UFC 210 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterApril 6, 2017

UFC 210 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

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    Daniel Cormier
    Daniel CormierJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    After an extended March Madness-related hiatus, the UFC is back in full force Saturday with UFC 210 at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York.

    The narrative on Daniel Cormier has become clear over the course of the week. This card does not carry the buzz that others do. Cormier, who is defending his light heavyweight title against first-round terror Anthony Johnson in the evening's main event, bears some responsibility for this, but he is chronically underappreciated by the mainstream MMA- and sports-going public.

    If the former Olympic wrestler can defeat the knockout artist Johnson for the second time—Cormier choked him out in 2015 to take the belt vacated by a wayward Jon Jones—perhaps it'll add enough mass to create a tipping point.

    There's also the co-main event, which pits middleweight contenders Chris Weidman and Gegard Mousasi against each other. And those are only two of the five fights scheduled for the pay-per-view card.

    We're not going to let you watch these fights without any information or perspective. So we're giving you a breakdown and a prediction for each of these main card contests. It's our tried-and-true staff predictions team. Craig Amos. Steven Rondina. Nathan McCarter. And myself, Scott Harris. Let's get it on. 

Will Brooks vs. Charles Oliveira

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    Will Brooks and Charles Oliveira
    Will Brooks and Charles OliveiraJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Craig Amos

    Charles Oliveira has been a UFC fighter for a while now, and he's achieved a consistent level of success. He might not be champion-level, but he's a talented fighter, capable of sending back anyone not well above average. So, to me, this pick comes down to how much you believe in Will Brooks, and I believe he has more to give than what he showed last time out.

    Brooks, unanimous decision 

    Steven Rondina

    Don't let that last fight against Alex Oliveira fool you. Will Brooks is an elite-level lightweight, and he'll be able to show that off. Charles Oliveira (not to be confused with Alex "The Cheatin' Cowboy" Oliveira) is good, but his game and his lack of size fits right into Brooks' game, which will let the former Bellator champ control the fight en route to the scorecards.

    Brooks, unanimous decision

    Nathan McCarter

    Brooks is an elite lightweight, and this is a great matchup for him to look like one. Oliveira is a fantastic ground tactician, but he is someone Brooks can control both standing and from top. I don't foresee a finish, but it should be a dominant three-round performance.

    Brooks, unanimous decision

    Scott Harris

    Sound the upset alarms. Oliveira has to get him early, and get him early he will. Oliveira will come forward and catch Brooks with a flash high kick. Before Brooks can gain control on the ground, Oliveira will take advantage of the scramble and throw up a triangle choke. There's your ballgame.

    Oliveira, submission, Rd. 1

Thiago Alves vs. Patrick Cote

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    Thiago Alves and Patrick Cote
    Thiago Alves and Patrick CoteJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Amos

    Both men are in decline, but while Patrick Cote, 37, is nearly four years older, his fall has been less precipitous than Thiago Alves'. Maybe that's different now after he was knocked out for the first time (excusing a TKO loss to Anderson Silva that resulted from a leg injury), but if Cote has retained his ability to shake off damage, he can eke out the victory in what looks like a competitive battle on paper.

    Cote, unanimous decision

    Rondina

    Alves is back at the weight class where he belongs, but he gets to return against one of the division's bigger, smarter guys in Cote. That's not a good thing for him, and it will likely end with the Canadian taking a convincing decision win.

    Cote, unanimous decision

    McCarter

    I like the matchup as far as two fighters well past their primes not getting a beating at the hands of a young buck. So, it should be fun. It's a fight of who has more left in the tank.

    I'll take Alves. He can chop away at Cote's legs with kicks taking away his power. That'll allow him to pick up the second and third rounds for a decision nod.

    Alves, unanimous decision

    Harris

    Cote is the more well-rounded fighter here. He's proved more than capable of weathering heavy shots, like the ones Alves will throw at him, and returning fire. Grappling may make the difference provided Cote can get Alves to the mat.

    Cote, unanimous decision

Cynthia Calvillo vs. Pearl Gonzalez

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    Cynthia Calvillo
    Cynthia CalvilloSteve Marcus/Getty Images

    Amos

    I was too impressed with Cynthia Calvillo in her debut at UFC 209 on March 4 to not pick her here. Pearl Gonzalez looks to possess a fair amount of ability, but like I said...Calvillo was nothing short of phenomenal the only time she's stepped into the Octagon.               

    Calvillo, submission, Rd. 2

    Rondina

    I'm not going to lie and say I've been following the careers of these two fighters. But what I do know is UFC booking, and this matchup and its placement on the UFC 210 card screams that the organization feels bullish on Calvillo and wants to build her up against soft competition before giving her a larger push.

    Calvillo, unanimous decision

    McCarter

    How impressive was Calvillo in her debut? Very. Very impressive. That's the answer you're looking for here. After she took out Amanda Bobby Cooper, this matchup feels like a showcase fight for someone the UFC thinks has a bright future. And that's smart. Calvillo will put Gonzalez on her back and finish again in the first round.

    Calvillo, submission, Rd. 1

    Harris

    Gonzalez made a name for herself in her native Chicago and on the regional scene. She gets a huge step up in competition and will meet it head on in what could be a fun slugfest with an even brighter talent in Calvillo. For a while. Eventually, though, Calvillo will get her to the ground and impose her will.

    Calvillo, unanimous decision

Chris Weidman vs. Gegard Mousasi

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    Chris Weidman (top) at UFC 210 open workouts.
    Chris Weidman (top) at UFC 210 open workouts.Kevin Hoffman/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Amos

    A lot of people are down on Chris Weidman, but I'm not convinced he's anything but an elite middleweight. Sure, he's lost two straight, but those were against opponents ensconced in that same elite tier (Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero). Gegard Mousasi will make it competitive, but Weidman will get the decision.

    Weidman, unanimous decision

    Rondina

    Weidman is coming off back-to-back losses, but that's not necessarily because of any physical or psychological decline. I'm working under the assumption that this is still the dude who steamrolled all of Brazil's heroes. And you know what? That dude is capable of beating Mousasi. 

    Weidman, unanimous decision


    McCarter

    There is plenty of reason to be cautious in picking Weidman. Especially against Mousasi. I will take the former champion, but I'm feeling uneasy about it. In the end, I just feel that Weidman's wrestling and his length (78" reach) will make the difference. Sometimes, folks forget how big he is, and against Mousasi, that'll allow him to win in tight spaces. No finish and it'll be competitive, but Weidman gets the W.

    Weidman, unanimous decision


    Harris

    It's a clean sweep. As much as we all love Mousasi, this is where the wave begins to roll back to the sea. Weidman's pressure will wear down Mousasi, as well his takedowns and his ground striking. Mousasi's game is probably more complete, but what Weidman does well in his narrower wheelhouse supersedes that. 

    Weidman, unanimous decision

Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson

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    Anthony Johnson
    Anthony JohnsonJeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Amos

    Last time, it went to Daniel Cormier, but it easily could have gone the other way. This time, Anthony Johnson will complete the knockout when Cormier gets hurt and will become the new light heavyweight champion.

    Johnson, TKO, Rd. 2

    Rondina

    I'm expecting this fight to be similar to their first. Rumble will look for the early knockout, but he will ultimately get taken down, worked over and either get finished late or get the thumbs down from the judges.

    Cormier, unanimous decision

    McCarter

    Cormier is the better fighter. Period. But this is MMA, and the more complete fighter doesn't always win. Specialists have equal chances because of what they excel at, and this is a case of Johnson being a KO specialist with unnatural power.

    I've had a gut feeling since this fight was proposed that Johnson finds a home for his mittens on Cormier's chin. Cormier ate one in their first meeting, but in the second, he'll eat canvas. The emphatic finish will give the UFC the marquee title fight for Jon Jones that they covet.

    Johnson, KO, Rd. 1

    Harris

    Can Johnson win this fight? You are doggone right he can. Is he going to? No. There's nothing Cormier can, should or would do differently in this fight than the first one, where he survived an early scare but prevailed with takedowns and control grappling. This is still a wildly entertaining matchup, but we've literally seen it before.

    Cormier, unanimous decision