UFC 182 Preview and Predictions – Jones vs. Cormier

The Light Heavyweight Title fight between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier highlights UFC 182 in Las Vegas. The card also features unbeaten Myles Jury taking on Donald Cerrone, and Brad Tavares battling Nate Marquardt. Several intriguing matchups between up-and-comers round out what should be an eventful night of fights at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Jones vs. Cormier – Light Heavyweight Title

Jon Jones is 20-1 and has successfully defended the Light Heavyweight Title seven times. In 2011, he TKOed Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to earn the belt. Since then, he has three subs (against “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida, and Vitor Belfort), one TKO (over Chael Sonnen), and three unanimous decisions (over Rashad Evans, Alexander Gustafsson, and, most recently, Glover Teixeira).

The only blemish on Jones’ record came when he was disqualified against Matt Hamill.  The two met during The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Finale in December 2009 and Jones was DQed after throwing an illegal downward elbow.  With no true losses inside the ring, many regard the dynamic Jones as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

A former Olympic wrestler, Daniel Cormier successfully transitioned to MMA, despite making his debut at age 30.  Cormier is a perfect 15-0 in his five-year MMA career.  Most recently, he submitted the legendary – albeit aging – Dan Henderson via rear-naked choke in the third round in May.  (Henderson, ever a warrior, never tapped, but was rendered unconscious by the choke.)  Prior to the victory over Henderson, Cormier picked up a TKO win over Patrick Cummins in February.

Last year, Cormier won unanimous decisions against Frank Mir and Roy Nelson after beating Dion Staring by TKO in his final match in Strikeforce. While wrestling is Cormier’s forte, he also has heavy hands; six of his 15 wins have come by knockout.

Cormier has never faced a fighter of Jones’ caliber though – arguably no one has, unless they’ve face Jones himself.  The 35-year-old will have a very difficult time against the younger, more experienced champion.  He is currently a 3/2 underdog the dethrone the champ, while Jones is 2/3 to keep the belt.  While Cormier’s wrestling will give Jones some problems, expect “Bones” to retain his title.

Myles Jury vs. Donald Cerrone – Lightweight

Michigan native Myles Jury is 15-0 in his MMA career with 11 of his fights ending in the first round.  Jury only has six fights in the UFC, but he has faced increasingly tough competition of late.  In September, he TKOed veteran Takanori Gomi via punches in the opening round; and in March, he earned a unanimous decision against Diego Sanchez.  Jury wrapped up 2013 with a split decision win over Mike Ricci.  He has seven career knockouts/TKOs and five submissions.

Donald Cerrone has a 25-6 career record and 15 UFC fights under his belt.  He has won five straight and has been busy in 2014, going 4-0. Cerrone knocked out Adriano Martins in January, submitted Edson Barboza in April, KO’ed Jim Miller in July, and earned a unanimous decision against Eddie Alvarez in September.  The more experienced Cerrone has faced the cream of the crop in the Lightweight division; five of his six losses have come to Benson Henderson (twice), Nate Diaz, Anthony Pettis, and Rafael Dos Anjos.

The 26-year-old Jury is a solid grappler with a bright future in MMA, but the elder Cerrone is will be desperate.  He knows that, if he’s ever going to reach the pinnacle of MMA, he has to keep his current win streak going.  Look for Cerrone to edge out Jury on points.

Nate Marquardt vs. Brad Tavares – Middleweight

Nate Marquardt (33-13-2 career) had a rough 2013.  The former Middleweight Title contender went 0-3 last year, losing to Tarec Saffiedine (decision), Jake Ellenberger (KO), and Hector Lombard (KO).  Marquardt was able to break the streak in June, submitting James Te Huna using an armbar.  Though he’s no longer at the top of his game, Marquardt has 16 career wins by submission and remains a savvy, dangerous fighter, especially on the ground.

Like Marquardt, Brad Tavares has also been struggling lately.  The Hawaiian started his career 12-1 but has lost back-to-back fights: a unanimous decision to Yoel Romero in April and a TKO at the hands of Tim Boetsch in August.  Tavares is still just 26-years-old, though, and will be looking to put his MMA career back on track at the expense of Marquardt.  Six of Tavares’ dozen wins have come by decision, and a win that goes the distance against Marquardt is the most likely result.

We’ll leave you with the remainder of the UFC 182 card. Happy watching, fight fans!

Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Louis Gaudinot – Flyweight
Hector Lombard vs. Josh Burkman – Welterweight
Danny Castillo vs. Paul Felder – Lightweight
Shawn Jordan vs. Jared Cannonier – Heavyweight
Evan Dunham vs. Rodrigo Damm – Lightweight
Omari Akhmedov vs. Mats Nilsson – Welterweight
Marcus Brimage vs. Cody Garbrandt – Bantamweight

(Photo credit: Lee Brimelow (cropped from DSC_0029) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)