The UFC sure know how to celebrate a milestone and so it comes as little surprise that UFC 200 might be the greatest fight card ever assembled. Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier’s title unification bout headline the card, but before that we will have two title fights and the returns of heavyweight superstars Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez. Make sure to read on for our UFC 200 Preview & Betting Tips!
At UFC 200 Jon Jones is looking to not only reclaim his Light Heavyweight title against his greatest rival but also cement himself as the pound for pound best in the world and possibly the greatest ever. It has long been said that the only thing standing between Jones and MMA immortality was himself and after a spate of runs in with the law which culminated in a felony conviction for hit and run he was stripped of his title and indefinitely suspended. Now an apparently changed man, he is looking to beat the man who has dominated the division in his absence. A prodigiously gifted athlete, Jones uses his physical talents and technical brilliance to dismantle opponents. He likes to beat opponents’ at their own game, choosing to dirty box with fighters like Glover Texeria and engage in grappling matches with lifelong wrestlers like Chael Sonnen. In the first fight with Daniel Cormier he was even able to get the Olympic wrestler down and control him. He holds a significant reach advantage over every fighter in the division and uses it well with pawing jabs and oblique kicks. His only fight following the suspension was a lackluster performance against Ovince St. Preux, whether that was due to ring rust or a tangible decline in skill is unclear at this point. What is clear is he will need to be at his absolute best to beat Cormier.
Daniel Cormier is an olympic level wrestler, who prior to his fight with Jones had not lost a round let alone a fight. Since their last fight, Cormier has soundly beaten Anthony Johnson to win the vacant Light Heavyweight title and emerged victorious in an epic war with Alexander Gustafsson to defend it. He is a training partner and coach to former heavyweight and middleweight champions Cain Velasquez and Luke Rockhold. Cormier is unstoppable when he is able use his wrestling to dictate the pace and where the fight takes place. He can control opponents up against the cage or on the mat and fire off effective multi punch combinations. He has solid striking, but will be at a huge reach disadvantage so will be limited to leg kicks or closing the distance. The only two opponents to stifle Cormier’s wrestling game were Jones and Gustafsson who both enjoyed big size advantages. If Cormier is going to validate his light heavyweight title he will need to find a way to negate the reach.
Prediction: The first fight was close, but Jones was in control the entire time and if he can retain that level of performance I don’t think Cormier has improved enough to beat him. Cormier needs to close the distance, make the fight dirty and get Jones out of his comfort zone. I don’t think Jones has the punching power to get a KO and Cormier’s defense wrestling make him a near impossible target to submit. I think this will be competitive throughout, but Jones technical advantages and physical superiority will be too much for Cormier to overcome. Jon Jones by decision.
NOTE: JON JONES WAS PULLED OUT OF THIS FIGHT DUE TO A DRUG INDISCRETION AND REPLACED BY ANDERSON SILVA. WE ARE NOW SUGGESTING THE CORMIER FIGHT AS A NO BET - THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER FIGHTS TO FOCUS ON.
A former WWE and NCAA division 1 champion Lesnar took the MMA world by storm when he captured the UFC heavyweight title in only his 4th professional fight. Unfortunately a battle with diverticulitis meant he had to cut his UFC stint short. But after a 5 year hiatus, the sports biggest PPV draw is back and he’s being paired with Sydney based KO artist Mark Hunt. A supremely gifted athlete, the majority of Lesnar’s success has come down to his physical tools rather than martial arts skill. He is awkward on the feet and doesn’t react well to being hit. If this fight stays standing for any period of time; Lesnar will be at huge KO risk. While he often looks a fish out of water striking, it’s a completely different story on the mat. Being on your back with Lesnar on top might be one of the most precarious positions to find yourself in the octagon. While he isn’t overly technical in setting up takedowns, he has such a powerful bulldozing style that once his gets a firm grasp of an opponent’s hips the fight inevitably hits the floor. He is still the first and only fighter to successfully take Cain Velasquez down. On top Lesnar uses brute strength to pin opponents in place and is very good at using his core to generate powerful strikes with very little wind up. The x-factor for Lesnar is how will he look after the time off? Five years is a long time in this sport and while Lesnar hasn’t been sitting on the couch, the rigors of professional wrestling are a far cry from fighting in the octagon.
