-260 Will Brooks (18-2) vs. +220 Charles Oliveira (21-7)
Will Brooks: Former Bellator Champion “Ill” Will Brooks lost some of the hype surrounding his UFC arrival when he lost to team mate Alex Oliveira in his last outing. However the defeat should not affect his position in the Lightweight division due to Oliveira missing weight by six pounds, creating an unfair advantage for the charismatic Brazilian.
The 30 year old ATT fighter is still considered one of the top talents at 155 pounds and can put his name right back in the rankings with a victory in this PPV showcase. Widely considered one of the top lightweights in any organization, Brooks combo of speed, power, dominant wrestling and endless cardio allow him to push a pace that is going to be tough for any lightweight to keep up with.
Charles Oliveira: The weight issues of Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira persisted in his last bout against Ricardo Lamas. The Brazilian missed the 145 pound Featherweight limit by nine pounds and to make matters worse he was choked out by Lamas with a guillotine in the third. This was the fourth time he missed 145, but in Oliveira’s defense he took the Lamas fight on less than a months notice.
Despite his battles with the scale, when Oliveira does step in the cage he is must see TV. He has collected performance bonuses in nine of his seventeen fights and is always competitive win or lose. The 27 year old has expressed interest in moving back down to Featherweight, but an outstanding performance may give us another Kelvin Gastelum situation.
The Fight: This will be an interesting clash of styles and body types. Brooks will be the larger man and will look to assert his dominance with positioning and control. Oliveira is the slicker of the two and will look to keep it standing or lock in a choke in a grappling scramble. Brook’s size and submission defense will keep him out of trouble and get him back on the winning track. Brooks Unanimous Decision
+140 Thiago Alves (26-12) vs. -160 Patrick Cote (24-10)
Thiago Alves: Former Welterweight title challenger Thiago “Pitbull” Alves’s attempt to move down to Lightweight did not go well. He missed weight by seven pounds and had a sub par performance in a defeat to Jim Miller. The move down to Lightweight seemed ill advised considering Alves had missed 170 twice. Now working with the Perfecting Athletes nutritional team he is back at Welterweight where his muscular frame will be much better suited.
Alves is amongst only a handful of fighters that can say they have competed in the UFC for over a decade. He is one of the most experienced vets in the sport and still only 33 years old, Thiago still posses the same devastating power that has made him a legend and if his health and weight issues are behind him we may see his best years in the octagon ahead of him.
Patrick Cote: Former TUF finalist and coach Patrick “The Predator” Cote has been inactive since his disappointing stoppage loss to Cowboy Cerrone last June in front of a partisan Canadian crowd. Prior to the loss Cote had won three consecutive fights and had been unbeaten since 2014.
A pioneer of Canadian MMA, Cote has done battle with the best in the sport since his 2004 title fight debut against Tito Ortiz. The Cerrone loss was the first time Cote had been knocked out in his fifteen year career. The decade plus of unforgettable wars may have caught up with the French Canadian brawler, but he can still turn his opponents lights out if he lands clean.
The Fight: These two veterans have over forty octagon appearances between them, so needless to say octagon jitters should not be a factor in this one. The lethal strikers should engage in a masterpiece of a striking battle with little chance of the ground game coming in to play. I will give the slight edge to Alves because he has the larger striking arsenal and should be a tick faster than Cote who is four years his senior. Alves Split Decision
-270 Cynthia Calvillo (4-0) vs. +210 Pearl Gonzalez (6-1)
Cynthia Calvillo: Team Alpha Male prospect Cynthia Calvillo will make a lighting quick turn around accepting this fight one month after her ultra impressive debut victory. She displayed creative, technical grappling in her debut victory over TUF Finalist Amanda Cooper. Calvillo locked in a anaconda choke on Cooper, gator rolled her, transitioned to her back while still holding the choke and ended up submitting her with a rear naked.
Calvillo made one of the more memorable octagon debuts in recent memory and now is on the verge of being ranked in the Strawweight division despite having only four pro fights. She threw a couple smooth striking combos in her debut, but if Calvillo can demonstrate she is a competent striker in another win her bandwagon is going to get crowded real quick.
Pearl Gonzalez: Midwest rising prospect Pearl Gonzalez earned her UFC roster spot by putting together a six fight win streak on the Midwest circuit. Even more impressive Gonzalez finished five of those six opponents. Included in the streak is a third round armbar victory over UFC veteran Courtney Casey that earned Gonzalez the XFC Flyweight title.
