After back to back nights of fights, the UFC will cap off an unbelievable week with UFC 200. This is undoubtedly the biggest card on paper and despite the recent events in which Jon Jones was removed due to a possible drug test violation, I don’t believe the luster is lost. If there is one card that can sustain a blow of this magnitude, it’s this one.
Filling in for Jones, is who many consider to be the greatest of all time, Anderson Silva. The “Spider” is two months removed from gall bladder surgery and I have reason to believe, he has been limited in training. However with all things considers, screw the anticipated rematch, Silva against Cormier could very well shape out to be a barnburner.
Headlining UFC 200, is Miesha Tate against Amanda Nunes. In what should be a firecracker of a fight, it will be interesting to see if Tate can end the recent string of title changes and win in her first title defense. As any fight fan knows, Nunes is a tough out and her all out style is reminiscent of former Light Heavyweight Champion Vitor Belfort. The first two rounds, if even goes that long, will be a fast and furious, so don’t blink!
Co-Headlining is the return of former UFC Heavyweight Champion and WWE Superstar Brock Lesnar against the “Super Samoan” Mark Hunt. I can’t even fathom to believe that Brock Lesnar is back, as it’s been four and half years since he last stepped into the octagon. It’s been well documented, but Lesnar’s battle with diverticulitis forced him to retire, ending a career that had potential and promise. But, “The Beast Incarnate” is back and has no easy task in front of him. Mar Hunt is one of the premier Heavyweights in the UFC and perhaps one of the heaviest hitters on the planet. He happens to have solid takedown defense as well, so I’m scratching my head a little to as why Lesnar agreed to this. The pair on him…
Anyways, let’s just get to the predictions!
UFC 200 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Women’s Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes – In our headliner, Tate will look to defend her Bantamweight title for the first time against the dangerous Amanda Nunes. And while rematches against Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm await for Tate, first things first, beat Nunes. Tate is very well rounded, but strives in the grappling department, which in turn sets up her submission game. Her opponent is a two round buzzsaw, who will aggressively pursue the knockout while in the process gassing herself out. So basically what I’m saying, is that if Miesha Tate survives the first two rounds, then her path for victory becomes much easier. However, surviving will be the hard part, as Nunes has legit power and a keen sense for smelling blood, kind of like Jaws. But, I just can’t pick someone who’s only limited to fighting ten minutes, when this fight is twenty five minutes. Especially against a composed and intelligent warriors like Miesha Tate. I expect her to keep her distance and explode for timely takedowns, which will sap the energy from Nunes. Around the 3rd or 4th round, Tate will then finish Nunes off via submission. Lock it in!
265 lbs.: Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt – I couldn’t think of a more improbable event, then Brock Lesnar returning to the UFC. And I can’t believe that he would agree to fight a knockout artist and someone who would be considered his krytonite upon his return. Honestly too, this fight isn’t hard to predict whats going to happen. There’s two options here: Either Lesnar will succeed in taking Hunt down and deliver the infamous ground-and-pound or Hunt will knock Lesnar out. There’s almost no reason to break this fight down, as we all know Lesnar is an elite wrestler and Hunt is an elite striker. I could just be crazy, but even after a four and half layoff, I believe Lesnar will be able to take Hunt down and win this thing. And while Hunt’s takedown defense is great, Lesnar’s explosiveness is something he’s never seen before. And when Lesnar succeeds taking Hunt down, good luck getting up and good luck making it out of the round. Gosh, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I have Lesnar winning via TKO.
205 lbs.: Daniel Cormier vs. Anderson Silva – I honestly feel for Daniel Cormier here, as this chapter with Jon Jones once again continues and closure doesn’t seem like anything that will happen until the prime of his career is over. However, with Jon Jones falling out, in steps the living legend Anderson Silva. It’s definitely a great replacement and someone who I think originally would of made sense to be on this card. But he had gall bladder surgery two months ago, so it seemed impossible. And it also seems impossible to believe he’s been training and is in fight shape, especially against someone who’s been training hard to fight Jon Jones. It’s tough to say this, but Cormier should have his way with Silva here. It’s no secret “The Spider” has had tough time against grapplers, let alone now against one at an Olympic level. I won’t discount that Silva can catch Cormier on the feet, but there is going to be a 20 plus pound advantage for Cormier and I think Silva is going to be in for a lot of “air time”. So with that, I have Cormier via TKO.
