UFC 211 kicks off the organization's summer season with a bang in Dallas, Texas as Stipe Miocic looks to defend his heavyweight title against Junior dos Santos in the main event.
The two will be running back an instant-classic slugfest in 2014 when JDS took a unanimous decision from the current champion. That was then, though.
A lot has changed since that memorable fight. Miocic has gone from massive underdog in that matchup to the champion and slight favorite over the Brazilian, according to OddsShark.
Miocic and Dos Santos is sure to be fire, but it's going to have stiff competition for Fight of the Night. Joanna Jedrzejczyk will also be in a firefight to defend her title against Jessica Andrade.
Here's a look at the PPV card, along with the latest odds from OddsShark and the biggest questions coming into Saturday night.
|UFC 211 Main Card Odds and Predictions|
|Main Card||PPV at 10 p.m. ET|
|Heavyweight Championship||Stipe Miocic -140 vs. Junior dos Santos +110||Miocic|
|Women's Strawweight Championship||Jessica Andrade +155 vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk -190||Jedrzejczyk|
|Welterweight||Demian Maia EVEN vs. Jorge Masvidal -130||Maia|
|Featherweight||Frankie Edgar -140 vs. Yair Rodriguez +110||Rodriguez|
|Middleweight||Krzysztof Jotko -160 vs. David Branch +130||Jotko|
|Card info via UFC.com; Odds via OddsShark|
Has Stipe Miocic Evolved Beyond Junior Dos Santos?
In a way, it was Stipe Miocic's loss to Junior dos Santos in 2014 that set him up to be the champion today. Until then, Miocic was considered a mid-tier heavyweight.
He was 6-1 in the Octagon, but his best win was against Roy Nelson. He had been knocked out by Stefan Struve. Good, but not great.
Then came his opportunity against Dos Santos. Cigano was coming off his second loss to Cain Velasquez, still looking like the best heavyweight that wasn't Velasquez. It was a rebound fight.
But Miocic never got that memo. Instead of playing the role of punching bag. Miocic dug his toes in and fired back. The Ohio native unflinchingly went after the former champion and turned the bout into a slugfest.
Dos Santos won, but Miocic left everyone with the same takeaway: His skills weren't quite on the same level of Dos Santos, but he wasn't as far as originally thought and his toughness can take him a long way.
As it turns out, that toughness has taken him all the way to the top. Now the roles will be reversed in the main event, but the same question still remains: Have Miocic's skills surpassed Dos Santos?
It's an interesting question because both fighters like to do similar things. JDS and Miocic are both boxers looking to land that knockout punch. Miocic is the slightly better grappler, but not enough to make it the obvious path to victory for him.
According to Reed Kuhn of Fightnomics' numbers, Dos Santos is still the more accurate striker of the two.
However, Miocic's striking has come a long way since 2014. While JDS has become a bit more patient and tactical with his choices and pace, Miocic has become an excellent counterpuncher.
That's what could be the difference as Miocic catches JDS with the counter that puts him to sleep after initial success from both fighters.
Can Joanna Jedrzejczyk Withstand Jessica Andrade's Power for Five Rounds?
On March 14, 2015, Joanna Jedrzejczyk became the second women's strawweight champion in UFC history. She hasn't looked back since.
The Polish phenom has outclassed four challengers for the belt. Outstriking opponents in the clinch and from range with record-making efficiency, per UFC Europe:
However, being the most dominant strawweight isn't enough for Jedrzejczyk. She has her eyes on an even bigger goal of being the most dominant women's champion in the organization's history, eclipsing Ronda Rousey's standard for title defenses.
"I want to be the first female fighter to hold two belts," Jedrzejczyk said, per Mike Bohn of Rolling Stone. "First I want to reach the record of Ronda Rousey. She had six successful title defenses, which is a pretty big deal to me. I want to be an undefeated champion and retire undefeated. It's not going to be easy."
Of the potential challengers for the champion's throne, Andrade might be the most dangerous. Jedrzejczyk is not an exceptionally large strawweight. She's lean and long but has been challenged by the likes of Claudia Gadelha who could neutralize her advantage in the clinch.
Andrade should fit that bill. She made her UFC debut and fought seven times at 135 pounds before making the cut down to 115.
The Brazilian has serious stopping power too. 12 of her 16 career wins have come by way of either TKO or submission.
Jedrzejczyk is the ultimate volume striker, but her ability to break down opponents is just that: The ability to break down an opponent over time. Andrade will have a power advantage throughout the fight, but especially early.
"Joanna Champion" will need to fend off the early onslaught from Andrade in this fight to take over in the later rounds and assert her will.
Can Demian Maia Get Jorge Masvidal to the Ground?
It just seems like whatever Demian Maia does, respect never seems to follow.
The 39-year-old will enter his fight against dangerous opponent Jorge Masvidal on a six-fight win streak that includes Carlos Condit, Matt Brown and Gunnar Nelson. Yet he's preparing for a bout against Jorge Masvidal instead of UFC champion Tyron Woodley.
It appeared Maia was in line to be Woodley's next title opponent, but when Woodley was scheduled to fight Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson again, he chose to take a fight against Masvidal.
The current champ explained why that's a potentially bad move.
"Unfortunately for Maia, he accepted the fight the week of me and Wonderboy's fight. In my personal opinion, bad move. Wait and see how the fight went. If nobody came out of the fight hurt, a clear winner, not another draw, you're already in a position to fight for a world title," Woodley said on the "UFC Undisputed" podcast (via Damon Martin of Fox Sports). "Why would you put yourself up against the worst possible matchup outside of a title fight? Why would you put yourself in that position?"
Masvidal is, at heart, a brawler. His background as a street fighter can be seen in his approach to attacking opponents in the cage, and he'll likely have the advantage while these two are standing.
However, if the fight goes to the mat, it'll be Jaws: MMA Edition as Maia drags Masvidal down into his submission game.
Maia's takedown game is sneaky good. He's always given credit for his grappling, which has led to 12 submission victories in his career, but it's his singular drive to score the takedown that sets everything up. Former opponent Matt Brown broke down the Brazilian's takedown game, per Jonathan Snowden of Bleacher Report.
"The one thing different I felt from him, different than every person I've ever fought or even trained with, was he didn't seem interested in chaining things together or transitioning from one technique to the next," Brown said. "He had an idea of what he wanted and he was going to go for that with a single-minded purpose until he got it. He was willing to live or die based on getting what he wanted."
This is a huge fight in the welterweight division, but whether Maia made the right choice comes down to one simple question: Can he take down Masvidal?
If he can, he may finally get that title shot. If not, Masvidal could be the one with the massive momentum after Saturday night.