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UFC 210 Observer Panel Picks: Daniel Cormier vs. Rumble Johnson 2

UFC 210

Towel or no towel, Daniel Cormier defends his light heavyweight title for the first time in 17 months as the Octagon returns to Buffalo, NY, tonight for UFC 210.

In a rematch from May 2015, Cormier will face off with #1 contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson with the winner likely to face former champion Jon Jones in a big money fight later this year.

Former middleweight champion Chris Weidman fights in his home state against rising middleweight contender Gegard Mousasi in what could be a title eliminator bouth, while veterans and former title challengers Patrick Cote and Thiago Alves battle each other for the first time. 

Former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks will have his third UFC fight, taking on Charles Oliveira who is stepping up a weight class after many issues with weight- utting at featherweight.

Rounding out our panel picks is a fight between two welterweights with impressive records trying to rise in the rankings as Sean Strickland fights Kamaru Usman.

If you're new here, our panel picks are listed below and listed alongside the fighter's names are their worldwide FightMatrix rankings, as well as BestFightOdds.com betting odds. The panelist's 2017 records is in parentheses. Additionally, we have panel consensus picks as well as a line where we show how the betting favorites did:

  • Dave Meltzer (18-5; .783) -- Wrestling Observer publisher
  • Consensus Picks (17-6; .739)
  • Favorites (17-6; .739)
  • David Bixenspan (16-7; .696) -- MMANews.com editor, Sherdog.com contributor, podcast host
  • Mike Sempervive (16-7; .696) -- Wrestling Observer Live and Big Audio Nightmare co-host
  • John Pollock (16-7; .696) -- Fight Network analyst, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, MMA Report co-host
  • Mike Sawyer (16-7; .696) -- Tough Talk MMA publisher
  • Steve Juon (15-8; .652) -- MMA Mania writer, Angry Marks publisher
  • Ryan Frederick (13-10; .565) -- WrestlingObserver.com UFC writer
  • Josh Nason (12-11; .522) -- Host of Josh Nason’s Punch Out, WrestlingObserver.com assistant editor
  • Paul Fontaine (11-12; .478) -- MMADraws.com publisher, WrestlingObserver.com writer
  • Front Row Brian (11-12; .478) -- MMA newsbreaker, beloved internet personality, podcast host

> UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier (18-1) vs Anthony Johnson (22-5) II

When these two squared off 22 months ago, it was for the title vacated by Jon Jones. Cormier won despite nearly being knocked out in the first round as he came on strong and submitted Johnson in the third round.

Johnson has since won three straight in brutal knockout fashion to earn this rematch, while Cormier survived a tough fight against Alexander Gustafsson before beating Anderson Silva in a non-title fight at UFC 200. The Cormier loss is Johnson's only defeat in his last 13 fights and his last five wins have all come via T/KO.

At 38, age could be a factor for Cormier especially with a long layoff. He's lost just once in an underappreciated career and is looking for that one big win over Jones to cement a Hall-of-Fame career. He needs to survive Johnson tonight in order to get there.

  • Cormier (#3; +104 betting underdog): Juon, Frederick, Sawyer, Nason
  • Johnson (#2; -115 betting favorite): FRB, Pollock, Fontaine, Sempervive, Meltzer, Bix

> Chris Weidman (13-2) vs Gegard Mousasi (41-6-2)

Weidman’s stock has fallen since he was the dominant unbeaten champion who stopped the great Anderson Silva two times in a row back in 2013. He’s now on the first losing streak of his career and will attempt to get back in the win column as he fights in his home state for the second straight time.

His opponent, Mousasi, in on, perhaps, the best roll of his long and storied career. He comes into tonight with four straight win and the last three via KO, including a W over former champion Vitor Belfort.

There’s a long list of deserving title contenders at 185 that includes Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero, and the winner here could be added to that list of possible contenders to face the winner of champion Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre later this year.