145 lbs.: Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar for interim featherweight title – Can these fights get any better? Former Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo and Former Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar will collide in a long awaited rematch, with an Interim title in the balance. Jose Aldo is fresh off a stunning 13-second defeat to Conor McGregor, one in which ended a 18 fight win streak that lasted a decade, as well as resulted in the changing of the Featherweight belt for the first time in the UFC ever. As for Edgar, he’s won five consecutive fights and is more than due for the title opportunity. With a victory, Edgar will join B.J. Penn and Randy Couture as the only three fighters to win a championship in two divisions. Anyways, Aldo and Edgar are both among the elite in all of the UFC. They both are very well rounded, but Aldo is more of a dynamic striker with power, whereas Edgar strives with his pace, cardio and superior wrestling abilities. The same abilities in which I believe that have been sharpened since the two first met at UFC 156 in 2013. And actually, it’s those same abilities that I believe is going to defeat Jose Aldo, who has known to gas out in the later rounds. Edgar will be in your face for five rounds and his crafty striking tied in with his timely wrestling and active top control is championship material. And hey, this is for a championship! So with that, I have Frankie Edgar winning this via decision.
265 lbs.: Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne – Two heavyweights, with well, heavy hands. The former Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez will be fighting in his first non-title fight since 2012. And in that fight, he destroyed Antonio Silva in only a little under four minutes. His opponent here though, is Travis Browne, who is one the most athletic Heavyweights I’ve ever seen. At one point I thought that he was destined to be a champion at some point in his career. However, despite defeating Matt Mitrione controversially, I haven’t seen anything since he left his camp at JacksonWink’s to believe he will ever be a champion . He’s actually regressed in what I believe to be the prime of his career. And stylistically, the pressure and pace Cain Velasquez puts on his opponents spells trouble for Browne, as he’s used to opponents standing in front of him while he counter attacks. Velasquez is going to be in his face, pinning him against the cage, while working for takedowns. Once he floors Browne, he’s going to ground-and-pound him into oblivion. So with that, it’s obvious, I got Cain Velasquez win this via TKO.
UFC 200 Prelims On FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Cat Zingano vs. Julianna Pena – Could this be a potential title eliminator fight in the Women’s Bantamweight division? I think yes, as Cat Zingano returns over a year later from her fourteen second defeat to Ronda Rousey. Her combatant is in the form of the Ultimate Fighter season 18 winner Juliana Pena. Picked first by then coach Miesha Tate, it’s funny how the student could very well be one fight away from fighting the teacher, pending Tate wins of course. As for the fight, Zingano is Muay-Thai specialist, who also happens to excel in Jui-Jitsui. In other words, she’s a well rounded and down right scary opponent for anyone. Pena is a serviceable striker, but is more so known top notch grappling. Once she’s gets a fight to the ground, her suffocating top control and ground-and-pound is among the very elite of the decision. As for a prediction, this one is a toss up, but I’m going to side with Cat Zingano. If she can avoid grappling with Pena, she will clearly have the advantage on the feet. Even if she gets taken down, I believe that ground skills are good enough to get back up or even pull off a submission. Anyways, I got Zingano winning this via decision.
170 lbs.: Johny Hendricks vs. Kelvin Gastelum – Another former champion on the prelims, as Johny Hendricks looks to bounce back from a his first professional loss due to a finish. In his way is rising welterweight talent Kelvin Gastelum, who will look to get back in the win column, while adding a name like Hendricks to the resume. The funny thing about this fight, is that these two guys are notorious for mishaps in their weight cutting and at the weigh-ins, Hendricks missed weight. I guess what I’m trying to say, is that these guys should of just fought at a catchweight. Anyways, Hendricks is primarily a wrestler, that has a left hand from hell. However in last six fights, the hand that ended so many fights before, has been absent. His opponent Gastelum is also a wrestler, but not of the caliber of Hendricks. On the feet Gastelum is scrappy and is just one of those guys who thrive in ugly fights. But, in his last fight against Neil Magny, Gastelum was taken down at will. That’s a huge red flag, especially when you’re opponent is a four time All-America at Oklahoma St. In fact, it’s the only reason why I’m going to say that Johny Hendricks wins this one via late TKO.
