The card may have lost Jon Jones, but it picked up Anderson Silva and retained everything despite a whirlwind fight week. The biggest event in three days features arguably the best fight card the UFC has ever assembled, capped off with a women's bantamweight title fight.
What: UFC 200: Tate vs. Nunes
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
When: Saturday, the three-fight Fight Pass preliminary card starts at 6:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight Fox Sports 1 preliminary card starts at 8 p.m. and the five-fight pay-per-view card kicks off at 10 p.m. ET.
My sense is that Nunes will be competitive early, but will eventually fade. And when she does, Tate will pounce. I expect Nunes to open with excellent, consistent movement, fast hands and should she drop the champ, follow up with ferocious ground and pound. Tate will have to use everything she has to survive, but if she has shown anything, it's incredible grit and durability. Nunes is hard to fight as long as she's doing those things, but when her gas tank fades, her movement stops. She becomes much easier to take down or hit. When that threshold is reached, Tate will take over, likely in top position on the ground where she's mixing in submission attempts with positional passes. I don't know that she'll actually submit Nunes, but she can definitely TKO her on top.
There are two fights from this week that I wanted to stay away from in terms of trying to offer any real prediction. Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Claudia Gadelha was the first. This is the second. It's not that a prediction is hard to come by, but asserting it with certainty seems foolish. There are just too many unknowns. I'm hearing on the ground here Hunt's training camp was not particularly long or rigorous. Lesnar's physical dimension looks like he's been doing bodybuilding, not powerlifting. Is any of this true? What will five years off for Lesnar do to him? Hunt's ability to defend and get up off the bottom is improved, but is it enough against a behemoth like Lesnar. I really haven't the faintest idea. My best guess is Hunt's been active the last five years while Lesnar hasn't and that should probably make the difference. Hunt should be able to withstand Lesnar's early attacks and make him pay later in the first or early second. Truly, though, I have no clue.
Daniel Cormier vs. Anderson Silva
Who the hell knows with this one? There's no rational case for Silva other than if Cormier tries to box at his normal range, Silva can counter him. Short of that, though, what else is there? Silva's undersized and underprepared. Cormier has every conceivable advantage given the circumstance. Maybe craziness is upon us, but all things being equal, Cormier should cruise.
My suspicion is that Edgar has steadily improved, adding elements to his game in the last few years while Aldo has essentially plateaued. That doesn't mean Aldo can't win, but I'm guessing Edgar is going to have a much easier time neutralizing Aldo's movement and forcing the Brazilian to simplify his offense with pressure and diverse offense of his own. The first fight was close, but Edgar wasn't far off. This time around he should be corral Aldo long enough to take at least three rounds.
Let's just say this. If Velasquez is in shape and not terribly injured, this has to be his fight to lose. He should be able to quickly close the distance and either attack Browne with an underhook against the fence or force a scramble. As Browne tries to right himself, Velasquez will pour on the punishment from various iterations of turtle position. Ultimately, if Velasquez is able to score a takedown, he'll likely manage to either keep Browne there or return him to the mat quickly. One way or the other, it's just hard to imagine a likely scenario where Browne has the space and time to launch consistent offense.
From the preliminary card:
Cat Zingano def. Julianna Pena
Kelvin Gastelum def. Johny Hendricks
T.J. Dillashaw def. Raphael Assuncao
Sage Northcutt def. Enrique Marin
Diego Sanchez def. Joe Lauzon
Gegard Mousasi def. Thiago Santos
Jim Miller def. Takanori Gomi