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Fightweets: Turns out UFC 200 is looking pretty good after all

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC swings back into action this weekend, with a slobberknocker between Junior dos Santos and Ben Rothwell that's worth your while on a Sunday afternoon. In the meantime, all sorts of fights got announced this week, so let's jump right into it.

UFC 200: Not so bad after all

@RuckerYeah: Am I crazy or is UFC 200 turning out to be pretty good after all?

I can't answer whether or not you're crazy, but I think you're on to something with UFC 200.

Part of the problem with the landmark event was that Zuffa announced the date a full year in advance. That lends itself to a year's worth of speculation. And when Holly Holm landed the kick heard around the world on Ronda Rousey in November, the idea of Holm-Rousey 2 as the main event of 200 seemed like a surefire recipe to shatter the standards set by UFC 100.

That didn't pan out. Neither has a rumored Georges St-Pierre return (yet). By the time the UFC reached the point they had to announce something, expectations had been raised so high for so long that they could have lined up Brock Lesnar vs. GSP vs. Rousey vs. Batman vs. Superman vs. Jesus in a six-way free-for-fall and Twitter would have turned thumbs down on the card.

But a funny thing happened while we were all getting ready to declare the July 9 card at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas a bust: There isn't the blowaway megafight or two at the top, but as the fight bookings have slowly and steadily trickled in, it's become clear there's one seriously deep card shaping up.

Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor 2, whether or not it's the fight you wanted, should once again be an interesting matchup once we get to fight night. Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar is a great fight with or without a questionable title. Amanda Nunes is a live underdog against Miesha Tate. Cat Zingano vs. Julianna Pena should bring fireworks. Cain Velasquez's return fight against Travis Browne is consequential in the heayweight division. Johny Hendricks vs. Kelvin Gastelum is a fight both guys need. Gegard Mousasi vs. Derek Brunson is Brunson's biggest challenge to date. It's crazy to think that fight might not even make the main card. Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Lauzon and Takanori Gomi vs. Jim Miller are not only fun fights, but you wonder to yourself how those fights haven't happened yet. Plus, Sage Northcutt returns, and who knows what's yet to be announced.

So if you look past the initial disappointment over not getting the main event to end all main events, then yeah, UFC 200 has the potential to be a wild and memorable night.

The Ultimate Flyweight

@johnny_davison: Is it desperate times 4 the flyweight division finding a contender via TUF? Winner of show vs one of the p4p best (if DJ wins)

Ehh, I don't know if "desperate" is quite the word to describe what's going down on The Ultimate Fighter 24, where the winner will get an immediate shot at the flyweight championship, so much as it is an effort to shake things up a bit.

The book's pretty much written on Demetrious Johnson by now: He's one of the top three pound-for-pound fighters in the world, but he has little interest in doing the dog-and-pony show we make fighters go through in order to become huge-money players in the sport. I enjoy DJ's fights as much as any mixed martial artist, but a lot of fans have plainly decided they don't.

Making TUF 24 about finding the next flyweight contender is a creative way to get the flyweights out into the spotlight without forcing Johnson to do the type of media hype he doesn't like (and yes, it could potentially be Henry Cejudo instead).

Ultimately, this still feels like putting a bunch of rookie league baseball players into some sort of contest in which the winner has to face a prime Pedro Martinez or Randy Johnson at the plate. The concept may or may not work, but I'm not going to dog the UFC for trying something new.

Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes and rematches

@passionatepatk: Can I be tired of instant rematches then get disappointed that they did not do Holm V Tate II?

It was a little weird, after so many months of hearing complaints about how the UFC is constantly forcing rematches on us, to log on to Twitter on Wednesday night after the announcement of Tate's bantamweight title defense against Nunes at UFC 200 and see a near-unanimous "OMG why didn't Holly Holm get a rematch????"

But I can also see both sides of this particular chapter in the ongoing argument on rematches of the lack thereof. If there was one fight at UFC 196 that cried out for an immediate redo, which was it: The short-notice "fun fight" featuring two fighters both fighting out of their weight class? Or the one in which a champion who was well on her way to successfully defending her title lost after a last-minute mistake? The UFC invited this criticism by scheduling Diaz-McGregor 2 and then skipping over Holly Holm to make Tate-Nunes.

As always, you need to take individual rematch-making into account. Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones, whenever it gets rescheduled, is a no-brainer. The timing is never going to be better for Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber 3, and the next-best option, Cruz-T.J. Dillashaw, also would have been a rematch. Luke Rockhold vs. Chris Weidman 2 was made in large part because it appeared Yoel Romero was going to be gone a long time and there were no better options at middleweight. Diaz-McGregor 2 is the cash grab to end all cash grabs and has already been discussed ad naseum.

Then, of course, there's that whole thing about the integrity of divisional schemes (I'll wait a minute to let you stop snickering). If we want to put some faith back into divisional consequences to fights, doesn't it make sense to keep the line moving at 135 pounds? If Tate doesn't want to wait on Ronda Rousey's return, why not elevate the profile of someone like Nunes, who has proven her mettle? (I know some argued in favor of Cat Zingano, but she'll be out 18 months by the time UFC 200 rolls around. Julianna Pena is simply a smarter fight than rushing her back into a title shot). Sure, there's a real chance Nunes wins, putting Tate-Rousey 3 in jeopardy. But Rousey's return is going to sell huge whether it's Tate, Holm, Nunes, or The Fabulous Moolah stepping into the cage. So why not keep the line moving?

Then of course, there's the matter of whether or not Tate vs. Holm 2 was on the table, which seems to be a tale of "he said/she said." I'm getting a headache just trying to sort through it, so give the story a click and decide for yourself.

Darrell Who?

@FightDiscussion: Who the f**k is Darrell Horcher?

I mean, it's not like you're the only person who had this reaction after Horcher was named Khabbib Nurmagomedov's short-notice opponent for UFC on FOX 19 next weekend. Horcher's from Pennsylvania, is 12-1, has won five in a row, and was 2-1 in Bellator. And I'm not going to pretend like I didn't just get all that off his Sherdog page, which isn't the ideal situation for a marquee national television fight.

But I'm willing to give the UFC the benefit of the doubt on this one. If you look at some of the higher-profile short-notice replacements in recent years, you have guys like Patrick Cummins, who fought Daniel Cormier at UFC 170, and Ilir Latifi, who stepped in for Alexander Gustafsson against Gegard Mousasi in Sweden. UFC got crucified online for both moves. While both fighters lost, they also ended up being solid additions to the roster, guys who have panned out in the long run.

Given that track record, I'm willing to put it at even money that a couple years down the road, we'll look at Horcher the same way. As for Khabib, I mean, he just wants to get into the damn cage already, so I can't blame him for taking a fight for its own sake and getting a payday.

(I've finally gotten around to creating a professional Facebook page. If you've been a loyal Fightweets reader over the years, do me a favor and like the page to help me get it up and running. Thanks!)

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