After months of anticipation and a week of absolute mayhem, the time is finally here and UFC 200 is set to go down tonight (Sat., July 9, 2016) from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The event is the biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) card to ever be constructed on paper, and for good reason. It features a women’s bantamweight title bout between Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes,the return of Brock Lesnar against knockout puncher Mark Hunt in the co-main event, a massive late replacement light heavyweight bout between champ Daniel Cormier and middleweight legend Anderson Silva, the crucial interim featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar, and the return of former heavyweight boss Cain Velasquez, who faces Travis Browne to start the main card.
All told, it’s quite the lineup to say the least. The LowKick MMA staff comprised their picks for the main card. Find out who we predicted to win at the historic event below, and enjoy the fights!
Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne:
This heavyweight fight to open the main card certainly carries its own points of intrigue, as former champ Velasquez obviously has a ton of questions to answer following a brutal loss to Fabricio Werdum and yet another lengthy layoff due to injury. When healthy, Velasquez is arguably the most effective heavyweight in MMA history, but a long streak of injuries and some questionable game planning against ‘Vai Cavalo’ have unfortunately turned his career into a sort of ‘what if’ scenario.
There’s still time to turn that around if he makes the necessary changes in his training regimen, and if he can use his trademark pressure boxing and wrestling as usual, I see him being able to outwork Browne en route to a late TKO stoppage. ‘Hapa’ doesn’t come without question marks of his own, as he’s obviously been at the forefront of the Ronda Rousey drama as her boyfriend, and his latest win over Matt Mitrione definitely left a lot to be desired. I think Velasquez gets the TKO on the mat in the third round.
Cain Velasquez comes in to the fight with Travis Browne needing to prove a point. Fabricio Werdum unceremoniously dethroned him, after receiving temporary GOAT status during his own reign as champ. ‘Hapa’ is a very dangerous fighter, however, as we’ve seen how his knockout power is delivered through a wide variety of strikes. Staying away from those brutal elbows against the cage will be key for Velasquez, but I feel he has the wrestling chops to do so. I see a gritty affair coming to a bloody end as Cain Velasquez wins by third-round TKO.
It’s hard to predict what version of Velasquez will show up during the main card opener at UFC 200, as the former champion is coming off of a devastating loss as well as yet another injury layoff, but I have a feeling that we’ll see vintage Velasquez in ‘Sin City’. There’s a reason why the Mexican-American was once called the greatest heavyweight of all-time, and I believe that he’ll use his decorated combination of pressure striking and wrestling to get inside on the rangy Browne and break him. Velasquez by second-round TKO.
What better way to kick off the main card of UFC 200 than with a heavyweight showdown that will almost certainly end in a knockout? Both of these men are no strangers to knocking out their opponents, and it won’t be any different in this one. Velasquez is looking to make the climb back to the title picture, while Browne is searching for his first shot at the label of ‘Baddest Man On The Planet.’
With all that being said, I think Velasquez is superior in all aspects of the game, and could very well be on his way to taking on the winner of Miocic vs. Overeem with a thunderous statement against Browne. Velasquez via R2 KO.
Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar:
Despite all of the hype and insanity centering on UFC 200’s late main replacement shuffle, this rematch is still my most anticipated fight of the night for a few reasons. Of course there’s the angle of how Aldo rebounds from his devastating loss to Conor McGregor, and there’s also the redemption angle for Edgar, both from his first fight against Aldo and his potential return to UFC champion status.
“The Answer” has stated that was the best version of Aldo in their first fight, and now he’s going to see the best version of Edgar. I tend to agree with that statement, as he’s been on an absolute tear since the loss, defeating five straight world-class challengers while adding some lethal finishing ability to his repertoire as well. Aldo has been the opposite, rarely fighting and often hurt after winning a long streak of decisions where he appeared to at times be coasting to victory. That’s not going to work here, and I see Edgar stopping Aldo by second-round TKO.
Jose Aldo’s reign at the top of the featherweight division has steadily begun to slide towards the inevitable end. Finishes are no longer the Brazilian’s forte, and decisions that could arguably have gone either way became commonplace. One such decision featured Edgar, who is currently looking like the Michael Myers of the featherweight division. The first fight was close, and coincidentally ‘The Answer’s’ first at 145 pounds; the second will not be. Aldo looked drained against McGregor, and he’ll be getting starched again at UFC 200. Edgar will wing a hook and clip Aldo early on. First round knockout for Edgar.
