UFC 200 was a card filled with great matchups and was a celebration of a sport that has grown exponentially in its 23 year history. Today it was officially announced (it has been rumored for a while now) that the UFC was sold for $4 billion. The Fertitta brothers bought the UFC in the year 2000 for $2 million. That sale 16 years ago has now been proven to be a good investment. The UFC has had a successful, and controversial past, but it has grown to be a respectable league and projections show that it is going to continue in its growth. UFC 200 had a great card but it could have been two hobos fighting from the street and it would have been a success because it was a celebration more than a sporting event.
The 5 matchups that this card brought were great, but they were supposed to be even better during the months leading up to this ceremonious event. The McGregor/Diaz rematch was supposed to be at UFC 200 but McGregor lost a stubborn game of ego chicken with Dana White when he refused to promote the fight at UFC 198. McGregor threatened retirement and Dana called his bluff. That fight is now scheduled for UFC 202. The Women’s bantamweight belt has been passed around a lot in recent months (Holm took it from Rousey, Tate took it from Holm, and Nunes took it from Tate at UFC 200) but the comeback for Rousey was rumored to begin at UFC 200. She is still the face of Women’s UFC and her return at UFC 200 would have been a perfect fit, but it never materialized.
The light heavyweight rematch for the championship belt between Cormier and Jones was hyped and promoted for months leading up to UFC 200. It was the headlining fight and up until Thursday morning, it was still the main attraction. But Jones failed a drug test. Again. With less than 48 hours’ notice, Jones was replaced with Anderson Silva and the big fight, the rematch between two titans in their weight class was gone. This fight probably won’t happen anytime soon either due to a possible 2 year suspension for Jones. My reaction to the Cormier/Jones fight falling through is disappointment, not anger. What is happening to Jones is sad, it is becoming more than a careless famous athlete, he has a long list of drug related issues. It will be interesting to see what the failed test is for, whether it is illegal recreational drugs or PED’s. The UFC regrouped and still managed to put on a fun card with Brock Lesnar making his return and moving the Tate/Nunes fight to the headliner.
Now all of the bummer’s are out of the way let’s get to the observations.
Preliminary Fights (FS1)
Lightweight – Sage Northcutt def. Enrique Marin – (Decision unanimous)
Bantamweight – T.J. Dillashaw def. Raphael Assuncao – (Decision unanimous)
Catchweight – Kelvin Gastelum def. Johny Hendricks –(Decision unanimous)
Women’s Bantamweight – Julianna Pena def. Cat Zingano – (Decision unanimous)
Nevermind, I forgot about Fox Sports 1, one more bummer to discuss. Until they improve their sports coverage, I feel it is my duty to point out how terrible Fox Sports is every time I watch something they produce. There wasn’t a movie trailer playing in the corner of the screen during the fights this time, but I am not considering that to be a positive. The fact that I noticed there wasn’t a movie trailer distracting me from the fights reminded me that they played a fucking movie trailer during the fights last month. They did continue to plaster useless tweets from famous athletes on the screen during the fights though. I don’t give a shit what Larry Fitzgerald or Mark Ingram think about UFC or how stoked they are to watch. In between rounds I often check my twitter to see what everyone is saying and what do you know, I follow Larry Fitzgerald. I don’t need his fucking tweet on the screen when I can see it on my phone! Seriously what is the point of that? Does the UFC want Fox to post tweets from famous people on TV to make it look like the UFC is popular? I honestly don’t understand it.
The first preliminary fight between Sage Northcutt and Enrique Marin had some cool moments. Sage is a beautiful man. He is only 20, has a MMA record of 8-1 already, and has the blonde hair, blue eyes, and jaw line of a super model. He won the fight in a decision but he was close to being forced to tap out in the second round. Marin had him in a fully extended arm bar that looked extremely painful. Sage somehow rolled out of it without (from what I could see) any injury. It was also during this fight that I noticed the standard Reebok gear the fighters wear now comes in different colors. Throughout the night fighters were wearing different colored shorts (blue, yellow, green) and after a couple of google searches I found that the UFC is adding more color to the uniforms.
The second fight between TJ Dillashaw and Raphael Assuncao went the distance but it felt like a quick and active fight. Both fighters were engaged the whole time. Dillashaw landed a heavy punch to the face of Assuncao in the second round that knocked him back a little bit. Assuncao quickly regrouped and gave Dillashaw a thumbs up congratulating him on the good punch. Dillashaw won by decision.
The next two preliminary fights had two of my favorite aspects of UFC fighting. Kelvin Gastelum was the better fighter, landing his 1-2 combo of punches many times in the fight vs. Johny Hendricks. The last 10-15 seconds of the fight saw both guys just swinging hay makers at each other playing no defense. Gastelum had nothing to gain by partaking in the last second punch attack other than cheers and for people like me thinking of him as a boss. Julianna Pena beat Cat Zingano in a decision, but the fight didn’t start out great for her. Zingano took her to the ground multiple times in the first round. Despite being under Zingano in a bad position, she kept punching Zingano’s ears. Painful small slaps on the ear over and over. There was a good shot of the two fighting for position on the ground, both breathing extremely hard, using every muscle. This is an exhausting sport and that shot was a good reminder of that. The last second hay maker party and the battle of attrition are satisfying to watch.
