Headlined by a rematch of one of MMA's best rivalries in Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, UFC 214 is the crown jewel of the organization's summer schedule.
The roles in the light heavyweight title match have been well defined by now. Jones is playing the part of redeemed contender after getting stripped of a title for a second time in his career due to his behavior outside of the Octagon, this time for a USADA doping violation.
Cormier is playing the part of champion. The king of the division while the old king was on sabbatical, this is his chance to confirm that he is the 205-pound kingpin that the belt around his waist says he is.
The stakes are high. But it isn't the only fight with a belt on the line on the card.
No, three belts will be on the line at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Tyron Woodley will finally fight someone not named Stephen Thompson when he puts his championship on the line against Demian Maia. The vacant women's featherweight title is also up for grabs in a bout between Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino and Tonya Evinger.
Here's a look at the complete fight card, viewing information and predictions for all three title fights.
Main Card: Pay-Per-View, 10 p.m. ET
- Daniel Cormier (c) vs. Jon Jones—Light Heavyweight Title Fight
- Tyron Woodley (c) vs. Demian Maia—Welterweight Title Fight
- Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino vs. Tonya Evinger—Women's Featherweight Title Fight
- Robbie Lawler vs. Donald Cerrone—Welterweight
- Jimi Manuwa vs. Volkan Oezdemir—Light Heavyweight
Prelims: FXX, 8 p.m. ET
- Ricardo Lamas vs. Jason Knight—Featherweight
- Renan Barao vs. Aljamain Sterling—140-pound catchweight
- Renato Moicano vs. Brian Ortega—Featherweight
- Andre Fili vs. Calvin Kattar—Featherweight
Prelims: UFC Fight Pass, 6:30 p.m. ET
- Alexandra Albu vs. Kailin Curran—Women's Strawweight
- Jarred Brooks vs. Eric Shelton—Flyweight
- Josh Burkman vs. Drew Dober—Lightweight
Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier
Lost in all the animosity between Jones and Cormier is the fact that the two still present an interesting stylistic matchup.
In their previous meeting, Jones won four rounds on each of the judges' scorecards, but DC won Round 2 on two cards and Round 3 on the other, per MMA Decisions.
In short, Cormier was able to compete with Jones in spurts, but overall, the numbers tilted in Bones' favor:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
When Jon Jones & Daniel Cormier met at UFC 182, Cormier was 1-8 on takedowns Jones outstruck Cormier 27-7 in rounds 4 and 5 (@FightMetric) https://t.co/9QsXuMNe3p2017-7-28 02:56:21
How each fighter adjusts in the second go around is what's fascinating about this fight.
After going 1-for-8 on takedown attempts and the only successful one coming in the final moments of the fifth round, will Cormier continue to force takedown attempts? Because the energy saved on seven failed takedown attempts can be spent in the striking department, where Cormier had some success in the last fight.
Jones—backed by Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn—is one of the smartest fighters of all-time, though. He's going to look to improve on his methods of breaking down the champion, and he's looking for a finish.
"Now I already know what I can do," Jones said after admitting he had some hesitation in the first fight, per Mike Bohn and John Morgan of MMAjunkie. "I have a great blueprint I've been studying extensively, and the goal here is to finish the fight. I want to be the first person who makes 'D.C.' quit inside that octagon, and I believe with all my heart that it's going to happen."
Cormier may find pockets of success, but Jones remains the scariest man in MMA. With a foot-long reach advantage, the mental edge of having beat Cormier and one of the most diverse skill sets in the sport, it's tough to pick against the former champion.
Jones is hittable, which makes him beatable, but Cormier doesn't have the one-punch power to capitalize.
Prediction: Jones via Unanimous Decision
Tyron Woodley vs. Demian Maia
It's been seven years since Maia last competed for a UFC championship. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner put on an infamously curious performance against Anderson Silva for the middleweight title in 2010. Now he gets a crack at Woodley for the middleweight belt.
Maia has certainly earned his shot. While Woodley briefly chased a superfight with Michael Bisping and gave Stephen Thompson an immediate rematch, Maia was busy taking out Gunnar Nelson, Matt Brown, Carlos Condit and Jorge Masvidal as part of a seven-fight win streak.
The 39-year-old has compiled his victorious run doing what he does best: wrapping up opponents like a pretzel and smothering the life out of them with a swarming grappling attack.
Three of the seven wins have come by way of submission, and the rest have featured multiple takedowns followed by ground dominance. Maia is admittedly a one-dimensional fighter, but that one dimension can swallow a competitor whole.
Plying that trade against Woodley will be a different ball game, though.
Woodley's supreme athleticism, power and wrestling background are going to make it difficult to get him on the ground and a threat to finish the fight at any time.
The champion is good at managing distance, preferring to stay on the outside, attack in bursts and move outside as soon as that attack is finished. First-round knockout wins over Robbie Lawler and Dong Hyun Kim show the devastating power he has.
This is one of those fights where it will be clear who is winning. If the two are standing and trading, Woodley is having his way. If the fight hits the mat, it's probably nearing the end. Maia will add another submission victim to his list.
Getting T-Wood down is a tall order, though. He's only been taken down three times in his career, according to FightMetric, and Maia might find his lack of skills on the feet don't allow him to close that distance.
Prediction: Woodley via second-round TKO
Cyborg Justino vs. Tonya Evinger
MMA fans are finally going to witness something that has been built up for years. No, it's not Fedor vs. Lesnar. Cyborg will finally fight for a UFC championship.
It isn't quite the superfight with Ronda Rousey that fans clamored for for years, but it is a chance for the most dominant female fighter in the sport to join the hierarchy of champions in the world's biggest MMA promotion.
To join that club she'll have to defeat Invicta FC Bantamweight Champion Evinger. The 36-year-old is a gritty grappler on a 10-fight win streak of her own, and she's not buying the Cyborg hype.
"I'm willing to take any fight," Evinger said in Wednesday's press conference. "I'm here to work and prove that I'm the best. … I think I'm going to put on a show and prove a lot of people wrong and hopefully come out with the win."
Evinger isn't the first to say something like that before facing Cyborg, though.
Since losing her debut fight, women have stepped up to the plate to take on Cyborg. For 12 years, she's shut down every challenge in convincing fashion.
Cyborg is a whirlwind of violence and few survive to even see Round 2, much less a decision. Only two of her 17 wins have ever gone the distance.
The kind of power she has displayed even in her two UFC fights at 140 pounds is just uncommon in this division, per UFC Canada:
UFC Canada @UFC_CA
#UFC214 FREE FIGHT: @CrisCyborg's UFC debut against Smith 🎥 https://t.co/Knc8ynscoL https://t.co/qatCZtrvya2017-7-25 02:00:01
Evinger will try to take this fight to the ground, as if that hasn't been tried already. The Invicta champion might be tough, but Cyborg's power and speed are simply too much to handle. The UFC will get the result it's looking for here.
Prediction: Cyborg via first-round TKO