Both of these former champions have come a long way since their 2013 meeting, and both men are at polar opposite points in their respective careers. Edgar is riding a five-fight win streak and is coming off of a first round finish over Chad Mendes. It’s safe to say that he’s never looked better. Aldo, on the other hand, is coming off of an absolutely devastating 13-second knockout loss to Conor McGregor. Aldo, while still one of the best featherweights of all-time, appears to be a changed man to me. I will go with my gut here, and I feel as if the tough and gritty Edgar will use his combination of boxing, wrestling, and excellent cardio to get the job done. Edgar by unanimous decision.
Frankie Edgar has never looked better in his UFC career as of late, and Aldo is coming off of one of the most jaw-dropping upsets in UFC history in losing a decade of dominance in just 13 seconds to Conor McGregor at UFC 194. Aldo hasn’t looked the same since his five round war with Chad Mendes at UFC 179 in 2014, whom Edgar just knocked out in two minutes this past December. Aldo coming off of a brutal knockout going against an Edgar who has looked like a complete animal for the past three years; I’m taking Edgar every time. Edgar via R4 TKO.
Daniel Cormier vs. Anderson Silva:
This replacement fight for the Cormier vs. Jon Jones title rematch has a bit more shine in my opinion, as the drawn-out ‘DC’ vs. ‘Bones’ feud had grown a bit stale in my eyes. Yes, Silva is and should be a significant underdog fighting the champion a weight class above him on two days’ notice, but he nonetheless has to be commended for saving the fight altogether and facing such a champion.
He can also never be ruled out, as his diverse Muay Thai can still end any competitor’s night even at 41 years old. But I simply think ‘DC’ was too focused, too ready to defeat ‘Bones’ that he won’t be stopped here. World-class wrestling has always been ‘The Spider’s’ kryptonite, and ‘DC’ is one of the best in that category. I believe Cormier wins via second-round TKO after taking Silva down and unloading a barrage of ground punches.
With Anderson Silva stepping in on short notice to fight Daniel Cormier, UFC 200 is sitting pretty once again. Maybe if this fight had happened five years ago, ‘The Spider’ would have been victorious, but as it stands I just don’t see what he has to offer Cormier. ‘DC’ would be a fool to stand with the Brazilian banger, and we all know Silva’s sole weakness is when he’s placed on his back. I see the champion grinding out Silva in a gritty war, the likes of which Silva hasn’t seen since his escape from the jaws of defeat against Chael Sonnen. The difference then was ‘The American Gangster’ got tired, but Cormier lives in the grind, and I don’t think he’ll relent for even a second. ‘DC’ by decision.
As a longtime Silva fan, it would be something special to see him pull out a victory this weekend in ‘Sin City,’ but I’m not sure how likely that is. “The Spider” should look to keep the fight standing and strike from a distance, as he should hold an advantage in pure striking. However, fighting a man like Cormier, who has trained so relentlessly for UFC 200, on just days’ notice is a tall order. Silva’s chin has weakened over the years, and I expect Cormier to take the fight to the mat and land some big shots. Cormier by second-round TKO.
The greatest fighter of all-time is stepping into the spotlight once again; to take on one of the most dominant light heavyweights the sport has ever seen on two days’ notice. Wow.
Silva is one of the most creative and unorthodox strikers the sport has ever seen; however, Cormier is an Olympic-caliber wrestler who used to compete at heavyweight, while Silva is moving up from 185 pounds and has a history of struggling against elite wrestlers such as Chael Sonnen and Chris Weidman. Cormier has to be a little ticked after Jon Jones was forced off their scheduled clash, and is looking to unleash some anger coming into Saturday night. I’m expecting Cormier to go in hot, take ‘The Spider’ down and pound him out for the win. Cormier via R2 TKO.
Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt:
I’m amped up for the return of Lesnar, who will most certainly evoke fond memories of 2009’s UFC 100 for many longtime fans. It’s a great signing and a perfect hype-drawing return. However, I’m not sure the match-up is quite as intelligent in and of itself. While Lesnar was somewhat dominant during his run as champion, he obviously displayed a stark dislike of being punched in the face, which isn’t exactly the most desired quality of a UFC heavyweight – especially one facing the most powerful puncher in the history of the UFC.
