UFC 211 PREVIEW: Grocke’s Preview and Predictions including Miocic vs. Dos Santos for UFC Hvt. Title, Jedrzejczyk vs. Andrade for Strawweight Title

By Michael Grocke, MMATorch contributor

The UFC makes its way to the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas for UFC 211. Stipe Miocic defends his heavyweight title against Junior dos Santos in the main event of a stacked lineup. Each fight on the main card has a top ten fighter in it, including Alvarez vs. Poirier which highlights the prelims. The co-main event features another title fight with Joanna Jedrzejczyk putting her strawweight championship on the line against the always dangerous Jessica Andrade.

The five fight main card rounds out with #5 ranked (this preview includes MMA Torch’s fighter rankings) Jorge Masvidal currently the slight favorite taking on #3 ranked Demian Maia in what could be a title eliminator in the welterweight division and UFC veteran and the third ranked featherweight Frankie Edgar goes up against the fast rising sixth ranked Yair Rodriguez.

The early prelims will air on Fight Pass starting at 5:15 p.m. CT, with FX taking over at 7 p.m. CT for the prelims. The main card airs on PPV beginning at 9 p.m. CT.

This is one of, if not the hardest card to predict. This is one of those main cards where an argument can be made for either fighter winning their respective fights. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @FightChampBlog for all my official bets.

Main Card

Stipe Miocic #1 (16-2) vs. Junior dos Santos #5 (18-4) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.

Current Odds: Miocic -140; dos Santos +110

After losing to current challenger Junior dos Santos at UFC on Fox 13 Stipe Miocic has won his last four fights. He won the heavyweight title by stopping Fabricio Werdum with punches in the first round at UFC 198 in what was considered an upset. Most recently, he followed that fight up by stopping Alistair Overeem again with punches in the first round at UFC 203 for his first title defense. On Saturday night he goes for his second defense when he steps into the cage against dos Santos for the second time.

After starting his UFC career 9-0, dos Santos is 3-3 over his last six fights. On top of that he has taken a substantial amount of damage in those three losses. He lost a one-sided decision to Cain Velasquez, and was finished in the other two losses. Even in one of the wins, which happened to be in his first fight with Miocic, dos Santos looked like he got the worst of it. Now all that said, he looked fantastic in his most recent fight when he beat Ben Rothwell in a dominating performance at UFC Fight Night 86.

In his fight against Rothwell, dos Santos showed he is capable of learning from past losses. In those losses, he found himself taking serious damage while being pressured against the fence. He was also slower and not capable of using his once excellent footwork to keep himself out of harm’s way. Against Rothwell his speed, quickness and ability to circle away from trouble all seemed to have come back for the former champion. I expect Junior to come into this fight with a ton of confidence, the only question is which Junior will we see on Saturday night?

Stipe Miocic is an excellent boxer. He’s very adept at cutting off the cage while applying constant pressure on his opponents. Miocic is very dangerous when in close and is becoming a better counter-puncher. While the champ is a competent wrestler, I do not expect him to try to take this fight to the mat. Striking is his game and he will stick to it. Of his 16 professional wins, 12 are by KO/TKO with only one submission.

Dos Santos hasn’t fought since April of 2016 and I think that’s a good thing. I also like the move to American Top Team. This fight will come down to which Junior dos Santos shows up on Saturday night. If it’s the version that we saw against Overeem or Velasquez he’s going to get demolished by Miocic. However, if we get the Junior that we saw against Rothwell, we might have a new heavyweight champion at the conclusion of UFC 211.

Pick: dos Santos by TKO

Joanna Jedrzejczyk #1 (13-0) vs. Jessica Andrade #3 (16-5) – Strawweight 115 lbs.

Current Odds: Jedrzejczyk -185; Andrade +155

Brazilian challenger Jessica Andrade enters Saturday night’s title fight riding a three fight winning streak. She defeated both Jessica Penne and Joanne Calderwood inside the distance, and most recently decisioned Angela Hill at UFC Fight Night 104. She is 7-3 since joining the UFC back in 2013 and boasts 12 finishes in her 16 professional wins.

Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk has yet to taste defeat in her MMA career. After going 2-0 as an amateur she has rattled off 13 straight wins as a pro, with her last 7 under the UFC umbrella. Her most recent win occurred at UFC 205 where she beat Karolina Kowalkiewicz by unanimous decision.

At bantamweight Jessica Andrade was just another fighter, but it’s at strawweight where she’s found her home. Stamina was thought to perhaps be an issue for her at 115, but she’s proven that is not the case. Not only does she have the gas tank, but her power is scary at this weight. Andrade is always moving forward while pressuring her opponents throughout the fight. While Andrade is a capable wrestler with a good ground game, I don’t expect her to have success on the mat. I do expect her to keep the fight standing where she can apply constant pressure and utilize her superior strength and striking skills.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk is an outstanding striker. She will have to use those skills, especially her jab in order to control range against Andrade. The champion has excellent footwork which will also come in handy as she’ll try to avoid the incoming onslaught of Andrade. Jedrzejzcyk works at a fast pace with a gas tank that’s second to none while out voluming her opponents. She has been hurt early in her fights, but her will to win keeps her going and eventually she wears her challengers out in the championship rounds.