135 lbs.: T.J. Dillashaw vs. Raphael Assuncao – This card is so stacked, that the former UFC Bantamweight Champion and often Headliner T.J. Dillashaw, is on the prelims. His combatant, is in the form of Rafael Assuncao, the very same guy who edged him out in a controversial split decision back in October of 2013. So we have ourselves a rematch and a very intriguing one, as the winner of this fight is probably in line for a title shot. Dillashaw enters this fight off a split decision loss to Dominick Cruz, one in which saw his Bantamweight reign end, as well as his belt change hands. His opponent, Assuncao returns after a year and half absence, one in which stopped the momentum of a seven fight win streak that saw him closing in on a title shot. The absence is a big part in my prediction here, as Dillashaw has evolved while Assuncao has sat on the pine. Dillashaw is a technical striker, with a powerful wrestling background. His volume striking, cardio and pace can only be matched by one man, Cruz. Now, Assuncao is a well rounded fighter and is one of the very best bantamweights. However, he’s going to be rusty heading into this rematch and will be no match for the speed of Dillashaw. I expect this one to be over quickly, as I have Dillashaw winning via TKO!
155 lbs.: Sage Northcutt vs. Enrique Marin – This fight seems and smells like a bounce back one for Sage Northcutt. The lightweight talent suffered his first professional loss last January, which was to the pleasure of many fighters who believed that the UFC is pushing and paying Northcutt way too much. I don’t blame the fighters, but don’t blame the kid for accepting more money, as well as getting favorable treatment from the UFC. Anyone would do the same. Anyways, if Enrique Marin’s name was Enrique Iglesias, he’d have a shot here. However it’s not and I believe that Northcutt going to pick Marin apart on the feet and win via highlight reel knockout.
UFC 200 Prelims On Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Joe Lauzon vs. Diego Sanchez – This fight kind of reminds me of Floyd Mayweather against Manny Pacquiao, in which it should of happened five years ago, but I can’t wait to watch it. This is just one of those fights that you expect a slobber knocker, as 13-time UFC bonus winner Joe Lauzon looks to get back in the win column against the 7-time Fight of the Night bonus winner Diego Sanchez. If there is one thing that might be guaranteed here, is that one or maybe both of these guys are going home with a bonus. Anyways, Lauzon is submission expert, with decent striking. His flaw has always been being too tough for his own good, which shows in his lack of striking defense or just if you look at his face after every fight. The very same could be said about Diego Sanchez, which makes this fight almost impossible to predict. You got two gritty veterans who will stand toe to toe and will not back down. Who wins? I guess Diego Sanchez who is as durable as any fighter and has shown the ability to come on strong in the later rounds. So with that, I have Diego Sanchez winning via decision.
185 lbs.: Gegard Mousasi vs. Thiago Santos – Originally this bout was supposed to feature Derek Brunson against Gegard Mousasi, however an injury forced Brunson off the card. In stepped Thiago Santos, the dynamic and powerful striker from Brazil. And if you want to cringe or just say “Holy Shit”, watch his knockout over Steve Bosse. It will make you more intrigued to watch this fight, as he might not be known by the casual fan. His combatant is in the form of former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Gegard Mousasi. He is one of the very best middleweights on the planet and with 46 fights under his belt, would you believe me if I told you he was only 30 years old? Anyways, Mousasi is one the more well rounded fighters in the UFC and I can’t see how Santos wins this. Mousasi has the cardio for a five round fight, is aggressive and sets a pace that breaks many fighters. He is virtually a stylistic nightmare for almost anyone and I expect him to wear down Santos, eventually finishing him. So with that, I have Mousasi winning via submission.
155 lbs.: Takanori Gomi vs. Jim Miller – With 81 combined bouts, you can throw experience out as a reason of predicting a winner. Both men enter this bout on the heels of a two fight skid, but perhaps Miller who is one and four in his last five fights, enters with his career in the balance. Gomi, who’s been finished in the first round in his last two fights, is a primarily a striker. His kryptonite has always been grapplers, which is exactly what Jim Miller is. And despite Miller’s recent falters, he has lost to the likes of Donald Cerrone, Beneil Dariush and Michael Chiesa, whom rank eleventh or better in the Lightweight division according to the UFC’s rankings. It’s easy to use the better competition excuse sometimes, which is exactly what I’m going to do – as well as state that Miller will out grapple Gomi in a decision victory.