The night has finally arrived. UFC 200 is here baby! And in typical UFC fashion there had to be some sort of drama before the big party. The hotly anticipated main event between heated rivals Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier has been scrapped due to a drug testing issue with Jones. Of course it’s devastating to lose such a huge main event but luckily the entirety of the card is filled with blockbuster match ups. Top to bottom, this is the greatest card ever put together, any one of these fights could easily be a headliner. The main card alone consists of an interim title fight between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar, as well as Miesha Tate defending her bantamweight belt against Amanda Nunes and that’s without even mentioning the retuning Brock Lesnar. Even the prelims have gotten the star treatment with UFC stalwarts Diego Sanchez and Joe Lauzon commencing battle in a potential fight of the night clash. Elsewhere, former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will be looking to get back to his winning ways as he takes on “Hapa” Travis Browne, Raphael Assuncao will be hoping for a repeat of the last time he faced TJ Dillashaw and welterweights Johny Hendricks and Kelvin Gastelum collide.
As always, I will now break down all these main card fights, give my predictions and of course put my own “Armchair Expert” title on the line.
MIESHA TATE vs. AMANDA NUNES
The new main event for UFC 200 is Miesha Tate’s first title defence. Miesha’s career was almost destined to be “so close-yet so far” until she sank in a rear naked choke on Holly Holm at UFC 196 to claim the women’s bantamweight title. Miesha has always been one of the best women fighters on the roster, but when Rousey is included in that bracket sometimes your best isn’t good enough, as Miesha found out twice before. When beating Holm, Miesha showed how much she has grown as a fighter, she stuck to her game plan and saw it through and when the opportunity presented itself, she took full advantage. “Cupcake” hasn’t always had that natural killer instinct but she seems to have found it of late and she will need it again when she faces off against Amanda Nunes. The all action Nunes, loves to take the fight to her opponent, she fires off vicious shots and constantly follows them up with an unrelenting assault. Nunes will always take advantage when her opponent makes a mistake, so Tate will need to be continually on her toes. As dangerous as Nunes is, the one question mark hanging over her head is can she last the five rounds; the longer the fight goes on the better it will be for Tate. Nunes will be counting on finding an opening in Tate’s guard to put her away early but I think the experience the champion has will help her to be able to grind Nunes down and claim a decision victory.
Tate by decision.
BROCK LESNAR vs. MARK HUNT
I’m not ashamed to say it; this fight makes me all giddy on the inside. From day one, I’ve been a Brock Lesnar fan boy but in his absence Mark Hunt had been filling that giant void. I’m now left to decide do I predict with my head or my heart? The simplest way to look at it is this; if Lesnar is stupid enough to stand and trade with Hunt, it’s going to be lights out but if Lesnar can use his superb wrestling to get Hunt to the mat, then it shouldn’t be long before he locks in a submission or unleashes a barrage of haymakers that results in the ref stepping in. There are a couple of key aspects about this fight that may help predict the outcome. Firstly, Hunt is a knockout artist, 9 of his previous opponents can testify to the force of the “Super Samoan”, most of the time he connects it usually results in the “walk off”. Secondly, Hunt has nearly a 70% takedown defence average, one of the best in the division, it will be no easy feat to get the New Zealander down. So how does Brock actually win then? Watch any of Brocks previous fights and two things become apparent; he is not the most technically gifted boxer and he doesn’t exactly like to get hit in the face, he is never going to win the exchanges with Hunt so he needs to rely on his glittering wrestling background. Lesnar is a NCAA Division 1 wrestling champion, his sole goal for this fight should be to take Hunt down and keep him there, from that position he can work his way into tying up a submission or punch Hunts head into the mat. If Brock gets the takedown it’s his fight to lose; if Hunt can stuff it or catch Lesnar on the way in, then it could be a very early KO. I’ve been debating between my head and my heart on the outcome of this fight since it was announced. My heart wins.
Brock by TKO.
