UFC 192 Picks: Cormier to Maintain Title as Clear-Cut Favorite vs. Gustafsson

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, September 24, 2015 4:06 PM GMT

Thursday, Sep. 24, 2015 4:06 PM GMT

Daniel Cormier defends his light heavyweight strap against one of the most fearsome strikers as Alexander Gustafsson. Let's analyze this matchup and decide who to include in our UFC picks.

The Shadow King
Common opponents are a fitting barometer of how a fight will play out and there is no bigger common opponent than the one lurking in the shadows of this main event. That's right, the elephant in the room is Jon "Bones" Jones. As everyone knows JBJ was a magician, he made challengers disappear, and vanquished both Daniel Cormier as well as Alex Gustafsson when he reigned supreme at 205 but has now been stripped of his title and relegated to the sidelines. And though the results were the same the tenor of the fights was markedly different.

When Alex Gustafsson and Jon Jones met in September of 2013 it was supposed to be a pure boxer versus a multi-dimensional cage tactician. Jones' superior mat skills had the challenger at a sizeable disadvantage when the opening bell sounded but after five electric rounds this fight turned out to be far different than most had imagined. Gustafsson accomplished many things against Jones that no fighter had ever achieved. Despite being an inch taller than Jones he, like everyone else, had a sizeable reach disadvantage but was able to negate Jones' endless 85 inch reach by using his sublime boxing skills to stick, move and disappear. Although Jones did connect often enough and powerful enough to ultimately win the decision he did not escape unscathed. It was a blood bath from which both fighters contributed pints.

But perhaps the single most fascinating aspect of the match was Gustafsson's uncanny ability to stuff Jones' takedown attempts. The then light heavyweight champ tried for 10 takedowns and was successful only once. Ironically it was Gustafsson who took Jones to the mat which up until that point had never happened to Jones in his career. Though Gustafsson gave Jones the fight of his life it was a cut he opened up above Jones' right eye early in round one that plagued the iconic champion throughout. Nevertheless Jones won the day by employing not only punches but kicks and elbows to relentlessly assail the rangy Swede. The decision was unanimous but the victory was far from decisive and the UFC odds of -700 in favor of Jones gave his backers plenty to sweat about before the verdict was finally rendered.

 

Cormier vs. Jones
Jon Jones relishes the opportunity to beat fighters at their own game. He out-strikes the strikers and outwrestles the wrestlers. Whatever you can do I can do better is his credo and one that has served him well. Therefore, when he met Daniel Cormier in January of this year (seems much longer ago than that) Jones had something to prove. Former Olympian wrestler Cormier was reminded throughout the evening that his wrestling pedigree was no match for the UFC's pound-for-pound champion and relative to his fight against Gustafsson, Cormier was easy pickins'.

This was a fight fought not on the mat as Cormier would have liked but decided in the clinches. Jones continually dug penetrating knees into Cormier's gut and launched tight elbows to his head. Cormier retaliated but by the third round it was clear that the former Olympian was running out of gas while Jones was just getting started. Ultimately the fight ended in a decisive victory for the UFC pick, Jones which had none of the controversy associated with his unanimous decision over Gustafsson.

 

UFC Picks
Now that we have analyzed the common opponent that is Jon Jones it would appear at first blush that Gustafsson has the advantage here. However the key difference is that though Jones was able to stuff Cormier it doesn't mean Gustafsson will be able to do the same. While the Mauler did avoid Jones' legendary takedowns Cormier has a lower center of gravity and is a positively elite wrestler as opposed to Jones who often softens up his opponents with his immense striking arsenal before taking them down.

As we know Gustafsson lost in stunning fashion to Anthony "Rumble" Johnson by TKO in the first-round. It was the first time Gustafsson had ever been finished due to strikes. It was only a few months later that Cormier finished Johnson via rear naked choke in the third round to win the vacant light heavyweight crown. I believe Cormier can avoid the withering assault certain to be initiated by Gustafsson and get the Mauler to the canvas. Once that happens it's Cormier's world and he owns it.

UFC Free Picks: Daniel Cormier -307 at Pinnacle

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