UFC President Dana White stepped up to the podium at Wednesday’s press conference and almost nonchalantly announced UFC 214 as “the biggest and baddest fight card of the year for us.” He didn’t shout, and he didn’t get increasingly red in the face as he ramped up his introduction. White said that and simply opened the floor for questions.

White knows this card is stacked, and he knows fans know this card is stacked. He could have brought out an index card scrawled with the lineup and pushed it in front of the camera and just shrugged, and that would have been enough to sell fight fans.

In the main event, light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (19-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) defends his title against Jon Jones (22-1 MMA, 16-1 UFC) in perhaps the most anticipated rematch in UFC history. The co-headliner features welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (17-3-1 MMA, 7-2-1 UFC) defending against Demian Maia (25-6 MMA, 19-6 UFC). Also, Cristiane Justino (17-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) and Tonya Evinger (19-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will square off for the vacant women’s featherweight belt in a third title fight.

So, yes, “biggest and baddest” seems to be a fitting description for this event.

UFC 214 takes place at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FXX and UFC Fight Pass.

Here are 10 reasons to tune in.

The whole legacy thing gets thrown around in MMA so often, perhaps too often, but the fight between current champ Cormier and former champ Jones hits all the marks for a legacy-making matchup.

If Cormier beats the only man who has defeated him, Jones — the man who most consider the greatest light heavyweight ever — then Cormier’s legacy will be cemented as an all-time great. If Jones wins, he’ll reclaim the title he never lost in the cage and likely to move on to keep building on his already impressive career.

Whoever loses this fight will still go down in UFC history as one of the best the light heavyweight division has ever seen. Unfortunately for the vanquished, that recognition won’t come in the immediate aftermath of UFC 214.

Barring an unanticipated return to the time when Maia fancied himself a striker, expect the No. 5 ranked welterweight to attempt to wrest the title from Woodley via a concerted effort on the ground, which, statistically speaking, could be a problem.

Dating back to his Strikeforce debut, Woodley’s opponents have taken him down three times in 19 fights. The last man to do so was Rory MacDonald – in 2014. Woodley’s takedown defense is a mind-boggling 91 percent. Woodley has also been excellent at avoiding submission attempts, with only two of his previous 19 opponents even attempting a submission, both unsuccessfully.

The odds seemed stacked against Maia, but he’s arguably at the apex of his career, which makes this fight very compelling.

Justino might have reservations about being the face of women’s MMA, but if she defeats Evinger for the vacant women’s featherweight title, expect the UFC to push Justino. With Ronda Rousey out of the picture, and the promotion’s reluctance, or inability, to push bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and/or strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk into the mainstream, the UFC needs Justino to win. If she accomplishes that, Justino will be an easy sell as the most dangerous woman in MMA.

If Evinger, the No. 7 ranked bantamweight pulls off the upset, things could get very interesting as the former Invicta bantamweight champ has never been afraid to voice her opinion on any subject, including the UFC.

Some try to downplay the violent aspect of MMA, claiming it’s a competitive sport, not a violent one. The reality is, like football, MMA is both. The UFC has come to terms with that fact. Just look at the “Fight of the Night” bonus-winning bouts; they’re often brutal brawls, not technical masterpieces.

Two fighters who have racked up plenty of bonuses for their vicious performances meet in a fight that might be second to only the main event when it comes to fan excitement and anticipation.

Former champion and currently No. 3-ranked welterweight Robbie Lawler (27-11 MMA, 12-5 UFC) and No. 11 Donald Cerrone (32-7 MMA, 19-4 UFC) have 45 stoppage victories between them. Observers are hoping that number moves to 46 in Anaheim.

Jimi Manuwa appeared poised for a light heavyweight title shot after knocking out Corey Anderson in March, but then Alexander Gustafsson stopped Glover Teixeira and Jones returned from suspension. And so Manuwa, ranked No. 7 in the division, was left with no option but to take another fight in hopes of solidifying his status as a title contender.

That opponent is No. 8 Volkan Oezdemir (14-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC), who joined the UFC in March and is 2-0 with the promotion. He’s also extremely confident and looking forward to facing Manuwa (17-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC).

“He’s the striker to beat now that Anthony Johnson is gone,” Oezdemir said of Manuwa. “People think about him as the best striker in the division, and that’s also why I want to fight him, too. I want to go there and knock him out, so people will know I belong in the game, too.”

These two have 25 knockouts between them.

It’s easy to imagine Jason Knight’s response was a hearty “Yes!” when the UFC asked if he’d be willing to face No. 5 ranked featherweight Ricardo Lamas after Lamas’ original opponent, Chan Sung Jung, dropped off this card due to an injury.

Racking up four UFC victories in one year, Knight, currently ranked No. 14, has become a fan favorite for his willingness to talk trash and back it up either on the feet or the ground. If Knight (17-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) can make it five straight wins against former title contender Lamas (17-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC), he’ll surely climb the rankings and let fans and matchmakers know about it.

Lamas has alternated wins and losses over his last four fights.

Renan Barao began his career with a loss, then went unbeaten in 33 consecutive fights. He also won and defended the UFC bantamweight title during that run. Since losing to T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 173, Barao is 2-3 in his last five fights and looking to re-establish himself as a contender.

Barao (34-4-1 MMA, 9-3 UFC) had hoped to face Aljamain Sterling (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) at bantamweight, but past weight cutting issues resulted in the California State Athletic Commission requiring this bout take place at a catchweight of 140 pounds. Regardless of the weight class, this is a huge fight for both men.

Sterling began his career on a 12-0 run, but his star has faded a bit. Currently ranked No. 11 at bantamweight, he’s struggled recently with allowing fans and media to dictate his style, MMA judging criteria and a bit of a public spat with the UFC when he was looking for a new deal as a free agent. The result of those struggles has been a 1-2 run since May 2016.

At first glance the assumption might be that Brian Ortega should be favored over Renato Moicano in their featherweight bout. After all, Ortega has won his last three fights by stoppage and is currently ranked No. 9 in the division. That assumption would be incorrect. Ortega (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) is the underdog to No. 13 Moicano (11-0-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC).

The reason behind those odds might be that Ortega appeared close to dropping decisions in his last two outings before earning late finishes. Coming on strong late could be a problem against Moicano, who showed in his win over Jeremy Stephens that he can deal with an aggressive, attacking opponent quite well.

If the name Alexandra Albu doesn’t ring a bell, don’t feel bad. It’s been a while since her last fight.

Albu signed with the UFC in 2013, but she didn’t make her promotional debut until April 2015 thanks to an injury. Albu scored a submission win over Izabela Badurek in that fight. Almost immediately after her victory, Albu underwent surgery. Now, after taking time off for rehab and school, Albu returns against Kailin Curran, who is 1-4 with the UFC, losing her last two fights.

Albu (2-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) is a very strong strawweight with heavy hands. If she can get past Curran (4-4 MMA, 1-4 UFC) and stay healthy, she could be someone to watch at 115 pounds.

Jarred Brooks has 12 fights for 11 different promotions on his record. His most recent outing, a knockout win over Jun Nakamura at Pancrase 281 in October kept his unbeaten record intact. The sometimes questionably outspoken Brooks was set to make his UFC debut in February, but that bout was scrapped when his opponent, Ian McCall, fell ill on fight day.

Brooks (12-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is extremely confident, and at just 24 he thinks he will not only find a home with the UFC but become a future flyweight champion. Brooks’ chance to take the first step toward that goal comes against 26-year-old Eric Shelton (10-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC). Shelton made his UFC debut in January, dropping a split decision to Alexandre Pantoja.

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.


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