Big event, big money, and an even bigger fight card. So with all the hype and match-ups, what should fans look forward to on July 9 inside the newly constructed T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. What should be their UFC 200 expectations?
What to Expect at UFC 200
Cain Velasquez (13-2) vs Travis Browne (18-3-1)
It couldn’t be more obvious here that the UFC want their landmark 200th event, to become their most bought PPV in history. The first fight on the Pay-Per-View features in my opinion the number 1 heavyweight fighter on the planet in Cain Velasquez. Although, in his most recent fight, he lost the heavyweight title to Fabricio Werdum, he’s still incredibly dangerous. Cain Velasquez is another fighter to be infected with the injury bug at the end of 2014. The numerous injuries, also resulted in him pulling out of an Ultimate Fighter coaching role.
His heavy hands and ridiculous cardio make him a constant threat. Whether that be one round, two rounds or five. Velasquez is well known for being able to push the pace at a rate like no other heavyweight has been able to do before.
Return from Injury
If his last bout was the first time you had chance to see Cain Velasquez in action, do not judge him off that performance. It was his first fight since the injuries which kept him out for over a year. Ring rust was more than apparent and his cardio was at its worst. Furthermore, fighting at high altitude was another big problem for him. He was gassed after the first round and his movement was lacklustre. I firmly believe that the long layoff and the high altitude was what cost him vs Fabricio Werdum.
Travis ‘Hapa’ Browne however will be well aware of this and will no doubt have prepared his game plan around Velasquez’s incredible stamina and ability. Two words revolve around Travis Browne and them two words are… lethal elbows. He has the most face-crushing and devastating elbows I’ve ever witnessed inside the UFC. ‘Haha’ who defeated Matt Mitrione in his last fight, will be looking to gain a marquee victory against Velasquez. This will no doubt be the toughest test of his career.
Browne will obviously be hoping he can put Velasquez away in the first round. We know that he has a freaky cardio and he will surely push the pace even more than normal, due to this bout being his first scheduled three round fight since UFC 99; back in 2009. I foresee success for Velasquez here. He will be over the ring rust he had during his return bout and will no doubt be feeling 100% for this contest. Browne in my opinion, is going to struggle with the constant pressure from his foe. I see Velasquez re-establishing himself. This has a knockout written all over it. Prediction: Velasquez KO round 1.
José Aldo (25-2) vs Frankie Edgar (19-4-1)
What a phenomenal fight we have here. The greatest featherweight in UFC and MMA history will face a never say die fan favourite. It’s crazy to think that this bout is second on the main card, especially since the two have fought before. The first bout ended via an unanimous decision win for Aldo. It was a very close bout and both fighters gave it everything they had. After all the work Edgar put in to defeating Aldo, he came up short as the Brazilian native chopped at him throughout the bout with vicious kicks. This would have easily been a headlining PPV fight on any other occasion. But this is UFC 200, this is no other event… it’s ‘THE EVENT’! To top it off this fight is for the interim featherweight championship.
José Aldo had previously defeated 18 opponents in a row before suffering his shock 13 second knockout loss to Conor McGregor. Aldo, a former professional Brazilian soccer player turned MMA superstar, has been nearly immortal since joining the promotion. His ferocious leg kicks and slick movement make him deadly at all times. Not only is his stand up impeccable, he is also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under the guidance of André Pederneiras. To add to his credentials, he’s obtained a belt in Luta Livre.
I thought Aldo would be able to defeat McGregor, but it seems all the promotion and trash talk got inside the head of the former champ. Regardless of the loss to McGregor, his preparation for this fight will be perfected down to a tee. He’s now tasted defeat for the second time in his illustrious career, and for the first time since 2005. It would have deeply hurt Aldo so expect him to come out looking for a finish. It won’t come easy though especially if Frankie has ‘The Answer’.
Frankie Edgar is a peoples champion, a veteran of the sport and a hugely talented athlete. Much like Cain Velasquez, Edgar has a ridiculous cardio and loves to press the action from rounds one to five. His sleek head movement and quick feet allow him to close distance rapidly. His ability to get in and out of the pocket is one of his more dangerous techniques.
Edgar also boasts a current five fight win streak coming into the rematch. The victories include wins over some of the worlds best such as: B. J. Penn, Uriah Faber and Chad Mendes. In December 2015, Edgar knocked out Mendes with devastating punches in the very first round, which many critics did not expect. ‘The Answer’ will be gunning for revenge. A former NCAA Division 1 wrestler, he boasts a 66% takedown defence inside the octagon. Like Aldo, he’s also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. If the bout ends up making its way to the mat for a considerable amount of time, it will no doubt be a metaphorical game of human chess. José Aldo has a 91% take down defence so Edgar won’t see a takedown come easy.
It will be a close contest. One that like the first encounter, may see a decision. This is a tough fight to call due to both fighters being so well rounded. Edgar has the momentum coming in to UFC 200. Whereas Aldo, may suffer some nerves as he wants to avenge his record breaking loss to McGregor. As long as José Aldo can recapture the form he had before the McGregor knockout, I see him picking up a victory. I envisage the fight revolving around Aldo’s takedown defence and his persistent leg kicks. If he can nullify Edgar’s speed and movement by chopping him down via inside and outside leg kicks, he will get the win. Nevertheless, expect a unique tactical experience because this one will be nothing short of extraordinary. Prediction: Aldo DEC.
