One of, if not the biggest card in MMA history is finally upon us. This card is so big, even Jon Jones getting yanked from the Main Event for using a banned substance probably won’t effect the PPV buys. So, without further ado here are my picks for UFC 200.
Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes (Women’s Bantamweight Championship)
Nunes comes in on a three fight win streak and will give Tate some fits early on. One thing about Miesha Tate, though is she has tremendous cardio and can take a ton of punishment. However, I don’t think she will absorb too much of a beating. Tate wins this fight before the Championship Rounds and retains the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship.
Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt
Lesnar returns to The Octagon losing to close out his MMA career on his terms. Yes, he’s an athletic freak. Yes, when he was a full-time mixed martial artist, he was THE baddest man on the planet. However, he hasn’t fought in five years. It’s not like he’s going up against some schlub. Mark Hunt is a top contender in the UFC Heavyweight Division. He has one punch KO power, and probably is the only guy in the UFC with a thicker head (literally) than Lesnar. Plus, remember, barring a spectacular early knockout, this is a one-off for Lesnar. Tomorrow, he will go back to being WWE Superstar Brock Lesnar. If Lesnar was in his fighting prime or was a full-time MMA fighter, he could get away with relying on his size and strength and get by without much technique. While the ‘Super Samoan’ may not be as big and strong as Lesnar, he does pack quite a punch, can take a ton of punishment, and has a very underrated takedown defense. Mark Hunt will win this fight early and in spectacular fashion. That will say more about Mark Hunt than Brock Lesnar. No matter how Brock loses, tonight will not do anything to tarnish his MMA legacy.
Daniel Cormier vs. Anderson Silva (non-title fight)
Cormier spent weeks and months preparing for an opportunity to unify the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship against his arch-nemesis Jon Jones. Thanks to Jones getting popped for using a banned substance during Fight Week, not only was DC pulled from the Main Event of UFC 200, it looked like he wouldn’t even fight this weekend. Losing not only a chance to settle a score with Jones, but also on tons of money in pay-per-view revenue he was set to receive as a UFC Champion. Lo and behold, future UFC Hall of Famer and possible GOAT Anderson Silva came to the rescue and agreed to fight Cormier on just two days notice. Remember, Silva was pulled from UFC 198 just two months ago because of gall bladder surgery. I know he was medically cleared to fight tonight, but how effective will he be? He wasn’t even training for a fight when he did the UFC (and Daniel Cormier) a huge favor by taking this fight. This will be as close to an exhibition fight as you’ll see (and I mean that in the kindest way possible). Cormier wins by a decision.
Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar (UFC Interim Featherweight Championship)
UFC 200 is so stacked, this fight is second on the PPV! Last time we saw Jose Aldo, he got KTFO by Conor McGregor in just 13 seconds. For the first time in nearly 11 years, Aldo enters a fight coming off a loss. Did that loss to McGregor reinvigorate a passion and hunger to be a champion or did losing in such highlight-reel fashion damage Aldo’s confidence? Speaking of confidence, Frankie Edgar brings enough of that into The Octagon for both fighters. The former UFC Lighweight Champion comes in on a five fight win streak, dating back to the first meeting with Aldo-a unanimous decision win for the Brazillian. On that night, Aldo was arguably at his peak. Since then Edgar has looked even more impressive than ever. He is as focused and determined as ever. Tonight, ‘The Answer’ exacts revenge on Jose Aldo and sets up a huge grudge match with Conor McGregor to unify the UFC Featherweight belt.
Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne
A good heavyweight matchup between a guy looking to return to the mountaintop and a guy seeking to become a legitimate title contender. Which Travis Browne will we see tonight? The one with 5 of his last 6 wins coming in the first round? Or the one who was knocked out by in Round One against Andrei Arlovski or worn down by Fabricio Werdum? Browne will need to be the former in a big way to have a chance of getting his hand raised tonight. Velasquez is coming off injury and hasn’t fought since losing the UFC Heavyweight Championship to Fabricio Werdum 13 months ago. As big as he is, Velasquez, a former collegiate wrestler, has cardio for days. I expect Browne to come at Velasquez early, looking for a quick finish, but ultimately the former Arizona State Sun Devil’s cardio will prove to be the difference. Cain Velasquez will win by decision.
Cat Zingano returns from a 16 month layoff and to beat Julianna Pena.
A clean shaven Johny Hendricks over Kelvin Gastelum in what could be the fight of the night. Let’s hope after tonight Hendricks finally moves up to 185. Despite not having his usual crazy beard, he still managed to miss weight for this fight and has had issues making 170 (or 171) quite a bit over his last few fights.
TJ Dillashaw beats Raphael Assuncao to get back in the title picture at 135. This has the makings to be a great fight.
Sage Northcutt continues his upward trend with a win over Enrique Marin.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims
Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Lauzon. On. Fight. Pass. Seriously? I told you earlier this fight card was stacked. Two of the toughest guys in any division in the UFC. One thing is guaranteed. Both of these guys will leave it all in the Octagon and leave it a bloody mess. Sanchez may win the Mean Face contest, but Lauzon ekes out a decision in what should be a very entertaining fight.
Gegard Mousasi will defeat Thiago Santos in what could resemble a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots game.
Jim Miller will outlast Takanori Gomi.
Follow me on Twitter @milanjordan. Enjoy the fights!