LA MIRADA, Calif. -- Donald Cerrone has no doubt who’s going to win the UFC 214 main event between light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and his fierce rival, longtime former champion, Jon Jones.
“Jon is going to roll right over him,” Cerrone said at Thursday’s UFC 214 media day. “He’s going to embarrass him and finish him.”
Cerrone, of course, is biased. He and Jones are longtime teammates at Albuquerque’s JacksonWink MMA, so it would be news if he didn’t pick Jones.
The bad news for “DC,” though, is that not a lot of other fighters who share the card at Anaheim’s Honda Center seem to think he has much of a chance against Jones either.
That includes the man who had the most vested interest in the fight — light heavyweight contender Jimi Manuwa. Manuwa says he hasn’t seen anything since UFC 182 which suggests the second go-round of Cormier vs. Jones will be any different.
“We saw what played out the first time,” Manuwa said. “Wrestling is Cormier’s strength and Jon was able to neutralize it. Why would it go any different? Cormier is two years older and Jon, you can argue ring rust, but you can also argue he’s fresh.
“Jones can finish Cormier this time if he’s really motivated, but let’s not forgot Cormier is plenty tough. I see Jon taking a decision again. There’s nothing new which suggest the fight is going to go any differently.”
That was a sentiment shared by a fellow veteran in featherweight Ricardo Lamas, who meets Jason Knight on Saturday night.
“Jon Jones is the type of fighter who, with everything he’s accomplished in the sport, with what he can do, you’re not going to be against him until someone proves otherwise,” Lamas said. “Talking totally inside the cage here, forget about all that other stuff. I’m not going to pick against Jones until someone proves me wrong, and we’ve already seen what Jones can do in the cage with Cormier.”
Lamas’ Saturday night opponent came as close as anyone to picking “DC.” Knight, the upstart from Mississippi, says he’ll be rooting for the Louisiana native.
“DC has shown me nothing but love when he’s been commentating in my fights,” Knight said. “I am going to be rooting so hard for him to win. I’ve got all the respect in the world for DC.”
Still, the knowledgeable fighter within Knight won out in the end.
“Do I want DC to win? Yes,” Knight said. “Do I think he has a path to victory? Yes. If I have to make a prediction, do I think he’ll win? No. Jon Jones has never been legitimately defeated and that’s for a reason. I can’t deny what he’s done in the cage.”
Andre Fili, likewise, is another one who believes that “DC” can give Jones a run.
“Everyone says we saw all we needed to see in the first fight,” Fili. “And it’s like man, do you even watch this sport? How many times have we all thought a rematch was going to be the same as the first and then it totally wasn’t? I don’t think we should take anything for granted. We don’t know how this fight is going to go.”
Pressed for a prediction, though, the Team Alpha Male featherweight, who meets Calvin Kattar at UFC 214, fell in line with the rest.
“Yeah, I’m not picking against Jones,” he said with a laugh.
Cormier vs. Jones is just one of three title fights on the bill Saturday night. Another championship participant, Demian Maia, is one of the smartest competitors in the game. Smart enough not to pick a winner, that is. The Brazilian submission ace allowed that the fight will probably come down to the margins, but otherwise doesn’t want to pick a winner.
“I hate to give predictions, because we are so inside with everybody, we have history with everybody,” Maia said. “This fight will be [good] for sure, no doubt about that. Jones knows a lot about fighting, but at the same time, he won the last fight, so, who knows what is going to happen? Nobody really, really knows. No one really knows 100 percent. It is something that will be decided by a very small difference.”