UFC 200 will feature five fights that could all realistically headline pay-per-views in their own right. The likes of Lesnar, Jones and Tate will grab the headlines, however, the prelim card features some absolute ripper fights.
Jim Miller vs Takanori Gomi
The fact that this fight is opening the show really highlights the strength of this card from top to bottom. Miller is arguably fighting for his UFC career following four losses from five fights, however his career inside the octagon has been a distinguished one. Gomi is another who has had a brilliant career in the sport, but needs a win to avoid a third-straight loss. Miller via decision
Gegard Mousasi vs Tiago Santos
Mousasi has had an up and down career thus far inside the UFC, however has three big wins in his last four fights. A fighter whose talents are well above a prelim fighter, a big win here over Santos could kick start his return to the top. Santos is riding a three-fight win streak, and has four wins in his last five. This is a fight that would be on the main card on any other event. I think Santos may edge this in a razor thin decision.
Diego Sanchez vs Joe Lauzon
Diego Sanchez is one of the main reasons I am an MMA fan today. His efforts on the original ultimate fighter drew me to the sport. Lauzon is another I have enjoyed watched after first appearing (I originally missed his shock win on his debut) on the reality TV show. This should be a fun fight, with both men able to take as much as they can dish out. If you don’t have fightpass, get it for this fight. Sanchez via decision is an incredible fight.
Sage Northcutt vs Enrique Marin
Young Sage Northcutt has long been seen as a future star, but he is coming off the first loss of his career. The way he responds to the loss will go a long way to defining him as a fighter. All the talk in this fight will be focused on Sage, although Marin’s record suggests he is more than just a body in this fight. That being said I can’t see Northcutt not making a statement here given the manner of his loss.
T.J. Dillishaw vs Raphael Assunção
T.J. Dillishaw’s last fight was a fight of the night effort in a pay-per-view main event against one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. He will be chomping at the bit to return to the title scene, but he’ll have to end the seven fight win streak of Assuncao. This is another contest that could upstage some bigger fights, but I see Dillishaw bouncing back from his title loss via stoppage. That being said, Assuncao could cause a big upset and set himself up for a future title shot.
Johny Hendricks vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Another former champion takes on a young up and comer of sorts with genuine hopes of returning to the title scene. Hendricks was stopped inside the first round in his last fight, while Gastelum dropped a fight in front of his home town. Simply put, neither man can afford to lose, or they face the real prospect of falling away from the leading pack. A dominant win for either man would send a loud message. I’m tipping an upset and backing Gastelum via submission.
Cat Zingano vs. Julianna Peña
Cat Zingano is returning to the sport after a long lay-off. Her last fight, her only career loss to date which came at the hands of Ronda Rousey, was 18 months ago. Prior to that title loss she left a trail of destruction, winning her first nine fights, including five knock outs and three submission wins.
Pena is riding a three-fight win streak, although a win over Zingano would be career defining, and the biggest of her career. Six of Pena’s seven career wins have come via stoppage, meaning like Zingano she is not content riding out a decision victory where possible.
With Rousey out for the foreseeable future, the women’s division is crying out for the next challenger to the likes of Tate and Rousey. This fight presents these two extremely dangerous women the very real chance to become that challenger.
Zingano’s extended layoff may play a part in this contest, however her hands are right up there with the best in the division. Pena may have to weather an early storm if she hopes to push her title claims. I do see this going past the first round, but Zingano is vicious and for mine, a deserved favourite. Zingano in the third.