(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC 214 is being heralded as having the best card of the year, and it’s not just hyperbole. Three title fights will take place on the main card, including the crowning of the inaugural UFC women’s featherweight champion. Demian Maia finally gets his long-awaited title shot against champion Tyron Woodley, and Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier will finally face off for a rematch.

Let’s break it down with your UFC 214 preview!

The Main Event: Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier

The hate between these two fighters is real. The war of words has been fun, and it continued during Wednesday’s pre-fight press conference. Listen to this exchange.

Daniel Cormier is the UFC lightweight champion, and it’s a legitimate title. He beat everyone that was put in front of him at the time, including Alexander Gustafsson, who gave Jon Jones the toughest fight of his career. But Jones has never lost, even though he is listed as 22-1. He was disqualified for illegal elbows against Matt Hamill early in his career, a fight in which he was absolutely dominating. Jones is the GOAT. This is his era.

I grew up in Chicago. Cormier holding the belt is akin to Hakeem and the Rockets winning two titles while Michael Jordan was playing minor league baseball with the Chicago White Sox. The Rockets legit earned those titles, but when MJ came back it was clear who the top dog was. And so it will go Saturday night.

Jones out-wrestles the Olympic wrestler, both statistically and in their first fight. He has both height and reach advantages. He throws and lands more strikes than Cormier, and with better accuracy. Jones says DC is “f***ing around with the wrong era.” Saturday night, we finally see the end of this saga and it should be electric.

The Co-Main Event: Demian Maia vs. Tyron Woodley

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Tyron Woodley took the UFC welterweight title from Robbie Lawler in violent fashion at UFC 201, knocking him out quickly in the first round. He has since defended his title twice, both against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Their first fight was a draw, but Woodley won the rematch to retain his title. He moves on to Maia, who is almost a polar opposite of Wonderboy. Maia mostly uses strikes to set up takedowns so he can get the fight to the ground. He is unquestionably the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter in UFC history, the one fighter that has set the bar on how to BJJ in an MMA fight.

Woodley doesn’t have many holes, but Maia can find them if it gets to the ground. Woodley breaks his opponent’s will with speed, power and pressure, and he has knockout power to end fights quickly. Maia is an excellent defensive fighter who doesn’t take much damage during the fight, so this has all the makings of an exciting matchup.

Some will argue that Woodley has had stamina issues in the past, which would mean the longer the fight goes the more it favors Maia. This would certainly headline any other UFC event, which speaks to the greatness of this card. The winner is reportedly going to get Georges St-Pierre next.

Cyborg vs. Evinger fUFC 214 Preview: Jones vs. Cormier, Woodley vs. Maia and the Cyborg Era beginsor Inaugural Featherweight Title

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Simply put, Cris Cyborg is the most physically dominant women’s fighter in MMA history. She has not lost an MMA fight since her pro debut back in 2005. She has 17 wins and 15 of them have come by knockout. Usually, it takes a very seasoned veteran to make it past the first round against her. Here’s one quick example of the devastation she implements in the cage.

Cyborg will fight Tonya Evinger for the inaugural UFC women’s featherweight title. Evinger is the gritty, well-rounded Invicta FC champ who is currently riding a 10-fight win streak. There isn’t a gutsier, never-say-die fighter than Evinger. Now 36, she has stayed the course of women’s MMA since 2006, which is simply amazing. Female fighters, save for a few, have yet to reach the big paydays of their male counterparts. They not only struggle financially while coming up, but until a few years ago, they even had trouble finding opponents.

Evinger played the long game and won. She won her title with Invicta and also outlasted many of her contemporaries. I think a 30 for 30 film on her career would be amazing, and certainly inspiring. If she somehow slays the giant come Saturday night, that film might get made.

Your UFC 214 Nickname Matchup of the Week

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Our nickname battle of the week is the first fight on the pay-per-view portion of the card, and it’s an important fight in the light heavyweight division. It pits No. 3 Jimi “Poster Boy” Manuwa against No. 5 Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir. The latter has had a nickname change of late with the move to “No Time.” He explained the change to UFC.com.

“We found another name – ‘No Time’ – and it’s ‘No Time’ because I’m trying to rush to the belt and I’m finishing all my fights pretty fast. Oedzemir needed less than 30 seconds to put away Misha Cirkunov in his last fight. “Misha was not my fastest win, so I think that’s something maybe I can go for it now.”

Manuwa says he got his nickname from his girlfriend. “My nickname came from my first fight poster. My girlfriend saw the poster and called me the Posterboy.” My guess is most fans think he got the nickname for all of the devastating knockouts in his career, highlight reel finishes where he “posterized” his opponents, similar to getting massively dunked on in the NBA.

Both fighters have title aspirations and both have the tools to contend. Unfortunately, one will have re-climb some of the ladder rungs after Saturday night.

Five For Fighting

Five other fighters you’ll want to watch at UFC 214.

  • Ricardo Lamas. Call me biased because I’m from Chicago, but Ric Lamas has fought for the UFC featherweight title and always puts on exciting fights in the cage. His matchup with Jason Knight lends itself to being an electric matchup, and I won’t be surprised if they steal the show at UFC 214.
  • Alexandra Albu. “Stitch” dominated in her UFC debut back in April with a second-round submission win over Izabela Badurek. She is a black belt in Karate but also has an excellent ground game. She is definitely a prospect to keep your eye on in the women’s strawweight division.
  • Aljamain Sterling. Aljo, aka “Funk Master” won his first four UFC fights but then dropped his next two. He broke that streak with a win over Augusto Mendes in April, and now the No.
    8 bantamweight gets his toughest test yet in former champ Renan Barao. If he beats Barao he moves into contention. If he loses he likely drops out of the top ten.
  • Jarred Brooks. “The Monkey God” makes his UFC debut against Eric Shelton and he holds an undefeated record at 12-0 with five first round finishes. It’s always fun to see how a highly-touted prospect does in his UFC debut.
  • Donald Cerrone and Robbie Lawler. I couldn’t pick just one. It’s the former UFC welterweight champion against one of the most-exciting fighters of all-time in future hall of famer Donald Cerrone. This fight will be insane.

How to Watch UFC 214

The early prelims get started on UFC Fight Pass at 6:30 p.m. ET. The prelims move to FXX at 8 p.m., and then the main card can be seen on pay-per-view at 10 p.m.

About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio has been covering MMA since 2009, mostly in the midwest for ChicagosMMA.com. He also writes UFC previews for Draft Kings, and is the play-by-play announcer for the XFO, seen on UFC Fight Pass.