Mark Hunt is the perfect opponent for Lesnar’s return to the octagon. His patented walk off KO’s has earned him a big following and his striking prowess is a perfect foil for Lesnar’s wrestling credentials. Don’t let his 5”10 120kg frame fool you, Hunt is a composed, agile and technically excellent striker. He is well known for his incredible punching power and might be the hardest hitter in the UFC. Despite always giving up a reach advantage, Hunt likes to work behind a jab and patiently await the opportunity to fire off a big punch. He has an excellent short uppercut which may come into play after a lazy takedown attempt. Hunt has ever improving defensive wrestling and grappling, but it’s a still a work in progress and he won’t want to try it out on Lesnar. Instead he will need to use his superior timing and footwork to keep Lesnar at bay long enough to find his chin.
Prediction: Expect Lesnar to come fast and hard as soon as the bells goes, he will want no part of a stand up fight with the former K1 champ. Hunt will want to slow the tempo, keep the distance and wait for a chance to uncork the fight ending blow. Lesnar’s significant advantage on the mat is paralleled by Hunt’s on the feet, so whoever can dictate where the fight takes place will win. While I can certainly forsee an early Hunt KO, I really like Lesnar’s chance as an underdog to take advantage of Hunt’s wrestling shortcomings and earn a TKO victory. I particuarly like Sportsbet’s money back offer if your fighter loses in the first round, because I think if Lesnar isn’t able to impose his game plan, Hunt should get the job done quickly. Brock Lesnar by 2nd TKO.
Miesha Tate is defending her belt for the first time since winning it in fairy tale fashion against Holly Holm at UFC 196. Instead of a rematch with either Holm or Ronda Roussey, the UFC have opted to go with Brazilian firebrand Amanda Nunes. The best thing about Tate’s victory over Holm was that she was able to show off everything that makes her a great fighter. She methodically stuck to a gameplan, showed heart to withstand her opponent’s best offence and was clinical when the fight was in the balance. Tate comes from a wrestling background and she is able to out grapple most opponents. She doesn’t have the best double leg takedown, but is good at dragging fights to the mat and Holm can attest to her submission prowess. On the feet she is a brawler who uses feints and angles to force her way into preferred range. Tate does have questionable striking defense and that could spell trouble against someone like Nunes, but she has a great ability to recover after taking damage. The biggest advantage Tate has is cardio, she has shown multiple times she can keep a hard pace for all 5 rounds.
Amanda Nunes is the female bantamweight version of Vitor Belfort, a vicious striker who has won 6 of her 7 Zuffa fights be 1st round finish. Unfortunately like Belfort, Nunes tires significantly if she can’t get the early finish. Nunes is easily the most dangerous striker at batamnweight, what she lacks in technique she makes up for with power. She has a varied arsenal on the feet but particularly favors a right straight. She holds a BJJ blackbelt and is particularly good at ground and pound from top position. Her Achilles heel continues to be cardio and all of her losses are in fights she was winning early. Nunes last fight was also at UFC 196 and her again cardio issues were apparent. After dominating the first 2 rounds, Nunes noticeably slowed in the third and was lucky to avoid being finished to hold on for her first decision victory.
Prediction: If this was a 3rd round fight, I’d like Nunes at this price and she certainly has the ability force a stoppage. But she’s coming up against one of the divisions toughest in Tate, who should be able to weather the early storm and start to takeover, particularly in the championship rounds. I also like Tate to get a stoppage. When she smells blood, she’s great at turning up the pressure and I think a gassed Nunes will be no match for Tate’s ground game. Miesha Tate by 4th round Submission.