Miesha Tate (c) (18-5) vs Amanda Nunes (12-4)
This the second title fight featured on the fight card. Two highly skilled women’s bantamweight fighters will go head to head for UFC gold. After winning the belt from Holly Holm, Miesha Tate will be looking for her first successful title defence. It won’t come easy. Standing in her way, will be Amanda Nunes. A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who boats a 75% knockout ratio from her performances inside the octagon. Miesha ‘Cupcake’ Tate is without a shadow of a doubt, a crowd favourite. She is also well-known for her fights going all the way to the end, whether that be three rounds or five.
Winning the Women’s Title
Her last bout vs Holly Holm, however, didn’t make it to a decision. Tate was down on the scorecards after being out struck by now former champion Holm. It was clear that Tate was losing the fight. a fight she so desperately wanted. It was in the fifth and final round where she saw an opening and took it. The fight stumbled down to the mat where Miesha Tate was a clear favourite. Holm had never experienced a fight on the mat before, and it was obvious that ‘Cupcake’ had found a hole in her game. After winning by rear-naked choke and claiming gold, Tate stated that she didn’t want to wait for her first defence. So July 9th, just over four short months after defeating Holm, ‘Cupcake’ will once again grace us with her presence inside the octagon.
For Amanda Nunes, this will be her first shot at a UFC championship. Having stepped up from Invicta in 2013, Nunes made an immediate impact by winning her first two fights; both via technical knockout. ‘The Lioness’ possess extremely dangerous hands. You don’t have to look any further than her knockout percentage to believe it. She did come unstuck against Cat Zingano at end of 2014. Since her loss, Nunes has gotten right back on the winning track. Now on a three fight win streak, she’s earned her opportunity to fight for the belt. Especially since she held off fellow bantamweight contender and world class fighter, Valentina Schevchenko.
The keys to victory for Amanda Nunes, will be to strike first in the stand-up exchanges she’ll have with Tate. Footwork could be a decisive factor in this bout, as Tate will look to close the distance on Amanda Nunes and ensure she fights her game. Nunes, must stay clear of falling into any of Tate’s clever traps. If she finds herself backing up against the fence, she must circle away from the champion in order to create distance and get out of takedown range. Tate, is well known for holding opponents down and laying a beating on them.
For me, confidence will prove to be the most influential attribute. Tate, will be excited to get back into the cage and play the role of a UFC champion. If she can bring Nunes down with her sublime wrestling and keep her down on the mat, I can for-see Bruce Buffer shouting “And Still!” Prediction: Tate DEC.
Brock Lesnar (5-3) vs Mark Hunt (12-10-1)
When the trailer for UFC 200 was shown worldwide, fans everywhere were astounded. “Can you see me now?”, the iconic quote from Brock Lesnar’s first run inside the UFC rang in heads of many MMA lovers. The former UFC Heavyweight champion of the world returns to face ‘Super Samoan’ Mark Hunt. UFC & WWE fans will no doubt be tuning in to watch ‘the beast incarnate’. Although his record as an MMA fighter is far from great, Lesnar is without a doubt the biggest pay-per-view draw the UFC has ever seen. He headlined UFC 100.
Even with global superstars: Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey pulling in fantastic numbers. Lesnar’s headlining fight against Frank Mir, still holds the record for most pay-per-view purchases. He’s also a former NCAA division 1 heavyweight champion wrestler turned WWE superstar. His takedown ability is nothing short of phenomenal. Due to his unmatched egotistical personality it’s highly likely he will look to trade shots with Mark Hunt. A risky move considering Hunt has exceedingly heavy hands. He boast one-punch knockout power.
Mark Hunt’s punching power has been on show in his two most recent fights agains ‘Bigfoot’ Sliva and Frank Mir. It took a combined total of 6 minutes 42 seconds to win by knockout in both of those bouts. It’s obvious that Hunt’s strategy for the highly anticipated mach-up, will be to land big shots on Lesnar’s chin, while squashing his takedown attempts. If Brock Lesnar shoots and lands a takedown, I don’t see this fight lasting very long. His top ground game is ferocious and damn right nasty. It’s no secret that ‘The Beast’ tends to land a considerable amount of strikes at fantastic speed; whenever he’s in a dominant position.
I envision this fight opening with some big exchanges. Lesnar’s ego will take the lead and he will be looking to prove to the doubters that he can ‘stand & bang’ with some of the divisions best. Eventually, i believe that Hunt will land a big shot on his opponent. This will force ‘The Beast’ into shooting for a takedown, which he will land and then begin his beatdown on Mark Hunt’s face. I’d expect this one to be over within the first three minutes. If this fight miraculously goes past round one, I will be just as surprised as every other writer, fan, and critic watching it.
The ‘Beast’ is back ladies and gentlemen and he’s going on the Hunt. Prediction: Lesnar KO Round 1.