UFC 187 Picks: Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson – Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort Predictions

When:Saturday, May 23, 2015
Where:MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
by Scott of Predictem.com

Fight Analysis:

UFC 187 is a great card, featuring a pair of title bouts. First, UFC Middleweight Champion will defend against longtime standout Vitor Belfort. In the main event, UFC Light Heavyweights contest for the facant UFC Light Heavyweight Title with Anthony Rumble Johnson going up against Daniel Cormier, who comes into this one with only 3 weeks notice. Both champions face stern tests. Weidman will have to repel one of the purest strikers in MMA history with the accomplished Belfort. And Cormier just might have his toughest-ever matchup on his hands with the lethal-striking Johnson, who has been on a path of destruction in recent outings. Its not often you get to see the middleweight and light heavyweight champion on the same night, making UFC 187 the event of the year so far in 2015.

Anthony Johnson, (+105), 19-4 (13 KOs) vs. Daniel Cormier, (-125), 15-1 (6 KOs, 4 Submissions)

After the stripping of Jon Jones, the vacant UFC Light Heavyweight Title will now be contested by Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier, who stepped in on just over 3 weeks notice to face Johnson for the belt. While it will be hard to justify the winner of this bout as the real champ, with Jones sidelined with personal issues, expect both men to treat this like a great opportunity has fallen into their hands.

For Cormier, 36, this is a chance to win the belt in a fight that directly follows his title-fight loss to Jones. Cormier gave Jones a really good fight, coming up short on the scorecards. He has been able to rest since his January challenge and had a fight with Ryan Bader scheduled for June. Will Cormier be able to arrive in peak form after taking this fight on such short notice? With him having not fought at this weight much after dropping from heavyweight, how will his accelerated weight-cut go?

Johnson also has some things to think about, namely how he will have to now prepare for a totally different opponent. And after fighting at welterweight just several years ago, he will now have to face a man who fought most of his bouts at heavyweight. Make no mistake, Cormier may not be as good as Jones, but he will be a robust challenge for Johnson and in many ways, a potentially more-problematic match-up stylistically.

Johnson has come a long way, particularly in dealing with world-class wrestlers. His takedown defense has improved. But with the wrestling of Cormier, you can only be so sure. In addition, Cormier has shown an ability to soak up punishment. We see Johnson is on a path of destruction, but Cormier may be a harder nut to crack. And even though it was in losing fashion, having already participated in a title bout could give Cormier a little edge in experience.

Cormier didnt lose to just anyone in Jones and the fight itself was competitive enough to the point where the previously-unbeaten Cormier still comes into this fight with some steam. But Johnson has been a man on a mission. Theres something to be said for momentum and after some bumpy roads, Johnson is locked in and in the midst of a run of destruction that is now several years old. The only question is whether he can keep it going against an opponent who is a bit different. Cormiers versatility, durability, and overall caliber is higher than Johnsons recent opponents. Johnson has beaten some top 205-pounders like Phil Davis and Alexander Gustafsson, but the more-compact Cormier is a little trickier. His wrestling is off-the-charts and he can punch, as well. Weve all become mesmerized by the violent destruction of Johnsons fists, but that shouldnt detract from Cormiers striking ability.

Both men are top 205-pounders in what remains the top division in the sport in MMAs top organization. Their exploits are well-known. Beyond what each man can do technically, one has to look a bit outside the box. I think Johnsons time is now. And Cormier being shoehorned into this spot against an ultra-dangerous and peaking assassin like Johnson may come back to hurt him. Im taking Johnson.

Scott’s Pick to Win the Match: Im betting on Anthony Johnson at +105. Bet your UFC 187 predictions using your credit card at an online sportsbook where it WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a generous 100% bonus: 1Vice Sportsbook!

Chris Weidman, 12-0 (5 KOs, 3 Submissions), (-450) vs.Vitor Belfort, 24-10 (17 KOs, 3 Submissions), (+325)
After a few postponements, Chris Weidman will defend his UFC Middleweight title against longtime MMA luminary Vitor Belfort. This fight was supposed to happen twice, with Weidman injuries forcing delays. This will be Weidmans third defense, but he has fought only once in the last 17 months. Belfort missed all of 2014.

The two wins over Anderson Silva and the title defense against a quality opponent like Lyoto Machida showed that Weidman has what it takes against the best at 185. In just 12 fights, he has forged to the top of the division in the sports toughest organization. And no one has come particularly close to beating him. Hes been inactive and isnt a very exciting guy, but dont let that fool you. Beating Chris Weidman is one of the hardest things to ask a fighter to do.

You cant help but think the delays may have helped Belfort. With his needing to wean off of testosterone-replacement therapy, maybe the extra time off helped, though not fighting for a year-and-a-half isnt ideal coming into a fight like this. Belfort seemed reborn when getting back down to 185 and is on a good run with KO wins over Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, and Dan Henderson. He is still one of the best at what he does and his striking is indisputable and no one is above it–not even Weidman.

Belfort comes on heavy at first and fighters who can extend him into the later rounds have a good chance. But surviving that initial onslaught for the first round or two is no easy task and Weidman will be dealing with a fury he perhaps hasnt dealt with in the past. But Weidman has a certain ruggedness about him. Hes just a hard man, both mentally and physically. His wrestling is above reproach and he packs power in both hands. In addition, hes exceptionally strong in an all-around sense.

Weidman has more ways to win. He may not be the concussive striker that Belfort is, but hes durable and can take a fight to the ground with ease. Though he has only about a third of the fights Belfort has, Weidman is the more proven fighter in the championship rounds. I see Weidman surviving the initial onslaught to win in the late-rounds.

My Pick to Win:Im betting on Chris Weidman at -450. Hes the more complete fighter with less shortcomings. His greater versatility, stamina, freshness, and durability will win the day. Bet your Weidman/Belfort pick at the sportsbook with the most UFC props on the net: 5Dimes!