UFC 200 is the culmination of International Fight Week and there could not be a bigger way to cap off the festivities. Two UFC titles will be on the line at the T-Mobile Arena on July 9 – not to mention the return of Brock Lesnar.
Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier was originally scheduled to be the main event for UFC 200, but Jones has been removed from the card after USADA informed him of a potential doping violation.
Brock Lesnar vs Mark Hunt
Brock Lesnar is perhaps more physically gifted than any other fighter we’ve ever seen. The former NCAA D-I wrestling champion cuts down to 265 lbs and moves like a man half his size. Lesnar has used a combination of physical size, athleticism and wrestling skills to force his opponents into positions that best suit him.
However, Lesnar has never been much in the striking game. He has massive hands and can knock people out based on those attributes alone, but his technique is basic – at best. Lesnar doesn’t get knocked out easily, but he has gone down to punches in each of his past three bouts and has looked out of place when he gets hit in the face.
Hunt aka The Super Samoan aka The King of Walkoff Knockout has made a living out of absolutely smashing other people’s heads off. He has managed to overcome his height disadvantage in the heavyweight division and has become a lethal counterpuncher. His combination of power and timing make every second standing incredibly dangerous for his opponent.
As great as Hunt is on the feet, he is still greatly out of his element if the fight goes to the ground. He has little to no ability to maneuver from his back and isn’t able to do much more than rain down punches if he has top control. However, he has put a tremendous amount of effort into his defensive grappling skills and getting the Kiwi to the ground is not as simple as it once was.
I hate boiling matches down to this, but this is a grappler vs striker matchup. Both men will be looking to implement their style in order to end this bout – and yes, this fight is going to end before the judges need to be involved. Lesnar’s explosiveness and persistence makes me think he will eventually get top control on Hunt and pound out a victory.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar
Miesha Tate vs Amanda Nunes
If you want to see a summation of Miesha Tate’s career, watch her bout with Holly Holm. Tate took more than her fair share of shots, but never stopped pressing forward before finally sinking in the rear naked choke in the fifth round. Tate has predicated her career on tenacity and toughness.
‘Cupcake’ lacks technical striking ability, but makes up for it with her aggression and iron chin. She has no problem eating some punches if it means she can land a bomb of her own or lock in a clinch. There is no doubt that she will lose exchanges in the standup game – especially if it gets technical – but she can win a brawl with the best of them.
Tate is a grappler first and foremost. She has a long history of wrestling and wants the fight against the cage and in close. Tate is at her best when she is able to get her opponent against the cage or on the fence and she can just grind them out.
Nunes is one of the top finishers in woman’s MMA today. The Brazilian has stopped opponents in 11 of her 12 victories – with her scary ground and pound leading to nine victories via KO/TKO. ‘Lioness’ has great wrestling ability and a growing technical prowess on her feet. If Nunes doesn’t take you down with her wrestling, she will more than likely knock you down with her powerful fists.
However, Nunes has some bad cardio. Rarely can she keep her engine going into the third round – that’s if it doesn’t slow down in the second. Even though she is coming off a decision victory over Valentina Shevchenko, Nunes got beat up pretty good in the third round.
These fighters actually share quite a few similarities, but Nunes’ cardio is going to come back to bite her. She has openly said she is unsure why it happens – which is not something you want to hear from a fighter. Tate can weather any storm in the octagon and as long as she can get through that first round, there is no way Nunes can last five rounds.
Prediction: Miesha Tate
Jose Aldo vs Frankie Edgar
Aldo is not especially flashy in many respects, as he prefers to stick to advanced basics. His success is more built around his explosive strikes and phenomenal timing. This style means that Aldo is more of a counter-striker in the standup game, which can lead to him waiting for his opponent to press the action.
The two best strikes in Aldo’s arsenal are his jab and his leg kicks. Aldo’s jab is so perfectly timed and is usually used to disrupt his timing. The jab was used to great success in the first bout with Edgar in the first couple rounds and busted Frankie’s nose early. There may be no more deadly leg kicks in the lighter weight classes than Aldo’s. He is able to completely chop down his opponent and limit their movement with these brutal kicks.
Though Aldo has a black belt in BJJ, he traditionally uses his amazing defensive skills to keep a fight standing.
Edgar has evolved from a wrestler to a striker throughout his career and has blended those two excellently. ‘The Answer’ has spent his life training as a boxer and has expert striking coach Mark Henry guiding him on the feet. Edgar’s lateral movement has always been second to none and his ability to strike while moving is fantastic.
Though Edgar’s wrestling is still well above average, he uses the threat of the takedown to cause his opponent to drop their hands and he quickly capitalizes on the openings this creates in the striking game.
In all likelihood, these two guys are going to stand and bang in this one. Both prefer to strike despite having more than enough skills to end a fight on the mat. I think Edgar’s evolution has been evident – including an increased emphasis on moving more straight forward than constantly laterally – and Henry’s coaching will help propel him past Aldo in this massive rematch.
Prediction: Frankie Edgar
Cain Velasquez (-305) vs Travis Browne (+235)
Velasquez’ game plan revolves around aggression. He is always pushing forward and is – more often than not – dictating the pace of the fight. With his ridiculously high level of cardio, that means very few fighters can keep up with Velasquez over the span of three rounds.
Cain is primarily a boxer on his feet and has some very fast hands for a man his size. His technique is not terribly complicated, but what he does he does exceptionally well. Velasquez excels when he can make a fight dirty, as there are few fighters quite as adept at grinding out opponents on the cage as he is. Cain is also a two-time All-American wrestler and has vicious ground and pound.
Browne is a massive man, as he stands at 6’7′ with a 79″ reach. He is surprisingly agile for a man his size but works best when he can use his length to fight from the outside. ‘Hapa’ has KO power in all of his limbs, but it’s his kicks that offer the biggest threat to his opponents. Browne will use leg kicks to slow his opponent, but he has knocked out more than a few fighters with massive head kicks.
The non-striking parts of Browne’s game are solid, though he is far superior when standing. He is good at utilizing his size and strength in grappling positions, but his technique is far from refined. That is, except for in the clinch. Browne has an uncanny ability to tie up his opponent’s neck in the clinch and land huge knees.
To be perfectly frank – Velasquez is better than Browne in pretty much every single way. Cain has better cardio, a bullish style that should drain Browne and a grappling skill set that may be unparalleled in the heavyweight division. Velasquez’ aggression may get him clipped by one of Browne’s strikes, but I don’t see Cain’s chin wavering.
Prediction: Cain Velasquez
If you want more UFC 200 coverage, check out Joe Osborne’s in-depth breakdown of the undercard.
UFC 200 Main Card Odds
Odds as of July 8 at Bodog
- Mark Hunt -175
- Brock Lesnar +145
- Miesha Tate -260
- Amanda Nunes +200
- Jose Aldo -110
- Frankie Edgar -120
- Cain Velasquez -305
- Travis Browne +235