DANIEL CORMIER vs. ANDERSON SILVA
I don’t know if this fight even makes sense but I really don’t care because it will be such an intriguing watch. Cormier is a brute force wrestler, who likes to pick his opponent up and slam them back down. Silva is one of the greatest of all time; the man has an endless highlight reel of slick shots and KO’s but since his shocking loss to Chris Weidman and then his horrific leg break in the rematch, “The Spider” hasn’t been the same fighter he once was. Silva hasn’t won a fight since 2012; he is 41 years of age, stepping up in weight division to take on the current champion and he is also taking the fight on two days’ notice, surly this should be an easy night’s work for Cormier. On paper, it looks like a simple task, put into practice and I think this fight unfolds in a different way. If Cormier lets Silva dictate the pace of the fight, he could fall into “The Spider’s” carefully laid trap. Silva is as dangerous on the back foot as he is on the front; he only needs a split second to release a devastating shot. But Cormier is an intelligent fighter, he knows when things aren’t going his way, how to switch up a fight. If he gets no luck on the feet he will gladly take Silva down and smother him and with Cormier being the heavier fighter it will be tough for Silva to get back up from. I wouldn’t be the slightest bit shocked on the biggest night in UFC history if Anderson Silva added another highlight reel knockout to his already impressive resume but I really don’t see that massive chin of Cormier getting rocked.
Cormier by TKO.
JOSE ALDO vs. FRANKIE EDGAR
A rematch of their Fight of the Night clash back in 2013; a closely fought contest that Aldo edged on the scorecards. In the three years since they last squared off against one another, Frankie “The Answer” Edgar has gone on to claim five straight wins, each one more impressive than the last. Aldo on the other hand, as I’m sure you are all aware, was KO’d stiff by Conor McGregor in his last outing. That last fight will bare a lot on the result of this one, if Aldo was able to fully get over that knockout he will begin to reclaim what he believes is rightfully his but if that shot to the jaw left any sort of mark, it could be the difference in who becomes the new interim featherweight champion. Frankie will do what he does best; hustle. He will get in Aldo’s face, swing shots, take him down and pummel him, the same non-stop action that caused Aldo problems the first time they met. Aldo, of course, will utilise his ferocious leg kicks and attempt to slow Edgar down, his slight reach advantage will help him fire off lightning quick jabs to try and keep Edgar at bay. As I’ve said before, the key thing here is how Aldo reacts to such a shocking knockout and can his chin still hold up; the other factor is if this goes to the championship rounds, Aldo is known to slow down while Edgar has a seemingly endless gas tank. So many questions that will soon be ‘answered’, despite the terrible pun I think Aldo takes this by decision.
Aldo by decision.
CAIN VELASQUEZ vs. TRAVIS BROWNE
The winner of this fight could be next in line for a shot at the heavyweight title. This is a big fight for former champion Cain Velasquez, having spent the best part of two years out injured and then to lose his title on his comeback fight in June of 2015, he knows he has something to prove. When Cain knocked out Brock Lesnar to win the belt back in 2010, he was tipped to become the greatest heavyweight of all time. For a man of his size he moves like a lightweight, he has quick feet and even quicker hands, he has exceptional wresting and knows how to dominate a fight but he will have to be on his game to ensure he defeats Travis Browne. “Hapa” is a talented Muay Thai fighter who holds some big wins over some big names. Browne hasn’t been at his best of late, going 2-2 in his last four fights, but taking out such a big scalp like Velasquez would put him right in the title picture. He will look to keep Velasquez out of range and fight at his own pace as he picks him off but it’s hard to tire out someone as relentless as Velasquez. Cain will chase him down and continue to work as he aims to wear Browne down and take him out. Cain knows he performed well below his standards in his last outing and he will be looking to make a statement with this performance. I doubt we will need the judge’s scorecards for this one.
Velasquez by KO.
Best of the Rest.
Cat Zingano vs. Julianna Pena
Zingano to win.
Johny Hendricks vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Hendricks to win.
T.J Dillashaw vs. Raphael Assuncao
Dillashaw to win.
Sage Northcutt vs. Enrique Marin
Northcutt to win.
Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Lauzon
Sanchez to win.
Gegard Mousasi vs. Thiago Santos
Mousasi to win.
Jim Miller vs. Takanori Gomi
Miller to win.
Bet of the Day.
The adventurous bet: an accumulator on all 12 is about 179/1. Also for the night that’s in it; Diego Sanchez and Joe Lauzon to end a draw is 50/1.
The conservative bet: Brock Lesnar at 5/4 is a great bet and Sage Northcutt to win by KO is 6/4.
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