UFC / WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier, taking place Saturday, January 3...
That’s right boys and girls, it’s time for the first Downes Side of 2015! Much like all your New Year’s resolutions, it’ll be well-intentioned and overly optimistic. Unlike your pledges to eat better and lose weight, it’ll actually be successful.
Instead of hopping on the treadmill (you know that gym membership is a waste of money), park yourself in front of a TV for UFC 182. Live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jon Jones defends his light heavyweight title against the undefeated Daniel Cormier. In the co-main event of the night, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Myles Jury can enter the lightweight title picture with a win. Don’t worry about training for that half-marathon. It’s fight time!
HECTOR LOMBARD VS. JOSH BURKMAN
The main card opens up in the welterweight division with Hector Lombard and Josh Burkman. Inconsistent at middleweight, the drop to 170 pounds seems to have re-energized Lombard. Athletically gifted, 22 of his career wins have come via KO. Burkman retruns to the UFC for the first time since losing to Pete Sell at UFC 90 in October of 2008.
Burkman has revamped his game since leaving the Octagon. Most significantly, he’s been able to improve his striking and add another element of danger to his offense. It’ll serve him well in the division...just not this weekend. Lombard’s power will be too much for the “People’s Warrior.” Despite all his improvements, Burkman still takes unnecessary damage and you can expect Lombard to capitalize. “Showeather” showcases his strength en route to a second round TKO.
KYOJI HORIGUCHI VS. LOUIS GAUDINOT
We drop to flyweight for Kyoji Horiguchi and Louis Gaudinot. Quietly amassing a 3-0 record inside the UFC, Horiguchi brings some new blood to a division that champ Demetrious Johnson has had on lock. A hard-hitting striker who takes after his mentor “Kid” Yamamoto, he also throws in some takedowns to keep opponents off balance. A member of TUF 14, Gaudinot has been in the UFC since 2011. A grinder who is difficult to put away, he exploits any opening to lock up the submission.
Horiguchi is probably the most exciting 125-pound prospect since my 14-year-old cousin (he’s already prepping for his SATs). Gaudinot, on the other hand, is a known commodity. He’s had a relatively inactive career (only four fights since 2011), and none of those appearances have shown the same potential as Horiguchi. Gaudinot doesn’t want to fight at distance with his opponent, so he’ll try to get in Horiguchi’s face early. He’ll have early success, but will fade in the later rounds. Once he clears out some nerves, Horguchi’s power punching and footwork lead him to a decision win.
BRAD TAVARES VS. NATE MARQUARDT
We move up to middleweight for Brad Tavares and Nate Marquardt. After rattling off a five-fight win streak, Brad Tavares seemed on the cusp of making the jump to the next level of the 185-pound division. Two straight losses to Tim Boetsch and Yoel Romero changed that, however, and he needs to find some momentum. Marquardt’s second stint in the UFC didn’t begin well with losses to Jake Ellenberger and Hector Lombard, but he bounced back with a first-round armbar win over James Te Huna in June. Known for his striking, 14 of his career wins have nonetheless come via submission.
Tavares seemingly has no weaknesses. Having said that, he just doesn’t seem to showcase that in the Octagon. It’s like Transformers. In theory, it should be amazing (cool cars + giant robots + Shia LaBeouf? What’s not to like?), but it just kind of falls short. The difference in this fight is finishing ability. Marquardt pushes the pace and looks to end the fight. Tavares seems content to win rounds. Marquardt may have a hard time getting around Tavares’s defense early, but he’ll eventually find the openings and kickbox his way to a decision win. Seriously, though, how did Mark Wahlberg not even make Transformers cool?
DONALD CERRONE VS. MYLES JURY
Next we shift to lightweight Donald Cerrone and Myles Jury. The coolest cowboy since John Travolta, Donald Cerrone rides horses and a five fight win streak. The last three alone have been over top tier talent like Eddie Alvarez, Jim Miller and Edson Barboza. The #8 ranked lightweight and 6-0 in his UFC career, Myles “Fury” Jury has knockout power (nine career KOs) and a dangerous submission game (three career submission wins).
Popularity is clouding people’s judgment on this fight. Cerrone is a fan favorite for many reasons, but he does have weaknesses that Jury is particularly adapted to exploit. Jury may not be as “exciting” as Cerrone, but he knows how to work a game plan and holds solid fundamentals. Fundamentals may not be sexy, but ask how they’ve worked out for Tim Duncan. Cerrone’s biggest problem has always been his defense. His aggressiveness often puts him in vulnerable positions. Jury’s footwork and poise will help him counterstrike and avoid taking damage. It’ll be close, but Jury walks away with the decsion win and then gets some sushi and sake!
JON JONES VS. DANIEL CORMIER
Time for the main event! Since moving to light heavyweight, Daniel Cormier has taken out the world’s most dangerous barista, Patrick Cummins, and Dan Henderson. An Olympic wrestler, DC has expanded his arsenal to become more than a one-dimensional fighter. What can you say about Jon Jones that can’t be said about Darth Vader? He’s gifted, powerful, he can choke you with his mind and is not very well-liked by some. Last time out, he controlled Glover Teixeira to win by unanimous decision.
Television cameras may catch Jon Jones off-guard, but Daniel Cormier won’t. Cormier has KO power, but I don’t see how he gets inside Jones’s reach. Even when he can generate offense, Cormier falls out of his stance. Heavyweights didn’t have the speed to take advantage of his miscues and neither did Cummins or Henderson. Jon Jones will make him pay for it. As Cormier loads up, Jones will slide out and counter with kicks, knees, and/or elbows. Jones will take damage because he’ll want to “prove a point” by out-wrestling Cormier, but he’ll eventually come to his senses and win by second-round TKO.
Check out the complete UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier fight card
That wraps up another resolute edition of the Downes Side! Follow me on Twittter @dannyboydownes. Also, don’t forget to leave your own predictions, accusations, adulations and resolutions on the page here. And nobody get smart by saying, “Read the Downes Side less.” Let’s be honest, you know you love it.