Main Card (PPV)
Heavyweight – Cain Velasquez def. Travis Browne – (TKO punches)
Featherweight – Jose Also def. Frankie Edgar – (Decision unanimous)
Light heavyweight – Daniel Cormier (C) def. Anderson Silva – (Decision unanimous)
Heavyweight – Brock Lesnar def. Mark Hunt – (Decision unanimous)
Women’s Bantamweight – Amanda Nunes def. Miesha Tate (C) – (Submission rear-naked choke)
The PPV fights start right off with a heavyweight fight between Cain Velasquez and Travis Browne. The first thing I noticed how big Browne looked, standing at 6’7” with a full beard and that Bruce Buffer changed suit jacket. Browne had a big height and reach advantage but Velasquez has powerful leg kicks, fully extended leg kicks that reach Browne’s head. Those kicks are impressive for a heavy weight. Velasquez stunned Browne, took him to the ground and tried to get him in a choke. Browne was able to survive until the end of the round when he was knocked down again with Velasquez on top landing punch after punch to his head. To me Browne still looked like he was consciously defending himself, taking a beating trying to survive till the end of the round. But everything Velasquez threw landed directly to Browne’s head and the ref called the fight with 3 seconds left in the first round. The ref probably made the right call but that is a rough way to lose for Browne.
For the whole UFC 200 card, it could be argued that Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar were the two most experience fighters facing off. Before his 13 second loss to McGregor in December 2015, Aldo went 10 years without losing. Edgar has been fighting for so long at a high level that during this fight he passed the 6 hour mark of total career fight time. Those eye brow burning statistics and reveals how much experience both fighters have. It was also cool to see Edgar run out to the cage. He didn’t walk slow to a cool song like most fighters to the cutman. Her ran straight to the cutman and right into the cage.
Aldo dominated the fight, winning all 5 rounds. Aldo has great counter moves that he used when Edgar attacked with kicks or fists. Edgar is a great ground fighter and Aldo is a great stand up fighter, but Edgar could not get Aldo to the ground after multiple attempts. It looked like Edgar was working twice as hard as Aldo but couldn’t gain any ground. This was a very impressive performance by Aldo who wants to use this win as a start to get back to his previous greatness. After the fight Aldo was very appreciative of his trainer who was fired up, getting in Aldo’s face in-between rounds. This victory was paramount to the Aldo camp.
McGregor was in the crowd and gave Aldo an intense stare building upon his showman and trash talk persona.
Daniel Cormier was put in a tough spot by Jon Jones. He did the honorable thing and agreed to fight anyone in his weight class, but he has been training for a specific fighter. Anderson Silva is past his prime, but he always has an opportunity to knock someone out. So this was a win-win for Silva as no one expects him to win on such short notice, but if he does, it’s a big upset. Cormier is in a lose-lose situation because now he is expected to win but if he loses, he is a chump. It was cool to finally see Silva fight, but overall this fight was a dud. Whenever Silva landed anything significant (a kick to Cormier’s ribcage affected him the most) Cormier would take him to the ground and dominate him to play it safe. Cormier won in a decision and most of the crowd and even the ref celebrated Silva and thanked him for saving this fight.
Even though it wasn’t listed as the headliner, the Brock Lesnar Mark Hunt fight was the biggest draw for viewers. Lesnar making his return after close to a 5 year hiatus and more time in the WWE. It was weird to see Lesnar representing Canada during the fight, I guess he has a house there? He only has a career record of 5-3 and he is fighting a short burly Samoan who has a big punch, but not much else. Both of these men are huge and had to cut weight to get down below the 265 heavyweight limit. Based on the fighting skills, not a great fight, but Lesnar is a huge name. He looks like an imaginary human being drawn up in a G.I. Joe cartoon. The whole fight I was scared about Hunts hands not being close to his face playing defense. I kept thinking the menacing Lesnar was going to rock him. But that never happened, most of the damage Lesnar did was on the ground. I did not think this fight was going to last all three rounds, I was sure someone was going to get knocked out. Hunt took many punches to the head on the ground in the last round similar to Browne in the first fight, Rogan thought the ref was going to call it.
After Lesnar won in a decision, he hijacked Rogan’s microphone after being asked about his MMA future and talked about the recent shootings in the U.S. I also noticed a lot of WWE promotion which was probably part of the deal to allow Lesnar to fight as he is under contract still as a pro wrestler.Its reported Lesnar was paid $2.5 million for the fight. After Jones being pulled from the card it was money well spent.
After dominating and earning the bantamweight championship belt, Amanda Nunes has joined my growing list of favorite fighters. I remember being impressed with her win over Valentina Shevchenko (who has a sick gun tatoo) at UFC 196 and calling out Dana White for a championship fight). She was awarded her championship fight against the ever popular Meisha Tate and she made the most of the opportunity. Nunes is small but her punches are brutal, little torpedos. Her punches remind me of Tim Linecum’s fast ball in his prime (I used to watch baseball). Both are small athletes but they have a form that allows them to overcome their physical limitations. Linecum mastered a form that allowed him to throw in the high 90’s and Nunes has figured out a way to land punches with power of a higher weight class. Tate took Nunes down early, but Nunes attacked aggressively messing up Tate’s face splattering blood on the mat and getting her in a rear naked choke. It didn’t even look like Nunes had a full choke around Tate’s neck but she tapped out anyway, looking for an out after getting brutalized. Also, Nunes nickname (The Lioness) is way better the Tate’s (Cupcake). Most of the nicknames in the UFC make me cringe but the Lioness fits.
Even though it took the original headliner to get kicked out, it was cool to see a Women’s fight headline UFC 200. It shows how far the Women division’s have grown and Nunes is the first ever openly gay athlete to hold a belt in UFC. Also cool.
UFC 200 didn’t have all of the matchups I wanted, but Dana White still put together a packed card (his decision making during his tenure as president has definitely helped the UFC sell for $4 billion). The gold mat was a little much, but the retrospective video, colored shorts, and well rounded card was well worth the money. UFC 201 is only 3 weeks away on July 30th, and UFC 300 is only a little over 8 years away.