UFC 200 is just a day away, and even though the main event (Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier) has been canceled (BOO!), the card is still great. There are some very compelling fights on this card, and almost all of them are important ones in the title picture for their respective divisions. I’ve picked a few that I am particularly interested in to predict and break down for you guys.
The first compelling fight I’ve chosen is the one from my division featuring T.J. Dillashaw vs. Raphael Assuncao:
We all saw the first fight and know how that turned out; a split decision win for Assuncao. It was a very close fight with plenty of back-and-forth action, and both guys had some great key moments. I think T.J. has shown more growth in his overall game since then, and he also became the champ, even if he did lose the belt later.
I think this is T.J.’s fight to lose. His footwork is great and he’s become harder to hit. The only issue I think could be problematic for him in fighting a guy like Raphael is that Raphael is a very good counter fighter, and he’s a master at making his opponents fight his fight. His style is basically laid back and natural. He tends to chase people around, playing the matador, then waits for them to come in and make a mistake, so T.J. has to be aggressive, but at the same time it needs to be smart aggression.
He should utilize his feints and switch it up with those head kicks he managed to land on Assuncao a couple of times. If he does, it should net him not only a win, but a finish. I think he can get it done.
I’m going to call this a unanimous decision for Dillashaw.
Now, on to my next compelling fight choice: Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt:
This is a very, very interesting fight. You’ve got the guy who’s been gone for almost five years in Brock Lesnar, and you’ve got Mark Hunt, who’s been active that whole time and done very well for himself. He came over from PRIDE, and if I remember correctly, the UFC tried to buy out his contract, but he was having none of that. You’ve got to respect that kind of steadfastness.
Hunt has had a crazy career resurgence and has been hanging tough in the top tier of the heavyweight roster. Everyone knows those guys hit hardest out of all the divisions. I look at a guy like Hunt and can’t help but notice the disparity in body size between him and Lesnar. I know he knocked out Stefan Struve and has had great success with guys like that, but Brock Lesnar is a different animal.
You’ve got this guy who’s built like a house, where Struve was more of a lanky, skinny-ish fighter. This is going to be interesting to see if Mark Hunt can keep Lesnar off of him. I feel like with Mark’s body type, once the fight hits the ground, he has trouble getting back up, especially against guys who have strong top-control game. There’s not much he’s going to be able to do from that position with a good wrestler like Brock.
Obviously, things are a lot different once you start getting punched in the face, and we’ve seen how Brock has reacted to that in the past. I can’t wait to see if he’s learned how to deal with that kind of pressure, and to be honest, I don’t even know if he’s had enough time to prepare for that, because make no mistake, Mark Hunt has wrecking balls where his hands should be. Who knows? He could have been training casually this last five years, and we just didn’t know about it.
This is such a tough fight to pick, but I’m going to say that Lesnar gets him down and pulls off the upset. I think Brock is going to run at him like a bull and spear him to the ground. If he does that, it’s going to be his night.
I’m leaning towards Brock winning this by TKO.
My final compelling fight entry is Cat Zingano vs. Julianna Pena:
Pena is on a tear right now and she has an indomitable attitude that makes her a scary opponent for anyone. She has a stifling game with strong clinch work, takedowns, and she’s very good at making fights ugly. Ugly as in, I'm here, I’m in your face, and you can't do shit about it! She’s all upside, in my opinion, especially since Zingano has been out for so long.
“The Alpha Cat” is a beast in her own right, too. She did, after all, demolish the current champ, even though she had a slow start. She seemed overly anxious in her title bid against Ronda Rousey, putting herself in an unfavorable position early, which was ultimately the beginning of a lightning quick, 14-second end. When she takes her time and lands those hard knees, she's a savage.
Zingano has been out of action for a while, so it'll be cool to see how well she's used her time away. We’ll also get to see if ring rust will play a major factor in this fight. I have a feeling it might.
I’m taking Pena via unanimous decision.