UFC 210 will air live from Buffalo, New York on Saturday, April 8th and while this card may not have the same name recognition as other upcoming events, there are certainly some fights with the potential for fireworks. Obviously, the main and co-main events are can’t miss fights as I can’t really see either fight making it to the judge’s scorecards. But what about the rest of the card? Let’s take a look at some match-ups that could possibly steal the show come fight night.
Thiago Alves vs Patrick Cote
Longtime MMA fans should recognize these two names as both Thiago “Pitbull” Alves and Patrick “The Predator” Cote have been in the fight game for over a decade now.
Thiago Alves made his pro debut in 2001 and his UFC debut in 2005 and has a pro record of 21 wins and 11 losses in 32 fights. During his UFC tenure, Alves has amassed 4 post-fight bonuses, 2 Fight of the Night bonuses for his fights against Seth Baczynski and Chris Lytle and 2 “Performance of the Night” bonuses for his KO of Matt Hughes with a flying knee and punches and TKO of Jordan Mein by way of a vicious body kick. With 12 of his wins coming by way of KO/TKO and 2 by submission, Alves doesn’t make it a habit of going the distance in his fights. Win or lose, Pitbull has only gone the distance in 12 of his 32 fights and the Brazilian always seems to come prepared to put on a show for the fans. He is 2-2 in his last 4 fights.
Patrick Cote made his pro debut in 2002, only a year later than Alves but managed to make it to the UFC a year earlier, in 2004. His pro record stands at 23 wins and 10 losses in 33 fights, going to the judge’s scorecards in 14 of them. He was a finalist on “The Ultimate Fighter: The Comeback” in 2006, losing to Travis Lutter by submission. The Predator has a Fight of the Night bonus against Josh Burkman and Performance of the Night bonuses for his TKO wins over Kendall Grove and Drew McFedries during his time in the UFC. The Canadian-born fighter is a long time fan favorite and is 3-1 in his last 4 fights.
Prediction: I see this fight going one of 2 ways, an early KO or a 3 round war. However, I don’t see a scenario where this fight is boring. While both fighters are sure to respect the others power, neither fighter has ever shown themselves as unwilling to “stand and bang”, no matter the opponent. With Cote’s only recent losses coming to legitimate contenders Donald Cerrone and Stephen Thompson and Alves making a return to 170 lbs after a failed attempt to make 155 lbs (Alves missed weight by almost 7 lbs at UFC 205), I think Cote takes the victory in what promises to be a showcase in violence.
Cynthia Calvillo vs Pearl Gonzalez
An underrated fight on this card is a Strawweight showdown between 2 ladies that don’t like to spend a lot of time in the cage.
Cynthia Calvillo has only been a pro since August of 2016 but in that time she’s racked up a 4-0 record with 3 of those fights ending before it could go to the judges. UFC fans may already know her name as she made her debut at UFC 209 last month, taking a fight with Amanda Cooper on 10 days notice. Despite the short notice, Calvillo dominated the fight and finished Cooper in the 1st round with a rear-naked choke, showing some slick submission skills to go along with a set of heavy hands (2 of her previous 3 wins came by TKO). Despite only being a professional for less than 2 years, Calvillo already looks to be the top female presence for Team Alpha Male that fellow Strawweight (and reportedly now former TAM teammate) Paige VanZant was expected to be. Calvillo will certainly be looking to add to her already fast growing reputation at UFC 210, only 35 days removed from her last fight.
Looking to derail those plans is UFC newcomer Pearl Gonzalez. Gonzalez is 7-1 as a professional but her only loss came in her pro debut in 2012. Since then, the Illinois native has racked up a 6 fight win streak with 5 of those wins being finishes. Those finishes include a TKO and 4 submissions (all armbars) including a 3rd round submission of UFC veteran Cortney Casey.
Prediction: On paper, this fight is incredibly close. Both fighters share impressive records, are the same height and neither one has a noticeable reach advantage. As well as stat wise, both women have shown the ability to finish fights on the feet or on the ground. I think this fight may come down to a combination of Gonzalez having UFC debut nerves and Calvillo’s ground game. If Calvillo’s ground game is as good as it looked against Amanda Cooper then I think she takes this fight, but it will certainly be her biggest test to date if Gonzalez’s past performances are any indication.
Kamaru Usman vs Sean Strickland
The final fight to make sure you’re not in the bathroom for is a Welterweight fight between 2 young fighters on winning streaks.
Kamaru Usman was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 21 in 2015, defeating Hayder Hassan by submission to not only earn himself the title of The Ultimate Fighter but a Performance of the Night bonus as well. Usman is an absolutely relentless fighter, using his 3-time NCAA Division II All-American wrestling background to stifle his opponents with takedown after takedown. His style of unceasing takedowns mixed with vicious ground-and-pound has helped him attain a 9-1 record as a professional, 6 wins of which have been finishes. While all of his UFC victories since winning The Ultimate Fighter have come by decision, that shouldn’t give fans the impression that Usman is a boring fighter. Usman uses his strength and explosive takedown ability to get the fight to the ground, once he gets the fight where he wants it, Usman intelligently looks for openings to finish the fight. That is Usman’s biggest advantage, for a 28-year-old fighter he doesn’t seem to get overly aggressive in ways that would cause him to make a mistake and lose any fights.
California native Sean Strickland may be younger than Usman by 2 years, but the 26-year-old holds the edge when it comes to experience in MMA. The former King of the Cage Middleweight Champion has a professional record of 18-1, with 12 finishes. Since entering the UFC in 2014 with a submission win over Bubba McDaniel at UFC 171, Strickland has all of his UFC fights except for his Welterweight debut against Santiago Ponzinibbio in 2015. Following that loss, however, Strickland has gone on a 3 fight win streak, including a TKO of Alex Garcia and a split-decision win over Tom Breese. Strickland has shown himself to be a well-rounded fighter, finishing multiple fights by both KO and submission. Even when it goes to the judges, he always appears to be looking for a finish, willing to stand and bang with just about anyone if that’s what it takes to get the win.
Prediction: This fight is majorly dependant on whether Strickland can keep it on the feet. If the fight stays standing then I give Strickland a fighting chance. That being said, I don’t think it stays on the feet for very long. Usman’s wrestling is simply too high level and I think he can take Strickland down and essentially do what he wants with him. The only danger for Usman once it goes to the ground is Strickland’s black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but I think that Usman will be able to avoid most of his submission attempts and use his ground-and-pound game on top to get his 2nd finish in the UFC.
So there you have it, folks, I wouldn’t recommend missing any fights but if you absolutely have to go to the bathroom before the main and co-main events of UFC 210, make sure it’s not during these 3 fights.