A look at one of the biggest events in UFC history.
It’s time for UFC 200. 23 years and 199 PPV events later and the Ultimate Fighting Championship has one of their most impressive cards in its history. In most UFC PPV events, three to five fighters have at one point held a title in their respective weight class. On this card, nine fighters have held a UFC title at one point in their career.
Main Event for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title:
(C) Miesha “Cupcake” Tate vs #4 Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes
The main event was supposed to be Daniel Cormier against Jon Jones for the undisputed light heavyweight title, but Jones failed a drug test earlier in the week and was removed from the card. While it’s unfortunate that the fight was cancelled, the fact that the UFC felt comfortable putting the women’s bantamweight title as the main event on the biggest card since UFC 100 speaks to how far women’s UFC has come since President Dana White once said women would never fight in the company and since Ronda Rousey debuted in 2013.
The challenger Nunes is a dangerous fighter in her own right thanks to a diverse skill set, having won her last three fights by decision, submission, and knockout, respectively. She holds the edge over Tate in significant strikes landed per minute with 3.67 and averages roughly the same takedown average of 2.22 as Tate’s 2.18. In her last fight against Valentina Shevchenko, Nunes did a good job of mixing up her strikes with punches and kicks, but she looked her best on the ground where she deployed solid ground-n-pound and was able to land a few submission moves, but not with enough force to secure the tap out.
Other Fights to Watch:
Heavyweight Bout: Brock “The One in 21-1” Lesnar vs #8 Mark “Super Samoan” Hunt
No, Brock Lesnar has not fought in a UFC event in close to five years and yes, his nickname of “The One in 21-1” was earned when he snapped the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak, but it is still exciting to see Lesnar back in the octagon. When Lesnar left the UFC in 2011, he wasn’t leaving on a high-note with two first round losses by TKO in his final two fights. During his previous run in the UFC, Lesnar was excellent on his feet, but his ground game was his calling card. A national champion wrestler at The University of Minnesota, Lesnar should use his wresting background against a fighter who lacks a great ground game in Hunt.
If Hunt is going to win this fight, it will likely come from sheer knockout power. Of his twelve fights in the UFC, he has won six by knockout. Good news is that Hunt is on a bit of a hot streak having won his last two fights by first round knockout. Hunt has already stated he will “punch (Lesnar) in the face” and that direct strategy might be more tactical than it sounds. Having not fought in four-plus years, it’s unknown how well Lesnar will respond to contact, and Lesnar was knocked out in his last two fights prior to retirement.
Daniel “DC” Cormier vs Anderson “The Spider” Silva in a non-title light heavyweight match
While Cormier won’t have the chance to headline the card or redeem himself against Jones, he does have a somewhat compelling matchup in Silva, who is widely considered one of the greatest UFC fighters of all-time. Both men are good strikers, but Silva has an elite standup game. He is the UFC all-time leader in knockdowns with 18, third all-time in strike accuracy at 62.3 %, and his 62% strike avoidance rate is sixth amongst active middleweights. Unfortunately, Silva hasn’t won a fight since dropping the title in 2013 and at 41, his age might be catching up to him.
While Silva is also talented on the ground, Cormier should have the advantage in this department. An All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State and an Olympic participant, Cormier has one of the better ground games in the company. When he combines his wrestling and power correctly, he can deliver some of the more exciting takedowns. However, Cormier is sporting just a 37% successful takedown rate entering this fight and Silva enters the fight with a very respectable 70% takedown avoidance rate.
#1 Jose “Junior” Aldo vs #2 Frankie “The Answer” Edgar for the Interim UFC Featherweight Title
Just over three years ago, these two squared off in the first-ever featherweight title match with Aldo winning the title by decision. Aldo defended the title three times before losing to Conor McGregor in December. Edgar enters Saturday’s fight on a five-fight win streak. In terms of skills, Aldo is the better striker while Edgar has the advantage in the ground game.
Figuring out how the fight will be won is anyone’s guess; this should be one of the more entertaining bouts simply due to the length of the fight. Aldo leads the featherweight division in total fight time, with an average fight time of 18:47. Just behind Aldo is Edgar with an average fight of 17:47. Additionally, both fighters do a good job of avoiding knockouts and submission. All of Edgar’s career losses in the UFC have come via decision while Aldo has only been knocked out once in 16 fights since 2008.
Welterweight bout: #6 Johny “Big Rig” Hendricks vs #12 Kelvin Gastelum
A former title holder, Hendricks enters this fight with something to prove after fighting just once in 2015 and losing his only fight in 2016 by knockout. A former wrestler at Oklahoma State, Hendricks is exceptional on the ground, leading active welterweights with 54 takedowns—13 more than the next closest fighter and his 4.36 takedown average is noticeably higher than Gastelum’s 1.32. He is also a powerful puncher who can deliver devastating blows either standing up or on the ground.
Two positives for Gastelum going into this fight are his length and his defense. His 71 inch reach is two inches longer than Hendricks’. Additionally, Gastelum’s 69% significant strikes avoidance rate is tops in his weight class. On offense, Gastelum doesn’t land a ton of shots, averaging just 3.25 significant strikes landed per minute, but his length and defense could allow him to avoid Hendricks and wait for an opportune moment to strike.
Bantamweight bout: #1 TJ Dillashaw vs #3 Raphael Assuncao
Dillashaw held the bantamweight title for almost a year and a half before a very narrow loss to Dominic Cruz in January, and the winner of this fight is likely to face Cruz for the title at a future event. While Dillashaw is a well-rounded fighter, his striking stands out. He leads his weight class in significant strikes landed with 804. Dillashaw also ranks second in strikes landed per minute at 5.56 and leads the division in strike differential (How many strikes the fighter throws compared to his opponent) with a 2.61 rate.
Not to be outdone, Assuncao hasn’t lost any of his seven fights since joining the UFC in 2011, which includes a win over Dillashaw in 2013. Assuncao should be able to somewhat counter Dillashaw’s offense with a solid defensive strategy, ranking second to Dillashaw in strike differential, but avoiding more significant strikes and absorbing fewer significant strikes per minute. Unfortunately, Assuncao has not fought in the UFC since 2014 due to an ankle injury and he’ll need to be quick on his feet against a very active fighter in Dillashaw.
Although this card as a whole has been shuffled a lot since the originally proposed Ronda Rousey-Holly Holm fight, to Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz, to Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier, and now Miesha Tate-Amanda Nunes, the UFC has still managed to pull out one of its most star-studded cards in its history in what looks to be an entertaining evening.
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- Brock Lesnar
- Amanda Nunes
- Mark Hunt
- Jose Aldo