I expect both fighters to take a lot of damage in this fight. While the champion has unreal cardio, which has made the difference in her fights, I expect Andrade to keep up. If she is capable of matching Jedrzejczyk’s gas tank I think she’ll be able to pull off the upset. However, if she slows in the championship rounds, like so many others I can see her getting finished.

Pick: Andrade by decision

Demian Maia #3 (24-6) vs. Jorge Masvidal #5 (32-11) – Welterweight 170 lbs.

Current Odds: Masvidal -125; Maia -105

Demian Maia comes into Saturday’s fight riding a ton of momentum as he looks for his seventh straight win. Maia won his last two fights by submission, first beating Matt Brown at UFC 198 and most recently Carlos Condit. The Brazilian fighter has 12 wins by submission in 24 career wins.

Jorge Masvidal also comes into this fight riding a wave of confidence. He’s 3-0 over his last three fights, winning his last two inside the distance. He finished Jake Ellenberger in the first round at The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale, and most recently he destroyed Donald Cerrone at UFC on FOX 23. The American Top Team product boasts 15 finishes in 32 career wins.

Demian Maia should be fighting for the welterweight title in my opinion. Ultimately this fight should be a title eliminator, but with the recent news of the Bisping/GSP fight getting cancelled I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Woodley decides he wants a fight against GSP.

This fight is a match-up of contrasting styles. The game plan for each fighter is already well known. Maia will try to utilize his other worldly grappling skills to take Masvidal down. Once on the mat he will try to take his back, and if he does, the fight will be over.

Masvidal on the other hand, will want to keep the fight standing so he can utilize his outstanding boxing skills. He is very quick and has excellent defense. Masvidal has only been submitted twice in eleven losses. If he has success in defending Maia’s take down attempts he will force Maia to stand. If that’s the case I can see Masvidal getting the finish.

Unfortunately for Masvidal I don’t think he’ll be able to fend Maia off for three rounds.

Pick: Maia by submission

Frankie Edgar #3 (20-5-1) vs. Yair Rodriguez #6 (11-1) – Featherweight 145 lbs. 

Current Odds: Edgar -130; Rodriguez ev.

UFC veteran Frankie Edgar sandwiched five wins in between losses to Jose Aldo. Edgar’s most recent fight occurred at UFC 205 where he picked up a victory by unanimous decision over Jeremy Stephens. The vet will look to make it two wins in a row by putting a halt to fast rising Yair Rodriguez.

Jackson-Wink product Yair Rodriguez is riding an eight fight win streak. He will be looking for his seventh straight win since joining the UFC. His most recent fight was against BJ Penn at UFC Fight Night 103 where he completely dominated the overmatched Penn winning by TKO. Rodriguez will be making a huge step up in competition when he steps into the cage against Edgar on Saturday night.

No one has ever questioned Edgar’s stamina, as the New Jersey native has plenty to spare. He is also extremely quick making him difficult to hit, he works a fast pace and throws punches at a high volume. Edgar mixes in take down attempts well as he tries to keep his opponents off balance. While he can finish, 52% of his fights go to the judge’s score cards.

Mexican born Yair Rodriguez comes at you with a barrage of kicks and punches that come from all angles. He’s also prone to throw in a flying knee, a spinning back fist or a spinning wheel kick. His offense is just as unpredictable as it is dangerous.

While Edgar is the better-rounded fighter, Rodriguez has youth as well as the edge in overall athleticism. Is it enough to beat one of the best featherweights in the world? I expect Rodriguez to fight from distance, avoid going to the ground and try to out-strike Edgar. If Frankie has success getting inside, landing takedowns and keeping the taller Rodriguez off balance it’s going to be a good night for “The Answer.”

Pick: Edgar by submission

Prelims Quick Look

#10 Poirier -100 over #4 Alvarez -120

Knight ev. over Skelly -130

Jotko -150 over Branch +120

Vick -375 over Reyes +290

Early Prelims Quick Look

#9 Aguilar -110 over Casey -120

Gordon -155 over Quinones +125

Sherman -135 over Coulter +105

Benitez -150 over Barzola +120

Antigulov -385 over Christensen +295

Enjoy the fights!

NOW CHECK OUT ANOTHER UFC 211 PREVIEW: UFC 211 PRIMER: Ecochard’s preview of Miocic vs. JDS for Heavyweight Title, Jedrzejczyk vs. Andrade, Maia vs. Masvidal, Edgar, Alvarez

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