Freelance: UFC 211 Preview: Full Fight Card Analysis and Picks

In just a little over a week’s time, the world will witness what could be considered the bout of the year thus fair in the UFC’s heavyweight (265-pound) division. The bout is bolstered by a women’s strawweight (115-pound) title, a middleweight (185-pound) contender fighter for possible title challengers Demian Maia and Jorge Masivdal, along with featherweight (145-pound) and bantamweight (135-pound) contests as well.

Read below for a full breakdown of the pay-per-view along with the most current betting odds.

*All betting odds are current as of 5/5/17

Stipe Miocic vs. Junior dos Santos

For Cleveland’s Stipe Miocic, his next UFC heavyweight title defense is as much about avenging his loss in the first meeting he had with former alpha dog Junior dos Santos as it is about building a bigger name for himself off of the popularity of JDS (although Miocic says differently.)

Either way, the timing is perfect as dos Santos appears to be on his way out of the proverbial door after a 3-3 split record that includes the fight in which he lost the big golden belt in 2012.

Per a similar report, information showed that “Cigano” is getting a step slower than he used to be. He leads the current champion in a negative category with 3.26 strikes absorbed per minute (a 62 percent defense rate) to the 3.22 strikes absorbed per minute by Miocic (a 55 percent defense rate.)

Miocic has made JDS his only challenger at the moment, going 4-0 overall in his recent performance and stopping three straight bouts inside of five minutes. Still, despite this finishing power, dos Santos feels he still has what it takes to put away the Croatian descendent. He landed 140 overall strikes against Miocic to win by unanimous decision in their first fight, although Miocic impressed many by out-performing dos Santos through the first ten and final five minutes.

The top dog of the division disagrees with his challenger’s view of things. He is coming off of wins against Alistair “The Reem” Overeem and the most recent former champion, Fabricio “Vai Calvalo” Werdum (two of those first-round KO wins,) true contenders ahead of the #4 dos Santos set to battle for a rematch at UFC 213.

The Odds: Miocic is the overall favorite at around -120 with dos Santos between +105 and +108. The prop line for a fight that doesn’t last the full length is at -365.

If Miocic defends his belt on May 13, he will tie the record for most heavyweight title defense (2) but he just wants to keep his belt regardless of this latest possible accomplishment.

“I don’t really care about how many defenses I have; all I care about is winning,” Miocic said on the UFC 211 media conference call. “I love what I do. I’m going to keep winning. I train way too hard and sacrifice way too much to give it up. I’m just different. I get better every fight. I’m improving every fight and nothing is going to change.”

Pick: (C) Stipe Miocic retains via KO/TKO within three rounds

Co-Main Event: Joanna Jędrzejczyk vs. Jéssica Andrade

You learn to never say never in life and especially in combat sports. Few (if any fights since the heyday of “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey seem like a sure thing but it comes pretty close to a sure thing when Polish UFC women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk enters the cage. The muay thai and kickboxing specialist sits at 13-0 overall and is a perfect 7-0 inside of the UFC.

The name of the game with “Joanna Champion” is numbers—as in striking volume. Although Jedrzejczyk has gone to a decision five times in those seven fights, she has outdone her last three consecutive adversaries in the striking department that those victories were truly unanimous and it shows that she has cardio for days.

Surprisingly though, Brazil’s Jéssica “Bate Estaca” Andrade (16-5, 7-3) leads the champion in significant strikes landed per minute (6.80 to 6.45 for narrow 52 to 47 percent accuracy rate as well.) However, the tactical octagon general that is Jedrzejczyk takes less damage, absorbing 2.25 significant strikes per minute, stopping and overall 69 percent compared to Andrade’s 4.29 absortion rate and trailing 56 percent defense rate.

If the champion can avoid Andrade’s ground game (she has seven submission victories which make up 44 percent of her wins. Methodical stick-and-move striking should be expected over the full 25 minutes allotted. That specific prop lines is at -160 at the moment according to Should she beat Andrade, Jedrzejczyk will be just one triumph behind Rousey for the most female UFC championship defenses at five.

