DALLAS — It may be a cliche to say everything is always bigger in Texas, but it certainly feels like it this week.
The biggest MMA card of the year hits the Lone Star State on Saturday with a stacked show headlined by the big boys, Stipe Miocic and Junior dos Santos, two current and former UFC heavyweight champions running back a rematch of one of the division’s most thrilling five-round fights. There’s a little slice of history on the line, too, as a win will tie Miocic with a handful of other bigmen for the most title defenses (two) in UFC heavyweight history.
So to help bide the time until the baddest men on the planet take center stage, we enlisted the help of some of the fighters in town for UFC 211. Will the fighting pride of Cleveland make history and exact vengeance for his 2014 loss? Or will the former heavyweight king defy the odds and add a second title to his reign? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain: it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
Jessica Aguilar: “I think it’s going to be Junior. Junior is going to take this home again. It’ll probably (look like the first fight), but Miocic, he’s getting better in every fight. But in their division it’s one freakin’ hit away from getting knocked out, so it’s going to be interesting. Junior has been training his tail off and he’s learning new things too. He’s getting better as a fighter, and I expect him to get that knockout.”
Sergio Pettis: “Man, I’m a big fan of both of them, so this is hard. I think Stipe has made a lot of improvements, made a lot of changes, and I think I’m going to have to go with Stipe.”
Cortney Casey: “I hope it’s as good as the first one. I really do. I think both of those guys have grown a lot since then, and obviously, fighting someone you’ve already fought before, you have a little bit of an insight on what they’re going to do. But I still think Miocic might pull it off, although dos Santos always has a puncher’s chance. But I think Miocic takes it.”
Rose Namajunas: “I’d say Stipe. I think he’s super technical for a heavyweight fighter. He’s really smart when he’s in a cage or Octagon. I think Stipe might win.”
Demian Maia: “It’s hard to pick because JDS, he won the first one, but it was very close and Stipe has developed a lot and increased his technique and power so much the last few years. I personally like ‘Cigano,’ because he’s a big fan of mine. We used to train together in Brazil for a couple years and I hope he gets the title, but it’s very even. It’s really hard to tell, but ‘Cigano.’”
Jorge Masvidal: “JDS, all day.”
Henry Cejudo: “I think Stipe has proven he’s gotten a lot better. He’s got a good wrestling base. I’ve got to go with him.”
Dustin Poirier: “I think it’s going to be whoever lands the first big shot. I think both guys are great fighters. I actually personally like both guys, they both have great personalities, they’re fun to be around. But I’m going to go with Junior on that.”
Derrick Lewis: “I believe it’s going to go to decision. I’ve got a reason why it’s going to go to decision, but I just don’t want to give it out there because I want to fight one of those guys next. I’m going to pick Stipe, even though I don’t know who’s going to win. The only reason why I’m picking Stipe is because JDS, he picked Mark Hunt to win over me, so that’s the only reason why. I want to fight JDS next.”