ufc 200 poster

UFC 200 goes down this coming weekend on Saturday, 9th July at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for this ridiculously stacked night of fights for you below.

Main Card:

Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones II

After all the hype and pre-fight talk, Cormier and Jones will finally get into the Octagon and battle it out to unify the light-heavyweight titles on Saturday night.

In their first encounter, Jones was able to boss the fight – a particularly impressive accomplishment when you consider that he essentially beat DC at his own game, fighting in close in the clinch and even landing takedowns against the former Olympic wrestler.

Somewhat alarmingly for Cormier, he had to admit post-fight that Jones was much stronger than he’d anticipated, despite the fact that he’d been used to competing against powerful opponents at heavyweight. At least he’ll know roughly what to expect this time around, but with Jones having invested serious time in weight-lifting since then, it’s possible he’ll be even harder to deal with.

Another problem for DC is that even if he has successfully trained to deal with the issues he had last time out, Jones could easily just change up his entire strategy.

Perhaps, this time, Jones will just look to strike with him from range instead. He’d need to be wary of DC’s heavy hands, but his lanky frame gives him a huge height and reach advantage over Cormier, and he also keeps control of distance well and has a diverse, unpredictable striking arsenal.

So, it’s tough to see a clear route to victory for Cormier here. His best hope is that the slightly lethargic, uninspired version of Jones that showed up last time out against OSP returns on Saturday night. That looked to just be Jones shaking off some ring rust and the personal life distractions that plagued him for the previous year more than anything else though, and even then, he still easily defeated his opponent.

Unless Jones gets overconfident and sloppy, I just don’t see him losing this fight. Regardless of where the fight goes he has the tools necessary to get the better of DC, and I think he’ll earn himself a decision victory here.

Jon Jones to win by decision.

Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt

Lesnar Vs Hunt is shaping up to be a classic grappler vs striker match-up, and it’ll be very interesting to see how it plays out on the night.

There’s a lot of questions surrounding Lesnar heading into this one. How will he perform at the age of 38 after almost five years out? Has he fully recovered from his Diverticulitis woes? How long has he really been training for this encounter? Does he still have a strong dislike for getting punched in the face?

I’m not sure how much it matters. Lesnar had barely any MMA skills or experience when he first burst into the Octagon, yet he managed to defeat the likes of Frank Mir, Randy Couture and Shane Carwin, and the basic tools that he’s been blessed with – his sheer size and athleticism, together with his wrestling ability – could be enough to add Mark Hunt to that list too.

Hunt’s ground game may have improved a bit over the years, but it’s still not very good at all. Stipe Miocic was the fighter that really capitalized on that the most just over a year ago with a brutal, sustained ground and pound assault, and I could certainly see Lesnar’s power double and clubbing strikes on the mat being enough to finish ‘The Super Samoan’ on Saturday night.

Of course, every fight starts on the feet, though, and more people are favoring the idea that Hunt’s ludicrous punching power will lead to another of his infamous walk-off KO’s the first time his first connects with Lesnar’s less than stellar chin.

To my mind, this fight is perfectly balanced as both fighters are equally vulnerable to the others biggest strength. Therefore it’s almost a toss of the coin to decide a winner here, but I slightly favor the idea that Lesnar will dispense with striking and look to get this fight to the ground at all costs, leading to him using Hunt’s head like a bongo drum to get a TKO stoppage, though it may take until the second round for him to finally finish his hard-headed opponent.

Brock Lesnar to win by TKO in Rd2.

Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes

This is an interesting first test for Tate as bantamweight champion against a potentially tricky opponent in Nunes.

Tate is a well-rounded fighter an exceptionally tough, but she’s not always a particularly fast starter, which could be an issue here as Nunes is undoubtedly at her most dangerous early in the fight.

The Brazilian challenger excels at overwhelming her opponents right off the bat in relentless pursuit of a finish, whether that’s with fast flurries of strikes on the feet, or scrambles for submissions on the mat.

The problem with that is she expends a lot of energy doing that and then runs out of steam later on if she doesn’t get the stoppage she’s looking for.

Given that Tate is able to absorb a lot of damage on the feet and is a savvy grappler too, there’s a strong possibility she can survive that early onslaught and then turn the screw later in the fight, where she generally tends to come on strong.

I think Tate could well have a rough time of it in the first ten minutes, but I think she’ll take control on the mat later in the fight and lock up a submission finish to retain the title.

Miesha Tate to win by submission in Rd4.

Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar II

The intriguing match-ups continue as Aldo and Edgar fight for the second time in their UFC careers for the interim featherweight title.

Edgar is a tremendous talent with a complete martial arts game, though his high-tempo, high volume, in-and-out elusive striking style has been the lynchpin for her success, underpinned by strong grappling and elite-level cardio.

With that in mind, it’s all the more impressive that Aldo was able to defeat him by unanimous decision the first time they fought, and looked comfortable in the early rounds as he outstruck ‘The Answer’ with a stiff jab and hard leg kicks.

