UFC 200 Prelims: Fights To Watch
UFC 200 is looming ever closer on the horizon and in just under a week the world will be treated to an incredible line up of events starting with Fight Night: Dos Anjos v Alvarez, followed by The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Jedrzejczyk vs Gadelha and ending with the highly anticipated milestone event, UFC 200. On paper, there is a general consensus among fans that UFC 200 is the best card ever produced with 9 current and former champions competing throughout the night. With three title fights slated for the main card, there will be a number of incredible match ups dotted around the prelims with significant impacts on their various weight classes.
Gegard Mousasi vs Thiago Santos
Unbelievably, despite being ranked #8 and #15 respectively in the middleweight division, Gegard Mousasi and Thiago Santos will open up as only the second fight of the evening. This is by no fault of their own given the number of high profile fights that have been added to this card, therefore Mousasi will have to settle for a place on the prelims after being the co-main event for Fight Night London earlier in the year. This fight is a pivotal moment for both competitors, a win is vital for Mousasi as he hopes to build upon his win over Thales Leites and finally put together a winning streak after falling short in major fights over the course of his career. Meanwhile dangerous Brazilian striker, Thiago Santos, looks to be on a tear after finishing 3 of his last 4 fights in devastating fashion and a big win over a high profile opponent in Mousasi will propel him further up the ladder to establish himself as a serious contender. Mousasi has repeatedly fallen short in previous fights against Lyoto Machida, Jacare Souza and Uriah Hall and he will be desperate to ruin Santos’ winning streak and chase the title shot which has evaded him for so long.
Diego Sanchez vs Joe Lauzon
Diego Sanchez vs Joe Lauzon promises to be one of the highlights of the entire week with matchmakers treating fans to a scrap that many have been screaming for. Sanchez and Lauzon are renowned for being in many wars in the octagon, both fighters have huge heart and grit when competing and this is what makes this such an exciting contest. With solid and tested chins Sanchez and Lauzon have the ability to bounce back after being hurt and rocked and this fight will likely go the distance with both men relentlessly scrapping it out in the center of the cage for 3 rounds. No stranger to cuts and bruises, fans can expect a bloody affair on Saturday night with a standing ovation at the end.
TJ Dillashaw vs Raphael Assuncao
#1 ranked bantamweight contender TJ Dillashaw will be hoping to bounce back after losing his crown and place at the top of the division to Dominick Cruz at the start of the year. He will have the chance to regain his belt if he successfully dispatches Raphael Assuncao on July 9th, but this is no mean feat. Assuncao is currently one of the only men to hold a win over TJ Dillashaw with a split decision victory, and riding a seven fight winning streak he will be looking to beat Dillashaw and earn his own crack at the champion. However Assuncao hasn’t been active in the octagon with his last fight taking place in October of 2014 and ring rust may affect or hinder his performance. It will be interesting to witness the comeback of the champion and how he fares against the #3 ranked contender in the world.
Cat Zingano vs Julianna Pena
Coming off of the only loss of her career, “Alpha” Cat Zingano will face Julianna Pena in a critical match up in the women’s bantamweight division. Cat Zingano has had a year to rebuild herself after a humiliating 14 second defeat to then champion Ronda Rousey. With current champion Miesha Tate taking on challenger Amanda Nunes later on in the evening and an important fight between Holly Holm and Valentina Shevchenko on July 23rd it is difficult to determine where the winner of this fight will stand. With Ronda Rousey lurking in the shadows, the top of the bantamweight division looks to be in chaos and come July 9th we will have a clearer picture.