UFC 211 arrives on Saturday night in Dallas as perhaps the most stacked card in 2017, so far. The main card features not one, but two attractive championship fights, and the rest of the undercard is littered with former champions and No. 1 contenders. Eddie Alvarez, the former lightweight champion, is even relegated to the main event of the Free Prelims on Fox.
Headlining the card if battle of heavy hitters, as heavyweights Stipe Miocic and Junior dos Santos finally meet up for a rematch — this time, with the UFC championship on the line. The co-main event features an equally dangerous, although still less famous fighter in Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who defends the women’s strawweight championship against Jessica Andrade.
If you like to throw down a couple of bucks on the fights, or just want to impress your friends with some insider knowledge, here are our predictions for UFC 211 (fight odds courtesy of Bodog.ca, all favorites listed first)
James Vick (-400) vs. Marco Polo Reyes (+300)
We’ll start with one of the most lopsided fights on the card, according to the bookie’s odds. James Vick is already a UFC veteran, with seven fights in the promotion so far. Even more impressive, the lightweight fighter has gone 6-1 during his time in the UFC (and is 10-1 overall), with half of his victories coming via submission.
Marco Polo Reyes, despite having a hilarious name, means business in the cage. He has three straight UFC wins, although his overall professional record is just 7-3. Two of his three losses have come via submission. So when you combine his tendency of tapping out with Vick’s ability to slap on submission holds, it’s clear to see why he’s a massive underdog.
Prediction: Vick via Submission.
Krzysztof Jotko (-160) vs. Dave Branch (+130)
Krzysztof Jotko is a legit middleweight contender, currently ranked No. 9 in the official UFC rankings. He has five straight UFC wins, over increasingly difficult opponents. At UFC 211, he will take on David Branch, an MMA veteran but someone who hasn’t fought for the UFC since 2011. Branch has spent the last five years in the World Series of Fighting, winning both their middleweight and light heavyweight championships.
Branch is already 35-years-old, but hasn’t lost a fight in five years. If he can hold back Father Time a little bit longer, he could find himself in the UFC title picture with Michael Bisping, Georges St-Pierre, and Yoel Romero. He may not be a huge underdog in this fight, but there’s probably enough value there to pick Branch. So we did.
Prediction: Branch via Decision.
Chas Skelly (-125) vs. Jason Knight (-105)
According to the math, this is the closest fight to call on the entire card. Neither of these two featherweights have cracked the Top 15 when it comes to UFC rankings, but both will be hoping to change that with a decisive win at UFC 211. Skelly has an impressive 17-2 record so far in his career, winning 10 of his fights by submission. Knight’s record is almost identical, going 16-2 with 10 submissions of his own — all this while being seven years younger than his opponent Saturday night.
It’s a coin flip kind of fight, and there’s not really any value betting on either fighter. But for the sake of an argument, we’re going with youth — Knight is 24 compared to Skelly’s 31.
Prediction: Knight via Decision.
Eddie Alvarez (EVEN) vs. Dustin Poirier (-130)
To really understand the strength of the UFC 211 main card, consider that Eddie Alvarez’s last fight was a lightweight title match against Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 205 (which he lost), and now he’s fighting on the Prelims on Fox ahead of the actual pay-per-view.
Dustin Poirier, meanwhile, has always been that fighter who can never quite get over that final hurdle and into title contention. The No. 9 ranked lightweight hopes that a victory over a former champion can leapfrog him over the likes of Nate Diaz, Michael Johnson, and Edson Barboza in the lightweight division.
We think it will be close, but we’re taking Alvarez in a bounce back victory.
Prediction: Alvarez via Decision.
Henry Cejudo (-450) vs. Sergio Pettis (+325)
We go from some of closest fights on the card, to the most the most lopsided, even surpassing the gap between the previously mentioned Vick/Reyes fight. It’s still a bit of an oddity though, as Cejudo has lost his last two fights (against admittedly very tough competition in Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez), while Pettis has won three straight and five of his last six.
