charles Rosa via Split Decision

(#11) Kamaru Usman (9-1) vs. Sean Strickland (18-1) – Welterweight Bout

Kamaru Usman makes his opponents look just awful by using his collegiate wrestling. Usman used to be a finisher, but in his last three fights he has his only three decisions, he has a high work rate and keeps busy, but seems to get complacent with just controlling the fight until the judges get to have a say in it. Strickland has the superior striking here and has only one loss in a close back and forth fight with Santiago Ponzinibbio. Strickland needs to keep his distance and try to pick  apart Usman, but that is easier said than done. Usman is a takedown machine that will not let up, but he will also lay some ground and pound to keep his opponent guessing. Strickland could always submit Usman, but his best chance is too take out Usman on the feet.

Prediction: Kamaru Usman via Unanimous Decision

Myles Jury (15-2) vs. Mike De La Torre (14-6, 1NC) – Featherweight Bout

A two fight losing streak is keeping Myles Jury from seeing the upper echelon of either the lightweight or featherweight division, but looks to rebound against the exciting Mike De La Torre. La Torre is 2-3 and 1NC inside the UFC, and his wins haven’t come against someone the quality of Myles Jury. Both of these men can fight on the feet or the mat, but La Torre has lost four fights via submission so he is most vulnerable there. Jury shouldn’t lose this unless he gets caught in a fire fight with La Torre. Jury is more technical than La Torre and is just quicker to the punch.

Prediction: Myles Jury via Submission Round 2

PPV Main Card (10 PM EST / 7 PM PST)

Will Brooks (18-2) vs. (#9) Charles Oliveira (21-7, 1NC) – Lightweight Bout

Unless Charles Oliveira has vastly improved striking he might be in for a long night on Saturday. Will Brooks has never been submitted before in his career. Oliveira has shown a vulnerability to being finished by TKO or submission throughout his UFC career, he lost by guillotine choke twice in a row now and it cost him to move back up to lightweight. Brooks has strong striking, wrestling and can clinch very well too. Unless Brooks gives up a position he should coast to a decision. A finish is definitely possible here though as Brooks has shown some power before. This win should keep Brooks near the top 15 and looking to climb the rankings.

Prediction: Will Brooks via Unanimous Decision

Thiago Alves (26-12) vs. Patrick Cote (24-10) – Welterweight Bout

There will be blood ladies and gentlemen. Thiago Alves and Patrick Cote are two action fighters who won’t stop trading until someone goes down. Alves and Cote both love to fight in close range clinch battles, but neither enjoys going to the ground so looks for the battle to take place almost entirely on the feet. The opening round may be a little tentative, but at some point fireworks will occur. Someone will likely be finished before the bout is over as both men recently have shown fading chins. Cote, although older is more technical and doesn’t get as reckless as Alves tends to. If composed, Cote will end up winning late in the bout.

Prediction: Patrick Cote via TKO Round 3

Cynthia Calvillo (4-0) vs. Pearl Gonzalez (6-1) – Women’s Strawweight Bout

After her impressive debut at UFC 209 Cynthia Calvillo looks to continue her undefeated run against the submission based, debuting fighter Pearl Gonzalez. Calvillo came out and just destroyed Amanda Cooper with a great submission victory and that isn’t even her best area of the fight game. Pearl Gonzalez likes to get the fight down and has won four of her six wins via armbar. Gonzalez will be relentless attacking for the arm, but Calvillo would be smart to keep the fight on the feet where she will likely be able to out-strike Gonzalez. This should be a fun one as long as it lasts.

Prediction: Cynthia Calvillo via TKO Round 2

(#4) Chris Weidman (13-2) vs. (#5) Gegard Mousasi (41-6-2) – Middleweight Bout

Chris Weidman is in desperate need of a win here to stay in the conversation for top middleweights in the world. Losing two in a row to Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero isn’t something to be ashamed of, but losing a third will mentally break Weidman. Wrestling is Weidman’s go to, but if he can’t keep his opponents down and is facing a better striker, the results from his last two bouts show what happens.  Gegard Mousasi is a on a great four fight win streak, destroying his last three via (T)KO, but Thiago Santos, Vitor Belfort and Uriah Hall aren’t as skilled as Weidman is. Mousasi was easily able to take down his last three opponents and knock them out but Weidman will prove a much sterner test. Whoever can control the ground game will control the fight. Weidman’s back is against the wall and I think that brings out an animal on Saturday.

Prediction: Chris Weidman via Unanimous Decision

(C) Daniel Cormier (18-1) vs. (#1) Anthony Johnson (22-5) – Light Heavyweight Championship Main Event (5 Rounds)

A rematch between Daniel Cormier and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson headlines the PPV card. In the original bout Cormier won via submission in the third round after Johnson gassed out. Johnson had one scary moment where he almost knocked out Cormier in the first, but other than that nothing really was going Johnson’s way. The moment Cormier got the fight down to the floor it was pretty much over. Let’s take a look into what these fighters have accomplished since their last fight and what needs to be done to win this rematch.

Cormier has only fought against Alexander Gustafsson to defend his title in October 2015, and fought once against Anderson Silva in a bout in July of last year. Cormier needs to defend his belt again against a dangerous challenger like Johnson to prove he still deserves to hold the title. Obviously, Cormier should take down Johnson as soon as humanly possibly. Standing and trading with Johnson is an easy way to lose that title and his ability to stay awake. Cormier will look to take him down early and wear him out just like he did in the first bout.

Anthony Johnson has gone on to knockout Jimi Manuwa, Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira in the last two years, each win coming faster than the last. Johnson needs to swing hard, but not get over reaching and wild, otherwise Cormier will shoot in for the easy takedown attempt. If Johnson can clip someone once or twice they usually do not get back up. The success he had in that first round should give him some confidence. He really does need to go all out if he clips him again because his gas tank won’t last more than one and half rounds. Johnson has every chance to finish this early, but Cormier is an Olympic wrestler so he will likely get the bout to the ground and we should see a similar result to last time out.

Prediction: Daniel Cormier via Submission Round 2

NOW CHECK OUT ANOTHER UFC 210 PREVIEW: UFC 210 PREVIEW: Grocke’s Preview & Odds & Predictions including Anthony “Rumble” Johnson vs. Daniel Cormier, Chris Weidman vs. Gegard Mousasi

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