This is a replay of a 2013 fight in which Jose Aldo narrowly defeated Frankie Edgar on the judges’ scorecards to retain his featherweight belt. This time an interim title is on the line, but the ultimate goal for both fighters is a shot against Conor McGregor and the real belt. Prior to his 13 second KO loss to McGregor in December, Aldo had been undefeated for 10 years winning the inaugural UFC featherweight title and defending it 7 times. All that came to an end when he uncharacteristically charged right into the path of McGregor’s most dangerous weapon. How he bounces back from that loss will go a long way to determining the outcome of this fight. At his best Aldo is almost the complete MMA fighter. He has the best striking in the division, incredible takedown defense and a BJJ black belt. In the first fight he was able to use his excellent defensive wrestling to stuff the majority of Edgar’s takedowns and outpoint him on the feet. His major weapon is the leg kicks and his professional soccer background has given him and uncanny ability to generate power. His defensive striking has allowed him to avoid damage for most of his career, but Edgar was able to find the mark a few times in the first fight and McGregor showed his chin is not impenetrable.
Former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar is looking to add his name to the short list of fighters who have held a title in multiple divisions. Edgar has his own reasons for craving a rematch with McGregor. He emphatically knocked out serial title contender Chad Mendes the night before UFC 196 and was promised a title shot against the winner of Aldo and McGregor. Instead McGregor won the title, shot up to welterweight to fight Nate Diaz and left the division in limbo. Despite being 33, Edgar is showing impressive fight to fight improvements and is a much more diverse fighter than when these two last clashed. His biggest advantage will be during transitions; he is excellent at blending takedowns with strikes and can maintain a high pace for all 5 rounds. In the first fight Aldo clearly won the first 3 rounds, but Edgar was able to utilize his wrestling to win the last two rounds. His KO over Mendes reminded us all that he has power and while I don’t see him finishing Aldo he is more than capable of hurting him on the feet.
Prediction: We saw this fight only 3 years ago and while it was close, Aldo conclusively won 3 rounds. Edgar clearly has the more impressive recent history, but the way in which Aldo has been seemingly written off for one loss is baffling. This one should go down to wire again, but Aldo has the tools to keep the fight standing and has a clear striking advantage. If Frankie is going to win he will need to make Aldo fear the takedown to create openings for his strikes. I’m backing Aldo to be back to his best and I’m happy to get on him in this spot as a slight underdog. Jose Aldo by unanimous decision.
The PPV will be opened by the return of former heavyweight king Cain Velasquez taking on Hawaiian big man Travis Browne. Once considered the baddest man on the planet, Velasquez has endured a torrid three years. Injuries have limited him to only one fight since 2013 and that was a demoralizing loss to Fabricio Werdum when he clearly wasn’t 100%. At his best Velasquez is an overwhelming force of constant pressure and unwavering cardio. He doesn’t give opponents the time or space to string together any meaningful strikes and is constantly scoring points and damage with a wrestling based offense. However in the match with Werdum, Velasquez seemingly gassed at the end of the first round and was toyed with before submitting to a guillotine choke. Since then he has had back surgery and over 12 months on the sidelines. He certainly comes into this one with a big asterisk.
At 6”7 and 115kg, Travis Browne is one of the biggest fighters on the roster and he is incredibly explosive and athletic for a man of his size. Unfortunately like Velasquez, Browne’s career has also hit a tailspin of late. Once considered a future title contender, he has gone 2-2 in his last four fights including a 5 round beatdown at the hands of Werdum and being KOed spectacularly by Andrei Arlovski. However a win over the former champ will catapult him straight back into title contention. Browne uses his size to great effect and keeps the distance with a diverse range of punches and kicks. All his strikes have KO potential and he’s awkward to take down. Velasquez likes to hold people up against the fence, but he would be ill advised to tie up against the cage as Browne has two brutal KOs from that position. He hasn’t fought any wrestler near the caliber of Velasquez, so it will be interesting how he deals with the constant pressure.
Prediction: When Velasquez is at his best he would be favored over any heavyweight in the UFC. The problem is how big of an impact have the injuries had. Even an out of shape Velasquez should be able to work his takedown game and win rounds on top, but there are just too many question marks to back him at this price. Instead I am going to take the over, Browne is difficult to put away and I don’t see Velasquez giving Browne a chance to hurt him on the feet. Cain Velasquez by 3rd TKO
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Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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