Miesha Tate (18-5) vs. Amanda Nunes (12-4)
Odds: Tate -250; Nunes +210
So, Nunes goes from a talented but virtually unknown 135-pound contender, to headlining UFC 200? If that detail has any effect on the fight, you’d think it would favor Tate, who is far more accustomed to the spotlight.
Nunes is a gifted athlete and a true-sized bantamweight, which is always important to note. She’s not undersized for this division. Tate has accused her of mentally breaking in prior fights. Whether it’s that or more of a cardio issue, Nunes has shown she’ll fade a bit as bouts go on. She has no experience with five-round fights and has actually only fought into the third round three times in her career. She’s 1-2 in those instances.
As athletic as Nunes is, you have to favor Tate in the scramble based on her strengths as a grappler. And that’s where this matchup heavily veers in her favor. Tate has a ton of heart and as long as she avoids the big shot and dominates scrambles like she’s capable of doing, Nunes is not an opponent who can stay on the outside and pick her apart for a full 25 minutes.
Prediction: Tate submission, fourth round.
Rest of card
Mark Hunt (12-10-1) vs. Brock Lesnar (5-3)
Odds: Hunt -170; Lesnar +150
Lesnar might only need one takedown to win this — but conversely, Hunt might only need one punch. It’s hard to be truly confident in assessing Lesnar at this point, given the fact he’s been gone since 2011 and keeps his training private. His strategy could very well be to tuck his head, run at Hunt like a pursuing linebacker and let the chips fall where they may.
Every punch Lesnar throws on his feet will be dangerous — for him, not for Hunt. Of course, big guy like Lesnar, he carries some power in his hands — but from a technical standpoint, a seasoned striker like Hunt will pick off Lesnar’s boxing and bury him with a counter shot pretty quickly.
I’m not counting Lesnar out. It would be silly to do so. He is a legitimately good wrestler and his top game was always overwhelming. But I do expect Hunt to win here.
Prediction: Hunt KO, first round.
Daniel Cormier (17-1) vs. Anderson Silva (33-7)
Odds: Cormier -410; Silva +315
It’s incredibly sad to think that Cormier may never fight Jones again. If Jones is unsuccessful in proving his innocence in regard to the failed drug test, he’s facing a two-year suspension. Cormier is 37 years old. It’s not crazy to think he’d still be around and competing at a high level in two years, but it’s also quite possible a fight between he and Jones wouldn’t make sense at that point. Kind of tragic.
So, it’s fitting he’ll get a chance to fight Silva on Saturday, a man who basically shares the title of “greatest fighter of all time” with Jones. It’s an opportunity you expect Cormier to take advantage of. Silva is two months removed from a surgery to remove his gall bladder. He’s winless since 2012 and Cormier is the bigger man, with an aggressive wrestling style that has proven to give Silva trouble.
Prediction: Cormier via TKO, second round.
Jose Aldo (25-2) vs. Frankie Edgar (20-4-1)
Interim featherweight championship
Odds: Edgar -115; Aldo -105
How much did a 13-second knockout loss to Conor McGregor take out of Aldo? Even if the answer is nothing, he’s in for a dog fight against Edgar.
Prediction: Edgar via decision, 48-47.
Cain Velasquez (13-2) vs. Travis Browne (18-3-1)
Odds: Velasquez -290; Browne +245
Plenty to worry about when facing Browne, but this looks like a wet blanket Velasquez job on paper — smothering pressure that will neutralize Browne’s top-end athleticism.
Prediction: Velasquez via decision.
Cat Zingano (9-1) vs. Julianna Pena (7-2)
Odds: Zingano -165; Pena +145
Two of the more aggressive styles you’ll find in the UFC. Zingano is far more proven at this point, but she’s also been out 17 months.
Prediction: Zingano submission, third round.
Johny Hendricks (17-4) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (11-2)
Odds: Hendricks -120; Gastelum +100
Toughest fight on the card to pick, in my opinion. Not that long ago, Hendricks would have been a distinct favorite. This could end up fight of the night.
Prediction: Hendricks TKO, third round.
TJ Dillashaw (12-3) vs. Raphael Assuncao (23-4)
Odds: Dillashaw -410; Assuncao +330
Coming off a tough-luck decision loss to Dominick Cruz that could have gone either way, at least Dillashaw is conceivably one win away from getting a rematch. This is a tough fight, but I like his chances.
Prediction: Dillashaw by decision, 30-27.
Sage Northcutt (7-1) vs. Enrique Marin (8-3)
Odds: Northcutt -335; Marin +275
Super Sage is back at lightweight and (presumably) recovered from the strep throat he says contributed to his first pro loss earlier this year. Good chance to bounce back here.
Prediction: Northcutt TKO, first round.
Gegard Mousasi (38-6-2) vs. Thiago Santos (13-3)
Odds: Mousasi -265; Santos +225
Santos is on a four-fight win streak and talented enough you don’t want to skip over this one, but the polish on Mousasi’s striking and underrated grappling gets it done.
Prediction: Mousasi decision, 29-28.
Joe Lauzon (25-11) vs. Diego Sanchez (26-8)
Odds: Lauzon -115; Sanchez -105
Two long, storied careers winding down. Lauzon tends to be better early, Sanchez late.
Prediction: Sanchez by decision, 29-28.
Takanori Gomi (35-11) vs. Jim Miller (25-8)
Odds: Miller -250; Gomi +210
After going 16 years without a knockout loss, Gomi has been finished with strikes in his past two bouts. Miller isn’t exactly faring much better, with a 1-4 record in his past five. He seems to have slightly more left, however.
Prediction: Miller by submission, second round.