With all the craziness that has unfolded this week leading up to UFC 200, Jon Jones being pulled from his main event fight with Daniel Cormier, Eddie Alvarez unseating lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos with a flurry of first-round punches, and Anderson Silva replacing Jones against Cormier- it’s been a little hard to keep track of, especially considering I am working every goddamned night this weekend. But thank god for those Mondays through Wednesdays off, right?
In any case, though the event kicks off in just a matter of minutes, here are my very belated picks for UFC 200.
UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title Bout: Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes.
As UFC president Dana White put it, Miesha Tate is “The woman who beat the woman (Holly Holm) who beat the woman (Ronda Rousey).” As a result, her title bout with Brazilian contender Amanda Nunes has been pushed to the main event slot in light of the week’s happenings. Nunes is a dangerous striker with a solid submission game, but her gas tank is questionable. Tate has made vast improvements in her game since her losses to Ronda Rousey, and showed tremendous resilience in her last-minute submission win over Holly Holm at UFC 196 in March. I think she withstands early pressure from Nunes and forces another late stoppage. Prediction: Tate via submission, Round 4.
Heavyweight Bout: Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt.
It goes against every bone in my body to pick against a U of M wrestling alum, but one of these men has been training for high-level MMA fights for the past several years, and it ain’t him. Mark Hunt, a former kickboxing champion, hits harder than just about anyone in the division, and if there’s one thing we know about Lesnar, it’s that he doesn’t care for getting hit. I trust Hunt’s ability to stuff Lesnar’s takedown attempts and/or defend himself on the ground more than I do Lesnar to stay composed after getting clipped by Hunt. Prediction: Hunt via (T)KO, Round 1.
Light-heavyweight (non-title) bout: Daniel Cormier vs. Anderson Silva.
Two days. Anderson Silva may be one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time, but he took this fight (and miraculously made it through medical clearance) on two days notice after Jones was removed from the event. Silva is just a couple months removed from gall bladder surgery that forced him out of a bout with Uriah Hall in May. Silva arguably beat current middleweight champion Michael Bisping (god, I’m never gonna get used to typing that) back in February, but Cormier is a different animal. Cormier had a full camp to train for an opponent he was incredibly motivated to beat, and will be the bigger man come fight night. With all due respect to The Spider, I think Cormier cruises here. Prediction: Cormier via decision.
Interim featherweight title fight: Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar
Edgar and Aldo have met once before, at UFC 156 in early 2013, with Aldo retaining his title via decision in a competitive fight. This time around, though, I see the roles being reversed. Edgar has been on a tear ever since, most recently knocking out former top contender Chad Mendes in the first round back in December. Meanwhile, Aldo spent all of last year in an exhausting rivalry with Conor McGregor, culminating in a 13-second knockout loss to the Irishman. It’s tough to say how Aldo will look returning from such a devastating loss. A fight with a motivated Frankie Edgar isn’t the ideal scenario to find out. Prediction: Edgar via decision.
Heavyweight bout: Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne
Velasquez is a former champion and falls in to the tier of fighter that Browne usually loses to. However, Velasquez hasn’t fought since June 2015, and both of his losses have come after long layoffs. Browne has dynamite in his fists, and call it a hunch, but I think he connects. Prediction: Browne via (T)KO, Round 1.
Cat Zingano def. Julianna Pena via (T)KO, Round 3.
Kelvin Gastelum def. Johny Hendricks via decision.
TJ Dillashaw def. Raphael Assuncao via (T)KO, Round 2.
Sage Northcutt def. Enrique Martin via (T)KO, Round 1.
Joe Lauzon def. Diego Sanchez via submission, Round 2. (There will be blood).
Gegard Mousasi def. Thiago Santos via decision.
Jim Miller def. Takanori Gomi via submission, Round 1.
(By the time I posted this, Miller had defeated Gomi via TKO in the first round).
Thanks for reading!