‘The Super Samoan’ hasn’t maintained the most stellar takedown defense, so there is certainly the chance that Lesnar shakes off the rust of four-and-a-half years away from MMA and shows up fully recovered from the diverticulitis than he feels stole much of his fighting prime to ground Hunt and take home the emphatic win. But based on Hunt’s recent results and seemingly never-ending resume of walk-off knockouts, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I have to go with Hunt by first-round KO.
Brock Lesnar’s chances against Mark Hunt at UFC 200 have been massively debated, but in reality I feel he has a slim to no possibility of winning. You have an explosive and athletic giant in Lesnar against an explosive hitter in Hunt. ‘The Super Samoan’ is a highly decorated striker, and let’s be honest, Lesnar is no longer a fighter. Put aside the fact he is a pro-wrestler, or that he doesn’t like getting hit in the face, here’s a guy that hasn’t had an actual fight in five years, and now he’s making a comeback on five weeks notice against a knockout artist? Forget about it. Walk-off KO by Mark Hunt in round one.
I may not be siding with the masses here, but I truly feel as if Lesnar will get the win in Vegas. It’s hard to tell where he’s at during this stage of his career after having not competed since 2011, and he will without question be at a serious striking disadvantage against legendary knockout artist Hunt, but I’m confident in him nonetheless. I don’t think the layoff will have too much effect on Lesnar’s world-class wrestling, and if he lands a takedown, I don’t see Hunt surviving. Of course if Hunt connects it could be over early, but I expect Lesnar’s top game to end the night. Lesnar by first-round TKO.
‘The Beast’ is back. Brock Lesnar is taking a break from his current duties with the WWE to test the waters in an Octagon return against devastating knockout artist Mark Hunt. Lesnar is jumping into a fight with a man who is one of the most decorated strikers in UFC history, all while being away from the sport for nearly five years.
There is no doubt that Lesnar possesses some nasty power of his own, and is a freak of an athlete who is a tremendously dominant wrestler. If Lesnar can find a way to get Hunt to the ground it could get interesting, but for now I can’t see this fight going any other way than Lesnar shooting in for a takedown and eating an uppercut on the expressway to an early nap. Hunt via R1 KO.
Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes:
It may not be the conventional choice, but I actually find it to be an important landmark that the women’s bantamweight championship bout has been moved to the main event slot after a week of all-out madness. The champion has certainly come into her own recently with five straight victories over top contenders. ‘The Lioness’ is a ferocious early-round fighter and almost comes out of the gate smoking, but “Cupcake” has shown time and again that she has the heart to weather a storm and take advantage of worn-down opponents. It’ll be interesting to see if Tate almost missing weight plays into the result, but ultimately the match-up couldn’t be much better for the new champ. If Nunes gasses, she’ll be wide open to be put away. Tate by third-round TKO.
Tate faces Nunes in the first title defense of her reign as champion, and I don’t see this as a huge challenge for her. Interesting stat time: every women’s bantamweight title defense since 2011 has featured Ronda Rousey and/or Miesha Tate. I don’t see this changing after UFC 200. No doubt Nunes is a force to be reckoned with, but she just lacks what Tate has only recently found, and that’s the x-factor. Tate by decision.
In my opinion, Tate will simply be too well rounded and too experienced for the Brazilian challenger. Nunes may hold the pure striking advantage in this bout, as nine of her 12 professional victories have come by way of knockout, but “Cupcake” has also showed improved boxing techniques. I feel as if the champion’s wrestling and grappling will get the job done however, as I expect her to control Nunes for the majority of the fight. Tate by unanimous decision.
Tate is finally the UFC women’s bantamweight champion after winning the belt in miraculous fashion against Holly Holm at UFC 196 in March. Making your first career title defense against a very game Amanda Nunes, however, is a tall task for anyone in the women’s 135-pound division.
Nunes has looked amazing since her last loss to Cat Zingano back in 2014, most recently dominating Valentina Shevchenko with a unanimous decision victory in their at UFC 196. Though Nunes has looked like the best version of herself at this point of her career, Tate has been around the game for quite awhile, has faced the best the world has ever had to offer in women’s MMA, and that will play tremendously in her favor tonight. Tate via unanimous decision.