Much like her former training partner and fellow Chi-Town native Jose “Shorty” Torres, Gonzalez is the future of Mixed Martial Arts. Better than average in all aspects of combat with no glaring weaknesses, she will be an exciting addition to the emerging Women’s Strawweight division.
The Fight: There is good reason this fight is on the PPV despite these two only having one UFC fight between them. These two ladies are going to exchange in grappling sequences that will leave the casual fight fan dumbfounded. Gonzalez has unbelievable submission defense that she will use to thwart Calvillo’s slick submission attempts, but will find herself down on the cards at the end in a fight of the night battle. Calvillo Unanimous Decision
+112 #4 Chris Weidman (13-2) vs. -132 # 5 Gegard Mousasi (41-6-2)
Chris Weidman: Former Middleweight kingpin Chris “The All American” Weidman is on a two fight skid following a savage flying knee knockout loss to Yoel Romero at UFC 205. Prior to the devastating knee Weidman was faring well in the fight and was arguably up on the scorecards.
The long time Serra/Longo fighter’s path back to his title is now a little less direct. The top of the Middleweight division has been thrown in to chaos with the announcement of Bisping vs. GSP and it’s long term implications mean Weidman is still two or possibly three fights away from getting his title back in the best circumstances.
Gegard Mousasi: In his last bout stoic Armenian assassin Gegard Mousasi avenged his 2015 loss to Uriah Hall in emphatic fashion. Mousasi’s typical low key, almost apathetic demeanor transformed to rageful, determination following his loss to Hall in Japan and now four victories later his reignited passion has placed him in the thick of the drama in the Middleweight contender’s picture.
At 32 Mousasi is in the midst of his pugilistic prime, a fact that has been evident in his most recent performances. This will be a pivotal fight in “The Dreamcatcher’s” career, a win would signify he has joined the elite of the sport at 185 pounds and a loss would relegate him to the unenviable role of gatekeeper of the Middleweight top five, a position he may be overqualified for.
The Fight: Mousasi has looked untouchable lately, however his recent competition has been no where near the caliber of Weidman. The Dutch/Armenian vowed to not get taken down in this fight, a statement he is going to have trouble backing up. Mousasi’s Achilles heel is elite Wrestlers and they don’t get much more elite than Weidman in the world of MMA Wrestling. Weidman will mix it up on the feet but ultimately win rounds and the fight with his take downs and control. Weidman Unanimous Decision
+100 C Daniel Cormier (18-1) vs. -120 #1 Anthony Johnson (22-5)
Light Heavyweight Title (205)
Daniel Cormier: Amazingly this will only be the second time Daniel Cormier has defended his Light Heavyweight title since capturing it against Johnson two years ago. Cormier’s last victory over Anderson Silva at UFC 200 was neither here nor there in cementing his place among the 205 greats. Silva being the mensch that he is stepped up in a attempt to save the ill fated UFC 200 card, but it was for all intents and purposes an exhibition match.
The 38 year old Oklahoma State Wrestler is nearing the end of the line and as his impending retirement looms, one has to think that DC will not be able to rest until he is able to officially (unofficially) unify the Light Heavyweight title by defeating Jon Jones. Unfortunately for Cormier Rumble is a gargantuan road block that is standing in the way of his redemption and could potentially end his career with one punch.
Anthony Johnson: Since committing to the Light Heavyweight division five years ago Anthony “Rumble” Johnson has transformed himself into one of the scariest men on the planet. Following his unsuccessful title challenge, Johnson picked up right where he left off, making the best fighters in his division look like amateurs. Rumble knocked out Jimi Manuwa, Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira to earn this well deserved shot at redemption.
After he was defeated by Cormier in their first fight, Johnson dispensed prophetic advice to the crowd encouraging them to “never give up”, he heeded his on words and now here he is with a second chance at fulfilling his dreams. You hate to look past this fight, but a dream fight with Jon Jones could be on the other side of a victory against Cormier.
The Fight: Cormier took everything Johnson had and kept coming forward in their first fight. The difference in this fight will be Rumble’s approach, knowing that DC can eat his best shot, Johnson will not shoot his wad if he rocks Cormier early again. Rumble will utilize a more calculated approach with a limited number of kicks. The persistent blows paired with failed take down attempts will take its toll on Cormier and result in a late stoppage. Johnson TKO 4th