The UFC pulled out all the stops for its landmark UFC 200 event, putting together what might be the greatest fight card in the company’s history – then Jon Jones messed up again.
UFC President Dana White announced late Wednesday that Jones had been pulled from his highly-anticipated rematch against Daniel Cormier due to possible doping. Jones, despite the tainted drug sample provided to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, maintained his innocence during a press conference held on Thursday.
“Being labeled as someone who would cheat just hurts me more than anything else I’ve ever been through in my career,” Jones said, visibly dejected. “It just sucks.”
Jones also apologized to Cormier, despite their very real disdain for one another.
“I know that this fight means a lot to him,” Jones said. “The fight meant a lot to me.”
Once a story of redemption, following his comeback from issues with recreational drugs and a suspension handed down by the UFC, Jones’ future is again in question.
As for the event itself, the show must go on.
In a surprising move, the UFC announced early Friday that the legendary Anderson Silva would replace Jones and take on D.C. Dana White told UFC.com that Silva was his first choice in a long list of possible replacements for Jones.
“I think it’s an interesting, fun fight,” White told UFC.com. “Anderson Silva is undefeated at 205, and not just undefeated, but devastatingly undefeated. Every time he’s moved up to 205, he looked even better than he did at ’85, which is crazy.”
The major shake-up helps restore some of the magnitude lost with Jones’ failed drug test. The rest of UFC 200’s card is still intact, and it’s stacked. Brock Lesnar will make his return to the octagon to take on brick wall Mark Hunt; Miesha Tate will defend her bantamweight belt against Amanda Nunes; Jose Aldo will attempt to bounce back from his KO loss to Conor McGregor when he faces Frankie Edgar; and Cain Velasquez will take on Travis Browne in a battle between highly-skilled heavyweights.
And with such a stacked card, it would be crazy not to break down each of the fights. So, here you go:
Main Event: UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship- Miesha Tate (c) vs. Amanda Nunes
There’s a lot to like about this fight. Miesha Tate finally won the elusive UFC belt in March after dethroning Holly Holm with a gutsy fifth-round submission. She was down on the scorecards before desperately dragging Holm to the ground and sinking in the rear-naked choke, and that type of win says it all about Tate. She has a special resolve that allows her to overcome adversity, but she faces a tall task in Amanda Nunes.
Nunes has a very well-rounded game; she possesses legit knockout power, diverse striking attacks and strong grappling. She’s on a three-fight win streak and riding a wave of confidence. It’s not far-fetched to see her wearing the belt when it’s all said and done. But Tate has won five straight fights and has looked better and better each time out. She will likely have to fight out of some bad situations, but she’ll find a way to have her hand raised at the end of the fight.
Prediction: Tate, Unanimous Decision.
Co-Main Event: Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt
Bringing back Brock Lesnar is a huge move for the UFC. A former heavyweight champion, Lesnar hasn’t competed in mixed martial arts since 2011 after his career was cut short after multiple bouts with diverticulitis, a digestive disease. He returned to the WWE and his appearance at UFC 200 is a one-off deal. Lesnar is still an athletic freak who can do some damage to anyone he faces in the octagon, but Mark Hunt isn’t a slouch by any means. He has scary one-punch knockout power in both hands, if he connects cleanly he can shut the lights out at any moment.
Lesnar is likely to still rely on his outstanding wrestling abilities. Hunt has solid takedown defense, but has struggled against wrestlers in the past. If Lesnar is unable to take the fight to the ground, it’s hard to imagine him winning a standup war with Hunt.
Prediction: Hunt, TKO, 3rd Round.
Daniel Cormier vs. Anderson Silva
What to make of this fight? On paper, it seems like Cormier should steamroll Silva. At 41, coming off of gall bladder surgery, Silva is on the downslope of his career. Not to mention, he’s facing a ferocious wrestler and competitor in Cormier. It would appear Silva’s only hope is to keep things standing, keep distance, and move, move, move. If he gets caught in a clinch, things could fall apart very quickly for the “Spider.” Cormier, on the other hand, will have to be aggressive but not careless. No matter how rundown Silva may appear to be, Cormier has to respect the flashes of KO brilliance that have highlighted the former middleweight champion’s career.
Still, it’s hard to imagine that Silva can keep the movement going for more than a couple of rounds. Eventually, Cormier is going to take him to the ground. It shouldn’t be long after that.
Prediction: Cormier, TKO, 3rd Round
UFC Interim Featherweight Championship- Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar
Jose Aldo is no longer invincible. Conor McGregor took away his mystique with one punch, knocking out the longtime featherweight champ in 13 seconds. That’s incredibly humbling for someone who previously hadn’t suffered a loss since 2005 and had a belt around his waist since 2009. It remains to be seen how he’ll bounce back from that, if he’ll return to the aggressive Aldo that won him the belt or if he’ll remain the conservative Aldo that allowed him to keep the belt.
Frankie Edgar’s last loss was to Aldo in 2013 in his featherweight debut. Since then, he’s rattled off five straight wins and is coming a spectacular knockout of Chad Mendes in December. Edgar is rising while Aldo seems to be declining. Aldo won their first bout by building an early lead and then coasting in the later rounds. This current version of Edgar won’t allow that to happen again.
Prediction: Edgar, Unanimous Decision.
Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne
It’s hard to believe this fight of main-event caliber is the first bout on the card. Cain Velasquez, the former two-time heavyweight champion, has to work his way back to the title after losing it to Fabricio Werdum a year ago. The last time Velasquez suffered a loss he came back and demolished his next opponents, so an angry Cain Velasquez is quite scary.
Travis Browne was once on his way towards heavyweight title-contention, but he’s gone 2-2 over his last four fights. His diverse striking arsenal makes him dangerous for anyone, but it’s hard to imagine him weathering the hurricane that is Cain Velasquez.
Prediction: Velasquez, TKO, 1st Round.
Tags:amanda nunesbrock lesnarcain velasquezconor mcgregordaniel cormierfrankie edgarjon jonesjose aldomark huntmiesha tatetravis browneufcufc 200
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