We’re just a few days away from UFC 182 and its much-anticipated main event, where UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones will face hated rival Daniel Cormier.
MMA Interviews.tv recently asked several fighters who they were picking for the big fight — and some of the answers may surprise you.
While oddsmakers have the champion Jones as much as a -190 favorite to retain his title, the majority of fighters interviewed favored the challenger Cormier to take the strap.
Former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks called the pick “a tough one” but saw Cormier as the favorite:
“Jon Jones is a very tough fighter,” Hendricks said. “But I love Daniel; I’ve known him for years. I think he can match his wrestling. I think he’s got the power. Jones could do some stuff to keep him at bay, but I think Daniel is going to be able work his way into the inside and get the job done.”
Josh Barnett agrees that Cormier will be able to negate Jones’ reach disadvantage, and win the grappling exchanges. Barnett, a former heavyweight champion himself, also predicts we will have a new UFC Champion Saturday.
“The superior takedown game is going to keep Jones off his feet,” Barnett explains. “He’s going to ride as much as possible. Then, time his way to get in and hit him with some quality shots. He’s got quick hands — quicker than Jones. Jones is very rangy, he’s got good reach, and his timing and accuracy is pretty good… in fact, I’d say it’s spectacular. He mixes strikes up well… Jones needs to establish control and take the rhythm of the fight… I think Cormier can disrupt that — and when you do, Jones struggles. Jones is a great wrestler, I don’t doubt that, but he’s not Cormier.”
Current lightweight titleholder Anthony Pettis is one of the only fighters interviewed who pick the champion to retain:
“Jon Jones I’ve got to go with,” Pettis says. “He’s the champion; been around a long time. He’s tall for that weight class and he’s hard to beat. Great wrestling, great striking. It’s hard to go against a guy like that.”
Full video is here: