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A Casual Fan’s Guide to UFC 200

Brice Schroeder

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Way back on July 11th, 2009, me and my friends fresh off of graduating high school decided to go to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch some “crazy cage fighting” that they showed for free.  We had no idea what it was, but one of my buddies heard on our local sports radio station that it was the biggest event in this strange sports history so we decided to give it a try.  That event turned out to be the most famous event in this sports history, UFC 100.  I watched in awe as guys stripped to the waist were fighting each other inside a metal cage, governed by rules I was trying to comprehend as the night went along.  I was immediately hooked.

Seven years and 100 pay-per-view events later and I have not missed a fight since that massive fight card back in 2009.  MMA is my favorite sport and I still get excited whenever a big time fight card comes around.  There is one big problem with MMA, none of my friends are diehard fans like myself.  Some of the guys who went to Buffalo Wild Wings for UFC 100 have never watched a MMA fight since.  I believe if they had more information and back story on the fighters, my friends would have had rooting interests in the fights and possibly may be watching the fight cards with me today.

UFC 200 is one of the best fight cards ever assembled.  Every fight has real implications that will shake up the sport in their wake.  This will bring droves of new and curious fans who may not know anything about the fighters competing.  That is what I will be attempting to fix in this article.  Hopefully you can show this to your friends who will be accompanying you in watching UFC 200 and they will become life long fight fans as well.

 

We will be focusing on the main card (the last five fights of the night, broadcasted on pay-per-view), but that does not mean there aren’t great fights and story lines to follow earlier in the night.

Fight Pass Prelims – 6:30PM ET – on UFC’s digital streaming service

Fight #1 – Takanori Gomi vs. Jim Miller – 155lb weight class

Fight #2 – Gegard Mousasi vs. Thiago Santos  – 185lb weight class

Fight #3 – Joe Lauzon vs. Diego Sanchez – 155lb weight class

Most of you will not get the opportunity to watch the first three fights of the night since they are on the UFC’s online subscription service.  If you are lucky enough to be watching with a friend who does have Fight Pass all three of these fights look to be extremely exciting and fun to watch.  If you can only watch one of them make sure to catch the Lauzon vs. Sanchez fight.  Neither fighter knows the meaning of the word boring and are consistently on the short list fight of the night candidates.

 

Fox Sports 1 Prelims – 8:00PM ET

Fight #4 Enrique Marin vs. Sage Northcutt – 155lb weight class

Fight #5 Raphael Assuncao vs. T.J. Dillashaw – 135lb weight class

Fight #6 Kelvin Gastelum vs. Johny Hendericks – 170lb weight class

Fight #7 Juliana Pena vs. Cat Zingano – women’s 135lb weight class

All four of these fights should provide something exciting to the casual viewer.  Whether it is the makings of a spectacular finish or a back and forth war each of these bouts delivers something to watch for.

If you have to choose just one of these fights to watch, I would label Pena vs. Zingano as the can’t miss fight of the prelims.  Pena was tabbed as one of the future contenders of the 135lb women’s division when she steamrolled through the UFC’s reality show The Ultimate Fighter in 2013.  Her ascension was delayed however when she completely blew out her right knee which kept her from competition from November 2013 until April 2015.  Since returning she won both of her fights in the octagon in fairly convincing fashion.  She is an athletic specimen who likes to use her overwhelming strength to get her opponents on the ground where she is just as likely to catch you with a submission or beat you until the ref is forced to stop the fight.

Cat Zingano has the type of story that makes it literally impossible for anyone to root against her.  Back in 2013 she defeated the current champion Miesha Tate by knockout to earn a shot against then champion and one of the most famous fighters of all time, Ronda Rousey.  She ended up tearing her ACL in training camp forcing her to put her title shot on hold.  While still recovering from her knee injury, her husband (who also doubled as one of her coaches) committed suicide leaving her alone with her young son.  Several months after overcoming these tragedies she was able to take a fight in the octagon against Amanda Nunes which she won by knockout.  That win gave her the chance at the title shot against Ronda that was stolen from her by her knee injury.  Ronda defeated her in just 14 seconds after Zingano decided to throw her game plan out the window and bum rushed Ronda at the very start of the fight.  Cat will be looking to put all of this pain and heartache behind her and climb the ladder back to the top of the division. The next championship bout in Cat’s weight class will also be on UFC 200 and she has defeated both fighters by knockout.

 

Main Card – 10:00PM ET – Pay-per-view

Fight #8 Travis Browne vs. Cain Velasquez – between 206lb-265lb weight class

Travis Browne is a great athlete for the heavyweight division.  He played power forward at Palomar College.  His basketball career may not have taken him to the pros, but his 6’7 frame has translated well into the UFC.  Since entering the UFC Travis has been known as a knockout artist.  If you get the chance watch his fights against Alistair Overeem and Andrei Arlovski to see just how exciting he can be.  While Travis is a very accomplished fighter, he may be better known as the current boyfriend to long reigning queen of the sport Ronda Rousey.

The UFC heavyweight championship has long said to be cursed (there has never been more than two title defenses) and no one presents better evidence of this than Cain Velasquez.  Cain steamrolled his way to the UFC heavyweight title which he took from WWE superstar Brock Lesnar via first round destruction.  Cain would lose the belt in his next fight against Junior dos Santos.  That fight would set up two more fights between Cain and the Brazilian which Velasquez took with relative ease which once again earned him the UFC heavyweight title.  Seriously he turned dos Santos’ face into a slightly uglier version of Sloth from The Goonies.  Cain lost his belt to Fabricio Werdum in Mexico City in his last fight and will be looking to get back on track to earn another shot at the championship.  Cain was a two-time all-american wrestler at Arizona State after winning a junior college national title as a freshman.  Velasquez is known for his cardio and wrestling since entering the UFC and will look to use these skills to beat Browne at UFC 200

Fight #9 Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar – interim championship fight in 145lb weight class

With current featherweight champion Conor McGregor taking fights outside his weight class the UFC decided to make an interim belt.  Interim belts are used when a champion is unable to defend his title for an extended period of time.  The winner of the interim championship acts as the current champion until the real champion can return and the two will fight.

Jose Aldo was an absolute killer for over 10 years.  Since 2006 he has defeated everybody put in front of him (including Frankie Edgar) usually in spectacular fashion.  He was the first and only featherweight champion the UFC had ever known until Conor McGregor came along.  When Aldo and McGregor were matched up, there was trash talk unlike anything Aldo had ever heard before.  This lead to Aldo fighting on pure emotion and getting knocked out in merely 13 seconds marking the first time he was without his belt since entering the UFC.  With McGregor taking his sabbatical from the 145lb division Aldo will be settling for the next best thing in fighting for an interim belt.  Aldo was a semi-professional soccer player before turning to MMA.

Frankie Edgar is one of those guys that are just universally liked.  He always comes off as even keeled and just seems like a guy you want to have a beer with.  Add that to being the underdog for much of his career and you get one likeable dude.  Although he was very undersized Edgar started his career in the 155lb weight division.  He eventually won the championship and successfully defended it two times.  After losing his belt he moved down to fight Aldo at featherweight which he lost a very close decision to.  Since losing to Aldo, Edgar has won five straight fights against some of the best fighters in the UFC.

Fight #10 Miesha Tate (Champ) vs. Amanda Nunes – women’s 135lb championship

Miesha looked to be at a standstill in her career.  She consistently beat everyone except then champion Ronda Rousey.  After losing twice to Ronda it was unclear what the UFC could offer Tate and she was even quoted as contemplating retirement.  Cue Holly Holm upsetting the unstoppable Rousey and new life was given to Miesha.  Tate got her title shot against Holly Holm and was able to pull out a come from behind submission choke in the last round of a fight she would have lost had it lasted a few minutes longer.  Tate has always been known for her determination and never had it been on display more than in that title fight.  Miesha also happens to be one of the most beautiful women in the sport.  Go ahead and do a Google image search, I’ll wait.  Just be careful what you say, she is dating current top ten bantamweight fighter Bryan Caraway.

Amanda Nunes is not as widely known as the three women at the top of the division, (Tate, Holm, Rousey) but she will be looking to crack into that hierarchy with a huge win at UFC 200.  Nunes has been doing martial arts since she was 16 years old in her home country of Brazil.  She is extremely well rounded with a black belt in jujitsu and a brown belt in Judo.  Even with these impressive credentials she prefers to keep the fight standing and has nine knockouts to prove it.

Fight #11 Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt – between 206lb-265lb weight division

Let’s be honest, Brock is the reason a lot of you are going to be watching this fight card.  I have never watched a second of pro wrestling, but even I cannot wait to see how he looks in this fight.  For everyone who thinks Brock is coming into this fight with no real skill set apart from pretending to hit people with chairs, you are dead wrong.  Brock is one of the biggest athletic freaks to ever enter the sport.  He has legit wrestling credentials as he was a national champion at Minnesota.  Many expected Lesnar’s first foray into MMA to be a quick cash grab, but it was anything but.  Brock captured the heavyweight title and successfully defended it two times.  He had a nasty intestinal disease called diverticulitis which forced doctors to remove a large portion of his intestines.  His last two fights ended in brutal knockouts, but some would point to his illness as a large factor in those losses.  He will look to run at Mark Hunt and drag him to the ground if he wants to get the win in his return fight.

New Zealand native, Mark Hunt is without a doubt the hardest puncher in the UFC.  He has made a habit of leveling his competition with a massive punch and walking away before the ref has a chance to declare the fight over.  He rocks a pretty large gut on him which might trick you into thinking that Brock Lesnar (who is jacked) should make mince meat of him.  On the contrary, most experts are giving Hunt the advantage due to his ungodly punching power and Brock’s propensity for not liking to get hit.  Mark Hunt entered the UFC after the company purchased the now defunct fight promotion, Pride.  The UFC planned to cut Hunt since he had a very poor record, but Mark was able to talk his way into a fight for the UFC.  He lost his UFC debut and looked to be on his way out the door, but was able to get a victory in his second fight.  He ran up a four fight winning streak cementing himself as a fan favorite and effectively saving his job with the UFC due to his fan friendly fighting style.

Fight #12 Daniel Cormier (Champ) vs. Jon Jones (Interim Champ) – 205lb weight division

Daniel Cormier is easily one of the most likeable figures in the UFC.  From his stints as an analyst to his ability to make fun of his dad bod, many fans gravitate to the current champion.  Cormier is a former USA Olympic wrestler who has very well dominated the majority of the competition he has faced since entering the UFC.  That is until he fought arguably the greatest fighter of all time, Jon Jones.  Cormier lost their first bout in pretty convincing fashion after one of the most heated feuds leading up to a fight which included a fist fight at a press conference and one of the best moments in MMA trash talking history (“you still there pussy?”).  Cormier won his current belt after Jon Jones was stripped of the championship after a run in with the law.  Cormier is a good friend and training partner of Cain Velasquez.  In Fact Cormier started as a heavyweight fighter, but dropped to light-heavyweight to avoid fighting Cain.

Jon Jones is simply the most gifted fighter in UFC history.  He uses his 84.5 inch wingspan to simply hit others where they can’t hit back.  Not only is he extremely gifted striking, but he is an outstanding wrestler and jujitsu practitioner.  Jon’s biggest opposition has yet to be an opponent in the cage, rather his propensity to get into trouble.  Jon lost his title after hitting a woman in a traffic accident and then fleeing the scene of the crime.  He narrowly avoided jail time after coping a plea deal.  This came off the heels of failing a drug test for cocaine.  The test was improperly administered as he was out of competition at the time and cocaine was not supposed to be tested for at that time.  He will be looking for redemption in the form of a victory over his hated rival Daniel Cormier.  He has sense claimed to be 100% sober and focused.  There were always whispers of Jon not taking training seriously and partying during training camp and he was still destroying his opponents.  It is scary to think he is now drug free and 100% committed to his fighting career.

 

Thanks for reading my breakdown of UFC 200.  Please follow @MMALatestNws for all of your MMA needs.  If you are hungry for a much more detailed technical breakdown focusing on the fighters skills please be sure to check out Dan Tom (@TheMMAnalyst) as he is one of the best in the business!

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Bellator

Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet

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Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.

“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”

Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.

“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”

Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.

“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”

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UFC 219: Cyborg vs Holm recap

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In yearly tradition , the UFC hosted a pay per view fight card at the T-Mobile Arena  in Las Vegas once again and for the second year in a row, the card was headlined by two females fighting for the title of the baddest woman on earth. Cristine Cyborg Santos was looking to defend her featherweight title for the first time since capturing the title last summer in a tko victory over Tonya Evinger.  Her opponent would be Holly Holm, the woman who shot into stardom after knocking out Ronda Rousey to become the bantamweight champion in 2015 and was fighting for the featherweight title for the second time after being unsuccessful in a controversial loss to Germaine De Radamie in Brooklyn.

In the co main event, The UFC welcomed one of the most feared lightweights and beloved contender Khabib Nurmagomedov who returned to the cage after a year layoff after failing to make weight earlier this year in a title eliminator with Tony Ferguson . Welcoming Nurmagomedov to the cage was exciting Brazilian striker Edson Barboza who was on a 3 fight win streak after losing to interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson in 2015. The winner would guarantee a title shot for themselves against either Tony Ferguson or the winner of the title unification fight between Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson if it happens.

The rest of the card had other stories that intrigued the fans with the return of former UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit taking on Neil Magny, Cynthia Carvillo looking to go 5-0 in 2017 with a win over Carla Esparza and an exciting lightweight fight between Marc Diakiese and Daniel Hooker.

 

The Main Event

UFC Women’s Featherweight championship

Christine ” Cyborg” Santos vs Holly ” The Preachers Daughter” Holm

When the UFC announced it’s intentions to start a featherweight division for females in the UFC, a fight between Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm was the most logical fight to start the division. It took almost a year to come into fruition but on Saturday night, we finally had the answer of who would be the most feared female fighter in the world.

The fight started off with Holm tripping Cyborg after a kick and started the clinch game for Holly , who overpowered Cyborg against the cage. A move that would slow down Cyborg’s attacks in the later rounds but this was not the case tonight. Cyborg, who was known as a devastating berserker like striker in her earlier has become a more patient striker under the guidance of Jason Parillo. Cyborg caught Holly with a variation of counter strikes throughout the fight which swelled Holm’s left eye. Holm had her moments in the fight and gave Cyborg her toughest fight to date.

As we moved into the later rounds, the counter strikes were landing more often for Cyborg and started to dictate to fight. The final bell rang and although many scores were thrown around on twitter all in favor for Cyborg. Cris Cyborg won a unanimous decision with one judge scoring the fight 49-46 which had Cyborg winning four rounds and the other two judges scoring the fight a lot closer 48-47.

What’s next for Cyborg? She asked for Meagan Anderson in Australia , the last Invicta featherweight champion who has yet to make her debut for UFC after signing last summer. With the card in 6 weeks, its unlikely she will get her wish but Cyborg vs Anderson should be next in the shallow and confusing 145 division for females.

 

The Co-main event

Khabib ” The Eagle ” Nurmagomedov vs Edson Barboza

A fight that in many people’s eyes was the true main event with fan favorite Khabib Nurmagomedov putting his unbeaten 24 fight win streak on the line against fellow top contender Edson Barboza.

What can you say about Nurmagomedov that hasn’t been said already. He was nothing short of perfection.

Implementing his game early, Nurmagomedov took the fight to the ground early in round 1 after failing on the first attempted takedown on Barboza. Once the takedown was secured, the Russian posture to his feet and landed devastating ground and pound on Barboza. It took a minute to see Barboza would be in for a rough night as by the sound of the bell ending for the first round, Barboza was bloodied up and looked defeated.

The second round was even more devastating when Khabib had Barboza on the ground for the entire round. The commentators in awe of Khabib’s abilities began to sound concerned that Barboza took too much damage as no matter who much punishment Nurmagomedov would deliver to Barboza, Barboza continued to be in the fight and looked for the knockout whenever the fight would go back to standing which ultimately ended in the brazilian being taken down again.

Barboza had a chance to end the fight in the third when he landed a head kick on Nurmagomedov who showed a granite chin and walked through the shot like T-1000.

The fight went to the judges and the judges scored the fight in favor of Khabib Nurmagomedov ( 30- 25, 30-25,30-4) which just highlights the one-sided victory for the Russian who moves to 25-0 and will likely take on Tony Ferguson next year.

The rest of the card

Although not the most exciting run of fights in the lead up to the main and co main. The main card hosted the return of Carlos Condit who after returning to the cage following a 16 month hiatus only to suffer a decision loss to an impressive Neil Magny who used his wrestling to take down the former champ on numerous occasions.

Speaking of former champs, former strawweight champion Carla Esparza scored a big win beating undefeated Cynthia Carvillo, who impressed in round 1 before Esparza turned the tides and finished the fight with a flurry of strikes to secure the victory.

Daniel Hooker used the ” McKenzietine” guillotine choke to submit the Brit Marc Diakiese in the third round after winning the first two rounds with his ground game. In what many anticipated to be a stand up war, the fight was quite the opposite and Hooker sinked in the choke after an attempted takedown by Diakiese.

Preliminary cards

We won’t be ringing in the new year celebrating the prelims this year as every fight on the FS1 portion of the card went to a decision.

Michal Oleksiejczuk got the biggest underdog win on the night upsetting Khalil Rountree Jr in a decision in which both fighters gassed early after Rountree held on the a guillotine which gassed the American when he failed to get the submission. The other decision victories went to Myles Jury looking impressive at featherweight against Rick Glenn and  Matheus Nicolau who knocked down Louis Smolka three times in the first round to win a one-sided decision.

Omari Ahkmedov and Marvin Vettori went to a majority draw in what seemed like the longest fight in history and finally Tim Elliot scored a submission victory over Mark  De La Rosa and dedicated the victory to the late great Robert Follis who sadly took his own life this month.

Overall UFC 219 wasn’t a great card but a masterclass by Khabib Nurmagomedov was worth every penny.

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Events

Invicta 27 Officially Announced

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The all-women promotion, Invicta FC, returns to Kansas City, Missouri on January 13th, 2018 for Invicta 27. The promotion announced on their website, the promotions inaugural 2018 event will start the new year off with a fan-friendly main event, Sarah Kaufman (18-4 1 NC) vs. Pannie Kianzad (8-2).

Kaufman returns to Invicta FC after a three-year stint with the UFC. The Canadian athlete fought once prior, in the female-only promotion, defeating Leslie Smith via split decision. Both women earned Fight of the Night honors for their efforts. In her previous three bouts, Kaufman posted a record of 1-2. The former Strikeforce bantamweight champion lost her final two UFC bouts against Alexis Davis and Valentina Shevchenko. Her most recent bout was a victory over Jessica Rose-Clark, in the Battlefield FC promotion.

The veteran Kaufman made her debut in 2006, nearly six years before her opponent. Pannie Kianzad made her professional debut with the Estonian promotion MMA Raju, in 2012. Kianzad began her career undefeated in eight bouts. On the way, capturing the Cage Warriors bantamweight championship. The Iranian-Swede holds an identical record to Kaufman in her previous three bouts, 1-2. Currently, she finds herself on a two-loss skid.

In the co-main event, Vanessa Porto (19-8) faces Mariana Morais (12-5). The Brazilian, Morais, is coming off a disappointing title challenge in the flyweight division of the KSW promotion. Ariane Lipski submitted her in 58 seconds. Porto, however, is fresh off her Invicta 26, TKO victory over, Milana Dudieva.

Porto is an Invicta FC veteran, having fought in seven of the promotions twenty-six held events. Throughout her career, the veteran faced the best women the world had to offer. The thirty-three-year-old has fought the likes of Roxanne Modafferi (twice), Agnieszka Niedzwiedz, Barb Honchak, Tara LaRosa, Jennifer Maia (twice), Tonya Evinger, Germain De Randamie, Amanda Nunes, and Cris “Cyborg” Justino.

The first card of 2018 for Invicta holds a plethora of inexperienced women. Of the 17 women booked for the card, only four women hold ten or more professional fights on their record. Another four women will make their professional MMA debut: Loma Lookboonmee, Jade Ripley, Helen Peralta, and Akeela Al-Hameed. The Invicta 27, the card will feature nine bouts. The event will take place at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri on January 13th, 2018. The card will proceed as follows:

Pannie Kianzad (8-2) vs. Sarah Kaufman (18-4 1 NC) – Bantamweight Division

Vanessa Porto (19-8) vs. Mariana Morais (12-5) – Flyweight Division

Sharon Jacobson (4-2) vs. Ashely Nichols (3-1) – Strawweight Division

Ashley Cummings (5-4) vs. Stephanie Alba (3-2) – Atomweight Division

Brogan Walker-Sanchez (4-0) vs. TBA – Flyweight Division

Felicia Spencer (3-0) vs. Akeela Al-Hameed (0-0) – Featherweight Division

Mallory Martin (1-2) vs. Tiffany Masters (2-1) – Strawweight Division

Melissa Wang (1-0) vs. Loma Lookboonmee (0-0) – Atomweight Division

Jade Ripley (0-0) vs. Helen Peralta (0-0) – Strawweight Division

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