What a weekend it was to be a fight fan! UFC put on 3 straight nights of fights. Respect and praise go out to all the fighters, coaches, promoters, production staff, etc. for putting on the event.
Here’s a breakdown of Saturday’s main card:
Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne:
Cain looked impressive here. He wowed all in attendance at Las Vegas with a beauty of a spinning wheel kick that caught Browne off guard. This kick rocked Browne and Velasquez, who was already in control, was able to pull away with massive punches.
Cain walked away with the knockout finish with a few seconds left to spare in the 1st round. Referee John McCarthy wisely stopped the fight at just the right time. With the positioning in which Velasquez was teeing off, it was difficult to see if Browne was covering up and locking his body up like a shell or if he was out. Clearly he was out as he had trouble getting up.
Cain could go one of two ways from here. Either a title shot against the winner of Stipe Miocic-Alistair Overeem or a title-eliminator fight against the man who took the Heavyweight title off him: Fabricio Werdum. I wouldn’t be mad with either.
Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar:
This was a real tactical match that showed off two of the premier strikers in the Featherweight division. Aldo was just a little more accurate and his shots landed in the right spots.
According to Fox Sports’ FIGHTTRAX, Aldo landed 68 strikes to the head of Edgar compared to Frankie’s 42 strikes to the head of Aldo. Edgar had the advantage on body strikes and leg kicks.
Jose was able to control the pacing and dictation for much of the fight and in the process he picked up his second win vs. Frankie Edgar. As noted by commentators Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan, Aldo pulled off a rarity; he was able to shake the kinks and cobwebs off a humiliating defeat (a 13 second loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 194).
His calculated win against Frankie Edgar proves that he is ready to throw down with Conor McGregor again in another Title unification bout.
Daniel Cormier vs. Anderson Silva:
I can’t say I was surprised by the Las Vegas crowd booing this one. Las Vegas crowds are normally made up of knowledgeable fight fans who are appreciative of wrestling and grappling. UFC 200 of course was made up of a more diverse crowd of fight fans who traveled throughout the world.
They were expecting a spectacle and classic highlight-reel wars. What they got was a wrestling contest mostly fought on the ground.
I thought what DC did here was impressive: his main event with Jon Jones was scrapped after Jones tested positive for an illegal substance, so he had to train for a new opponent on 2 days notice. Cormier’s training and hard work were essentially thrown out the window, so he had no choice but to stick to his bread and butter.
Like a warrior, DC was willing to remain on the card. In turn, he was booked to face Anderson Silva, maybe the most-feared striker in MMA history. Silva is fresh off about as impressive a performance one can have in a 48-47 unanimous decision loss to Michael Bisping (who would go on to defeat Luke Rockhold for the Middleweight Championship) and a strong victory against Nick Diaz in 2015.
Even though Silva may have appeared to be less-prepared on paper, DC wasn’t in an advantageous situation. DC had endured 2 months of rigorous training, was training for a specific individual and had to prepare for a monster of an opponent.
It was beautiful to watch Cormier hone his craft of wrestling. DC looked as dominant as ever. He was advancing his position, staying active and connecting on ground and pound for much of the 3 rounds.
Last night I was reminded of Silva’s classic battle with Chael Sonnen at UFC 117. I was waiting for The Spider to pull out a desperation submission on DC, like he did after 4.5 rounds of bottom position against Sonnen, but it never happened. Silva was still a great sport and flirted with a last-minute hurrah courtesy of a liver kick to DC.
DC looked great and further elevated his stature with an imposing unanimous decision win. Hopefully he gets the winner of Anthony Johnson/Glover Teixeira.
With a full camp in him, Silva should still be a perennial contender in the Middleweight division.
Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt
Lesnar is still a bad bad man. Clearly (and wisely) he was looking for the takedown every time here. As Ariel Helwani pointed out on MMA Fighting’s Post-UFC 200 show, the crowd booed DC’s wrestling but cheered for Brock on every takedown…
Lesnar looked comfortable for the most part. He played the distance game well and managed to avoid Hunt’s best offense. With that being said, Brock still absorbed a couple of big punches, but proved the critics wrong by rolling with them.
Hunt was able to stuff a few takedowns, but Lesnar was so persistent with them that he was bound to take Hunt down. And once he was down he was down. Brock’s ground and pound was as punishing as ever.
There is no shame for Hunt here. He put up a tough performance against a difficult opponent. I would love to see Lesnar return to the Octagon and take on another Top-10 heavyweight. One opponent who is gaining traction is Junior Dos Santos.
Brock looked great, but there is still room to improve. A scary thought for the rest of the Heavyweight division.
Amanda Nunes vs. Miesha Tate:
UFC 200 was filled to the brim in battles of opposites. This one was no different. Amanda Nunes, a woman famous for physicality and punishing volume in the first few rounds vs. Miesha Tate, a woman famous for her ability to withstand damage and take advantage in the later rounds.
Nunes proved to be too much. I felt the momentum go her way when she nailed Miesha with a knee to the face as Tate was getting up from the ground. Nunes timed it perfectly to avoid illegally hitting a downed opponent.
That unsuspecting shot rocked Miesha and she never recovered. From there Nunes went to town and landed serious fists. Nunes sealed the deal on the ground with a Rear Naked Choke.
The Women’s Bantamweight Division is experiencing serious hot potato with the title. After Ronda Rousey was the champ for nearly 3 years, there have now been 3 different champions since November 2015. None of the champions has had a successful defense yet.
Is Amanda Nunes for real? Perhaps. She looked extremely impressive last night. But so didn’t Holly Holm and Miesha Tate way back when.
Either Julianna Pena should get the next title shot or Ronda Rousey should. Whichever can happen faster.
by: Kevin D’Hooge