However, Edgar’s conditioning and tenacity did pay off in the later rounds, and it would not be a great surprise to see the same thing happen this time out as Aldo rarely fires on all cylinders in the closings stages of a five round fight.

Heading into this next encounter three years later I don’t believe that a great deal has changed in the skill level of the two fighters, but Edgar is as consistent as ever and has built up a head of steam, winning a number of big fights over the past year and a half, while Aldo has largely been sitting on the sidelines during the same period, except for his shock 13 second KO loss to Conor McGregor back in December.

Now we’ll really see what Aldo is made of. Will he buckle now that his long unbeaten run is over as his teammate Renan Barao did, or will he come back with all guns blazing to show that he’s still one of the best fighters on the planet?

Honestly, I’m really not sure. I am however going to gamble that Aldo hasn’t just lost his greatness overnight and that the same striking prowess that enabled him to get the better of Edgar for the most part last time out will still be present on Saturday night.

I expect it to be extremely close and for Edgar to again come on strong late in the fight, but I think Aldo’s harder hitting offense, together with the fact that Edgar has a tendency to bleed easily, will sway the judges and allow him to seek out an ultra-close decision victory.

Jose Aldo to win by decision.

Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne

Former heavyweight champion Velasquez returns to the Octagon for the first time since losing his title to Fabricio Werdum over a year ago in Mexico, and no-one’s quite sure what to expect from the 33-year-old this time, against Browne.

At his best, I’d have no hesitation picking Velasquez here. He’s a more controlled, technical striker than Browne and is a vastly superior grappler, not to mention the fact that he’s a cardio machine.

Or at least he was a cardio machine in the past. Now it’s hard to say due to his dismal display in Mexico. Was that down to just ring rust, the altitude or the endless injuries that he’s suffered in recent years? More than likely all three had a part to play, with his repeated issues with his knees, shoulders, etc, being of particular concern.

Browne’s had his own distractions outside of the cage, due to the messy break-up with his ex-girlfriend last year, his subsequent high profile relationship with Ronda Rousey, and the fact that he trains under Edmond Tarverydan, who’s come under fire in recent times as well.

Still, Browne seemed to put his troubles behind him with a win over Matt Mitrione in January, and if he can keep this fight with Velasquez standing then he certainly has a chance of capitalizing if the former champion does look sluggish and shopworn again.

It’s hard to look past the simple fact that Velasquez is the better fighter though, and so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here, and believe his wrestling will be the big different between the two on the night en-route to a decision victory.

Cain Velasquez to win by decision.

Prelims:

Cat Zingano vs. Julianna Pena

Pena is talented, but I feel she’s a bit like PVZ in that she’s still a raw, developing talent, whose technical deficiencies could be exploited by a more experienced campaigner. With that in mind, despite some concerns over Zingano’s lack of cage time recently, I think she’ll prove to be more skilled and emerge with a late stoppage victory on the mat by TKO.

Cat Zingano to win by TKO in Rd3.

Johny Hendricks vs. Kelvin Gastelum

Hendricks looked a shadow of his former self against Stephen Thompson. That may just have been a bad style match-up, but he’ll need to perform much better against the fresher Gastelum who’ll bring the fight to him from start to finish. I’m a bit torn on this one, but I think Hendricks will edge it.

Johny Hendricks to win by decision.

T.J. Dillashaw vs. Raphael Assuncao

Assuncao won the first fight between these two, but there’s actually a strong case to be made that Dillashaw should have got the nod, and his improvement since then has been hugely impressive, while Assuncao has largely been stuck on the sidelines, so I favor the former champ strongly this time out.

TJ Dillashaw to win by decision.

Sage Northcutt vs. Enrique Marin

Northcutt is very rough around the edges at this early stage in his career, so there’s no easy fights for him. Given the basic errors he makes on the mat at times, there could be opportunities for Marin to snag a submission, but if Northcutt can mostly keep this fight standing I believe he’ll have enough of an edge to take home the ‘W’.

Sage Northcutt to win by decision.

Gegard Mousasi vs. Thiago Santos

Late replacement Santos is actually a very good fighter in his own right, but Mousasi is a high-level striker with good grappling too, and with the advantage of a full training camp behind him I like his chances here.

Gegard Mousasi to win by decision.

Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Lauzon

Sanchez desire to just trade leather might actually pay off here as Lauzon has a bad habit in more recent times of just going into a defensive shell when he’s under fire. Sanchez can also hold his own on the mat if Lauzon was somehow to get him there, and his high energy approach always finds favor with the judges.

Diego Sanchez to win by decision.

Jim Miller vs. Takanori Gomi

Both of these two veterans appear to be past their best at this point unfortunately, but I feel Miller is more likely to be able to be able to dig deep and find a route to victory, probably relying on his grappling skills to control Gomi.

Jim Miller to win by decision.

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