The reasons for the heavily tilted odds are simple though. Cejudo is a legit title contender (currently ranked No. 2 in the flyweight division) and Pettis is still just a youngster building his career, albeit a very talented one. Pettis will face what is easily his toughest task so far while trying to stop Cejudo, who is a legit Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling. If history has taught us anything, it’s that when a wrestler and a striker meet, you should bet on the wrestler. So we will.
Prediction: Cejudo via Decision.
Frankie Edgar (-150) vs. Yair Rodriguez (+120)
Frankie Edgar is almost the best featherweight in the business. Unfortunately, he exists at the same time as fighters like Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo. He’s also a former lightweight champion and a man who has beaten the likes of Chad Mendes, Uriah Faber, and B.J. Penn (x3).
Yair Rodriguez is the No. 7 ranked featherweight in the UFC right now, and desperately wants to climb further up that ladder as he searches for a title shot. The former winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America has been amazing so far in this young MMA career. He has won a Fight of the Night or a Performance of the Night bonus in four of his last five fights.
We don’t want to take anything away from the impressive career of Edgar, but we’re worried that his time as a top UFC fighter is nearing an end. He’s already 35-years-old, after all. Taking that into consideration, plus the extra value of betting on an underdog, we’re taking Rodriguez.
Prediction: Rodriguez via Knock Out.
Demian Maia (EVEN) vs. Jorge Masvidal (-130)
We are certainly enjoying the recent career renaissance of Demian Maia, who moved down to welterweight in 2012 and has suddenly amassed six wins in a row, half of them by submission. Maia, who is now 39-years-old, continues to impress everyone by being perhaps the most deadly submission artist in the UFC, and he has added some power punching to his game in recent years.
Masvidal, on the other hand, is coming off impressive wins over Ross Pearson, Jake Ellenberger, and Donald Cerone. He sits a couple of spots below Maia in the welterweight rankings, and knows that a victory could vault him into the top three and title contention. The winner of this fight could very well be in line for a shot at Tyron Woodley’s welterweight championship sometime in the near future.
The odds for this bout are close, as neither fighter is technically an underdog. However, Maia is technically an even money favorite. We’re betting on the Maia Renaissance to continue.
Prediction: Maia via (what else?) Submission.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (-165) vs. Jessica Andrade (+135)
The first of two championship fights on the night, this strawweight bout features one of the best female fighters in the game today, in Joanna Jedrzejczyk. She is one of two women in the top 15 of the UFC pound-for-pound rankings, coming in ahead of the likes of Dominick Cruz, Tyron Woodley, Michael Bisping, and Amanda Nunes (the other female on the list).
The Polish champion with a name almost impossible to pronounce will defend her title against Jessica Andrade, a 25-year-old Brazilian who been with the UFC since 2013, posting an 7-3 record (16-5 in her overall pro career). Andrade is a perfectly competent fighter, but we don’t think she’s on the same level as Jedrzejczyk. Unfortunately, this fight is a result of the somewhat shallow women’s strawweight division. Therefore, the champion retains.
Prediction: Jedrzejczyk via TKO
Stipe Miocic (-140) vs. Junior dos Santos (+110)
Fans have been calling for this heavyweight rematch ever since Stipe Miocic first won the UFC title by knocking out Fabricio Werdum one year ago. You see, Junior dos Santos is the only man to have beaten Miocic in the last four years and is a former champion himself. It should result in an explosive main event on Saturday.
Dos Santos has gone 3-3 in his last six fights, alternating wins and losses. However, two of those were title fight losses to Cain Velasquez — certainly not an easy opponent. Miocic, on the other hand, has rattled off four straight wins over top heavyweights like Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, Werdum, and Alistair Overeem.
Although we do love Miocic, he has been susceptible to big punches in the past. Dos Santos is one of the best boxers in the heavyweight division, and packs a ton of power behind those fists. Although the odds are once again close in this fight, we’re calling the (slight) upset — plus it’s boring to not predict at least one title changing hands.
Prediction: Dos Santos via Knock Out.