“Jessica proved a lot in the strawweight division,” Jedrzejczyk said to “She dropped from 135, she won three straight fights. She’s the right person and it’s going to be a really tough fight between me and Jessica…She’s very strong physically. She likes to fight, she likes to exchange punches, but like I said every time, I’m getting better and better and I want to defend my title. This is what I want to do.”

The Odds: Jedrzejczyk is the overall favorite, hovering in the high -150s to -160 range with the Andrade at around +140.

Pick: (C) Joanna Jedrzejczyk retains via a unanimous decision

Demian Maia vs. Jorge Masvidal

At 39 years young, Demian Maia is as much of a submission threat and title challenger as he’s ever been—the only real option for a shot at the 170-pound belt held by Tyron “The Chosen One Woodley as Masvidal is beneath the #3 ranked Brazilian at #5 with Carlos Condit (who was last contemplating his future in between the two.) #2 “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler is booked for UFC 213 and #1 contender Steven “Wonderboy” Thompson has been bested twice in a row by Woodley, setting up the current welterweight landscape in the process.

Maia is on a 6-0 streak with three finishes by rear-naked choke being some of his best recent highlights. “Gamebread” is building a streak of victories at 3-0 with two TKOs.

The Odds: Thanks to landing 4.32 to Maia’s 1.82 significant strikes per minute, edging him out in accuracy at 47 to 44 percent, and a 68-62 percent advantage in defense, Masvidal is both the favorite when it comes to the stand-up game and to win the fight. Current odds have Masvidal as the favorite between -122 and -125 while Maia is about +105 to +108.

Further backing up this figures, Maia’s only real shot is on the canvas by way of submission. However, there is a 30 percent differential between these warriors in takedown accuracy that favors Masvidal. He also leads in takedown defense (79 to 65 percent.)

This bout will end either by KO/TKO though as, despite those takedown numbers, Maia attempts just over one submission over 15 minutes compared to his opponent’s 0.5 and this is a standard three-round contest.

Pick: Jorge Masvidal def. Demian Maia via a unanimous decision

Frankie Edgar vs. Yair Rodríguez

Frankie “The Answer” Edgar’s story at present is one of redemption. The Toms River, New Jersey native was 0-3 losing what was once his lightweight (155-pound) belt to current Bellator fighter, “Smooth” Benson Henderson, failing in a rematch, and losing to Jose Aldo at UFC last July for the interim featherweight (145-pound championship. He is now 6 for 7.

Mexican striker Yair “Pantera” Rodriguez is unbeaten at 6-0 (10-1 overall) in the UFC and thrust himself into the spotlight with a January stoppage win over former two-division UFC champion and Hall of Fame member, “The Prodigy” B.J. Penn. Rodriguez is just now starting to come into his own as a finisher with four of those six wins being from points.

Rodriguez is ahead of Edgar in significant strikes landed per minute (4.14-3.16,) accuracy (43-39 percent,) and they both do not venture much into jiu-jitsu.

The Odds: The elder statesman in Edgar is the favorite, sitting at around -130 with Rodriguez the hot prospect underdog waiting to breakout. He is between +110 and +113.

It might be smart to go against the grain and favor “Pantera” thanks to his boxing and youth.

Pick: Yair Rodriguez def. Frankie Edgar via a unanimous decision.

Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis

This event could be a long one as both “The Messenger” in Henry Cejudo and “The Phenom” in Sergio Pettis both go to the scorecards in 60 percent of their bouts. The former flyweight (125-pound) title challenger in Cejudo is desperately in need of a win, going 0-2 including the championship bout. The Olympic 2008 gold medalist in freestyle wrestling was put away in just under three minutes by champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson back in December.

The Odds: Pettis is 3-0 as of late and has the better record at 15. Physically, he’s ahead in reach (69 to 64 inches,) SLpM, but absorbs more strikes by a half-percent and is slightly lower in striking defense. Cejudo is the current favorite at around the -430s to -440s (possibly due to his 100 percent defense rate) with Pettis is in the +350 to +360s.

Stifling, Tito Ortiz-style wrestling/ground and pound might be what resets Cejudo. The pro line for the fight going all three rounds reads -280.

Pick: Henry Cejudo def. Sergio Pettis via a unanimous decision