UFC 187 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson
It’s a shame we’re not getting to see Johnson take on Jon Jones as the buzz for this event would have been through the roof, but this is a good match-up nontheless to establish who becomes the next light-heavyweight champion.
There’s no hiding the fact that Johnson owns the kind of natural knockout power than others can only dream of and that will be his biggest weapon in this fight, though he does have decent enough wrestling that he’ll make life difficult for his opponent to take him down.
While he doesn’t have ‘Rumble’ power, Cormier still packs a mean punch, but it doesn’t seem a particularly good idea for him to stand and trade for long spells against a striker like Johnson.
Instead I expect him to embrace the grind and attempt to ‘win ugly’ as he did during his time fighting bigger men in the heavyweight division, stifling his opponent by clinching against the cage for long spells and looking for takedowns where possible.
This is a golden opportunity for DC to get the title not longer after he missed out the first time and he’ll be determined to grab it with both hands, whereas Johnson seems a little nervous heading into this one and I question both his confidence and cardio if he doesn’t get an early finish, so I favor Cormier here to win by decision.
Daniel Cormier to win by decision.
Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort
There’s a good case to be made that this fight should have received top billing tomorrow night, a cracking middleweight title fight between two dominant forces in the division.
Of course the big talking point leading up to this is how Belfort will be post-TRT and having spent the last year and a half out of action, during which time he’s turned 38 years of age. Honestly we just won’t know until the fight gets going, but Belfort is a fighter with a wealth of experience, a finely tuned arsenal of strikes, is a legitimate threat on the mat with submissions and has the finishing instincts of a natural predator – qualities that I doubt will have evaporated since last we saw him.
I do question whether we’ll still see that same sharpness, explosiveness and youthful vigour from him though, and that could be crucial against the younger, fresher Weidman who’s proven he’s more than capable of taking on top level strikers after wins over the likes of Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida.
It’s hard to find many holes in Weidman’s game as he’s a shining example of a great all-rounder with his wrestling perhaps being his biggest trump card here. He’s good in the clinch and I think he will be able to get the takedown which could be bad news for Belfort as he’s strong on top and can offer up good ground and pound and seize on submission opportunities.
So, overall I definitely favor the champion here and think he’ll wear Belfort down as the fight progresses which will enable him to get a stoppage on the mat sometimes in the later stages of the fight.
Chris Weidman to win by TKO in Rd4.
Donald Cerrone vs. John Makdessi
Cerrone is one step away from a title shot heading into this bout, and after dodging a potential bullet in the shape of Khabib Nurmagomedov who pulled out injured, he now fights late replacement John Makdessi instead.
This looks like a much more favorable match-up for Cerrone. That’s not to discredit Makdessi though – he’s a talented striker with a penchant for flashy kicks and spinning attacks. Cerrone opts for less eye-catching techniques, but is also comfortable trading punches and kicks from range with knees coming into play at close range.
Cerrone will have a significant height and reach advantage which should help in the striking exchanges, but really it’s the rest o his game that makes me feel that he’ll emerge victorious on Saturday night. He transitions from striking to takedowns well and most of his career stoppage wins have come from his offensive submission game which I think will eventually be his key to victory here.
Donald Cerrone to win by submission in Rd3
Andrei Arlovski vs. Travis Browne
Arlovski has done better than expected in his return to the UFC in the twilight of his career with two wins to date, but I see that ending against Browne tomorrow evening.
I think ‘The Pitbull’s’ recent record flatters to deceive as his performance against Brendan Schaub was very poor and Antonio Silva’s chin is completely shot at this point.
Arlovski’s ability to take a punch has also been a big problem over the years and that’s going to be a real problem against a heavy hitter like Browne who lacks his striking finesse, but will make up for it with aggression and I think a quick finish is on the cards here.
Travis Browne to win by KO in Rd1.
Joseph Benavidez vs. John Moraga
Benavidez finds himself in a similar position to his Team Alpha Male team mates Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes in that he’s good enough to beat almost everybody in his division except for the man holding the belt.
Benavidez striking game has improved over the years and shows genuine KO power at flyweight, while his wrestling provides a strong base and he’s excellent in the scramble.
Moraga is a good fighter who’s fairly sharp on his feet while also offering a submission threat on the mat, but it’s unlikely he’ll catch someone as well versed in the grappling department as Benavidez. In general Benavidez just feels a notch above Moraga and I like him to get a solid decision win here.
Joseph Benavidez to win by decision.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
John Dodson vs. Zach Makovsky
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Josh Burkman
Uriah Hall vs. Rafael Natal
Nina Ansaroff vs. Rose Namajunas
Mike Pyle vs. Colby Covington
Islam Makhachev vs. Leo Kuntz
Justin Scoggins vs. Josh Sampo