  • Weidman (#6; +113 betting underdog): Frederick, Sempervive, Meltzer
  • Mousasi (#5; -115 betting favorite): Juon, FRB, Sawyer, Pollock, Nason, Fontaine, Bix

> Patrick Cote (23-10) vs Thiago Alves (21-11)

Save a one-year run outside the promotion, the 37-year-old Cote's UFC career dates all the way back to UFC 50 where he fought Tito Ortiz in the main event of his promotional debut. He’s also challenged Anderson Silva for the middleweight title but has looked best in his current weight class. He’s quietly won six of his last eight with the only losses coming to the very tough Donald Cerrone and Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson.

The 33-year-old Alves has had a pretty long career in the UFC himself with his most famous fight being a title challenge to welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre at UFC 100. More recently, he is on a two fight losing streak and will be looking to pick up his first win since a KO over Jordan Mein in January 2015. He's fought just five times since 2012 (2-3).

  • Cote (#27; -140 betting favorite): Juon, FRB, Sawyer, Pollock, Nason, Fontaine, Sempervive, Bix, Meltzer
  • Alves (#55; +138 betting underdog): Frederick

> Will Brooks (18-2) vs Charles Oliveira (21-7)

Brooks is coming off his first loss since 2013 against Alex Oliveira (no relation), but was giving up a lot of size to the former welterweight who also missed weight for that fight. On short notice, he struggled to beat veteran Ross Pearson in his UFC debut and could use an impressive win here.

Oliveira had many issues with weight cutting at 145 and will move up a weight class here. He was one of the best submission experts in his old division as nine of his ten UFC wins came via sub and it will be interesting to see if that translates to 155 pounds.

  • Brooks (#13; -220 betting favorite): Juon, Frederick, FRB, Sawyer, Nason, Fontaine, Sempervive, Bix, Meltzer
  • Oliveira (#24; +217 betting underdog): Pollock

> Sean Strickland (18-1) vs Kamaru Usman (9-1)

This is the featured fight of the FS1 prelims with two fighters just on the outside of title contention looking to move up a level. After losing his first career fight in February 2015, Strickland has rebounded to win three straight. At 26, the Team Quest fighter has an eye-popping record and a win here would be the biggest of his career.

TUF 21 competitor Usman stands in his way and the Nigerian-born member of the former Blackzillians fight team has won ten straight if you include his two wins in the TUF house. He’s one of the better wrestlers in the division and despite his lack of finishing prowess (three decisions in four UFC fights), he has been dominant in every one of his fights for the promotion.

  • Usman (#19; -316 betting favorite): Juon, Frederick, FRB, Sawyer, Pollock, Nason, Fontaine, Sempervive, Meltzer, Bix


The rest of the card:

> Cynthia Calvillo (4-0) vs Pearl Gonzalez (6-1)

  • Calvillo #23; -250 betting favorite
  • Gonzalez #37; +241 betting underdog

> Shane Burgos (8-0) vs Charles Rosa (11-2)

  • Burgos (#69; -200 betting favorite)
  • Rosa (#126; +206 betting underdog)

> Des Green (19-5) vs Josh Emmett (11-0)

  • Green (#72; +195 betting underdog)
  • Emmett (#85; -200 betting favorite)

> Myles Jury (15-2) vs Mike De La Torre (14-6)

  • Jury (NR; -400 betting favorite)
  • De La Torre (#91; +363 betting underdog)

> Jan Blachowicz (19-6) vs Patrick Cummins (8-4)

  • Blachowicz (#33; -105 betting favorite)
  • Cummins (#42; +100 betting underdog)

> Gregor Gillespie (8-0) vs Andrew Holbrook (12-1)

  • Gillespie (#128; -227 betting favorite)
  • Holbrook (#88; +213 betting underdog)

> Irene Aldana (7-3) vs Katlyn Chookagian (8-1)

  • Aldana (#17; +135 betting underdog)
  • Chookagian (#13; -137 betting favorite)

> Magomed Bibulatov (13-0) vs Jenel Lausa (7-2)

  • Bibulatov (#10; -400 betting favorite)
  • Lausa (#48; +444 betting underdog)